WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE: SOT (Sit On Top kayak) or SIK (Sit Inside Kayak)

Kayaks are of various styles, but the two basic styles are SOT (Sit On Top Kayak) and SIK (Sit Inside Kayak). And one of the most asked questions about these is: Which one is better? Or Which one to choose? Now, to get the answer to this question, let’s discuss them in detail with their pros and cons.

SOT kayaks are open-cockpit kayaks i.e. the paddler use to sit on the top of the kayak, which makes you sit above the water level. This kayak also has small drain holes for the water drainage (in case water enters the kayak). These kayaks are more preferred for surfing, snorkeling, or fishing purpose, but you can choose any other as well if you want to. These kayaks are wider, which makes them more stable, but are generally slower than the SIKs. The best part of these kayaks is: you feel free to have movement (unlike in closed-pit kayaks i.e. SIKs).


  • The open-cockpit kayak makes it easy to get in and get out from the kayak.
  • These kayaks have more load capacity and have plenty of room to carry your belongings.
  • These kayaks are not easily sunk i.e. if it gets turned, then just flip it back and it’s ready to navigate, and their drainage holes are good to get out the water from the kayak if left any.
  • SOT kayaks are more stable and safer kayaks, so they are best recommended for beginners or for family day-out.
  • It’s a good choice for long-distance kayaking and also gives you the freedom of movement.
  • SOT kayaks are less expensive as compared to SIKs.


  • SOT kayakers are more prone to get wet from water splashes.
  • While kayaking with your SOT kayak, you are more open to cold wind and rain.
  • SOT kayaks are slower as compared to SIKs.
  • These kayaks are less suitable for rough waters.
  • Mostly, these kayaks are heavier, which makes them difficult to navigate.

SIKs are closed-cockpit kayaks i.e. the paddler use to sit in the cockpit which is close to the water level. They do have backrests, armrests, and even footrests, but are placed inside the cockpit to make the sitting position of the paddler more comfortable. These are the traditional-style kayaks, which are mainly used for recreational activities, long-distance paddling, and rapid white waters. These kayaks are generally narrow and faster but are less stable as compared to SOT kayaks. Paddlers use to wear spray skirts in these kayaks especially while kayaking on rapid white waters so that water splashes don’t collect inside the kayak.


  • They are very comfortable and a good option for long-distance paddling.
  • They are easy to transport, which makes them faster.
  • SIKs with spray skirts are just perfect to protect your kayak from water splashes.
  • The closed cockpit of SIKs is good to keep you warm and dry, i.e. protect you from cold weather and rain. And they are best suitable for winter weather.
  • They are best suitable for rapid white waters


  • It gets difficult to get in and get out of the SIKs, especially with a spray skirt.
  • They restrict the freedom of movement while kayaking.
  • In the summer, it gets somehow uncomfortable to go kayaking with an enclosed cockpit (because it keeps you warm).
  • In case you capsize, the cockpit of SIKs is filled with water and you need to use the bilge water pump to drain the water out from the kayak.

The answer to this most asked question is, it depends upon various factors like the purpose of kayaking, the distance you need to cover with your kayak, the type of waterway you are choosing, how about the weather, the skill level, your budget, etc. In general, there is no hard-n-fast rule that you should go for this one or that one. Just look at the pros and cons of both styles of kayaks and go for the one, which you feel best suits you and your needs.

In general, a SOT kayak is a better option for surfing, fishing, or casual paddling. They are more recommended for beginners or families with kids. They are good to select in hot weather conditions.
Some of the best SOT kayaks are:

  • Sun Dolphin Journey 10
  • Ocean Kayak 9-foot Frenzy
  • Vibe Yellowfin 100
  • Ocean Kayak Venus 11
  • Old Town Twister

Whereas, SIK is a better option for long-distance and rapid white water kayaking. They are mostly used for adventure and racing. And, because of their closed cockpit, they are good to get selected in the rain and cold weather conditions.

Some of the best SIKs are:

  • Perception Expression 11.5 SIK
  • Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-foot
  • Old Town Dirigo 120
  • Oru Kayak Coast XT
  • Jackson Antix 2.0

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