sit in or SOT

I realize there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to buy a sit in or sit on top kayak. I know I want a tandem so I can take my wife and kids with. I plan to utilize the kayak on small inland lakes and other protected waters. I also plan to do some solo day tours. Bottom line, what is better a sit it or a sit on top? Thanks, Tom

Probably a canoe.
Smaller tandem that is designed to paddle well solo too. Don’t paddle ‘em myself - just sayin’…

I started with SOT, now paddle nearly only SINK - but I choose for use - not really by deck type.

sot vs sink

– Last Updated: Jan-05-09 8:24 AM EST –

hi ..lotta things to consider...#1 thing is with a SOT ,,,your're gonna get wet for sure. best you will probably do is get 3 ppl in a kayak or on a SOT. Various companies make sit-ins, with large open cockpits, that will accomodate 2 adults and 1 child . such as the Pamilico 135T / 145T ...Boreal Designs Oopik model..Old town Dirigo/ Otter tandems, Native Watercraft Ultimate tandems and other companies... personally ...i think the native 14' or 16' tandem would serve you well. do your research and test paddle as many models as you can b4 buying one.
good luck

You and your wife wait until the water is warmer and take a couple of basic lessons. or find some day tours where you can go out in rented boats with a guide, and decide what you want after you’ve gotten some seat time. It’s not like a tandem SOT is a hard thing to find - you can pull the trigger any time on that part.

Lighter ones work better -:wink:
Tandems tend to be pretty heavy. Aftre a while, especially by yourself for solo, you will probably whish you had a lighter thing to carry to and from the water (unless you live at the water, in which case it probably does not matter for day trips).

Sots are a lot of fun and easier to board if you come of it. But you will get wet. And being wet may make you cold even in a warm place. The SINK doubles with space for a child in between (one large open cockpit) may be a better option, just keep in mind that if you flip in one of these you will have very hard (long) time getting back into it and emptying it of water. On the plus side, these are so stable that you would have to really want to flip it to go over, most likley…

A canoe may even be more fun for the family but you get all the issues with SINKs with it, plus for an equivalent width these are easier to tip over as you sit higher and are typically more susceptible to winds.

Paddling (and carrying) solo a 3-person craft will be a handful - I would not put too much emphasis on this requirement at all. You’d be mich better served by having a second one-person boat for this - most cheap second-hand kayaks would be better for you alone IMO.

If you and your family are only planning occasional, short trip, recreational paddling in warm calm and/or protected waters, a SOT will probably be easier for all involved. There are a couple of models that can easily accommodate two adults and a kid or two, AND be paddled solo from the “third” middle seating position. Again, good enough for occasional short trips in warm calm and/or protected waters.

The only thing that makes
me wary of suggesting a canoe is that they can be a hassle when the winds pick up. I like SOTs personally, but I might still suggest two boats. One SOT or tandom that is big enough for you and the kid and a second kayak that is more sleek.

When you are alone, take the sleeker boat and when you are with the family, let the wife paddle it and you paddle the barge with the kid. Your wife will have an easier time paddling and you can stay together that way.

Just a thought.


Most SOT’s are not that great at converting from double to single duty. Whereas the SIK enable you to move one of the seats to a more central position when going it alone. I like both types. Each has its advantages/disadvatages. Use the review section and see what people have said about the various types and try them out if you can.

I really hate to say this
but SOT’s are probably safer for inexperienced kayakers. Cheaper too.

For Southern California …

– Last Updated: Jan-05-09 9:11 PM EST –

It is much easier and safer to get started on a sit on top. It will also allow you to paddle protected bays and eventually open coastline which will greatly expand your paddling options.

Go to for more options.

Lessons can be had at Southwind Kayaks in Irvine, or Aqua-Adventures in San Diego.

You can try out sit in and SOT kayaks at the weekly thursday night paddles at Aqua-Adventures on Mission Bay for $15 and decide what you want.

For what you are proposing I suggest looking into a Hobie Tandem Oddysey. It paddles fairly fast for a Tandem. The Malibu II is a fine stable boat for new paddlers, but is pretty slow.
A good place to find used boats in on the San Diego Craigs list, I would say usually 2 or 3 a month of the kind you are looking for.

One consideration is how much you and the wife weigh. If you are both heavy the Malibu II xL may be a good choice.

Can be true…
…as long as they don’t assume they are safer just because the y have a SOT.

Not many SOT buyers practice deep water remounts, almost none in conditions that would dump them. Safer, or just an deeper illusion of safety?

Remounts are easy stuff for many - particularly those who make sure it is by doing it. Folks scared enough to select based on this sort of stuff are all too often types who won’t make sure - and when dumped at a bad place/time may find it not so easy as they assumed.

Nothing like having short steep waves defeat each attempt, duping a heavy SOT on your head a few times, and quickly exhausting you. You learn quickly how to time, pace, work with the water, prevent yard sales… Stuff best learned at a chosen place and time vs. when the sea decides (lessons apply to calmer waters too).

Quite right
Just came back from a trip to Puerto Rico and there we went paddling thru the luminiscent waters of a protected laguna. There were may be a 6" wind waves at most - the entire lagoon is about 1/2 mile in diameter and the wind was about 10 mph.

My older daughter and two other girls (10 to 13 year old) were together in one sot and had absolutely no problems. A tourist couple hoever somehow managed to tip over the 36" wide SOT in the flat water. At first I thought they went swimming on purpose (the plancton supposedly has cleansing properties as the guide had just explained) and I thought they just enjoyed it as they seemed to take their time in the water. Being completely dark (night paddle) I could not figure out immediately that they were actually in trouble! But after I saw a pair of shoes floating downwind we figured it was time to help -;). The the female got on board but her male partner just could not remount no matter what he tried even though he seemed in good shape. Just was scared and if it was not for the guides helping him he would have had very hard time coming back on board as his partner was apparently not much help pulling him up. It took him several minutes to begin to respond to my offer to take the shoes back - he was that much disoriented… And that was flat water with no serious wind or waves or current and it was warm…

SOT safer
I appreciate the comments about how difficult it is for some paddlers to remount a SOT in deep water, but if someone is at that level of skill and athletic ability, rolling or deep water re-entry in a SINK would be many times more difficult.

Just sharing a real and recent example where even a stable 2-person SOT was a big obstacle in mild conditions for a fully able-bodied adult -;). I don’t think anyone would argue that a SINK would be any easier for a novice to get in/out of compared to a SOT of similar dimensions.

How many kids?
and how old are they? This could be a factor in your decision. Rent first, and try different tandem kayaks. SOT’s are best for recreational or fishing (assume you’re not racing), are usually self bailing, and easier to learn with. Canoe might be a better option if you all want to be in one boat.

I’d argue that rolling a SINK requires more skill but LESS athletic ability than remounting a SOT. A good roll is almost effortless.

Not saying that SINKs are better than SOTs – it’s a question of matching the boat to the paddler, conditions, and mission.

Do we really want to get into…
… skill and athletic ability appropriate for safe kayaking?

Almost guarateeed flame war territory if you even suggest that paddling might not be for everyone, and it might be wise to factor these things in before heading out! L

Rolling is the lazy way.

I was looking at SOT only
My point above had NOTHING to do with SINKs being easier for novices - no matter how some here will twist it.

SOT remounts are easy IF you do them right (swim across vs climb), but it’s not a given and needs to be tried/practiced until it is easy. This might take just once for many, a lot more for others, and some simply will not be able to do it (same folks should not be kayaking IMNSHO).

SOT’s being touted as “safer” just tends to make people assume they are, and not make it so. My point is to encourage people to make it be safer, not put themselves at greater risk by assuming they are safe.

These are SOT only comments - that really have nothing to do with SINKs and SINK skills/techniques (beyond a shared mindset paddling either).

Tandel Kayak Solo
You don’t want to paddle a tandem kayak, solo. Trust me, it isn’t fun.

The first response got it right. For what you are looking for you are better off with a smaller tandem canoe that paddles well solo like a PAL