Exploring the Differences
The age-old question in the kayaking world: sit-on top or sit-inside kayak? While the answer ultimately depends on personal preference, it’s important to know the advantages of each type and which suits your paddling style.
Understanding Sit-In Kayaks
A sit-inside kayak allows you to climb inside the hull, placing your legs beneath the deck. This lower position submerges you slightly below the water’s surface, resulting in improved secondary stability. Bracing your knees against the kayak’s walls adds strength and efficiency to your paddle strokes.
Getting to Know Sit-On Kayaks
Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck, with the paddler sitting directly on top of the boat. Unlike sit-inside kayaks, the paddler is positioned above the water’s surface.
Advantages of Sit-In Kayaks
- Lower center of gravity: Being below the water’s surface provides a lower center of gravity, enhancing secondary stability. This stability is crucial for paddling in rough waters.
- Increased control and power: With your knees against the kayak’s walls, you can exert power and have better control over the kayak.
- Less susceptible to wind: The lower profile of sit-in kayaks makes them less affected by wind.
- Protection from the elements: Being partially inside the kayak shields you from the sun and water splashes. Adding a spray skirt offers complete protection.
- Narrower and faster: Sit-inside kayaks have a narrower design, allowing for increased speed and less energy expenditure.
- Shorter paddle: The narrow deck of sit-inside kayaks requires a shorter paddle, making paddling easier.
- Dry cockpit: The enclosed cockpit remains relatively dry, keeping your feet, legs, and belongings dry as well.
Disadvantages of Sit-In Kayaks
- Claustrophobic: Some may feel confined in the enclosed cockpit.
- Difficult to exit and reenter: Compared to sit-on-top kayaks, getting in and out is more challenging.
- Sinkable: If the hatch covers come loose, water can enter the cockpit, potentially sinking the kayak.
- Lower initial stability: Sit-inside kayaks compromise initial stability due to their narrower design.
- Requires a bilge pump: If you capsize, a bilge pump is necessary to remove water from the cockpit.
- Limited storage space: Sit-inside kayaks have limited storage compared to sit-on-top kayaks.
Advantages of Sit-On Kayaks
- Freedom while paddling: The open cockpit allows for easy entering and exiting and gives you more freedom to move around.
- Suited for larger paddlers: Sit-on-top kayaks are better suited for taller or bigger individuals.
- Better initial stability: The higher center of gravity provides better stability on flat water, offering a stable deck for fishing.
- Unsinkable design: Sit-on-top kayaks won’t sink because water does not get trapped in the cockpit.
- Ample storage: The open deck allows for generous storage space for gear and belongings.
- Self-bailing scupper holes: In the event of a capsize, water drains off the deck through self-bailing scupper holes.
Disadvantages of Sit-On Kayaks
- Lower secondary stability: Sit-on-top kayaks have lower secondary stability than sit-inside kayaks, making them more prone to capsizing in rough waters.
- Exposed to the elements: The open cockpit exposes you to rain and waves breaking over the boat.
- Wind susceptibility: The higher profile of sit-on-top kayaks makes them more susceptible to wind.
- Slower than sit-inside kayaks: Wider sit-on-top kayaks are slower in the water and require more energy for longer distances.
- Limited control: Sit-inside kayaks offer more control through knee bracing, while sit-on-top kayaks lack this advantage.
- Longer paddle: Due to their wider design, sit-on-top kayaks require a longer paddle and more effort to propel through the water.
Comparing Sit-On and Sit-In Kayaks
While both types of kayaks have their advantages and disadvantages, choosing the right one for you depends on various factors.
Overall stability is determined by factors like width, seat height, and the shape of the bow and stern. Sit-on-top kayaks perform better on flat waters, while sit-inside kayaks excel in choppy waters.
Performance, in terms of speed, depends on the kayak’s width and length. Sit-inside touring kayaks, with their narrower design, allow for greater speed.
Storage is a significant factor to consider. Sit-inside kayaks offer limited space, while sit-on-top kayaks have ample storage on the front and rear decks.
Sit-on-top kayaks provide more freedom to adjust seating positions, making them more comfortable during long paddling trips.
Choosing the Right Kayak for You
For beginners, stability is key. Sit-inside kayaks are suitable for calm lakes and slow-moving rivers, while sit-on-top kayaks are better for paddling through the ocean or choppy waters.
If you plan to paddle far from shore, sit-on-top kayaks are ideal due to their open deck and unsinkable design. For long-distance ocean paddling, consider sit-inside touring kayaks with bulkheads for added safety.
Most fishing kayaks are sit-on-top models, offering more room for casting and reeling. However, sit-inside kayaks can also be used for fishing, especially in cold climates or on overcast days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Stay tuned for our FAQ section to get answers to common questions about sit-on-top and sit-inside kayaks.