In this article, I’m going to take a look at some of the best sit-on top kayaks of 2018. The sit on top (“SOT”) kayaks chosen for this list are selected based off of consumer reviews, expert reviews, my personal reviews, and feedback from the kayaking community.
Also, this section will be updated on a regular basis in order to keep up with new releases and advancements in kayak technology.
We will take a look at the best sit-on-top kayaks in 2018 at various price ranges targeted at different buyer preferences and/or budget sizes. Where possible I’ve broken down the budget categories into four different price ranges: (1) Under $400, (2) $400 – $700 (3) $700 – $1000 and (4) Over $1000.
Top 10 Sit-On-Top Kayaks Comparison Chart
Below is the table that shows the top 10 best sit on top kayaks 2018. Each and every sit on top kayak was chosen after careful reviews by specialists.
Sit-On Top Kayak
Recreation / Fishing
Recreation / Fishing
Recreation / Fishing
(Best Kayak for Kids)
By keeping this list updated and taking feedback from the community, this will be a great resource for anyone looking to get a new SOT kayak. I also highly recommend you read my Sit- On Top Kayak Buying Guide below before making a purchase.
1. Perception R15 Pescadors 100 Kayak - Editor's Choice for Best Sit On Top Kayak 2018
RecommendationA very well made kayak, and great for beginners, intermediate paddlers and anglers. If you decide to get one, do get the 10' so you can enjoy the benefits of more storage space and speed.
The Pescador 10' is really a terrific value and comparable to other sit-on-tops that are twice the price.
WEIGHT: 52 Ibs | 24 Kg
Max Capacity: 325 Ibs | 147 Kg
If you like having many of the features of a top kayak without spending over $600, then this might be kayak for you.
The Pescadorss R15 is a great kayak for a beginner to start out with and for people who like solo kayaking. It is also a great kayak for people who like to take a lot of gear with them. It fits many sizes of people, tracks perfectly and is stable enough.
Do not worry about the length, especially if you are going from a a longer kayak to this 10′ kayak. The sit on is as comfortable if not more. It is also quite light which makes it as manageable out of the water as it is in the water. Very helpful feature.
The one downside of the boat is that it has built-in rudders in the front and back. This makes it a bit difficult to turn. Not a problem for flat-water paddlers though. It still delivers plenty of speed and capacity for any level paddler to take pleasure in a day of fun on the water.
I see why owners of the Pescadors R15 love this kayak. Not a bad price either for a very well made kayak and for all the features it offers : the eye hooks and storage compartments, handles and a paddle keeper among others.
2. Malibu Two Tandem Kayak - Overall Quality & Best Flatwater Tandem Kayak
The Malibu II is noted as being one of the world’s most popular sit on top kayak designs.
It is a great family recreational boat that can be paddled solo or tandem and does just about anything. Its simple design offers great versatility and stability on the water and it can carry two adults and a child very easily.
For those looking for a multi-purpose compact kayak to fulfill multiple functions, then I will encourage you to give this kayak a second look.
LENGTH: 12' | 3.7M
WIDTH: 34" | 86.4 cm
WEIGHT: 57 Ibs | 25.9 Kg
Max Capacity: 375-425 Ibs | 170.1-192.8Kg
The Malibu 2 XL is a great sit-on-top kayak for recreational paddling and family fun. It is the new version of the older Malibu Two and I really like this yak for just about every purpose you would want to use a kayak.
Its design incorporates the perfect blend of stability, comfort and performance on the water.
About the only trick you need to know to surf the Malibu Two is to never lean the boat. It is almost impossible for one person to flip these yaks.
The Malibu 2 is great for two people or even one person where maneuverability isn’t key. It is a 2+1 sit-on-top kayak, meaning it has two full size adult seats and an additional centre seat in the middle of the kayak. This allows the Malibu 2 to happily carry two adults in the front & rear seats and a child in the centre seat.
It also tracks well and is easy to paddle in a straight line even for newcomers to the sport. The Malibu 2 is suitable for use on almost all types on water including coastal, estuary, lakes, rivers, canals & other inland waterways.
Some reservations I have about the Malibu Two are: (1) Some have reported their legs going to sleep while touring with this yak. One solution is to get padded seats. (2) The handles on the Malibu Two are very heavy and could be difficult for some to load onto a roof rack by themselves. And finally, (3) A little bit more storage space would be great.
If you are looking for a fun, low maintenance, affordable and family friendly recreational yak, this is the one to buy. Just don’t expect high end performance.
3. Ocean Kayak Frenzy - Best Budget Sit On Top Kayak
The Frenzy is a fun wave catcher that is ideally suited for ocean surf. Its 9' 31" dimensions make for a very stable boat in the waves that tracks straight to shore. While it does well on out stability and tracking indices, it however falls short on speed.
If speed is important to you, you should consider other options such as the Perception Pescador.
WEIGHT: 43 Ibs | 19.5 Kg
Max Capacity: 275-325 Ibs | 124.7-14 Kg
The Frenzy is a budget friendly kayak that is priced at a lower cost than many other similar models. It’s also a great beginner sit-on-top yak.
Most reviews from owners of this kayak and professionals were positive, emphasising stability, light weight, affordability and durability.
I agree with all of the above and cannot help but reiterate that these are slow boats and not well suited for long trips.
The Frenzy is not as maneuverable as a touring yak but it does remarkably well and sits low enough in the water to be stable in wake. This makes it a great option for recreational floating; some people use them as diving platforms to get out for a swim and climb back in fairly easily. It’s also really good for beginners who need a very stable boat that doesn’t answer too quickly to paddling mistakes.
A source of concern, especially for extra-large kayakers to beware, is that the mold of the seat is just 18″ and narrower than most kayaks. Furthermore, owners have adviced that you should add scupper plugs to stay dry on flat water as well as a proper back support, such as the comfort pro seat to improve comfort. That said, you will love the simple foot braces that allow you to adjust your foot position as you wish without fiddling with adjusting sliders.
Over all as a surfing ‘yak or a lake floater you can’t go wrong with this affordable boat. The Frenzy is a quality kayak that is easy to get on/off, stable, comfortable, and tracks very well on calmer/directional water. If I could change anything, it would be to add a dry storage area and side carry handles to the boat.
4. BIC Sport Borneo - Top Premium Choice
An incredibly solid kayak, the BIC Sport Borneo is a great balance between speed, stability, comfort and maneuverability for a family/solo recreational kayak. Ideal for those in the "leisure paddling" category as it is very comfortable and does the job with little fuss.
The BIC Sport Borneo boasts several innovations - in equipment and fittings too, that place it above even some more expensive kayaks.
If there is a tandem SOT kayak out there that beats out the BIC Sport Borneo, it isn't by much, and of the other elite in the category, the Borneo is priced better than all of them.
LENGTH: 13'45" | 4.10M
WIDTH: 2'7" | 84 cm
WEIGHT: 75 Ibs | 34 Kg
Max Capacity: 550 Ibs |249.4 Kg
If you are looking for a high quality tandem SOT kayak for sale at a fairly affordable price (at least when compared to similar performing tandem SOT kayaks), then the BIC Sport Borneo may be the yak for you.
It is a family oriented tandem SOT kayak, with a number of innovative features, notably the possibility of solo use in equal paddling comfort to double.
BIC Sport’s exclusive Twin Sheet Technology (TST) used to build the mold of the yak creates a product that is extremely solid.
One of the unique features of The BIC Sport Borneo, are the rare built-in wheels outfitted at the back. This makes toting the kayak that much easier. And there’s a moulded deck insert for storing the wheels/rollers while sailing.
The tracking ability of the Borneo is fantastic and is attributed to its unique Triple Hull Design (“THD”) shape. It offers speed, smooth glide and maneuverability, while maintaining maximum stability. It will be easy for most beginners to handle with little skill and practice.
And it provides very generous cargo space for you to take everything you might need. One downside however, is that similar to other top tandem SOT kayaks, the Borneo is a bit heavy. Not a problem if you have a partner.
Overall, the BIC Sport Borneo takes all of the best qualities that veteran yaks look for and combines them with ease-of-use to make sure that anyone can use this kayak and get a lot out of it.
5. Ocean Kayak Prowler 13' Angler Kayak - Best Ocean Fishing Sit On Top Kayak
Totally pleased with this kayak from Ocean Kayak. Easy to paddle. Easy to fish from. The Prowler was designed with the fisherman in mind and is one of the most popular kayaks you can buy.
It combines performance with features and you can tell a lot of thought went into the design of this boat.
Whether you fish in creeks, small ponds, large lakes and off the beaches, the Prowler gets the job done. It offers you an oversized tankwell that fits most coolers or your homemade fishing crate so you are spoilt for storage.
The Prowler is recommended for paddlers looking to step up from a beginner kayak to something that packs a bit more punch.
WEIGHT: 54 Ibs
Max Capacity: 450 Ibs
A lot of thought went into the design of the Ocean Kayak Prowler 13. This is why it is one of the most popular fishing kayaks on the market today.
For right around $1,000, the Prowler 13 Angler is a good option for anyone who has a moderate budget and who wants to get into ocean kayak fishing or sport fishing in general.
The 13.4ft Prowler 13 tracks straight, which helps with speed when hunting down fish in the lake or ponds. Its slightly longer frame makes it more stable but, unfortunately, also makes it a bit harder to steer in rough waters and to stand in the kayak. The molded in foot pegs in the hull makes standing difficult.
A constant observation among owners of the Prowler is that the seat sucks, especially for longer 8+hrs trips. Many owners opted to upgrade their seats and this seemed to have solved that problem.
Thankfully, storage spaces within and above the Prowler is more than enough for all tools and accessories required for a long day of touring/fishing. Still on storage, one of my favorite features of the Prowler is the hull storage space that allows for rods to be stored away inside the hull. We love it.
With the different types of angler kayaks available on the market, the Prowler is really a great high-quality option for under $1,000 in total cost which is very hard to beat.
Professionals and amateurs have consistently listed the Prowler as a favorite. We are not surprised. It is one kayak no angler should live without.
6. Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak - A Get-in-and-Go 2-Person Kayak for Beginners
A get in and go kayak. The Mantra is designed for you to just jump in and start paddling away. It’s this type of ease of use that makes it popular across all experience levels and across all water bodies from oceans to small lakes.
To give you more fun, the Mantra is designed to receive a sail. If nothing else, it’s a fun way to mix things up a bit and differentiates it from other kayaks in similar price range. If you’re in the market for a fun and affordable kayak, the 10 foot Manta kayak definitely gets my recommendation.
WEIGHT: 66 Ibs
Max Capacity: 500 Ibs
Transport Weight: 66 Ibs
I will just get straight to the point and share with you the overwhelming feedback from kayak enthusiasts and owners about what they like about the Manta. These are (1) Price (2) Stability and (3) Roominess and comfort, even with three people on it.
I will also get to the complaints from these group of people later on, however, if you’re looking for a kayak that does most things well – racing, cruising, fishing etc, as well as a kayak that has the capacity for multiple adult passengers, then you need to look more closely at the Lifetime Manta. The Manta kayak was designed for multi-purpose recreational use kayaking and provides balanced, comfortable seating for tandem, solo or family fun.
It is a relatively short tandem kayak (at just 10 feet long) and can seat three full-size adults with a 500 pound weight capacity. Because of the fact that it’s designed for two to three people, it’s very stable. You can stand up, move around and not have the risk of too much wobble.
The design of the Manta is a tunnel-hull design that I believe is great for beginners because this shape makes it very easy to manage the boat even when paddling out through small surf. Because the tunnel hull gives great stability and improve tracking, it’s also near impossible to tip the ‘Manta’ over. Furthermore, the cockpit area is dotted with scupper holes that run through the hull so that you never have to worry about bailing water from the boat, even in rough or wet conditions.
It is important to point out that the Manta’s length, weight, width and design are for stability over speed and agility so I wouldn’t recommend this kayak for long touring or trying to keep up with long, sleek kayaks.
I would also highly recommend that you invest in a pair of good light weight paddles for this kayak. The two paddles that come with the boat are inadequate and very poorly made. However, note that if you try longer paddles, and you have 2 people paddling, you will be hitting each other.
Ultimately, if speed and fancy accessories are not important, if you can afford a new cushion or seat, and if you plan to be out on the water only a few hours at a time, then the Manta could be the right answer for you. Or if you can spare an extra $150-200, I would actually go for the Malibu Kayaks Trio-11 Fish & Dive Package Kayak.
7. Malibu Kayak Trio-11 Fish & Dive Package Kayak - Also a Top Ocean Fishing Kayak
The Trio 11 is a longer replica of the very popular Mini-X. It is a very appealing option for kayak enthusiasts seeking to share their kayaking fun and experience with family and friends.
The Trio 11 is a unique hybrid and multifunctional kayak that can seat three (one large, and two median-small persons) comfortably, providing you with an awesome ride - be it fishing, diving or touring with the family. While it is an appealing family kayak, our view is that a slightly elevated seating option from the manufacturer would have been nice.
WEIGHT: 48 Ibs
Max Capacity: 500 Ibs
The Trio 11 takes the tandem kayak design to the next level and is a first of its kind that seats three comfortably and still offers mass storage space with excellent stability.
It combines two extra molded seats in the front and rear of the kayak and thanks to the unique hull design of this boat, all three seating positions are guaranteed maximum stability.
What we liked about the Trio 11 is that it is an affordable way for a small family to enjoy some time together on one boat without worrying about space, storage or stability on the water. Sure it is not a fast boat and it loses some responsiveness when turning, but it does track great.
The Trio 11 is a wide boat and you have to get used to wide strokes, or you’ll hit the hull with your hand. That said, paddling straight is easy enough if you are paying attention.
We liked the weight capacity of the Trio 11, especially for its weight. This, along with its seating space and versatility should make it a very appealing option for kayak enthusiasts who want to share the experience with their family.
Our only reason for holding back on fully endorsing the Trio 11 is that the manufacturer hasn’t joined the high (elevated) seat trend as these kayak would perform very well with them.
8. Sun Dolphin Journey 10' Kayak - Contender for Best Kayak for Fishing in Lakes & Rivers
I have always liked fishing kayaks from Sun Dolphin. If you're a beginner or intermediate level angler, then this sit-on-top fishing Kayak might be exactly what you're looking for.
For example, the 10 foot long and 30 inches wide solo seater is great for paddling through beautiful lakes and rivers, making your way to those breathtaking, excluded fishing spots.
And, compared to some of the Tier 2 and 3 SOT kayaks, it is priced fairly well.
WEIGHT: 44 Ibs
Max Capacity: 250 Ibs
Deck Height: 11"
What gives this kayak incredible stability is the fact that it’s built using special UV-stabilised Foriflex High-density polyethene. Its hard-shell structure and a large open cockpit with adjustable padded seating further appeals to many owners.
This gives it that extra bit of flexibility you will be thankful for.
A strong selling point is the seating area. It has well-protected thigh pads, ample storage, adjustable foot braces, short cord deck rigging and paddle holder. These are all features that add to the convenience factor of this beauty.
I tend to travel a lot and if you’re like me then you will love the lightweight of the kayak and how easy it is to transport.
On top of that, the paddler size also makes it ideal for the average or larger sized adult. Oh, the boat can carry a maximum weight of 250 pounds. Very cool.
Another big strong selling point of this fishing kayak is the fact that it’s not very expensive when compared with other models in its class. You can find it for less than $400, and that for me is money well spent.
So, if you aren’t looking for a purely recreational kayak, and you don’t mind the Sun Dolphin Journey’s tan color, then this sit-on-top fishing kayak competes well with other kayaks in this tier.
Our only reason for holding back on fully endorsing the Trio 11 is that the manufacturer hasn’t joined the high (elevated) seat trend as these kayak would perform very well with them.
9. Lifetime 10' Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak - Most stable sit on top fishing kayak
For the ultimate fishing kayaking experience, this Lifetime product has proven its mettle. With a whole host of advanced built-in features, you can be assured of a smooth ride with great stability.
What I loved most about this beauty is the tunnel hull design which makes it possible to stand and fish or even sit side-saddle without worrying about it toppling over.
All the wonderful features and the fact that you can get this for around less than $700, makes it stand out.
WEIGHT: 60 Ibs
Max Capacity: 500 Ibs
I get a lot of inspiration from nature and color plays a big part in this so the aesthetic look of the olive green shade of this Kayak really appealed to me.
Despite its relatively low price, you still get a kayak made of durable, high-density polyethene for superior strength and stability.
Don’t expect it to be breaking any speed records since it’s a relatively short and wide kayak. That being said, if you’re interested in a smooth, stress-free fishing experience with a couple of friends then you really can’t beat this one. I just felt that it’s a bit heavy compared to others in its class. However, it is not so heavy that it looses many of its superior qualities.
Finally, keep in mind that this is primarily a fishing kayak and not a touring kayak. Most of the features have been put in place to make standing up, sitting down and casting fairly easy. It also comes with paddles, paddle holders and a deep rod holder on the sides to add to the convenience factor.
Oh!. The Sport Fisher Kayak is also backed by a 5-year limited manufacturer warranty. I like that.
10. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak - Best Kids Kayak
Recreational Kayaking is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your children. Unique for kayaks for kids, this kayak is specially designed for ages 5 and up.
If you are looking to get your kids in the water for some fun and introduce them to recreational kayaking then this is one you should seriously consider.
One of the main reasons I would recommend this is because it has a number of built-in features for your child's safety. This includes a wide stance seating space which enhances the overall stability.
The price of around $80-120 is also quite reasonable considering the build quality and all the features it provides.
WEIGHT: 21 Ibs
Max Capacity: 130 Ibs
The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a refreshing addition to Lifetime’s vast array of Kayaks.
It’s built with Durable High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) construction giving it enhanced stability. This is especially important when you consider that it’s built for kids and their safety is paramount.
It can carry a maximum weight of 130 lbs and the dimensions are 72″x 24″x 8″.
I really liked their unique sloped back design at the end and a swim-up step which makes it fairly easy for the kayaker to re-enter the kayak if they fall in the water. The multiple footrests also give it great flexibility and riders of different sizes can easily use it.
The addition of a bonus paddle is a pleasant surprise. With a limited number of 6-foot kayaks to choose from for your kids, this 1-man Youth kayak is definitely worth a good look. I’m expect you won’t be disappointed.
Sit-On-Top Kayak Buyer's Guide
Overview of What Is a Sit-On-Top Kayak & Why Choose One?
A sit-on-top kayak is a small boat that is manually maneouvered using a double-blade paddle handled by the paddler or paddlers. A paddler on a sit-on-top kayak sits on an open cockpit made from a moulded depression top instead of a closed cockpit as found in a sit-in-kayak.
Water enthusiasts that enjoy easy and quick get-in-and-go on their boats love sit-on-top kayaks. People who enjoy fishing, surfing, and diving also find this boat very practical and more affordable compared to the sit-in kayak.
Buying a Sit-on-Top Kayak
Buying a sit-on-top kayak can be confusing due to the many features available. Many have made the mistake of falling in love with a kayak and purchasing it based on its good looks but have had buyer’s remorse the next day.
If you are serious about buying a sit-on-top kayak, you should make sure to do your research on its type, features, size, material and hull shape. This enables you make the best decision that suits your needs.
How to Choose a Kayak
First things first, before you decide on which sit-on-top kayak to purchase, you should determine where and how you plan to do most of your paddling. It is important to understand that no single kayak excels at every type of use case for a sit-on-top kayak.
There are some guidelines that can help you decide which kayak is best for you:
- Types of Kayak: Recreational, Surf, Touring & Whitewater
- Kayak Features: Hull Shape, Material, Size
- Single or Tandem
Other things to think about when purchasing a kayak include: What color? How will you transport the kayak? Do you have roof racks on your car? Storage of the kayak at home? By thinking about these issues early on will go a long way in ensuring you ultimately buy the best sit-on-top kayak that is ideal for you.
Sit-on-Top Kayak Types
Type of Kayak
Used by paddlers who plan to kayak on streams, flatwater or lakes. They are beginner friendly because they are wider, hence more stable and easier to manoeuvre. However, they are slower and hard to go straight. They also have smaller cargo capacity
It is similar to traditional surfing and is used to catch ocean waves. Paddlers who want to experience the thrill of surfing but on a kayak use this type of kayak
These kayaks are designed and built for speed on a straight line and used mainly for paddling on lakes and oceans. It is also ideal for long (greater than 2 hrs) journeys and as a result has ample storage area
Used by paddlers that love the thrill of paddling on fast moving waters and whitewater rapids. They are typically shorter for easy manoeuvring and are hard to tip over
Sit-on-Top Kayak Features
Your intended use of a sit-on-top kayak should influence the hull shape of the kayak you end up buying. Two types:
You generally have two options on the type of material you want in a kayak - hard shell or inflatable.
Available sizes for sit-on-top kayaks are:
Some kayaks may also have space for more passengers on the kayak. SOT Kayaks are typically 3 -6m in length.
Kayaks have various weight capacities ranging from 60 to over 130 Kgs.
Parts in a Sit-on-Top Kayak
The front of the cockpit
A vertical partition that creates a watertight chamber in a kayak
The area where the paddler seats
The surface of the kayak
A storage place for gear. Typically watertight
This is the base of the kayak
The left side of the kayak
A fin-line part that is attached to the base of the kayak and helps to keep the kayak in a straight line and stable
The right of the kayak
The rear of the cockpit
Best Sit-On-Top Kayak Brands
If you are just a beginner when it comes to sit-on-top kayaking, and do not know how to do it at all, our advice to you is to just keep going. There is no point getting discouraged and giving up, as every paddler has been where you are right now. We have all tipped over, and the only reason we improved was because we got back up again. You may notice that some of the cons on the products above included that it may be unstable, but if you want a great challenge, they are going to be the best ones for you.
The ten sit-on-top kayaks above are the best on the market right now. They all have incredible features, are durably designed and, have ideal price to value ratios in my opinion.
With any type of kayak you are purchasing, whether it is an inflatable kayak or a hard sit-on-top kayak, we always recommend looking for durability above all else. What good is a kayak if after just the first few uses it falls apart? You need one built by a reliable company, and one that is going to last you a long time, which all ten of the above have in spades!
If we had to choose our favourite kayak from the list above it would be the Perception R15 Pescadors 100 Kayak. We believe this kayak has an edge when compared to the others, just because of its unique design and ease of use. Whether you are experienced or a beginner, this board is going to do the job for you.
We strongly encourage you to go to the store in person and check these out for yourself. While it is great to purchase them online, even more so it is great to test them out in person. This is going to avoid disappointment, so at least test them in store and then purchase them online if you can find a better price.
We wish you all the best in your future kayaking activities, and hope you make a purchase that you can feel happy about. Stay safe out on the water, and most of all, have fun!