Which Is Better Sit In or Sit On Kayak?

There are two basic styles of kayak: sit-in and sit-on. They both come in singles and doubles, meaning they come in types for one or two riders. They are also available in hard-shell and inflatable versions.

Today, we’ll focus on the differences and similarities between the sit-on and sit-in styles. We’ll also focus on the pros and cons of each style to help you better choose the kayak for your needs. If this information still fails to convince you completely, you may visit StuckFishing for a full guide on these types of canoes.

Sit-in vs Sit-on Kayaks

If you aren’t too familiar with kayaks, it’s easy to confuse the sit-in and sit-on styles for the other. That’s because, on the surface, they share quite a lot of similarities.

What Are Their Shared Similarities?

Both sit-on and sit-in kayaks share many of the same parts. The bottom is still called the hull, and the top is still known as the deck. The stern and bow are still names for the back and front, respectively. And most of the time, the decks of both these canoes will still have bungees or deck lines.

Some sit-in and sit-on kayak sterns have rudders; others have grab loops. Rudders are still controlled by pedals, and they still swivel side to side on both styles. They both have kegs, which help them go straight once you drop them in the water.

Additionally, both sit-in and sit-on kayaks have seats and some kind of foot support. Some have adjustable foot pedals to cater to the needs of different-size riders. Others have footwells that offer more convenience. Pedals are preferable if you’re spending an entire day in the water, while footwells are more convenient for short trips.

Lastly, the best versions of these kayaks have excellent backrests. These welcome add-ons make sitting and paddling on them more comfortable.

Where Do They Differ?

Perhaps the biggest difference between these two kayak styles lies in their seat designs. The sit-inside version has enclosed seats. In comparison, the sit-on-top style’s seats are out in the open. The area within the enclosed space, where you’ll find the seat and pedals, is the cockpit.

Both kayak styles offer tons of options, so choosing the right one for your needs can be pretty overwhelming. There’s also a lot of pressure to make the right decision. After all, a wrong one could possibly ruin your kayaking experience.

Choosing a Kayak Style

Narrow down your kayak options effectively by asking these important questions:

  • Do you prefer paddling at the beach or on a lake?
  • Will you be paddling in warm water?
  • Are you more concerned with speed or stability?

The answers to these questions should help steer you towards the right kayak style.

Pros and Cons of the Sit-on Kayak

Where does the sit-on kayak excel, and where does it fall short? Let’s get the lowdown.


The sit-on-style kayak usually prides itself on its user-friendliness more than anything else. And this has a lot to do with its following advantages:

  • Stability

Getting in and out of a small vessel floating on water isn’t what you’d imagine as easy, but it is on a sit-on kayak. That’s because the seating area is exposed and doesn’t limit you to stepping on an enclosed space as you would in a sit-inside kayak.

  • Lack of Confinement

Because its seating area is in the open, the sit-on-top kayak doesn’t make you feel confined. In this type of kayak, your legs are free to stretch. Plus, the water is within touching distance. You can also get on and off these things as you please without much hassle.

  • Self-Bailing

This type of kayak has what is known as scupper holes, which are holes for draining water in case too much gets in.


What might not impress you as much about the sit-on?

  • Wet Experience

You aren’t likely to stay dry when using a sit-on kayak. It’s a more nature-immersive kayak, allowing you to really become one with your environment. You may take this as either a pro or a con, but we’ll go with con in this case because many beginners we know prefer staying dry.

Pros and Cons of the Sit-in Kayak

What’s to love and not to love about these kayak versions?


These are some sit-in kayak qualities that might bring a smile to any kayaker’s face:

  • Shelter From the Elements

You won’t always be paddling in comfortable conditions. During cold and windy days, you can leverage the sit-inside’s enclosed seating area to shelter your lower body from the cold breeze and the cool water.

  • Stable, Fun, and Easy-to-Use

The sit-inside makes a great recreational kayak because of its protective walls. The solid walls and large cockpits provide a sense of security for beginners who just want to paddle for fun.


What about the sit-inside might make you upset?

  • Not Flip-Friendly

In case the kayak capsizes, it will be a bit more difficult to right yourself and recover because the vessel will likely fill up with water.

The Kayak Style for You

There are a lot of good and not too many bad things about each type of kayak. However, most of the pros and cons are independent of the other. It’s still best to assess your individual needs before making a decision.