i was flipping through some catalogs the other day, i noticed these sit-on-top kayaks. specifically the Wildnerness Kaos and the Perception Aloha.

these looked to be boats marketed towards paddlers on the experienced side, maybe as a second or third boat. is this accurate?

what do you guys think of these boats? i think it’d be a blast to tool around in the waves with one of these things.

i’m rather new to the kayak world, so any insight would be ace.


Kaos is surf dedicated boat
Great for beginner to intermediate surfers.

anyone else?

does anyone use these kind of boats here? how do you like to use them?

Maybe more helpful if you told
us how big you are, what you want to use the boat, for and whether you’re just looking for advice on these particular models or on anything that might serve your purposes.

Check the reviews
under product reviews.

I know BeachAviator bought a Kaos recently and had a good time with it. I see several on the water here. My feeling was it was kind of a long heavy surf boat. They are very popular for surfing in California.

The other boat I have not seen or tried.

i’m 6’0, 175-180lbs, in reasonable shape, and on the beginner end of kayaking. i have plans to buy a traditional kayak in the spring.

sometime towards the end of the summer i’d like to get a second boat. there are quite a few little inlets around where i go to school (Rhode Island). i’ve always thought it’d be fun to tool around in the water on a boat that’d be easy to hop in and out of, and wouldnt be a hassle to bail water out of. these sit on top kayaks seem to fit the bill.

what i’d like to know is, what are the general capabilities of these kind of boats in wave (nothing severe) and choppy water (i’m not talking about white water) conditions, and on calm water (though thats not where’d i’d want to use it all that often).

i’ve looked at reviews of the Kaos on this website already,


Kaos Is Definitely Surf Oriented

– Last Updated: Dec-01-04 5:06 AM EST –

with those sharp rails (edge of the boat by the waterline). It's designed to carve on the waves but will not be great for longer distance trips - tiring and slow - but if you're no rush...

I was on a beach break in ME several weeks ago where two guys in the Kaos were ripping pretty well in 3-4' waves. They were not doing dramatic bottom turns and cutbacks like those of us in dedicated surf kayaks but were doing pretty well getting in the power pocket and staying there for long rides nevertheless. My take on it is that it is probably a good craft for someone getting started in surf.

Those guys were your size or bigger. Oh, they were in full (surfing) wet suits and hoods.


what are bottom turns and cutbacks?


Sorry, Got Ahead Of You…
here’s a link on the subject of surf moves.


Surf Boats
Surfing SOTs are really not much good for anything BUT surfing. They are painfully slow on flatwater.

One boat that surfs smaller stuff pretty well and is not totally useless for anything else is the 11’ Scrambler, but it is also very slow.

who makes this ‘scrambler’? can you tell me more about it?

Messing about in boats
If you’re looking for something for light general-purpose paddling, a small SOT could be a good choice. I’m fond of Ocean Kayaks. The Scupper Pro may be a little big for what you’re looking for (about 15’), but it does a lot of things competently and is very forgiving. The Scrambler that 'Cuda mentioned is another OK boat. It’s a little smaller, cheaper, not as suitable for longer distances but great for messing around over short distances. There’s a “big boy” version called the Scrambler XT. Any of those boats will do OK in any conditions you have any business being out in as a beginner.

You probably want to stay away from a dedicated surf boat like the Kaos unless you’re going to be using it primarily in surf. They don’t tend to paddle all that well and are less versatile (but good fun when used as intended).

Others can give thoughts on Wilderness Systems, Perception, Cobra, and maybe other SOTs to look at.

have a aloha, or what was the Islander
Hula, it’s a fun little boat but definatly not for long trips. it’s great for playing in the surf and mangroves and creeks since it’s so short, one plus is it’s comfortable enough to nap on , should your paddling schedule permit. at 32 lbs easy to tote. no storage other than a drink holder but has eyes for bungie on pack for essentials.( cooler for drinks)

Ocean Kayaks is company name
Check out their webpage at

Also go to if you want to learn more in general about SOTs.

just bought a used Kaos recently
and that’s right, it’s not for lake paddling since it takes forever to get anywhere.

I took it with me in August when I visited my brother in North Carolina and used it in the surf and it was very fun for that usage.


– Last Updated: Dec-02-04 12:38 PM EST –

I thought I'd reply as I bought two alohas this last autumn. Obviously living in Quebec, I haven't had much time to play around with them, but on a couple of short (2hr) outings on local (slow) rivers they seemed comfortable, slow, very easy to turn and not too difficult to keep in a straight line. I would not want to have to paddle very far or very fast, but for excercise and some nature watching i'm confident that they will do the job. As stated above the boats are very light and at 8.5' easy to stow. The Aloha is not, I believe, a dedicated surf kayak in the Kaos mode, but according to reviews (for the Islander Hula)on this and the sit-on-topkayaker sites can provide a lot of fun in the surf. I'm 5'10'' and at 170lbs, I feel myself to be at the top-end of what the Aloha can carry. A similar and more sturdy alternative might be Ocean-Kayaks Frenzy, which I haven't tried. A very positive review of the Hula/Aloha can be found on the Adventure Kayak Magazine site at:

The Scrambler is an old school surfing sit on top. Made by Ocean Kayaks. One of the first SOT models on the market. Maybe all you need for smaller surf, and more range than the Kaos or Strike. Also makes a decent fishing boat.