Cheap Sit On Top Kayak: Beginner's Friendly Kayaks

Sit On Top Kayak

Abigail ScottByAbigail Scott
Updated on 9/29/2022

So you're considering buying a new kayak. Kayaks that capsize the second you get in can leave you soaking wet and treading water while you figure out how to get back in.

With that in mind, what kayak will be best for avoiding an unexpected wet exit and not taking the plunge? Sit-on-top kayaks are the answer for most people.

Kayaks with sit-on-tops have some advantages.

  • You can slip on and off easily whenever and wherever you want. Ideal for exploring the shoreline or paddling with kids who like to jump in the water.
  • Is it because sitting on top kayaks are self-bailing that they have holes? Kayaks are equipped with scupper holes to prevent them from filling up with water. When water splashes over the deck, it drains automatically.
  • Usually, sit-on-top kayaks are broader and more stable, making them less prone to tipping over. That means you're less likely to end up soaked!
  • Sit-in kayaks are ideal for warm water since they allow you to keep water off your legs since they don't have an enclosed cockpit. A SOT may not be the best kayak for someone who lives or kayaks in a colder climate.
  • Paddlers who are nervous or new to kayaking - All of the above attributes make sit-on kayaks an appealing option for beginners or those afraid of capsizing.

Sit-in kayaks have many advantages

  • Sit-in kayaks have an enclosed cockpit that keeps you warmer and dryer during windy or cold weather conditions.
  • Often sit-in kayaks are narrower and skinnier, making them faster in the water and better for covering longer distances along a shoreline. Sit-in kayaks are probably your best option if you want a touring kayak instead of a recreational kayak.
  • The storage compartment of a sit-in kayak is usually water-tight, so you can store extra gear without worrying about getting it soaked. While in a kayak, this gear is typically more challenging to access than on a SOT.

The most fundamental differences are a sit-in and a sit-on-top kayak.

The ease of use and stability of sit-on-top kayaks make them excellent for first-time kayakers.

Kayaks with sit-on-tops are also great for families on the lake looking for some fun rather than severe sight-seeing or aerobic exercises.

A sit-on-top kayak is also a good option for big guys who might feel claustrophobic in a sit-in kayak. It is more comfortable for big guys with long legs or a broader waist to sit in a sit-on-top kayak because of its extra width.

One of the most versatile sit-on-tops: Perception Tribe 9.5

From the three kayaks reviewed in this article, the Perception Tribe 9.5 might be the Goldilocks model.

This is a fun little kayak that has the right features in many areas. A smaller kayak should be just the right size, not too big, not too heavy, and paddle just right.

Perception Kayaks | Tribe Overview

In contrast to the two other kayaks in this article, the Tribe features a comfort seating system (CSS). For added comfort on long excursions, the CSS has a foam seat cushion.

Moreover, it is capable of safely accommodating a total weight of 300 pounds.

However, its versatility sets it apart.

In addition to its ability to perform well in rapids, small surf, motorboat wake, and flat water, the Perception Tribe received high marks from many users.

However, the best review comes from a user who compared the Ocean Kayak Frenzy with the Perception Tribe 9.5. According to him,

“I have also paddled the harbor from an Otter and an OC Frenzy. This [Perception Tribe 9.5] blows away the Frenzy in comfort, speed, and there is minimal bow slap compared to a Frenzy as well”.

As well, big and tall users liked this kayak, preferring the 9.5 over its 11.5 counterparts.

With a smaller kayak, stability, tracking, and speed are usually compromised. Not with the Perception Tribe 9.5.

Despite its shorter length, taller kayakers still prefer the 9.5-foot Tribe to the 11.5-foot Tribe because of the usual advantages (storage, portability, weight) that come with it.

Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-On-Top Kayak is the best budget kayak

Kayaks like this are among Amazon's best-selling products. This is an excellent entry-level kayak due to its attractive price point for people who are just getting started with kayaking.

Sundolphin Bali 10ss

Most users comment that this kayak is easy to lift and transport to and from their vehicle thanks to its high-density polyethylene construction, which weighs only 44 pounds.

While the 10 foot Bali SS kayak is sturdy and stable, it is only rated for a maximum weight of 250 pounds. If you are a heavier individual or big guy, users recommend going for the 12 foot version of this kayak.

There is a variety of colors available in this kayak (hey, it's the little things sometimes, isn't it? ), which is not the case with every kayak manufacturer.

Most companies only offer one or two colors to choose from, but the Sun Dolphin Bali SS is available in six different colors, including a pink model for all the ladies!

There is no paddle or seat cushion included with this model, but it features a backrest and a Portable Accessory Compartment that can be used as a tow behind.

It appears the bottom seat cushion is definitely needed, and many reviewers purchased one separately.

Kayaks like the Sun Dolphin Bali SS were frequently criticized for two reasons:

  1. Several reviewers expressed disappointment with the kayak's tracking.
    Several kayakers were frustrated by the difficulty of paddling straight. Others said it was fine, especially for new kayakers, but those who had trouble believed it was serious.
  2. SOT kayaks are wet.
    Located in the cockpit, two of the scupper holes allowed water to enter from below. The purchase does not include scupper plugs, which are recommended to fix the problem.
    Despite plugs, water leaks in through some of the rivet eyes and elsewhere, and pools in the cockpit anyway. This design flaw has caused many reviewers to complain about sitting in 1.5" of water.

Despite these complaints, most people were generally satisfied with their purchase, especially considering the relatively low price.

This is the best sit-on-top kayak for recreational use: Ocean Kayak Frenzy

It looks like Ocean delivers on their claim that this kayak is "big fun in a compact kayak".

Ocean Kayak 'Frenzy' review by GRVO TV

A lightweight and easy-to-transport kayak, the Ocean Frenzy kayak measures 9 feet in length and weighs just over 42 pounds, making it easy to transport on top of a vehicle.

Frenzy kayaks feature convenient handles at the bow and stern, as well as molded-in handles on the inside for easy transport from your car to the launch point and back.

Kayaks like this are known for their versatility.

Ocean has designed the Frenzy SOT kayak to be playful and responsive in small surf as well as flat water, but most kayaks for beginners and intermediates will be designed for flat water like lakes and rivers.

In addition to its versatility, this kayak is also a good option for kids.

As such, it's important to note that a kayak advertised as 'compact' will be better suited to people who are small in size.

This kayak is suitable for children and smaller adults. Nonetheless, some reviewers have complained that this kayak is not the most comfortable for big people.

The kayak is adequate in width overall at 31 inches, but the seat itself is only 18 inches wide, a bit too narrow for comfortably accommodating plus-sized individuals. As for the kayak's 9-foot length, it leaves little room for taller humans as well.

In terms of ease of transportation, versatility in the water, tracking, and maneuverability, the Ocean Frenzy kayak receives high marks all around for normal or pint-sized humans. This kayak is worth short-listing immediately if the size is not an issue for you.

The winner of the beginner's SOT is the best among the rest

Sit-on-top kayaks are a good choice as a starting point for those new to kayaking.

SOT kayaks are typically a better choice if you are not kayaking in frigid waters due to their inherent stability, ease of getting on and off, and portability.

The Perception Tribe 9.5 might be the unheralded hero of the sit-on-top kayak world.

As a sit-on-top kayak, the Perception Tribe 9.5 sit-on-top kayak is just the right size and shape for paddlers of all shapes and sizes, as well as providing excellent tracking, speed, and comfort.

The perception seems to have achieved all of these goals with their Tribe 9.5 without compromising on anything.