Difference Between Sit-On-Top and Sit-In Kayaks
KAYAK TYPES Sit in Kayaks Sit on Top

Difference Between Sit-On-Top and Sit-In Kayaks

Written by Joshua K.

There are two basic styles of kayaks in the market. They are sit on top kayaks and sit inside kayaks. Whether inflatable or hard shells, all the kayaks follow these two basic designs. Both sit in and sit on top kayaks have many similar features but they have also some major differences.

Despite of these differences, both sit in and sit on top kayaks are favoured by the kayakers around the world for their unique characteristics and usefulness. This is why, it is often difficult for the beginners and sometimes even for the professional kayakers to chose what kind of kayaks they should buy.

The dilemma of selecting sit in or sit on top kayak is in fact the most common among the kayakers. Therefore to get rid of this age old confusion, our experts, from their vivid experience with all types of kayaks, have revealed the characteristics and differences between the sit in and sit on top kayaks.  

Sit in Kayaks:

Sit in Kayaks

Sit in kayak is the traditional kayak design. We can easily assume the main character of this kayak from its name that is in this kayak, the kayaker has to sit inside the shell of the kayak. These kayaks are actually enclosed vessel with a cockpit in the middle.

The cockpit shelters the body of the kayaker. There is rim attached to the  cockpit. With this rim a spray deck can be adjusted to keep the water away from the vessel. There is a seat and a foot rest inside the cockpit. After sitting inside, the kayaker can adjust the distance of the foot pedal according to the length of his/her leg.   

Sit -on- top Kayaks:

sit on kayaks

The design of sit-on-top kayak is inspired by the surf boards. These kayaks are shorter but wider and sealed hull crafts.

In these kayaks, there is open space in the shell of the kayak where the kayakers can keep their gadgets and gears. The seat of the kayak is placed on the shell where the kayaker sits like sitting in a normal, adjustable chair.

Structural Difference:

So, the major structural differences between sit on top and sit in kayaks are as follows:

Sit in kayaks

Sit on top kayaks

Sit in kayaks are long and narrow in size On the other hand sit on top kayaks are wider and shorter in size
Sit in kayaks have an enclosed shell structure On the other hand, sit on top kayaks have open shell but sealed hull design.
Sit in kayaks have cockpit where the kayaker’s body is sheltered inside the shell of the kayak. On the other hand, the kayakers sit on a chair placed on the open shell of the sit on top kayak.

As we know the structural difference of these two types of kayaks, now learning about the different aspects of these kayaks enable us to make the right choice.

To see the structural difference practically you can watch this video

Pros and Cons of Sit In Kayaks:

  • Fast, easier to paddle and suitable for long trips, touring and racing
  • Spray deck helps protects the kayaks and the kayaker from the adverse effects of different elements
  • Storage areas inside the kayak can be protected from waters.
  • As the kayak shelters the kayaker’s lower part of the body from wind and water, it is ideal for cruising in the cold waterfronts.
  • There is not a lof place to move your body in the sit in kayaks.
  • If the kayak is flipped, water moves inside and the kayak may drown
  • In hot weather, the kayaker may feel toasty inside the enclosed shell of the kayak
  • It is difficult to get in and get out of the sit in kayak

Pros and Cons of Sit on Top Kayaks:

  • This kayak design is admired for its stability because of its wider shell
  • Sealed hull of the kayak makes it almost unsinkable as even if the vessel capsizes, it never takes on water
  • There is freedom of movement for the kayakers
  • Storage areas are comparatively large
  • These kayaks are ideal for fishing and surfing
  • Kayakers can move in and move out of the kayak as they please
  • These kayaks and the kayakers are exposed to elements like wind and water/
  • Kayakers are bound to get wet from the constant splashing from the peddling and waters dripped from the pedals.
  • Slower than the sit in kayaks
  • Sit on top kayaks are more difficult to paddle than their sit in counterparts.

To know more about the pros and cons of these two types of kayaks you can watch this video

So, all the physical and qualitative differences between these two types of kayaks are now clear before us. Both these kayaks have unique features and usefulnesses. So, after reading this article we hope that you will be able to choose the kayak that best suits your needs, purpose and kayaking experience.

About the author

Joshua K.

We usually assume that there is no skill required in fishing when we start out. Truth be told there is method and technique to it. I started out fishing as a hobby and ended up falling in love with it. I assumed that fishing would be similar to hunting. Both involve creatures. However, I came to fishing Read More