Advantages of a Sit On Top?

Easy to mount and dismount.
Depending on model , can be seaworthy.
Can be fast like surf skis.
Definately puts you in touch with the elements .
Any more?

Make sure it fits you

Can be less intimidating for new paddlers.
Easier to enter/exit for those with mobility limitations.
Often more friendly for activities like fishing and diving, etc.

Got back in my 13’ Hobie SOT after many years. Actually it was hers but we sold it. So I went for a short paddle out the canal to tiny bay area. I was terrified. Rather be in my 21" x 18-10" sea kayak. Advantage only if you’re fish or can’t get in a sit-in. Rather have a sit-in with bigger cockpit like 36" x 18".

I think you get more for your money than entry level sit ins. Flotation is built into craft. Craft is more sturdy, sizing not as critical, easier to stow gear with bungies, self rescue easier than learning to roll or trying to reenter and paddle a boat full of water, good for folks who worry about getting trapped or swamping out (assuming you have scupper holes), more likely to fall off than get a head injury when pummeled in surf, better vision down into water for looking at coral and fishes but not as good as a sup

Negatives, they can be heavy and tend to be short, meaning not all that efficient, some lack decent seats or adjustable back support, some lack scupper holes and will trap water, some dont have built in dry storage, some folks dont like the added height, may feel less stable, seats are improving but still have a ways to go, boat body connection may require thigh straps, often are slightly more expensive than same length sit in, accessories are widely available- pedal drives, rod holders, paddle holders but are usually expensive, more difficult to car top and carry

Really can’t talk about advantages, or disadvantages, unless you talk a bit about intended usage and venues. There are a wide range of hull models for different functions as there for SINKs.

@tdaniel raised a definite advantage of SOT for accessibility and safety for a newbie paddler. I think a rec SOT is far safer for a newbie than a rec SINK. For me, as a more seasoned paddler, I find a high performance SOT with good outfitting and thigh straps is just as functional as SINK with less equipment hassles, i.e. skirt, pump, paddle float, backup air bags, etc.


Heat management. SINKS with sprayskirts can be hot. Even in (relatively) temperate coastal BC, it’s more pleasant to paddle an SOT or SUP in the summer than a SINK.

I am with you. I’ve been alternating between my waveskis or SOTs since June and enjoying the ease of getting on the water for a refreshingly wet paddle. And, I am in New England. I can’t imagine paddling in a SINK with a skirt on the waters of FL, which is now hovering above 90 degrees.


Of course the reverse is also true, sit in warmer in the winter, a big deal in wv on ww during the cold months, nice to be a bit drier then

SOTs are great for getting sunburned legs/inner thighs, ouch…I only made that severe mistake once (actually twice). Be sure to cover up your legs/thighs. Prefer a SOT for fishing.

My one bad sun burnt was on the sliver of exposed skin between the bottom of my hydroskin pants and the ankle opening of my low cut surf shoe. YOW!!!

Now I wear high cut booties all the time (as well as full coverage surf wear).


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Heavier, wider, slower, cost more, more exposure to splash, wind, & sun, …
What’s not to love!

I agree with the exposure (although one can dress for that), but the other points are generalizations that can be refuted by specifics, depending again by comparing with intended usage and venues.



The generalizations are true for similar length, design, material, construction type.

There may be a 1% exception, but I doubt it!

so rnsparky have you checked out the thermoformed sit on tops? Pretty dang light, not sure they would hold up to my hard use but are pretty light. The biggest issue I see with sots is that most of the poly boats are heavy for their length. They work well in the back of pick ups with boat ramps. If you want to get more glide you can paddle a tandem as a single or get one of the longer boats. It just gets much harder to transport and unload if you are cartopping. Sit on Tops were pretty much all I saw in Texas and Oklahoma. Yes, they are big with the fishing crowd and even bigger with the rental crowd. Many outfitters going to sots as they replace their fleet. Jackson puts out a scupperless rental version called the riviera which is very popular.

I have three very different kinds of SOTs, though one of them is no longer being paddled.

One kind is fast, light, maneuverable, delicate, and expensive. Requires good balance and technique to use. Requires a good transport system.

Another kind is really slow, heavy for its size, surprisingly NOT maneuverable, but sturdy and cheap. Requires little skill to just stay up and make it go, however bargily. Can be slid into and fit in the back of my truck bed.

The third kind is fast in the right, specialized venue, light, ultramaneuverable, delicate, and not that easy to transport.

Different uses, but all are much more comfortable on a hot day.

It’s also a joy to not tote sprayskirt, pump, etcetc. Bare bones paddling experience without the equipment fuss.

Steller and Mirage (Australia) offer SOT sea kayaks that are 17-19’ long, light, and very fast. Then, of course, there are surf skis. A friend of mine has a full length and featured SOT sea kayak, but I don’t know the manufacturer. Probably a discontinued model.

My comments ARE true and indisputable.

Compare similar SINKs vs SOTs across any maker that makes both in full production: Pelican, Dagger, Wilderness Systems, Perception, Eddyline, etc. For all makers a comparable length and same material the SOT is heavier, costs more, wider, slower, etc, for all!

Please provide specific examples where not.

I can’t compare within manufacturers’ line but can for venues and intended purposes.

For high performance surfing, I had two composite surf kayaks (Mega Venom and Wold Epic) whose respective retail prices were $1500 plus (20 years ago), compared to my custom waveskis which were costed between $1,000 - $1200 in that same time period. For the surf kayaks, you also have to add in the costs of a skirt (~$100) and float bags (~100). The surf kayaks weigh around around 25-30 lbs, compared to my waveskis coming in around 22 lbs. The surf kayaks are tougher and required less repairs than my waveskis for the same type of accidents, but both are repairable. The waveskis, however, because of lighter weight and more aggressive surfboard like design, are much better high performers on the waves. I eventually got rid of my surf kayaks in favor of my waveskis (6 composite and two plastic).

I had a Riot Boogie, a RM surf kayak, that weighed in at about 38 lbs and cost about $1,200 new. This compares to my RM Perception Five0 (similar to Dagger Kaos and Cobra Strike) which is a plastic waveski that weighs in at about 44 lbs and cost about $1,000 brand new. Also, need to add in the cost of a skirt and floatbags for Riot Boogie. Respective performances on the waves are almost the same, but I give the edge to the Boogie just because it has a higher rockered nose that is more foregiving of late drop-ins down a wave into the trough (thus better for newbie surfer like I was when I got that boat).

In the 14-15’ kayak class, I have had the RM Dagger Stratos 14s and the RM P&H Dephin 150, which weigh respectively at 54.5 lbs and 55lbs, and cost about $1700-$1900 new for the model years I have/had. In comparision, I have two OK Scupper Pro SOTS. This model is 14’ 9" and weighs in at 55lbs. For the SINKS, need to add in the costs of skirt ($100), pump ($25), paddle float ($25). For the Scupper Pro, I need to add in the cost of thigh straps ($70). With the thighstraps, I can edge and roll the Scupper Pro as I would with my SINKs. I actually used my Scupper Pros more for annual fishing camping trips to the Boston Harbor Island, where I load enough gear, water and food for up to 5-6 days. I have not tried camping with either of my RM SINKs as these are for daytripping, surfing, rockplaying. Because I always have a fishing sonar/GPS on my Scupper Pro, I know I average out around 3.5-4 MPH when paddling. I never measured how fast I normally paddle with the SINKs. But, I not inclined towards fast paddling. So, I suspect I am paddling at a similar speed with the SINKs.

I have carbon/kevlar Sterling Kayak Progression that is 16’2"x 22" and weighs in at 39 lbs. It is at (I am embarassed to say) the higher percentile of cost for upper end SINKs. Also, have to add in cost of skirt, pump and paddlefloat AND backup floatbags. It’s a designed and intended for rough water playboating in surf. What SOT would I compare this to? Maybe a Stellar Kingfisher Multi-Sport carbon/kevlar model that is 16’3"x22.5" and weighs at 34.5 lbs, at a cost of $4,895? The Stellar is a “bargain” compared to my Sterling Progression in price, but I don’t think it would perform the way I would want playing in surf.


and while you are at it be sure to check out the descriptions for where they are to be used. Lifetime lists "large lakes, calm ocean bays and slow moving rivers in most of their descriptions. Pelican is very similar. Unfortunately, ocean bays don’t always stay calm, and large lakes sometimes don’t behave. What is normally a slow moving river becomes quite different at flood stage.

So yes, Sparky You give up about 5 pounds and 50 to 100 dollars when you buy the sit on top compared to lifetime’s or pelican’s same length sit inside. You also gain a few inches in width. I did my homework already at tractor supply and lowes while the girlfriend was looking for a new gate handle a month ago… and yes I concede that the SOT is likely to be slower since it is a wider boat when the same length as a sit inside. … but what do you gain for that 50 to 100 dollars besides the extra weight and a slower boat?

You get a boat that won’t swamp out that will be much easier to facilitate self rescue with . An entry level sot has more structural integrity than a large open cockpit entry “sink” that facilitates flooding out. Minimal structural supports (cheap styrofoam inserts or rough black semi closed cell sheets of foam, small day hatches (lack of sealed bulkheads) don’t exactly scream safety. People don’t always use these entry level boats where and when they should.
Wrestle a few swamped rec boats and your viewpoint changes. Check out the weights on the hurricane brand sots. Price goes up, but so does the performance, I’m just not sure about their durability.

Eastman Kodak was sure they had a higher quality product than the digital camera. That didn’t work out so well for them. People want an easy to use product that is “good enough”. I saw a few sit inside kayaks in louisiana, oklahoma and texas. I even saw a pack canoe…I saw hundreds of sots. Maybe there’s a reason why the rental market has already changed in some parts of the country? Maybe the need for speed is trumped by user friendliness and the desire to get a boat that actually floats and is less likely to pin. From a liability and safety standpoint I think there’s a reason why the rental market is shifting.