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Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Top Picks

How we choose: The best sit-on-top kayaks highlighted here were selected based on 29 reviews of 18 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

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Top Recreational Kayak / Sit-on-Top

Old Town Vapor 10

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6 reviews)

Best for lakes and slow rivers, for anyone wanting an easy little boat with plenty of room for gear.

Reasons to Buy

  • Easy to maneuver
  • Holds a lot of gear

Reasons to Avoid

  • The seat needs padding.

Been out in this 10-foot sit-in kayak for several trips this spring including a short camping trip upriver.  This one has plenty of room for gear including a dry hatch in back with a lockable rubber top that holds a small flexible cooler, a duffle bag, and room for more stuff crammed in the crannies. There's room behind the seat for a sleeping bag, room between your feet for more gear, and a installed criss-cross bungee kit on front of the kayak that can hold two chairs in bags. It has a couple of hooks and smaller little bungees around the cockpit to attach handy things like camera or phone.

Read more: Old Town Vapor 10 reviews (6)

Recreational Kayak / Sit-on-Top

Old Town Vapor 10XT

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Great beginner kayak for flat water and occasional users. This is the XP model which adds a hatch cover. Otherwise the same as the Vapor 10.

Reasons to Buy

  • Big and flat means stable
  • Large opening great if you are a bigger person
  • Adjustable seat is easily done on the fly
  • Adjustable foot pegs

Reasons to Avoid

  • Cup holder at front of cockpit is not reachable while in the seat
  • No bungies on deck to hold gear and looks difficult to add any kit to it.

This is a great little kayak. I have used it for three years on flat waters of Lake Mead, Lake Mojave, and the Colorado River below Hoover Dam The difference between the Vapor 10 and the Vapor 10XT is that the XT has a cover on the rear hatch. That is great for keeping your items safely secured. I modified the hatch by insulating it with foam and it actually makes a great ice chest for food and water on hot days out on the river. The large opening make it great for access...especially if you are a larger person.

Read more: Old Town Vapor 10XT review (1)

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Great budget family kayak. Very stable, easily configured for two person with space for gear, or single person. Not the most comfortable kayak, but still good for an afternoon on a lake or river.

Reasons to Buy

  • Stability
  • Hauls everyone and the kitchen sink too!

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy
  • Difficult to mount on car rack

I've bought two of these kayaks for my family of four. My two sons can hop on and take the kayak out on the lake with no issues, or the entire family can split between the two yaks and go for an afternoon paddle on the local river. These are big bulky kayaks that tend to not fit too great on those J hooks for your car roof, but once you've got them up there and cinched down they will do fine. They do not come with anything so keep that in mind when purchasing.  You need to add in seats and paddles.

Read more: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two review (1)

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140

user rating: 5 of 5 (3 reviews)

A versatile, high quality kayak built to last a lifetime.

Reasons to Buy

  • Stable for size
  • Comfortable
  • Tracks well
  • Efficient
  • Adaptable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Heavy
  • Hatches Leak

The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 is not marketed as a lightweight boat, so I'm not going to deduct points because it's heavy, but know that it is. The Orbix hatches used on these boats look really cool and are convenient to open and close; but they all leak which some people consider a really big deal. I don't. Kayaking is a water sport. That means I and my stuff will probably get wet. Stuff I don't want wet I put in a dry bag; easy. You may feel differently. So that's the bad. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk about the good.

Read more: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 reviews (3)

Stellar Kayaks 14' Surf Ski S14S

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

Been wishing for a high performance, lightweight SOT???

Reasons to Buy

  • Premium quality
  • Efficient (fast)
  • Lightweight
  • Repairable

Reasons to Avoid

  • Expensive
  • Not for beginners
  • When loaded looses efficiency
  • G2 model lacks a footboard

Your wish has been granted. Behold the Stellar S14S. The Stellar S14S is a hybrid cross between a recreational SOT and a surf ski kayak. It's a composite boat, which means unlike its roto-molded siblings, it's very lightweight not to mention easily repaired. It's also beautiful to look at both on and off the water. Most of all, it's an absolute pleasure to paddle. So what the heck is a surf ski kayak anyway? Surf ski kayaks have been around since the 1960s but have only gained traction in recent years.

Read more: Stellar Kayaks 14' Surf Ski S14S review (1)

Top Fishing Kayak / Sit-on-Top

Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Angler

user rating: 5 of 5 (1 review)

A sit-on-top angling kayak that's awesome for freshwater and saltwater fishing!

Reasons to Buy

  • Length is great for tracking
  • Wide enough for casting standing up
  • Scupper holes (self draining)
  • Hollow hull (enough room for camping gear)
  • Light enough I can put it on my car by myself
  • Comes ready to use Scotty rod holders
  • Large tankwell in the rear
  • Comfy seat

Reasons to Avoid

  • Higher priced then the average angling kayak
  • Front storage hatch is hard to get to when on the water

This kayak glides through the water! It gives you the ability to set a line out and troll while you paddle down stream or drop anchor and stand up and cast into the weeds for that big bite. The seat is perfectly comfy enough to paddle for numerous hours getting to your favorite spot and can be easily adjusted while sitting in it. It has adjustable foot peddles for tall or short people and the "mod pod" is a great exclusive to only the Ocean Kayak brand (I have only seen it on the Ocean Kayaks).

Read more: Ocean Kayak Trident 13 Angler review (1)

BIC Sport Bilbao

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

A tough little kayak with surprising performance...

Reasons to Buy

  • Tough
  • Tracks well
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy transport
  • 100% recyclable

Reasons to Avoid

  • No storage in standard model
  • Light colors stain easily
  • Decals peel off

Mention BIC and most people think about lighters and writing pens, but they make so much more. In 1979 BIC Sport was founded by the Bich family, makers of BIC pens and lighters. BIC Sport grew from the family’s passion for water sports and expertise in sustainable manufacturing. By the late 1980s BIC Sport was a world leader in windsurf manufacturing. Since then they have expanded into surf boards, paddle boards, small sailboats, and kayaks. If you're unfamiliar with their water sport products, you can check them out here https://www.bicsport.com/boats.html.

Read more: BIC Sport Bilbao review (1)

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100

user rating: 4 of 5 (3 reviews)

Are you looking for a moderate sized, sit-on-top kayak that's easy to transport, comfortable to sit in, handles well, and is capable of carrying enough gear for a backcountry adventure? Then you should consider the Wilderness Systems TARPON 100 sit-on-top kayak.

Reasons to Buy

  • Small size
  • Generous payload capacity
  • Very comfortable and adjustable seat system
  • Lots of storage
  • Easy to transport by one person

Reasons to Avoid

  • A bit heavy at 55 lbs
  • A bit pricey

I've prepared an in-depth video review of the Wilderness Systems TARPON 100 sit-on-top kayak.  I bought this kayak as a birthday gift for my wife, but I love it so much I'm considering getting one for myself. This 10 foot-long kayak weighs in at 55 lb. and has a load capacity of 325 lb. The fully adjustable seat makes this little boat very comfortable to paddle, and for a short boat it handles and tracks very well. Please check out the video:

Read more: Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 reviews (3)

Perception Access 11.5

user rating: 4 of 5 (1 review)

Very good kayak for anyone from beginners to seasoned veterans. Plenty of on deck space. Lots of cockpit room and deck rigging standard.

Reasons to Buy

  • Lightweight (~50lbs)
  • Maneuverability
  • Tracks straight well
  • Lots of above deck storage w/ bungee rigging standard

Reasons to Avoid

  • Shallow, awkward angle rod holders behind seat
  • Scupper holes are right at waterline
  • No factory "large" deck hatch for below deck storage

First impressions: Nice, lightweight kayak. Easy to grab handles at the ends and hand holds in the sides. The handles front and rear are also molded into the kayak so no more handle hardware being pulled through the plastic. They are large and easy to grab and make for excellent tie down points for car-topping. You can easily lift this kayak up and load it on top of an SUV (I have an XTerra and it loads very nicely). The back of the seat is molded into the top of the kayak, making a large "hump" in the top of the kayak.

Read more: Perception Access 11.5 review (1)

More Reviews of Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Trailspace reviewers have shared 29 reviews of 18 different sit-on-top kayaks.

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Other Types of Kayaks

Find more kayaks reviewed in these related categories:

Recreational Kayaks

Touring Kayaks

Whitewater Kayaks

+4 more types

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