Your Guide to Buying a Sit-on-Top Kayak

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Your Guide to Buying a Sit-on-Top Kayak

Enjoy the great outdoors with the sit-on-top kayak. People who enjoy fishing, surfing, and diving generally find this canoe quite practical, and because this is the more affordable cousin of the sit-in kayak, many choose to start with this type of kayak before investing in something more expensive. Buying one for the first time, however, can be confusing due to the many configurations and features available. It is often very easy to fall in love with a kayak based on just its good looks and have buyer's remorse in the morning.

Those who are serious about purchasing a sit-on-top kayak should make sure to do their research on its types, components, size, material, and hull shape, among others. This ensures that you make the best decision for your individual needs. Whether purchased at a traditional water sports shop or on eBay, shopping for a sit-on-top kayak requires careful research because it is a large investment.

Overview of Sit-on-Top Kayaks

The sit-on-top kayak is a small boat that is propelled manually using a double-blade paddle handled by the paddler. From the name itself, sit-on-top kayaks have the paddlers sitting on an open cockpit made from a moulded depression top instead of a closed cockpit. Kayaks like these are popular among those water sport enthusiasts who enjoy being able to quickly slip on and off their boat. Still, it is important to note that due to the higher centre of gravity, this type of kayak is slower than the traditional sit-in kayak.

Many people may think that kayaks are a recent invention, but they were actually originally made by the Eskimos. The very first kayaks were made from animal skin that they stretched over whalebone or wood. Directly translated, the word “kayak” is "hunter's boat" because Eskimos used it to catch fish. Back then, all kayaks were custom made to the user's height and measurements. While this can still be done today, it is not practical or affordable for the general population.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Parts

Before purchasing a sit-on-top kayak, it is important to first understand and identify the various parts and how they all work together. Below is a quick and general explanation of the part and its corresponding location. The orientation assumes that the paddler is sitting inside the cockpit and facing forward.




Surface of the kayak


Front of the cockpit


Base of the kayak


Rear of the cockpit


Right of the kayak


Left of the kayak


Watertight storage place for gear


Vertical partition that creates watertight chambers within the kayak


Area where the paddler is seated; the number of cockpits depends on the number of people paddling the kayak


Resembles surfboard fins; attached to the base of the kayak; keeps the kayak in a straight line; helps in keeping it stable

Knowing the parts of a kayak helps buyers understand kayak product descriptions when researching and shopping online. It is also an advantage when speaking to salespeople in person; buyers can more effectively describe what they are looking for and be assured of understanding what the seller is offering.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Types

There are many ways to categorise sit-on-top kayaks. This can be done by use, size, material, and hull shape, among others. Below is a quick description of the various types.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Type by Use

When selecting among the various sit-on-top kayaks, it is important to first consider how you plan to use it. Some kayaks are best suited for certain kinds of activities. The following table details the different types of kayaks by use.




Used mainly for paddling on ocean and lakes; built to paddle quickly on a straight line; can be used for long journeys; includes storage area for gear and supplies


Used to catch ocean waves; similar to surfing except the person is in a kayak; has flat planing base; hard rails to for easy turning; has large rocker located at the bow; no rocker at the tail; ideal for people who want the thrill of surfing on a kayak


Meant for casual paddlers who intend to use it on flatwater streams or lakes; wider than the typical kayak so there is more stability; slower but easier to manoeuvre around; does not easily go in a straight line; limited cargo


Intended for moving water and whitewater rapids; designed for sudden drops; shorter and large for easy manoeuvring; does not easily capsize

At the end of the day, choosing the right sit-on-top kayak depends on your purpose. Touring sit-on-top kayaks can be dangerous when paddled on whitewater rapids. Whitewater sit-on-top kayaks, on the other hand, are not as efficient as touring kayaks on still water.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Type by Size

Sit-on-top kayaks are available in single, double, and triple capacity. Some kayaks may have extra seats to accommodate passengers who are not necessarily paddlers. As for the length, generally, sit-on-top kayaks measure three to six metres. When it comes to the weight, on the other hand, kayaks can carry weight from 90 to over 130 kilogrammes. If you are a little on the heavy side, make sure to check the weight that the kayak can handle before purchasing it.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Type by Material

There are two general types of sit-on-top kayaks: hard shell and inflatable. Hard shell sit-on-top kayaks are typically made from rotomoulded polyethylene or composite material like fibreglass and kevlar. While inflatable sit-on-top kayaks are comfortable, durable, and easy to fold, they do not move as quickly in the water. Composite materials, on the other hand, are lightweight and rigid, which means that it travels faster. Because it is more expensive, it is ideal only for those who are serious about the sport.

Sit-on-Top Kayak by Hull Shape

The best hull shape for your sit-on-top kayak depends on where you plan to use it. There are two general kinds of hull shapes: U and V. U-shaped hulls are best for moving waters like catching a wave, riding the rapids, or running a river. V-shaped hulls, on the other hand, are best for flat and stable waters as it keeps the boat going in a straight line. Due to their higher centre of gravity, most sit-on-top kayaks combine the two hulls to increase stability even if sacrifices some of the boat's speed.

Sit-on-Top Kayak Brands

While some people choose to purchase from traditional kayak dealers, others prefer to buy it online. Among the popular brands that offer sit-on-top kayaks are Old Town Otter, Perception, Wilderness Systems, Hobie, Cobra, Wavemaster, Island Waveski, Ocean Kayak. Necky, and Current Designs. When selecting the brand, make sure to assess its quality of workmanship while still keeping an eye on your budget.

Shopping for a Sit-on-Top Kayak on eBay

Those who are searching for sit-on-top kayaks on eBay should begin by visiting its home page. Type "sit-on-top kayak" in the search field that can be found on every page and hit enter on your keyboard. When you do this, eBay searches through its database for product listings that matches your keywords. This can bring anywhere from a hundred product listings to thousands. If the search results are too broad,  however, consider typing in additional search terms to narrow it down. For example, you can type in "whitewater sit-on-top kayak" if you are looking for a kayak that you can use for whitewater rapids. You can also use filters such as seating, brand, condition, price, and item location that can be selected to narrow down the product listings even further.

Another way to go about the search is through the eBay Advanced Search tool. This function gives people the option to specify what they want before running the search through the system. Here, you can choose sellers that have free P&P or allow the buyer to collect it in person. This tool even searches for product listings within your general vicinity, which you specify based on the number of miles from your postcode. This saves you time because you do not have to go through irrelevant product listings. For those who are looking for used kayaks, there is an option for this as well. People who wish to deal only with authorised sellers of the kayak can also select this option using Advanced Search. It is not surprising then why so many people decide to purchase their kayaks on eBay since it simplifies the search process and makes it hassle-free.


If you are new to sit-on-kayaks, the number of choices can be confusing and overwhelming. With just a little research, however, it should become easier for you to purchase your own sit-on-top kayak. For starters, it is important to know that there are generally four types of sit-on-top kayaks: touring, surf, recreational, and whitewater. When it comes to size, kayak capacity is normally classified as single, double, and triple. As for the material, kayaks can be inflatable or made from a hard shell. Hard shells are further classified as kevlar and fibreglass, both otherwise known as composite materials, and polyethylene.

Kayaks are also classified based on hull shape, which are commonly V- or U-shaped. Normally, sit-on-tops are combine the best of the two hull shapes for greater stability. After choosing the best sit-on-top kayak for your needs, consider shopping for it on eBay. Not only can you choose from a wide selection, but you also get access to the best bargains as well.

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