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Sit inside vs Sit on top Kayak?

  • 04-08-2021 1:49pm
    Registered Users Posts: 12,431 ✭✭✭✭

    Myself and a friend are interested in getting into kayaking as a hobby. We have been looking into the different styles of kayak but are unsure whether to go for a sit inside or sit on top kayak.

    Which is the best to go for as a total newbie to kayaking?

    I understand a sit on top is probably more stable and easier to get back onto if you fall off. I'm leaning more towards one of these but would you freeze your balls off on this compared to a sit inside?

    We'll be mainly using the kayaks on lakes and maybe the sea a but too. No plans to attack fast moving rivers or anything like that.

    Any advice would be great as I'm at a loss here!


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,632 ✭✭✭Wildly Boaring

    Personally I've never got the appeal of sit on top.

    Heavy, slow and yep cold.

    Enclosed all day for me.

    3 very important things

    1. The boat must have sufficient bouyancy inside it, usually a dense foam. But without it the boat sinks. And there must be enough. I'd even shove an extra couple inner tubes in the back and inflate.

    2. You never paddle without a bouyancy aid on yourself. Never.

    3. Less than 3 never shall be. 3 people on the water.

    Join your local club. Or at least contact them and do a few taster classes. Best thing to do. Far safer. Far cheaper than deciding you don't like it. Far better for enjoyment after, you'll be able to go straight and know where to go.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,910 ✭✭✭cletus

    So, another point of view here. I bought myself a sit on top. It's heavier all right, but the slow doesn't bother me.

    It's easy to hop on/off, a number of my friends bought similar, we have done half days and full days on canal/river, didn't find it cold.

    Caveat here is that the paddling I do is completely recreational, and I haven't gone near the sea. We'll often stop for a flask of tea and a sandwich on the river bank. I'd like to do a couple of overnights too, when time allows.

    Basically, you have to consider just what it is you want to do/get out of the kayaking experience, and let that guide you.

    I would echo wildly boaring's safety advice, though. Couple of lessons or what have you with a club will probably help if you've never paddled before (I didn't do this, but would have done the basics in college), but bouyancy aid and kayaking partners are a must.

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,431 ✭✭✭✭El Guapo!

    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I agree 100% on the safety points that's not something I'd mess around with.

    To be honest, I've only been kayaking twice in my life and that was probably about 20 years ago now, when I was in my early teens. I did love it and always wanted to go again but just never did. Lately I've been getting more into the outdoors and kayaking has been right near the top of the list for me.

    It'll be purely recreational. I have no interest in speed etc. We will be just interested in leisurely paddling in lakes and then maybe the sea (close to the shore)

    The main attraction of the sit on top would be the ease of getting on/off, the storage space etc.

    I only got kind of turned off the sit inside ones after watching YouTube videos on the subject and they basically said if you were to capsize in that one, then it'll fill with water and you have basically no chance of getting back in unless you get to shore and empty the boat. That really turned me off although maybe the video was misleading.

    The sit on top looks great to me but I'm wondering if they're geared more towards somewhere with a warmer climate.

    The point about contacting the local club may be a good idea. Maybe they'll have both types and I could test them out first.

  • Registered Users Posts: 306 ✭✭john jameson

    Hi all ...

    I love to recreationally kayak and do it when ever I get the chance!! I own sit on top kayak and I find it absolutely brillant ... it's made my emotion kayaks it's a temptation 10.. its stable and fast enough and on nice days iv taken the 2 kids for a spin in the lake sits on the bow and one sits behind me and off we go ..

    This year I decided to get a dubble sit on top kayak its wave sport Gemini scooter 2 seater I bought used and its practical brand new condition only used twice by previous owner any way it will provide me with more space for the kids as there getting bigger and heavier and great way of getting them interested.

    For me for now the sit on top is the way to go!! There stable and sturdy aswell as fast enough. There easy to mount if you capsize and they self bale!! You can always ware a pair of neoprene shorts to keep the arse warm I use gull neoprene shorts myself and u could pop track suit bottoms over them aswell as a hoodie or light jacket on top thankfully any time iv gone out in mine iv never capsized and iv hit some choppy conditions at times so hopefull this helps.

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,790 ✭✭✭✭listermint

    Have a bic Tobago two man. Sit on top. Used in lakes and sea. More sea however. Coast line stuff and out around the likes of dalkey island.

    Love it, does it all well, very stable

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  • Registered Users Posts: 24,172 ✭✭✭✭Sleepy

    I got a cheap sit-on-top last summer and have mostly used it on the coastline around Portrane/Donabate. The main attraction to me of sit-on-top was safety: you're not going to get stuck in one if you capsize. I'd love to find a club and learn to roll a sit-in as they'd undoubtedly be the better option in heavier conditions but for the odd time I get out in mine for a paddle along the coast, what I have will do me for a few years yet.

  • Registered Users Posts: 33,790 ✭✭✭✭listermint

    One note though. If your getting cold... Youre not paddling.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,632 ✭✭✭Wildly Boaring

    Hahahahahahahaha ha.

    Try the Boyne in January.

    I suppose I'm historically more of a whitewater paddler hence my view of enclosed being better and warmer.

    I don't like the description of any boat being safer than another. It doesn't sit right with me. Unfortunately there's a bit of a history in this country of people with sit on tops getting in bother. This has probably a lot more to do with the person and their ability than the boat.

    (Appreciate that there have been drownings from "enclosed" but they tend to be on whitewater)

    It seems the conscious is sit on top better for recreational. And that's fair if that's what people like.

    Use the boat that you feel comfortable in. But please do it safely.

    Bouyancy aid at all times and 3 boats minimum.

    Oh and this thing of enclosed being less safe due to not being able to get out. Or not being able to self right. Sounds like people paddling alone and without any training.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,910 ✭✭✭cletus

    One of the issues with sit on tops (and I use one) is that they do allow for people to just get on the water, and if people don't understand the dangers, or ignore the fact that water is unforgiving, it can lead to serious issues.

  • Registered Users Posts: 306 ✭✭john jameson

    That was my first preference for a 2 man kayak but there expensive so I settled for the scooter as it was local so no travel and I got 2 seats and 2 paddles for 500euro was kinda hard to leave few weeks later I'm on done deal and what should pop up but a bit Tobago 2 man kayak with seats and paddles for not much more 😡

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  • Registered Users Posts: 160 ✭✭NotCarrotRidge

    There's no definitive answer to this question. Here are my two cents, fwiw:

    [B]Sit on top pros.[/b]

    Easy to use with minimal training


    You don't need to know how to roll or carry out a rescue.

    Suitable for occasional paddler in benign conditions.

    [B]Sit on top cons.[/b]

    Ease of use can result in over confidence.

    Very low ceiling of suitable conditions or level of paddling

    Limited range of uses.


    All sit on tops are effectively the same (unless it's a surf ski!)

    [B]Sit in pros[/b]

    Has potential to do much more.

    Can cope with wider variety of conditions.

    Less exposed and can carry stuff.

    The paddler's potential is not limited by the boat.

    There's a huge variety of sit in boats for all types of paddling.

    [B]Sit in cons[/b]

    More expensive

    Requires training.

    I'm not going to get into the argument re sit on tops being easier to right if you capsize. That's true if you're in good conditions. It becomes a moot point if you're in challenging conditions, out of reach of the shore.

    To sum it up, i would see sit on tops as not much more than a toy. Grand fun if used properly and safely, but don't get it mixed up with a proper kayak.

    As with any outdoor activity, assess the situation and the weather forecast before you do anything, particularly for wind.