Sit on Top features

Never used a sit on top and don’t plan to, but I am buying one for a friend. I would like to hear from those that own or have paddled them and get your feedback on what features you liked and didn’t. She does not plan to fish from it. She will use it for rec paddling for the most part and maybe a group paddle with others. More then wanting to hear what you use, I would like to know why. From there I can put mom in your shoes. Thanks for any or all input.


wet bottom
I haven’t used them much, but one big thing that I would look for is how hard it is to keep your bottom dry. In one that I borrowed, it was impossible - everything drained into the seat, and the seat was a bowl with no exit. I’d want one with the seat slightly elevated and with drain holes in it.

One really nice feature is a SOT boat having fittings in the proper location so knee straps can be attached. Knee straps are really great for when you want to really “move out.”

Wrong forum …
Go to … check out the forum and read the reviews and articles

Getting answers from people that say …I’ve never really paddled a SOT …but … is pretty lame.

First you need to define what kind of water your friend will be paddling on and what she wants to do and progress to. There are SOTs that are very diverse and just as high performance as SINKs.

get them a T-160, its a dry ride in all but the worst weather, its fast for a sot, i use mine all the time and i also have 2 Qcc-700s so thats telling right there. personally i liked the older Two hatch T-160s better. You can pretty much outfit it anyway you want. also You dont really need the rudder on it unless you plan on surfing waves. Its not really good at that but its fun.

How will she be hauling this boat?
Does she have the means to physically get a SOT to and from the launch, either help at each end or trailer/cart arrangement? They can run on the heavy side.

If not, maybe consider an inflatable. Plenty of stability still, and it doesn’t sound like she needs a rocket in terms of speed.

in case…
you were wondering…T-160 is actually called a Tarpon 160 by Wilderness Systems.


nice boat that comes with scupper plugs to keep your @$$ dry…sorta.



I have and love a T-160.
That said,my butt stays wet if there is any chop and it weighs a ton!

A Hurricane Phoenix rides much higher and drier.

Why I like it?

You can paddle SOT anywhere;I have done wicked confused ocean to Class II in my Tarpon.

Very comfortable - you can move around anywhere you want.

Cool on hot days.

Much easier to get on and off than squeezing your body into and out of a SINK.

Don’t get a short , wide one. If she isn’t fishing, they are barges.

I agree with you about some sit on tops feeling like barges on the water but transporting a 16 foot kayak presents it’s own challenges. I bought a 12 foot Tarpon because it fits in the bed of my pick-up. It is also very heavy and I find it difficult to lift and carry on my own. A kayak cart can be a big help but wheels can’t be used on rocky ground. For some a long sleek kayak isn’t an option.

If she is not going in the ocean , a rec
kayak or a canoe might be an option.

Without knowing age,weight,physical condition , and where she wants to paddle,answering is tough.Just don’t put her in a barge with a 7 lb paddle.

I have paddled quite a few
I own a Manta Ray 14 and a couple of Perception Torrents and have paddled a 14 foot Tarpon, a (discontinued) Dagger Pegasus, an 12 foot Scrambler, and an Ocean Kayak Sprinter.

These range from decent beginner whitewater boats (Torrent/Pegasus) to almost surf ski widths (Sprinter) and from sluggish (Scrambler) to very fast (Sprinter). Some are very wet rides and others are quite dry (Manta Ray).

The upsides for me are they are incredibly easy to get on and off of and you don’t have to learn to roll to be comfortable on river trips, whitewater, or anywhere. The rec models also tent to be incredibly stable, so lots of margin for error.

Some models are very well suited for fishing/camping in that they hold a lot of gear (Tarpon/Manta Ray) and you can actually reach the gear out on the water. Others are build for long distance cruising and have good performance when paddling with long boaters (Sprinter/Scupper Pro/Seadart/Cobra Expedition). Others are suited more for short trips (Scrambler and many rec models). And the two whitewater boats are the Torrent and the Pegasus. There are also some surf-specific models that I haven’t paddled (Strike, Kaos, etc).

The two biggest factors are probably weight and weight.

The longer recreational SOTs tend to be heavy and a bit on the wide side. My Manta Ray is about 70 lbs which I can handle, but it’s not something most women want to try to lug around (ask my wife who thinks her half is too heavy). The Sprinter and Torrent are under 50 lbs, but they are two different animals altogether.

The second weight factor is the paddler weight. The owner of the Scrambler was a female who was probably in the 130 lb range and she really liked the boat and it looked like she was having an easy time paddling it. My 220 lbs on the same boat dropped it down low enough that I felt like I was just plowing water.

A lot of folks look down their noses because many of the common SOTs are the wide, slow, barge-ish type, but there is quite a variety when you really look around. The TopKayaker site is a great place to find boats you haven’t seen in stores and get advice from those who have paddled them. The CD Zone and Kaskazi Skua are impressive kayaks, but they aren’t for everyone.

In general, I’d recommend trying to stay under 50 lbs and under 12 foot.


Good answers Jim & seadart
Topkayaker is a great SOT resource.

I had a…

…Dagger Pegasis and really liked it.

Unless you have plugs for the scuppers (crutch tips

work for that) you will be sitting in water. It was

rated as good for up to class 3, and I believe it.

Here is a picture of another SOT I paddled…

Believe it or not, it was a good surfer.


– Last Updated: Dec-22-08 7:38 AM EST –

you all might want to compare the weights of most plastic boats,(Of the same length) they are all in the same ball park. Yeah you can get light weight but not in a plastic boat. length, well I have an S-10 and my 16' tarpon hangs out the back of it. but i flag it and haul it that way all the time, or i toss it on to my roof rack. Bottom line is that you DONT have to feel constrained into getting a short fat boat becouse you have a short fat car. i have seen VW Bugs with 18' Yacks on them!

Thanks for the all info. The web site is a great tool.

Not sure how we got by without the web for all those years. Seems to me that weight and staing dry is the key. Are sit on kayaks not known for ability to turn and perform.?? She wont be doing fast moving water so class anything is out. She will use it on her own lake, but I cas see her joining in with our group paddles and I don’t want her on a short, wide ,and slow yak. Are recovery skills any diff in a sit on then they are with sit in’s??


The afore mentioned Tarpon 160
performs almost like a SINK. It is wider, so you lose a little.

As far as remounting, I can’t imagine needing to because the platform is so stable. Without a PFD,you just hop back on - no rolling. I have not been able to get back in my Tarpon with ther PFD on because it gets in the way, but that was practice. I have had that boat out in 3-4’ confused waves and never even felt like I was coming out with thigh straps.

I like the T160i because you can put a cooler in the tankwell you can reach. Cold drinks on hot days.

SOT performance

– Last Updated: Dec-22-08 2:42 PM EST –

SOTs have a reputation for being slow because many of the common models are relatively wide, short and heavy. But that doesn't have to be the case. The highest-performance open-water racers -- surfskis -- are SOTs. There's a wide range of models. As with any other boat, the question is finding the one that matches the paddler, conditions, and mission.

For a female paddler weight will probably be a major issue. Having a boat you can comfortably manage by yourself makes it much more likely that it'll be used. Hurricane's Phoenix series is one example of a relatively light recreational SOT:

The CD Kestrel is another:

The OK Venus boats are light:

The RTM Disco has gotten good reviews for performance, but the wieght might be a bit much:

The Malibu 4.4 or Cobra Revision look reasonably fast, but are probably a wet ride.

Females also tend to be more stable than males of similar weight, and will be more comfortable in a narrower boat.

One of the problems
is that there aren’t many in-between SOT’s. Most are either relatively wide and heavy or they’re surf ski’s. My Ocean Kayak Sprinter is an awesome kayak, but they don’t import it here anymore. It’s just this side of being a full blown surf ski. But if there were some 24" wide SOT’s, that would be awesome.

I forgot about the Kestral.
That s/b a fine SOT.

hurricane phoenix
Hello-For what it’s worth, I have a Hurricane Phoenix 130 that I use on lakes and ponds. I’ve never had any problems with it being a wet ride. I manage car topping by myself and use a cart to get it from car to the water. The only change I would consider making is to go from the 130 model to the 120 for the advantage of having a small decrease in weight. I’m still thinking about it- can’t decide if it would be worth it.

I have had some problems with getting back in the boat without help. The boat sits high out of the water (for me)and my PFD gets in the way. Plus my upper body strength is not equal to that of a male. I might try a different PFD- one that is designed for a female come Spring. The boat itself is very nice, and I find it dry and comfortable.

I’m female, weight 140 and in my 50’s.

Hope this is helpful.