Differences Between Sit On vs Sit In Kayak

The kayak has been around for at least 4000 years, and from the beginning, it has found its use for fishing by the many ancient tribes located near the lakes and rivers of the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic, Bering Sea and North Pacific oceans. The construction of the inner frame on these first kayaks was wood or whalebone, and the seal skins or the skins from other animals stretched over the frame. Practical, right?

Parallel to that, the kayak was also considered to be the multi-purpose vessel, and it has found its use for recreation, exploration, and transportation no less than for fishing or hunting. Nothing is different nowadays, but with flows of time, man has perfected the kayak in every aspect. Today, we are going to talk about differences between Sit On vs Sit In kayak. To understand the difference accurately, you need some kayak-related info.


First Stop – Kayak Basics!

sit on vs sit in kayak

There are two different types of kayaks, but they share the similar concept and plenty of the same parts.When you take a look at the top of the kayak, there is – the deck. If you look beneath, you will find – the hull. The front is called the bow, and at the back of the kayak is the stern. Deck lines or bungees are on the top of the deck. Also, when you take an interest in the kayaks, you will see that some kayaks have the rudders located at the stern. The rudder will swivel when you use foot pedals. Foot pedals are the need if you have the plan to spend the best part of the day on the water. You will feel comfortable, and you will get a lot of support from them.

It is the norm that the best kayaks will have backrest already built-in. Convenient and practical at the same time. Nice!

Finally, like on any other water vessel – skeg will help the boat to go straight.

The kayaks we can found on the market will come in a variety of materials.

  • Today, polyethylene is the most used material for kayaks. The polyethylene kayak is lightweight, but if you damage it, you can't repair it.
  • Thermoformed ABS kayaks are more resistant to heat while remaining lighter. Also, you can fix the damage.
  • Kayaks made out of Kevlar, fiberglass, and carbon blends are kayaks made out of composite material. They come with a higher price, but they are robust and will give you excellent performance. This kayak is fully repairable if damaged.

Now we can move forward and see what else the kayak has to offer to us.

What Types Of Kayaks Can We Find?

sit on vs sit in kayak

Today, kayaks are constructed as either hard-shelled or inflatable but divided into two categories:

  • Sit-on-Top kayaks, or short SOT.
  • Sit-inside kayaks, or SIS.

It may be true, choosing the right kayak that will fit your needs can appear to you as rocket science, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply, you have to take some time and think about what do you want to use it. Don't rush; it is better to make the right choice than to expect more from it later.

Here are few questions that you need to answer first:

  • Will you take your kayak to the river, lake or ocean?
  • Water – will it be cold or warm?
  • Do you want a fast kayak or stable one?

Think about those questions above; they will help you for what comes next.

If you are the person who enjoys cruising and exploring the new and strange places, or you just like the silence of the slow waters, or perhaps – you are a fisherman, Sit-on-Top kayak represents the excellent opportunity for you.

Don't worry; you can easily drop the anchor into the water and swim or scuba dive directly from the boat. The sit-on-top kayak is a very stable vessel, and getting on or off is simple as it sounds.

Opposite to Sit-on-Top kayaks are the kayaks which you can use if you decide to try a bit more extreme approach. So, you want to try rafting? You like the speed that boat can provide together with the brute force of waves which are spattering you with cold water? Or, are you off to spend many days reaching wiry and deeper waters? Well, we have to say, the Sit-Inside kayak is a perfect match for you.

This kayak will give you speed and maneuverability because it is longer and thinner, and also at the same time, it will provide you with safety during your touring route. You can achieve this through the presence of sit-ins who are making that boat and person in its function as one unit. The hull will appear to you as an extension of your body, even if you are in front of the waves – you will go through them quickly, or stay in the boat if you are knocked over.

Differences Between Sit On Vs Sit In Kayak

Sit-on-Top Kayaks (SOT)

sit on vs sit in kayak

Sit-on-Top kayaks are moving upwards with popularity. When you are in this type of kayak, you are on the top of the kayak's deck. Yes, you will see that there is no "inside" in which you can fit. Only "inside" is the storage space, and the rest of kayak – from the footwells to the seat is on the deck of the kayak.

Logically, when you are in Sit-on-Top kayak, you will quickly realize that there is no way that you will remain dry while paddling. With each meter passed, stroke and wave you will become wetter. No cockpit area will prevent the splashes of water. This kind of kayak is for the use in warm weather or tropical places. Another good side of these kayaks is that you can easily slide on or off the deck.

Opposite to Sit-Inside Kayaks, you can quickly climb on the Sit-on-Top kayaks directly from water and continue with paddling. Probably, you won't hit the cover of the TIME magazine while doing that, but you need functionality.

There is one real bonus that Sit-on-Top kayak has, and it comes with the name "scupper plugs" which are used to block scupper holes. Scupper holes, or drainage holes, are allowing the splashed water to circulate and don't pool underneath you. On the other side, if you block these holes, you will stop the water below the hull from re-entering, but every single drop of water that comes from above the deck will remain un-drained.

What do we like?

  • If you are, by any chance, tipped over together with your Sit-on-Top kayak, the kayak won't sink. Naturally, you flip the kayak over, climb on and continue where you have stopped. They are considered to be unsinkable.
  • This type of kayak won't give you a hard time when you try to reach its storage – everything is reachable.
  • Thankfully to open cockpit, larger persons can easily use the Sit-on-Tops, making this type of kayak very user-friendly.
  • Climb on – slide off, easy as it sounds.
  • Finally, if you are on a budget, the Sit-on-Top kayak may be the choice for you. Also, the shipping cost of the Sit-on-Top kayak is lower because it is lighter and thinner than Sit-Inside model.

What don't we like?

  • Well, if you want to spend some time on the water and don't get wet at all, maybe this is not the type of kayak for you. You will get wet – A LOT!

Sit-Inside Kayaks (SIK)

sit on vs sit in kayak

At this moment we will observe a more traditional type of kayak, which certainly is the Sit-Inside kayak. In contrary to Sit-on-Top kayak, this kayak has an open cockpit in which the paddler can sit in. Sit-Inside kayak will give you the ability to make some stronger paddle strokes. You can achieve this when you press your knees to the inside walls of the cockpit.

Also, plenty of Sit-Inside Kayaks will come with the covering which is called "the skirt". The paddler attaches the skirt around the waist and then stretches it around the edges of the cockpit. This type of plaid will give you the ability to close the cockpit and prevent the water to reach inside. Therefore, Sit-Inside Kayaks are more popular in the areas with the colder climate and lower water temperatures. The water won't splash over the deck, and your legs will remain dry.

We must indicate you a first flaw related to this design of kayak, and it is related to flipping over. If at any point happens to you that you flip over with the kayak, you will have to swim and pull the kayak to the shore for draining it out. Don't let this discourage you because flipping the kayak over isn't simple as it may occur to you.

Every type of kayak is designed to be and remain stable, and this has nothing to do with the kayak being Sit-on-Top or Sit-Inside. Design and the shape of the kayaks hull are the factors that determine the flipping factor. Remember – you won't get stuck when flipped over. Simply, you will just pop into the water, and then you can start swimming.

What do we like?

  • Sit-Inside kayak is more stable than Sit-on-Top kayak because you will be in the cockpit but on the water line.
  • You will remain dry inside this type of kayak – with skirt that can close the cockpit, and the absence of drainage holes inside the cockpit will prevent water from reaching in.
  • More storage area, but less reachable.
  • More protection from the wind and lower temperatures of the water is making the Sit-Inside kayak warmer.

What don't we like?

  • Limited motion, because it isn't easy to climb on slide off,If you flip over, the water will flood the kayak making the recovery process very difficult.

Finally, after examining differences between Sit-on-Top and Sit-Inside Kayaks, we have narrowed it down to a simple question:

What Sort Of Kayak Should You Buy For Fishing?

sit on vs sit in kayak

First info that you will get when choosing the perfect fishing kayak is related to the location of which you are planning to take your kayak. It is correct; you'll need to know the exact type of water on which you will be fishing. Will that be a slow river or quiet lake, or you want to try your luck with the faster, colder or deeper waters? These facts will affect the size and length of the kayak that you need.

Stability of the kayak is also important, and it is related to the size of your body. If you are a bigger person, who has standing while fishing in mind, you need to acquire the wider type of kayak. Also, the stability of kayak is equal to its use, so – the more you use your kayak you will feel more stable.

The last but not the least relates to the amount of fishing gear that you bring when you go out for fishing. Be sure that the kayaks storage will provide enough space for everything that you need to bring with you.

Ultimately, the choice goes for the Sit-on-Top kayak, and we have few arguments to back up this statement:

  • With Sit-on-Top kayak you will be easy to get in or get out from it, even if you flip over.
  • These kayaks are self-draining, which means that the water goes out from the kayak and prevents you from flooding.
  • Your back seat is placed higher, and this gives you the ability to have a better view of the water.
  • Also, this type of kayak provides plenty of seating options, and even capacity to stand up while fishing.
  • When you are in the Sit-on-Top kayak, you are not limited to the cockpit space which means that you can easily access your gear, gadgets and other equipment.
  • Furthermore, this kayak has more storage options than Sit-Inside, and at any time you can easily add accessories and customize it even more.
  • Finally, we must warn you - if you are planning to go fishing in cold weather, or on the water with lower temperature, you really should consider the Sit-Inside kayak.

Which type of kayak fits you the best? How did you pick? Would you recommend a type to a friend?  Let us know in the comments below!

Lucas Bryant

Hi, I’m Lucas Bryant and fishing is one of the most important parts of my life. I usually go fishing with my friends and have many fishing competition. That why I like to research and create many tips to get more fishes to win a race. I hope my experience will be useful for you.

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