Best Sit-On Top Kayaks of 2020

I personally prefer a good sit-on top kayak for a couple of reasons.

They are personal reasons, but reasons non the less. I will tell you my reasons as we go through this review.

We are going to take a look at what I would consider to be the best Sit-on top kayaks of 2020.

Criteria for the the Best

What am I looking for?

There are certain things to look for when deciding what the best kayak is. So we are going to look at:

  • Durability
  • Stability
  • Transportability
  • Customizable
  • Comfort
  • Budget or Cost

We are going to look at how durable these kayaks are. No one wants to put out good hard-earned money and then have to buy a new one in a year or even 5 years. Unless of course, we just want to upgrade or want a new one.

Stability is a major one for me. I have no desire to go swimming just because I adjusted my seat. I like to feel stable in my kayak. So we are going to look at the stability factor.

We have to be able to transport our kayak. It doesn’t do us any good sitting in the garage. So we are going to look at the weight and what it takes to get it to the lake or river.

How hard is it to customize the kayak and what does it already come with. We have to be able to bling it out.

Comfort is another biggie. If it isn’t comfortable for you, you will not use it. Nothing worse than getting off the lake or out of the river and not being able to walk. Us older folks need to be comfortable.

Last but not least is budget or cost. I am not shooting for the cheapest here. Although, budget is always a concern. Let’s face it though, you are going to pay a bit more for the best.

Okay, let’s get to it already. Are you excited to learn what I think is the top picks of 2020?

Why a Sit-on Top or SOT Kayak

While the reasons I have a SOT are strictly personal for me, I thought I would share them to give you food for thought.

  1. They are easier to get on when launching and easy to get off of when done.
  2. They are easier for me to fish off of, and generally provide easy access to storage and stuff.
  3. Customizable! While the fishing kayaks come with a lot, you can add more.
  4. They can be very versatile.

OMG!

My research has been a long process. Trying to narrow down the best sit-on top kayaks is a challenge. There are so many options and there is so much to consider.

I am going to break this down a bit and separate my choices into a couple of categories.

Basically, a lot of your Sit-on Top kayaks are versatile enough to use in many applications. Although, there are those that are best suited for one application or the other.

Sit-on Top Kayak for Recreation

The recreation category is a big category.

While I consider all kayaking to be recreational, the term is generally used for basic kayaking done by families or individuals randomly without a definite purpose. Such as just having fun on the lake or river on the weekend.

So the best sit-on top kayak of 2020 in my opinion for this purpose starts with the Pelican Sentinel 100X.

I chose this model for a couple of reasons.

  1. It had great reviews on Amazon and YouTube
  2. Easy to transport
  3. Versatility
  4. Budget Friendly
  5. Ample Storage

The Pelican Sentinel is a one-person kayak that is manufactured in Canada. It is easily transported due to the light-weight construction and the molded side handles.

While it is dubbed as a recreational kayak, it can easily be used for fishing as well.

Its construction makes for a durable kayak and has built-in flotation (foam blocks) for extra stability and safety.

Specs. for the Pelican Sentinel

Length – 9′-6″

Weight – 47lbs

Capacity – 275lbs

Check out this video for a great walk-around of this great little boat.

The few cons that I found were the same as some other kayaks I researched. The paddle is sold separately, but that just means you can get one suited to you.

The Exoshell that is shown in the video is not water tight. So, make sure your gear is in a dry bag before hitting the water.

There are so many options for this category that I am going to leave you with this one for now. You can also check out my review for the Ascend 10T. Also, a great little boat, I own an older model the D10T, and it is made in the USA.

I am going to start reviewing some of these kayaks on an individual basis, that way I am not boring you with extremely long posts, LOL

Sit-on Top Kayak for Fishing

This category is flooded with awesome sit-on top kayak models. These range in prices from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars.

The Hobie line is at the top.

My pick for 2020 is the Hobie Mirage Compass

Hobie is notorious for building a quality fishing kayak and this is no different.

While the Hobie is in the higher price range, you are paying for quality and a wealth of standard upgrades compared to other kayaks. Hobie is also manufactured in the USA.

Specs. for the Mirage Compass are:

Length – 12′

Weight – 87lbs (fully rigged with standard equip., seat, pedal drive and rudder system). Fitted weight without stuff is 68lbs.

Capacity – 400lbs

The Hobie Mirage has a lot of Pros.

It comes with a breathable, mesh seat that can also function as a beach chair when removed. It is also adjustable to suit your comfort.

All Hobies come standard with the MirageDrive pedal system. This one also has the retractable fins and can also be upgraded to the drive that offers reverse and the bigger fins.

It has the Hobie H-track system to attach accessories easily on either side.

Molded side handles for easier loading and carrying. Also, has bow and stern handles

Comes standard with a built-in transducer mount and includes thru-hull cable plugs. So you can add your fish finder.

This kayak also checks off the stable and durable boxes in my checklist above.

It is also very versatile. While I really like it for fishing it can also be used for recreational purposes other than fishing. The flip-up fins make it doable for shallower waters, so you can still enjoy rivers as well as lakes and island touring.

Check out the video below for a great walk-thru demo of this awesome kayak.

The only con I found with this kayak is really the weight. If you are alone and not super strong it is going to be a challenge to transport. You will certainly want to have some kind of cart to get it to the water. I would recommend the Hobie Fold n Stow Kayak Cart.

Sit-on Top Inflatable Kayak

The top pick for me in this category is the Driftsun Rover 120

The Driftsun is a versatile, durable kayak that checks off many of my criteria boxes. The only real exception is being able to bling it out. Let’s face it. It is inflatable, and adding gear could really compromise the structure.

It is, however, budget friendly, comfortable and easy to transport.

It has a great many reviews on Amazon and rated at a 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Specs for the Driftsun Rover 120

Length – 8′-6″

Width – 32″

Weight – 22lbs

Capacity – 300lbs

This kayak generally comes with the two-piece aluminum paddle, Dual-action hand pump, rear tracking fin, adjustable EVA padded seat w/ high back support and a handy dandy travel bag.

This kayak sports a rocker profile ideal for maneuverability and stability and can handle up to class 3 or 4 rapids. It is just as handy on flat water.

The construction is composed of high-pressure drop-stitched floor, and reinforced layered PVC. Both adding to the stability and durability of the kayak.

It has a removable rear skeg. It makes for great tracking in flat water, but can be stored for whitewater use.

Lastly, It has 7 self-bailing plugs.

It only takes about 9 minutes to inflate, which makes it great for getting your day started.

Also, if you find that you would like to have a little larger capacity with more space, Driftsun also offers a two man inflatable with all the same bells and whistles.

Wrap it Up!

Okay, so I purposely only gave you my 3 top options for 2020. There is a huge selection of Sit-on Top Kayaks on the market. I chose the three I chose for specific reasons stated above as my favorites.

My intention is to start reviewing different makes and models of kayaks individually. Had I tried to review them all here this post would have turned into a book, LOL.

So I hope you found my reviews helpful and informative. Keep coming back to see what I have reviewed next and what I think about them.

Until Next Time!

How are Kayaks Made

Does Construction matter and what are the differences?

We are going to take a look at how kayaks are made and the difference in the construction process. Also why construction is important and how it is relative to the plan you have for your kayak.

4 Basic Types of Construction

We have come a long way from the original kayaks made out of tree bark and animal skins. Not that they were not effective. In todays world, they are not efficient, economical or practical.

There are 4 types of construction or materials that kayaks are made out of. Each type will determine things such as weight, durability, pricing, and what you are going to use it for.

Kayak Construction Materials

  • Rotomolded
  • Thermoform
  • Fiberglass/Composite
  • Wood

Rotomolded or Rotation Molding

This is a process that has been used for a long time to produce many plastic or polyethylene objects and products. Many of the products we use in everyday life and is not just contained to kayaks.

The process is done by pouring a plastic powder into a hollow mold and continuously rotated while the heated plastic forms to the sides of the mold. The rotation continues through the heating and cooling phases. Eventually after cooling the product shrinks and pulls away from the sides of the mold allow easy removal.

Advantages Of Rotomold

  • One solid piece polyethylene or plastic
  • Durabilty, flexibility and can handle quite an impact
  • Consistant wall thickness
  • Budget Friendly

Cons to Rotomold Kayaks

  • Weight, they tend to be the heaviest kayaks
  • Hard to repair
  • Susceptible to UV damage

Rotomolded kayaks are very popular, because they tend to be less expensive and are easily found. A couple of the popular brands are Ascend, Perception and Lifetime Kayaks.

Rotomolded kayaks tend to be very durable and come in a variety of lengths and widths. They are used for recreational kayaks, whitewater kayaks, fishing kayaks, touring kayaks and surf kayaks.

Thermoform Construction

Thermoform is another form of molding plastic or polyethylene. In this process thin sheets of plastic or polyethylene are heated till they are pliable then formed over a male our female mold. Thus, creating two pieces that are then molded together. Then, once removed from the mold the product is trimmed to increase usability.

There are two types of Thermoforming.

There is Vacuum forming and Pressure forming.

Vacuum forming is accomplished by heating a sheet of plastic, then placing it over the mold. Once it is at the desired temperature a vacuum is used to apply the pressure needed to form the plastic into it’s desired form.

Pressure forming has many similarities to vacuum forming, but has the benefit of added pressure. This is great when extra detail is needed or wanted for additional aesthetics value.

This technique is used in many different applications. Everything from kayaks, car parts to disposable food containers.

Advantages of Thermoform

  • Budget Friendly
  • Light-Weight
  • Impact Resistant
  • Durable
  • Outer Layer is UV Resistant
  • Recyclable

Cons

  • Acrylic outer layer can break down over time

There really aren’t any cons to this process. Many popular kayak manufacturers use this process. Pelican and Hobie to name a few. This process is relatively new and provides a product that is also pleasing to look at.

Again, this process is used for a large variety of kayaks. These kayaks are great for beginners and are typically easier to transport due to weight.

Fiberglass/Composite Construction

This process is used for a lot of your higher end kayaks. It is an expensive process and takes a long time to complete. But it does produce a beautiful kayak.

It is a constructed of layers of fiberglass, Graphite or Kevlar, or a combination of the three and resin to hold it all together. Think of it as making lasagna. They build them in a mold one layer at a time. Due to the lengthy process they are quite expensive.

Advantages of Composite

  • Ultra Light-weight
  • Highly Responsive, great tracking and fast
  • Fairly Durable
  • Fairly easy to repair
  • Many configurations are available

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Susceptible to damage in impact situations

Not sure I would recommend for general recreational kayaking.

Composite kayaks are beautiful to look at and if you have the budget, they are high performance kayaks. I would imagine a long-distance journey in one of these kayaks would be a lot like riding in a Cadillac.

Wood Construction

For that purist kayaker or that person that just loves art, the wooden kayaks are glorious. They are stunning to look at and there is just something about them that brings out the naturalist in a person.

Wood construction is a lengthy, expensive process and really requires patience and a loving hand. Although, they do sell a few DIY kits for that person that wants to give it a try.

Wooden kayaks can be just as durable if not more so than composite kayaks. They are typically coated in fiberglass, resin or varnish to protect the wood underneath.

Advantages of Wood

  • Beautiful to look at
  • Light-weight
  • As Durable or more so than composite
  • Fairly easy to repair
  • Great DIY project

Cons

  • Requires some woodworking skills
  • May need to be put together
  • Custom-made is expensive
  • Not really recommended for rough conditions

Here is a short video to show the process.

Wow, Who Knew

Now you know what goes into making a kayak and what to look for depending on what you are going to do with your kayak. Rotomolding and Thermoform are ideal for most kayak applications. If you are looking to go on long tours maybe you would be better suited with a composite built kayak or even a wooden one.

==>Click here to learn about the different styles of Kayaks<==

Either way, in the modern world there are affordable kayak options that are durable, nice to look at and easy to transport. Construction really does matter depending on what you are using your kayak for.

There are also inflatable kayaks that are obviously not built in any of these constructions styles. We will save that for another day.

If you have any comments or experiences you would like to share about your kayak and it’s construction, please share!

Until Next Time!