What can SOTs handle

Hi All, long time no post. I usually paddle by myself, but recently, I joined a couple of local paddling meetup groups, and I ended up taking 5 novice paddlers out at my favorite place to paddle. 4 of them had SOTs, and one rented a CD sea kayak (Solstice, I think). I started them out with some really flatwater, then moved on to some slightly bumpy water. On the way back, the winds picked up, and we had occassional whitecaps and approx 1-2’ waves broadside. When we got back, the SOT paddlers said they had a rough time once the wind and waves picked up, while the guy with the SINK was just fine. My question is, are SOTs okay in these conditions, or is it just that it was novice paddlers (or both)?


My personal experience with SOT’s
Did the SOT paddlers have thigh straps? I think that is a big factor, as it helps you stay connected with (and in control of) the boat.

Without thigh straps, you’re just bouncing around on top of the boat, and when hit by a side wave in particular, you are likely to just fall off the thing.

I think the conditions you describe are fine for an SOT, as as long as the paddler has GOOD thigh straps (the cheap ones break in tough conditions) and maybe a little more paddling experience.

Another nice thing is, if they DO fall off, it’s easier to self-rescue than trying to get someone back into a SINK.

Just my opinion. I know there are others who would disagree.

Most entry level SOTs are wide and flat, so they’ll tend to roll more than a sea kayak in beam waves. They also tend to pound or slap in chop.

High-performance SOTs with good paddlers can be very capable in big water.


Tsunami Tangers and SOT’s

– Last Updated: Jun-27-12 12:48 PM EST –

With leg straps and paddling skill anything is
very, very possible in a SOT


A little motocross body armor plating along
with Helmets and knee pads and 1,000's of hours
of practice you too get play in a rock garden


A SOT can be fast agile and performance based

No , no straps NM

Varies With The SOT Design & Driver
I have two OK scupper pros used for fishing and for week-long kayak camping. It’s big enough to hold enough gear for a summer week for me. Got a bit more rocker than most of the SOTs currently being used for kayak fishing (e.g. Tarpons, Trident, Prowler, etc.) so I find it’s relatively maneuverable.

My other SOT is the 14’ RTM Disco. The hull bottom is akin to my RM Mystic - playful. I surfed this in 3-4’ waves and can effect diagonal runs on the waveface as well as some long loopy turns.

All my SOTs have thigh straps which allow for better control, bracing and rolling. The straps are actually useful for climbing back in two for those who don’t roll.


Definitely no High Performance SOTS
I would say more like the ones you might see people fish from. I know one was a Prowler.

“can handle” vs "good at"
SOTs in general can handle a decent amount, with skilled paddlers in them. I did a paddle with a tour company owner a few weeks back on the Central Coast of California. He would take his mostly novice clients into rock gardens on SOTs without thigh straps, and they do fine.

Here are some photos of our paddle (which was a little more advanced than his tours):




That said, the 2 guys I show in the photos are both tour guides and very experienced paddlers.

So SOTs can handle a lot. But they may not be as good at it. A touring kayak I find easier to control on the water (where these guys prefer the SOTs because they are so easy to get on and off).

Thanks Peter
So, I take it that the garden variety Prowler type SOT with no straps could handle the conditions I described with the right skill level, but a more novice person would be more comfortable in a sea kayak. That would fit pretty well with what I observed.

My old Tarpon 160 could handle way
more than I could, or can. ‘We" were in some 3-4’ confused water and without thigh straps I would have been out with the first set of waves.

It’s The Driver…
" but a more novice person would be more comfortable in a sea kayak…"

I’ve been out in 2’ chops with a bunch of drysuited, paddlers (most with more lessons under their bibs than my one lesson), in expensive seakayaks, white knuckling their paddles and some ending up needing a tow. It was experience, skill and mind set and physical conditioning that played out. The actual boat had little to do with it.


Not really
A lot depends on the boats and paddlers. Several years ago when I started paddling I signed up for a coastal paddle with our local club. Two of us had SOTs and we almost did not get to go on the paddle because of being a safety risk. When we were nearing Point Loma, a huge sneaker wave came rolling in about 12’ face height. We started sprinting for the outside and I made it along with the other guy in the SOT but the breaking wave took out every single one of the sea kayaks and they were all swimming with filled boats… these were “experienced paddlers” and we ended up doing t-rescues to get them back in their boats.

The other guy on the SOT has progressed to being a very hard core seakayaker and is quite active with CKF. I went through a surf kayak phase and mostly surf waveskis now, but keep my sit on top boats for guests, and my whitewater boat, and will rent a seakayak for overnight trips to islands or along the coast.

Agreed on Skills
Hey Sing,

But in this case, we had 5 similarly unskilled paddlers, one in a sea kayak, and the rest on SOTs all paddling in the same conditions. The guy in the sea kayak was keeping up well and looked pretty comfortable unlike the rest. It looked like it helped the unskilled person in the seakayak.

By the way Sing, I made it to Ikkyu in Judo. Somebody must have felt sorry for me.


All Right!!!
Soon a shodan…


A shodan is just recognition that you can now be considered a “serious student.” LOL!

It doesn’t end.

And that is the beauty…

The “Do…”


Part of the difference…
Part of the difference is that the touring kayak in this group likely had a rudder or skegg, and with waves coming from the side (and likely wind also - something had to make the waves), the rudder or skeg would do a lot to keep the boat headed the way you want.

I suspect a more experienced paddler would do just fine in a standard SOT.

It’s like getting your driver’s license
You get it, then really learn to drive :slight_smile:

Wonder if he knew what to do with a skeg
My Nighthawk was perfectly happy with it retracted. It was really not much to fuss about

Most USA nade
SOT’s aren’t worth much when things get really nasty.On the other hand some brands like Kaskazi built in S Africa can handle the worst conditions as well as any SIS.Of course you have to know what you’re doing.

caught something
Not sure if you meant to say it this way, but in a later message you said “The guy in the sea kayak was keeping up well and looked pretty comfortable unlike the rest.” if it was keeping up as the issue, then the longer touring kayaks had an advantage over the shorter SOTs.