By James Raia

Different kayak types – sit in vs. sit on

Kayaking is a great way of seeing beautiful natural sceneries from a different than usual perspective. Leisure kayaking is not a difficult skill to learn and most people, unless they have an inherent aversion to being on the water, are able to pick it up in no time.

However, choosing a kayak is not easy, especially for those who don’t have any experience with the sport. The two basic kayak types are sit in and sit on. In this article, we will shortly explain what those two terms entail. Both types can be used for other activities apart from simple kayaking. Kayak fishing is a popular hobby that has numerous fans.

Sit in

Sit in kayaks are the traditional type. Sit in means that your lower body is enclosed inside the hull of the kayak.


Having your legs inside the kayak keeps your warm. There is usually a spray skirt attached which protects your lower body from splashing water. You are not as affected by cold temperatures or chilly wind as you would be in a sit on kayak. They are usually lighter than sit on kayaks, making them easier to carry. They are easier to paddle with so they are better for longer excursions.


Should anything go wrong, sit in kayaks are more difficult to deal with. If you capsize you might have trouble with exiting the kayak, not to mention re-entering. And the spray skirt won’t protect the hull from becoming flooded if the kayak is fully underwater. To drain the water you will need to bring your kayak to the shore somehow.

If you plan on fishing from your kayak, take a look at this best sit in fishing kayak review.

Sit on

Sit on kayaks have a smaller hull that is sealed off. This means that water cannot get inside the kayak. Your legs are in the open and the whole kayak resembles a canoe.


Sit on kayaks are easier to enter and exit, even if you need to do it in the water for some reason. This makes them a good choice for beginners who fear they might feel claustrophobic in a traditional sit in kayak.


You will have a harder time dealing with unfavorable weather conditions, such as temperature or wind because your whole body is exposed. You will also definitely get wet from splashing or waves and will have to spend the day in damp clothing.

Some sit on kayaks that are designed for fishing have special rod holders. You see the suggested sit on top fishing kayak here.

The sit in and sit on distinction is just one of the many ways of distinguishing different kayak types. Once you’ve decided on one you will need to pick one out of single/double, sea/river, inflatable/sturdy, and many others. If you find yourself not knowing which type would be best for your needs, it is best to consult either a professional (for example, from a rental store) or a friend who is into this hobby.