Sit-in vs. Sit-on-Top Kayaks

-- Last Updated: Jul-11-11 6:24 PM EST --

Hello to all the paddling pros out there:
I think my search for the first kayak may now change from sit-in to sit-on-top. This is due to my extreme chemical sensitivity that I seem to get reaction when sitting in kayak’s plastic hull. Sit-on-top seems to be better for me in that regard. With sit-on-top, I realize there are drawbacks in performance etc.. Would 12ft sit-on-top be comparable in performance to a 10ft sit-in? What would be a fare comparison? I am considering Emotion Mojo/Temptation and Ocean Kayak Caper/Scrambler. I recently rented some old sit-on top and could not believe how slow it was! (it was probably 9ft and a bad design)
I appreciate any advice, you guys can give!

Get some more time in different boats
Comparing one sit on top to another sit in kayak is not really very informative. It all depends on the hull shape as well as length. Low priced short sit on tops tend to be very slow … but a 12’ Wave Witch is a pretty fast boat, surf skis can blow any sit in kayak out of the water in a race.

Best advice is to try several boats before you buy, if cost is a problem, look on craigslist or the used boats section here. The Ocean Kayak scrambler is a good entry level sit on top - it’s not fast but it’s a decent all around boat.

are you sure it is the kayak?
You may be reacting to neoprene itself, or perhaps you need to add a rash guard layer, or maybe you just need to wear long paddle pants all r the time. I have found it easier, and there are nice lightweight pants out there that dry quickly.

If the plastic or any treatments, like 303, are the issue, changing type of craft may not work long term.

I’m no pro by all means but have to ask,

Where will you be using the boat and for what purpose?

I have both a Moken 10 and WS Pungo 12 Duralight,while the Pungo is 5X as fast the Moken is 5X as stable.I will use the Pungo on lakes and the Moken on rivers as i can step in and out easily when approaching shallow water and its a better fishing platform at 35" wide.

There’s some avid boaters on here that cover lots of miles with elite craft that would simply have no use for either of my yaks.we’re all on the water at various levels,buy a boat accordingly.

Ok…If i could only have one for summer fun it would be a SOT.

I’ll add my two cents worth
I regularly paddle both a Tarpon 100 SOT (owned by the state park where I volunteer) and a Hurricane Phoenix 120 SOT (owned by me,) both on at least a weekly basis. Like them both very much.

The Phoenix is lighter at 40 pounds—the Tarpon is claimed to weigh 55 pounds. The Phoenix is faster, keeps up easily with SINKs of comparable length and width (an Eddyline Skylark is its most frequent paddling partner,) is very maneuverable. And it is pretty.

The Tarpon is very solid and durable, built like the proverbial brick outhouse. It is slower, but still a fun boat to paddle. Lots of storage area. I think it would keep up with a SINK of comparable length and width, but I have not had the experience of paddling it with SINKs. It is not pretty, but then that is just my opinion.

I have paddled the Ocean Kayak Venus 10. Nice boat, but slow.

I haven’t had much trouble keeping
up with comparable length SINK in my Tarpon 160 or 140.

Caveat: I am a strong paddler with long arms. as sissy says,Tarpons are beasts out of the water and darn good boats in it.

The WS Tarpon family
are pretty decent SOTs. Good, stable boats that carry a lot and are moderately efficient in the longer versions.

I’ve had 2 guys in T-120s paddle with us on a 22 mile seakayaking trip before, some of it in 1.5+ swells and 10mph wind, and keep up well enough. But we were taking our time as a group. And they were pretty decent paddlers in good shape. Strange though, they never came back again…

I have a T-160, and heavy thing that it is, it will still hang pretty well with most paddlers in poly touring kayaks. The hull is based on a classic Wilderness Systems seakayak design, but it is still a different boat because of weight, higher c.g., and probably more paddler wind resistance being more exposed.

If you are indeed allergic to the plastic in most kayaks (polyethylene), you may want to try a boat made from PVC plastic or maybe a composite like fiberglass.

I think Pelican makes rec boats from PVC and Hurricane makes some nicer rec/touring boats. Glass boats are a little pricier, but they tend to be lighter.

More likely not the plastic itself.
Polypropyolene and polyethylene polymers are extremely inert and used in medical devices.

But unreacted monomers, plasticizer or additives or 303 are a different story It’s more likely your allergic response was to a chemical leaching from the plastic. Poor quality control can leave highly reactive chemical traces that leak from cheap plastic. This is especially likely if it was a cheap kayak made in China. Man cheap kayaks are coated with chemicals to make them look shiny and bright.

As pointed out above you should also check and make sure it was not an issue with neoprene or latex which

In theory, the longer
the boat’s waterline length, the greater its maximal velocity in the water, so that in general, 12 ft long kayaks can be paddled faster than 10ft kayaks.

However when comparing specific recreational kayaks and SOTs in the 10’ to 12’ length range, differences in hull design are just as important in determining effective speed as is overall length.

For ‘recreational’ paddling, SOTs have particular advantages over smaller recreational SINKs including: easier self rescue, superior innate buoyancy, ease of mounting and dismounting and (usually) easy access to items stored in the tank well. I guess this is probably why they are so popular for fishing.

I own an Emotion Temptation and am more than satisfied with its overall performance on slow rivers and lakes. It probably tracks as well as my Riot Edge 11 (which has a skeg!) and is almost as ‘fast’. The Temptation has plenty of storage space and is a lot lighter than the Tarpon 100, which is important factor for me. I’ve never tried or even seen a Mojo.

The OK Scrambler is the classic SOT design; older and more basic than the others mentioned by the OP, but very practical and great for surfing.

The WS Tarpon 120 is very well regarded. I believe some older design T120s are being sold new as Perceptions at Dick’s for < $500. They’ll be heavy, but perhaps a good fit for the OP.

That said, and given that all these boats are made of Polyethylene, I’m really quite surprised that the OP thinks a SOT will be less problematic than a SINK. What exactly is the nature of this chemical sensitivity?

I had a Emotion Temptation and then after about a year I thought I wanted a sit in kayak so I bought a Jackson Daytripper Elite 12.

I really like the new sit in but it is rather slow, harder to get into even though it has a huge open area to sit in and in rougher areas of water it don’t have drain holes like SOT kayaks have.

Well Sunday I paddled my Temptation I sold to my brother and even though its only 10’ long vs the Daytripper is 12’ long is is much faster and easier yak to paddle. Even being in the river paddling upstream for about a mile in pretty quick moving water I found out I was far less tired and felt great.

Now its Monday and I’m looking to either sell my very new Daytripper or my dealer is willing to do a trade with me for a Temptation so I need to see what he will do for me but my guess I will have a new Temptation again soon.

I’m amazed how nice the Temptation is. The built in seating and built in foot rests are awesome. After my first paddle on a Temptation I couldn’t believe how comfortable it was for me and I’m 6ft and 240lbs. I fit easily in this yak and stat perfectly dry if I put scupper plugs in. Its really a great yak overall. I fish for hours from my old one and it was awesome. As you can tell I will have another one really soon.

Thank You!
Thank you, fellow kayakers for such fast feedback!

I may try to rent a Vapor 10 from EMS(has largest cockpit among 10ft sit-ins), clean/offgass it to get a final verdict on my capability to use that kind. I think, there is more offgassing, when kayak is out in the sun on a hot summer day. It’s good to know about possible additives manufacturers use in manufacture. Usually, most things tend to out-gas over time, so older kayak will probably be preferable for chemically sensitive individual. PVC is considered a poison plastic. There is a lot of info on it and I have a confirmed negative reaction.

Originally, I planned primarily paddling on near-by calm rivers.

As I recently learned, another advantage of SOT for me, is that it will be better for ocean/surf kayaking that I may want to try.( live 1 hour from ocean) Considering the above, and your helpful feedback, Emotion Temptation sounds like a good overall best-buy choice to me.(though Scrambler may be faster on rivers…)

Many thanx, again!

Happy Paddling!

Its a lot easier to land a SOT in heavy surf. You just jump off if it goes over!

I recently bought a Perception Tribe 9.5 sot that I have been having a ball with in harbors and along some protected bay type water.