Which Is Better: A Sit-On-Top Kayak Or A Sit-In Kayak

A sit-in and sit-on-top kayak are both great kayaks, but which one is better? Is there a difference between sit-in kayaks and sit-on-top kayaks?

In this article, I will explain why I think sit-on-top kayaks are better. I’ll also explain why sitting down in a kayak is a bit tricky.

In closing, let me emphasize that both kayaks have their benefits. But if I chose which kayak to buy for myself, I would buy a sit-on-top kayak.

Which Is Better_ A Sit-On-Top Kayak Or A Sit-In Kayak
Which Is Better_ A Sit-On-Top Kayak Or A Sit-In Kayak

Here’s The Answer To Which Is Better A Sit-On-Top Kayak Or A Sit-In Kayak

If you are a beginner or plan to kayak in areas with lots of waves, a sit-on-top kayak is a good choice. If you are an advanced paddler or plan to kayak in cold weather, a sit-inside kayak is a better choice.

Most kayakers opt for sit-on-top models. They are stable and easy to get in and out of. Sit-on-top kayaks are also self-bailing, meaning they will not fill with water if they tip over.

This makes them suitable for novice paddlers and used in locations with high wave activity. 

Sit-inside kayaks are less stable than sit-on-top kayaks, but they offer more protection from the elements. Sit-inside kayaks also have a lower center of gravity, which makes them easier to maneuver.

Sit-inside kayaks are a good choice for advanced paddlers or kayaking in cold weather. 


  • Performance. Whether you’re looking for speed, maneuverability, or stability, this is the deciding element between a sit-on-top and a sit-in kayak.
  • Speed. Though it’s possible to find a sit-in or sit-on-top kayak that can travel at high speeds, generally speaking, the two types have different capabilities when it comes to moving through the water at high speeds.
  • Sit-on-tops tend to be faster than their counterpart because of their hull design: The more surface area you have exposed to water (as opposed to your body), the more drag you’ll experience when traveling through it; this means that when you’re on top of a sit on top kayak with no spray skirt. This allows for more legroom; you’ll feel less resistance from wind and currents, which slows down your progress compared with those sitting inside traditionally enclosed vessels like sea kayaks or river canoes. On average, though, both types seem about equal speed potential unless something goes wrong with either propulsion system.


Both kayaks have advantages and disadvantages, but their relative weight is one of the most crucial. Since sit-on-top kayaks are open, they tend to be lighter than sit-in kayaks.

This is because, with a hull, you have more material that needs to be constructed and added for stability. Similarly, it also means that if you plan on transporting your boat by vehicle or plane (which isn’t an option for all), this may also affect which type of boat you pick.

Whitewater Paddling

A sit-on-top kayak is ideal for whitewater paddling since it allows you to stay upright while paddling. They’re more stable than sit-in models and will provide more protection from the rapids or waterfalls you’ll be navigating.

Sit-on-tops are also easier to maneuver than sit-ins because they don’t have any bulk hanging over the side of your boat that could get caught on rocks or other obstacles in the river.

This allows for better control when you want to turn around and leave an area quickly, for example, if there’s too much current for comfort or if you see signs of danger ahead (such as submerged logs).

Multiday Paddling

Multiday Paddling
Multiday Paddling

Sit-in kayaks are an excellent choice for multi-day paddling trips. They offer an enclosed cockpit that protects you from the elements and storage hatches for all your gear.

Sit-in kayaks also have a variety of accessories that can be added to the inside of the kayak, making them even more versatile.

Touring kayaks, with their spacious cockpits, are ideal for longer excursions since they can accommodate much more gear. They are also designed to handle more challenging weather conditions and can be paddled for long periods.

They often have various storage options for all your gear, as well as a dry hatch that keeps your belongings safe and dry. All these make them a great option for those looking to explore and go camping.


When shopping for a kayak, comfort should be your top priority. Depending on what you will be doing with your boat and how much time you’ll spend in it, different features may matter more to you than others.

If comfort is your top priority, here’s what to look for:

  • The seat: A comfortable seat means more time spent paddling and less time sitting around waiting for soreness or cramps to subside. Look for seats that can be adjusted for height and width and have lumbar support (which most models do).
  • Seat back: The foam used in the seat should also provide good cushioning. It should contour comfortably to your spine with just enough give so that it doesn’t press too hard against your lower back while seated upright in an ergonomically correct position (see below).
  • Foot braces: Foot braces help keep your feet in place, so they don’t slide off the pedals during turns or sudden maneuvers but still allow easy movement up and down across them when needed. They come standard with most models, but some boats have adjustable versions that let users move their foot positions forward or backward depending on what feels best for them while paddling each stroke type (forward/backward sweep; side sweep; sculling).

Carry Space

You’ll need storage for your belongings if you’re going on an overnight hike or camping vacation. The gear should fit into your vehicle if you’re taking a day trip.

  • Gear: There’s no set amount of space needed for gear—it all depends on what you’re carrying. However, if it’s just yourself and maybe a dog or child along with basic supplies like food and water (and maybe some extra clothes for warmth), then it won’t take much room to fit them all in the kayak. However, the more people and supplies that are being carried by the vessel, the larger its carrying capacity needs to be to accommodate them comfortably.
  • People: You can estimate how many people will fit based on height (although this isn’t always accurate).



If you’re new to kayaking, it’s essential to consider the stability of your boat when choosing which type will suit your needs. While there are a few exceptions, most sit-in kayaks tend to be more stable than sit-on-top kayaks.

This is because they have a hull design that allows them to cut through the water more efficiently and hold more weight without tipping over.

Sit-on-tops are generally less stable than sit-ins, though this is not always true for all models or brands. Some sit-on tops offer great stability even though they don’t have any bulkheads or compartments inside the boat as other models do.

Sit-on-top kayaks are more user-friendly for novices since they put them closer to nature without danger if they lose their balance or tumble out of their seats (which is unlikely).

If Flipped

If you flip your sit-on-top kayak, you must roll it right side up. This can be easier with a spray skirt, as it will help keep the water out of the boat.

However, it may still be a challenge to get all the water out of your kayak and pull yourself back in, especially if you’re trying not to panic.

If your sit-in kayak flips over and lands on its hull (bottom), the kayak can then take in water. This will cause the kayak to sink, and it’s essential to be aware before deciding to flip your boat.


If you’re looking for a stable craft, the sit-on-top kayak will provide you with the most comfort and confidence. Aside from being more stable than a sit-in kayak, it’s also less likely to flip over in rough waters. However, a sit-in kayak may be the right choice if you’re not concerned about stability and would rather have the option of leaning back on your boat while paddling.

Getting In And Out

A sit-on-top kayak is the best option if you want some maneuverability. A sit-in kayak is more stable and comfortable than its counterpart, but it can also be challenging to get in and out of.

This may be particularly true if you struggle with balance or movement. The easiest way to mount and dismount is with a sit-on-top, making them the greatest option for those looking for convenience.


With the wide opening of a sit-on-top kayak’s cockpit, boarding and alighting are a breeze. These have very little storage space, but this is usually compensated for by the fact that they’re much easier to get in and out of.

A hatch covers the cockpit of a sit-in kayak. The bulkhead separates the front half of your body from your legs in the back, creating more space for storage and allowing you more room to move around on long trips.

A hatch allows you to access your gear inside the boat from above; it’s like having an extra compartment where you can store items such as food, water bottles, or other personal items without taking them out on shore every time.

Construction Materials

Construction Materials
Construction Materials

The materials used to make a kayak are just as important as the design. When choosing between sit-in and sit-on-top models, it’s essential to know what material your desired model is made from.

Sit-in kayaks are generally made with plastic and fiberglass, while sit-on-top models are made of plastic and composite materials like carbon fiber or Kevlar.

If you’re looking for a less expensive option that still offers excellent durability, then a sit-on-top model will be best for you—but if cost isn’t an issue and you want the highest quality construction possible, consider purchasing a sit-in model instead!


When it comes to safety, both sit-on-top kayaks and sit-in kayaks have their pros and cons.

  • A sit-on-top kayak is more prone to flipping over than a sit-in model. This is because you are in a seated position, which means your torso is not as secure as it would be with a sit-in kayak. That said, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of being in a seated position for long periods on the water (or if you can’t stand up straight without hitting your head), then this might not be an issue for you at all!
  • A sit-on-top kayak is also more likely to capsize than a sit-in model because if water rushes into it from above or swamps anything around the cockpit area, such as life jackets or other gear stored there, then things can get wet very quickly indeed (not great when trying not to get too cold!). On top of this, the risk is already inherent in having less stability due to only having one seat instead of two like its counterpart does, even worse yet!

Body Contact Area

The body contact area is one of the most critical aspects when choosing a kayak. This is because it will determine how stable and comfortable you are while paddling and how much storage space there is for your gear.

Sit-on-top kayaks have a much larger body contact area than sit-in kayaks, providing more stability when out on the water. Additionally, their large buoyancy means you’ll be able to stay dry even if you fall in the water or take an unexpected dip during your trip.

On top of this, sit-on-top kayaks tend to be more comfortable than sit-in models because nothing is restricting your movements or causing any pinching points that might otherwise cause discomfort over time.


Maneuverability is the ability to change direction. The apparent simplicity of this principle belies the complexity of the many aspects that affect the overall mobility of your kayak.

For example, sit-on-top kayaks are more agile than sit-in kayaks because they have no center console and thus more open space for paddling.

However, because they don’t have the support structure of a cockpit or deck to keep you stable in choppy waters, these boats can be prone to tipping over if you’re not careful.

While sit-in kayaks are more stable (and provide an enclosed seating space, making entry and exit less of a hassle), their extra weight can make some models feel sluggish on the water.

Fishing Friendly

The sit-on-top kayak is your best bet if you’re a fisherman or plan to fish while on your kayak. The open cockpit allows you to cast freely without taking too many precautions.

A sit-in kayak will limit your ability to fish because of its closed cockpit, and being enclosed in a tube makes it harder for you to move around comfortably with all the equipment you need for fishing.


The blog post discussed the differences between sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks. In this post, we discussed which is better – a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak. Which option you select depends entirely on your taste.

However, there are a few things that you should keep in mind when choosing between the two. 

How much you can relax in a kayak primarily depends on the size of the cockpit. A larger cockpit will allow you to sit in the kayak. However, it will also make it difficult to paddle.

On the other hand, a smaller cockpit will make it easier to paddle, but you will not be able to sit in the kayak. Also, the shape of the cockpit will determine how much room there is to store things inside.

It is up to you to determine whether a sit-on-top or a sit-in kayak is more convenient for you.

We hope you found this blog post helpful and informative, and we hope to see you in the comments to let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which type of kayak is best for exploring calm waters?

A sit-in kayak is the best option for exploring calm waters because it has an open cockpit that makes it easy to cast and maneuver. On the other hand, a sit-on-top kayak is not as good for peaceful waters because its closed cockpit makes it difficult to move around.

Is it safe to paddle around in strong currents with a sit-in kayak?

Paddling around in strong currents with a sit-in kayak is not recommended because it can be dangerous. Strong currents can sweep you away, and the open cockpit of a sit-in kayak makes it easy for water to enter and swamp the kayak.

What should I do if I get seasick in a sit-in kayak?

If you get seasick in a sit-in kayak, the best thing to do is stay seated and hold on to the kayak’s sides. This will help keep you upright and less likely to go into distress.

Which is the best kayak for beginners who are afraid of getting wet?

A beginner-friendly kayak is a sit-in kayak. This type of kayak has an enclosed cockpit that keeps you dry and easy to get in and out of. Also, the kayak’s smooth ride makes it easy to control.