Best Sit on Top Kayak 2018 

Sit on tops have really only be pushed to the market since the mid 90’s with many brands finding a formula to build a simple boat but with big quantities.

Many companies have then taken these basic boats and worked hard to build better user-friendly designs with Sit on Tops now available for a variety of specialist users take a look at our Best Fishing Kayaks and Best Beginner Kayaks to see some of these boats already in action.

If you want to skip straight to the buyers guide click here

The Sit on Top is a lot more user-friendly than some of the sit in alternatives. This is because they are open topped and very stable. In the event of a capsize the user’s worst case scenario is getting wet before climbing back on and away they go. With a Sit in kayak, an unfortunate tumble is difficult to rectify with most users having to make land before emptying and getting going again.

In many cases the boats are so stable falling in is not really an option. Of course, if you choose to use the kayak in the sea or on waves then expect to get wet.

A sit on top can be perfect for all the family with many options for extra seats to allow children the chance to get on board also.

The sit on tops I am reviewing here are some of my favourite boats suiting a range of users needs.

Best Sit on Top Kayaks Comparison:

Image Name Brand Length Width Weight Maximum Capacity
Islay 14 SOT Venture Kayaks 14”1 29.1” 66 lbs 300 lbs+
Tarpon 120 Ultralite Wilderness Systems 12” 30” 43 lbs 350 lbs
Fusion Sit on Top Pyranha Kayaks 10”5 30.7” 56 lbs 286 lbs
Hi Life Perception 11” 34” 55 lbs 280 lbs
Roam 11.5 Dagger Kayaks 11”6 30” 61 lbs 300 lbs

Venture Kayaks Islay 14 Sit on Top

What We Say

The Islay 14 from Venture kayaks is a British built boat taking all the best aspects from its sister brand P&H sea kayaks to create an amazing touring platform.

The Islay 14 is one of the most functional boats on the market with so many amazing features.

Starting from the seat Venture use a foam style universal seat which fits into the moulded hull to create a good level of comfort and support. The boat can be fitted with either a skeg or skudder to aid steering. The skudder in an ingenious device. It looks like a skeg, fits neatly into the sketch box, deployed like a skeg. But just when you think it is a skeg you fully deploy the skudder and find it can be pivoted left and right via the foot controls to act as a rudder. This space-saving creation is one of the best on the market. Simple but very effective.

The islay is already sailing ready, something rarely seen on most kayaks. The front deck is built with a mast recess and in the centre of the hull is space for an additional centre skeg to aid tracking whilst sailing.

A fishing upgrade is also available including rod holders and a centre console.

The Islay at 14 feet long is a great boat to paddle whether on a lake or in the sea the boat is capable of covering some distance as a popular day touring design.

The Islay is packed full of amazing features which makes it easy to see why this is one of the best Sit on Top kayaks on the market.

What They Say

The Venture Islay 14 Sit-on-Top is a performance touring boat that stands out from the rest.

Based on the proven Islay 14 light touring kayak, the Islay 14 SOT bridges the gap between recreational sit-on-tops and closed cockpit touring kayaks. The sleek hull cuts through the water with maximum efficiency and the option of a skeg or the innovative Venture Skudder System gives you all the features you need to easily match the pace of traditional touring kayaks.

Whether you’re out for the day or on an overnight adventure, the Islay 14 SOT boasts heaps of storage in all the right places to make sure you can carry everything you need, and the deluxe seat and adjustable footrests mean you get maximum comfort too!

The Islay 14 SOT is easily customised with your favourite fishing accessories to turn it into a high performance, superbly stable fishing platform that is easily maneuverable to the best spots, and the large storage bucket towards the stern is perfect for keeping your bait close to hand.

Venture Kayaks Islay 14 Sit on Top
Type Sit on Top Kayak
Length 14”1
Width 29.1”
Weight 66lbs
Maximum Capacity 300 lbs+


  • Sort or skudder ready
  • Centre sort ready
  • Big comfortable handles
  • Supportive seat
  • Large storage hatch
  • Great range of colours available


  • Fabric seat is not the most comfortable in the market
  • No track system for upgrades.
  • Only one size available


Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite Sit on Top

What We Say

So you’ve probably seen the tarpon as one of the best beginner kayaks? Well, I am a huge fan of the Tarpon series with so much history Wilderness systems have learnt how to improve this boat with careful upgrades over the years and it’s still a firm favourite.

My decision here was split between the Tarpon 120 and the Tarpon 140 with both being fantastic boats but just the Ultralight edition of the Tarpon 120 pipped it.

The extra length and load capacity Over the Tarpon 100 makes the Tarpon 120 easy to paddle and stay on line yet still supple enough to turn without needing a rudder. The rear tankwell is also big enough for a fishing crate

The Tarpon 120 is the perfect boat for just getting out on the water and exploring.

The seat is comfortable, the deck is tidy and uncluttered with big hatches with easy opening orbix covers.

The ultralight is a little different to the standard Plastic Tarpon 120 weighing in at just 43 lbs the Ultralight is 20 lbs lighter than the standard edition. Making it move easier to load onto a rack and a nicer experience on the water.

Over all the Tarpon is one of my favourite boats the usability of the plastic versions or the joy to paddle of the ultralight version. 

No list would not be complete without it.

What They Say

The most popular Tarpon because of its manageable size. Efficient layout leaves plenty of room for paddlers and their gear, with features to accommodate a variety of hobbies.

Ultralite material offers composite-like weight with the roto-molded kayak durability in a Tarpon package. Easy to access gear and manageable size refines pleasure whether you’re kayak fishing or just out for a relaxing day on the water.

Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 Ultralite
Type Sit on top Kayak
Length 12”
Width 30”
Weight 43 lbs
Maximum Capacity 350 lbs


  • Comfortable seating position
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Lightweight, easy to load and carry
  • Stable design


  • Seat not as comfortable as standard Tarpon Seat
  • No Slide Track accessory rails on ultralight version


Pyranha Kayaks Fusion Sit on Top

What We Say

The Fusion Sit on Top from Pyranha builds on the quality of the other boats in the range. Pyranha are best known for their white water and freestyle kayak offering.

The Fusion SOT takes its form from the really popular Fusion series of crossover kayaks designed to use for river touring, a boat that can be at home on a river and still good to paddle on the flat. The Fusion SOT is no exception at 10 ft the  Fusion is equipped in a deluxe spec with a large rear hatch, drop down skeg, thigh braces and backrest. The Fusion Sit on Top can be paddled on class 3+ whitewater with amazing control due to the thigh braces the stable predictable hull carves and ferries in and out of eddies with ease. Once on the flat, drop down the skeg and that super loose hull is replaced by predictable tracking to carry you all the way home.

If you want a boat that can really be paddled everywhere the Fusion SOT is a great option mixing it’s whitewater heritage with some touring.

The white water grade hand grabs and components really prove the quality that’s gone into the design work of this kayak.

What They Say
The Fusion sit-on-top is about having a real fun kayak. Paddle down a wild river, cruise flat water or paddle and surf waves with ease. The Fusion SOT is a boat that you can jump on and have a blast right away, no matter if you are a complete beginner or seriously experienced.

The new Fusion SOT combines the forgiving hull of the proven Fusion crossover kayak with an open design that will appeal to paddlers who prefer the simplicity of a sit-on-top. The Fusion SOT has a stable nimble hull that runs rivers and surfs waves with ease. Drop the skeg and you can cruise flatwater sections or quiet backwaters.

Deluxe spec comes with a top end WW backrest, thigh-straps, and Pyranha’s leading retractable and tough skeg and hatch which provides plenty of room for overnights and exploration.

Standard spec comes with thigh-straps and hatch.

Optional Storage Pod for quick access to essential gear and snacks.

Pyranha Kayaks Fusion Sit on Top
Type Sit on top Kayak / SUP
Length 10”5
Width 30.7”
Weight 56lbs
Maximum Capacity 286lbs


  • White water grade hand grabs
  • Stable predictable hull
  • Strong comfortable thigh braces.
  • Drop down skeg


  • No seat padding
  • Unpredictable when resurfacing on big whitewater


Perception Kayaks Hi Life

What We Say

We’ve looked at this boat as a great boat for beginners but it has got to also be included as one of the best Sit on Tops Period

The hi life really is a hybrid with so many people torn between a kayak and a SUP why not pick up a design that does both. Brought to us from Perception Kayaks one of the world’s brand leaders in recreational kayak designs. All of their boats bring quality and performance. With a huge history of innovation and design throughout the industry it’s no surprise to see them again bringing something new to the market

The Perception Hi Life is equipped with so many amazing features, full size padded deck for standing as well as a really comfortable seat for paddling comfort. The Hi Life is fitted with a gear track to equip your boat with rod holders, camera even speakers the removable keeps you tracking true.

For anyone looking for the best Sit on TOp having a multi use kayak is something virtually unheard of within the industry. Having previously seen Inflatable Sups with seats which were not so successful. Perception have got it right with a durable plastic option that will paddle as well as it SUP’s The ideal mix of two disciplines is something virtually unheard of and the perfect boat for anyone looking to mix it up.

What They Say

The ultra-versatile Perception Hi Life 11.0 combines kayaking and stand up paddleboard fun into one. Impressive features and maximum stability make it perfect for any ability. A premium padded seat with hidden cooler recess, built-in accessory mounts, all over deck cushioning, cup holders, and comfort carry handles create an experience you won’t find anywhere else. Suitable for the entire family and a furry friend, the Hi Life even features the easy-boarding of a lowered rear swim deck.

The Perception Hi Life is the most versatile boat ever built, offering a sit-on-top design that can be paddled like a kayak or a stand up paddleboard. Its maximum stability and unique features create an experience that’s unlike anything else—perfect for sharing the water with kids and pets. Fun for all ages and abilities, the Hi Life is up for any adventure, whether that means cruising, swimming, fishing, or simply relaxing with your favourite beverage.

The extra-cushy kayak seat hides a built-in cooler recess for quick access to drinks and snacks. Unique cushioning across the entire top surface keeps feet happy all day. The low-profile rear swim deck with handles makes it easy to get back on board after swimming, while the large open front area is the perfect perch for small children and pets. Rugged and low-maintenance, the Hi Life features Perception’s legendary one-piece roto-molded high-tech polymer construction for superior UV, impact, and abrasion-resistance. Proudly designed, moulded, and hand-assembled in the USA.

Perception Kayaks Hi Life
Type Sit on top Kayak / SUP
Length 11”
Width 35”
Weight 55 lbs
Maximum Capacity 280 lbs


  • Two incredible watersports on one platform
  • Stable and fun for all the family
  • Easily upgradable
  • Option to paddle seated or standing
  • Removable fin to aid tracking
  • Soft padded deck for comfort
  • Lowered back deck to aid re mounting


  • Flat deck means you are in for a wet ride
  • No footrest for seated paddling
  • More expensive than other beginner designs


Dagger Kayaks Roam 11.5

What We Say

The Roam from Dagger kayaks follows the lineup of popular cross over boats. Dagger kayaks have a heritage of building some of the best whitewater kayaks, THey have taken this knowledge and designed a sit on top kayak the can be used just about anywhere, From touring in the sea to cruising through class 3 rapids. The Thigh Braces offer support and control along with the Trutrak skeg to keep the boat on line. The seat is comfortable foam offering back support, and the added mesh gear covers make sure everything stays put,

I love the idea of crossover sit on tops for use on whitewater as they offer a great way to explore and experience a different environment, providing the user with stability and confidence.

What They Say

When adventure calls, now you can answer

Whether you’re a beginner looking to add paddling to your quiver of outdoor activities, you’re an expert paddler out for a quick run on your local class 3 river, or you need a platform from which to reach the best climbing, hiking, or fishing in the area, the Roam sit-on-top kayak provides quick and easy access to gear and more freedom, more adventure, and more of the lifestyle you want than any series before.

Dagger Kayaks Roam 11.5
Type Sit on top Kayak / SUP
Length 11”6
Width 30”
Weight 61 lbs
Maximum Capacity 300 lbs


  • Padded thigh braces for comfort and support
  • Trutrak skeg to stay on line
  • Mesh gear covers keeps everything in place


  • Hand grabs better suited to touring than whitewater
  • Not the most comfortable seat on the market.

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