Sit on Top Vs. Sit Inside Kayaks: Part 2

In the first part of the article, we break down and looked at the differences between the two kayaks when it comes to primary uses, performance, and stability.

Looking back, we know that there are two main types of kayaks: sit on top and sit inside. We are hoping that this will further help you decide which one is the best for you.


Which kayak has more or better features? Well, that’s very subjective. What kind of features are you interested in?

  • The sit-inside kayak has great features for multi-day trips or camping. It often has hatches, bow, and stern with bulkheads. Bulkheads are walls on the inside that separate the kayak into individual compartments. Ideally, dry compartments are great for multi-day tripping.
  • The sit-on-top kayak tends to have features that are great for fishing. It’s an open deck, with endless opportunities for customization. That’s why the sit-on-top kayak is hands down the number one choice by kayak anglers when it comes to safety on the water by far. The biggest factors are your use of safety equipment.

Sit on top kayak

That being said, in general, I think it’s fair to say that a sit-on-top kayak is a safer kayak. The reason I say that is because a sit on top kayak for:

  1. It can’t swamp – if you flip this boat over anywhere on the lake or a river, you can just roll it back up and theoretically, climb right back on and start paddling again. I say theoretically because climbing onto these things from the water is actually a lot more difficult than you think and if it’s something you expect to do then make sure you practice it beforehand and see that you can actually do it because surprisingly, few people can actually do that.
  2. The other thing that makes sit-on-top safer is the fact that you’re not confined or at least there’s no feeling of confinement.

There is a strong argument that in some situations, the sit-inside kayak is the safer kayak and that really only comes into play when you have the skills and knowledge to be able to make the right choices and to use the sit-inside kayak at a high level.

If I’m pushing my limits, traveling in rough water, a sit-inside kayak – if you’re skilled enough – is the safer option because it has so much better performance. Better performance = safety. If you do flip, you have the ability to actually roll the kayak which isn’t an option to sit on top kayaks.


Sit inside kayak

The unfortunate truth is kayaks are big, bulky, and sometimes quite heavy, so they’re not easy to move around.

  1. Sit inside kayaks tend to be significantly lighter than sit-on-top kayaks for a couple of reasons. Less plastic, fewer materials involved, and fewer features than a sit-on-top kayak. That usually makes it easier to carry and possible to carry by a single person, you can put this on your shoulder.
  2. You can’t just put a sit-on-top kayak on your shoulder, combine that with the fact that it typically weighs a good 15-25 % more than a comparable sit-inside kayak. This is a two-person job; although there are ways to move it around as a single person such as using kayak carts trailers and some boats.
Final Thoughts and Tips

So, as you can see, both sit-on-top and sit-inside kayak designs have both advantages and disadvantages over the other. It really just depends on what you are looking for in a kayak and what your personal preferences are.

❖ As a result, sit-on-top kayaks are typically preferred by both beginning paddlers and kayak anglers who want a kayak with high initial stability for brief trips.

❖ Sit-inside kayaks are popular among intermediate and expert paddlers who want a fast kayak for long trips or extended camping excursions.

❖When purchasing a kayak, it is critical to first clarify your intended purpose for the kayak and then select a sit-on-top or a sit-inside model based on the function for which you will use it most.

❖Like always, wearing PFD on the water, your respect for your own limitations, your own paddling skills and knowledge, and your application of common sense. That’ll make a way bigger difference than what kayak you choose.

If you have any questions or would like help choosing the right kayak for you, please feel free to contact us! We would be more than happy to assist you.

Thanks for reading and happy paddling!

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