Sit-On-Top Kayaking 101: A Beginner’s Guide

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of kayaking, you’ve come to the right place. Sit-on-top kayaking is an excellent way for beginners to get started. It's user-friendly, versatile, and perfect for a wide range of water conditions.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into the world of kayaking, you’ve come to the right place. Sit-on-top kayaking is an excellent way for beginners to get started. It's user-friendly, versatile, and perfect for a wide range of water conditions. Whether you're planning a leisurely paddle on a calm lake or an exciting day on the ocean, sit-on-top kayaks have got you covered. Let’s dive into everything you need to know about sit-on-top kayaking.

paddle board with a kayak seat

What is a Sit-On-Top Kayak?

Sit-on-top kayaks are just what they sound like – kayaks where you sit on top rather than inside. Unlike traditional kayaks, these are designed with an open-top, making them incredibly easy to get on and off. They’re typically wider and more stable, making them ideal for beginners and casual paddlers.

Benefits of Sit-On-Top Kayaks

  1. Ease of Use: Sit-on-top kayaks are incredibly user-friendly. The open design means you don’t have to worry about getting stuck inside if you capsize.

  2. Stability: These kayaks are wider and more stable than their sit-inside counterparts, making them less likely to tip over.

  3. Versatility: Perfect for various activities like fishing, diving, and casual paddling. You can easily hop off for a swim and get back on without much hassle.

  4. Self-Bailing: Most sit-on-top kayaks come with scupper holes that allow water to drain out, so you don’t have to worry about water accumulating in the cockpit.

The Glide Advantage: Convertible Paddle Boards

kayak seat on an inflatable paddle board

Here’s a fantastic option for those who want the best of both worlds: Glide inflatable paddle boards. These boards come with a kayak seat, allowing them to be easily converted into a sit-on-top kayak. This versatility means you can enjoy paddle boarding one day and kayaking the next, all with the same equipment.

Choosing the Right Sit-On-Top Kayak

When choosing a sit-on-top kayak, consider the following factors:

  1. Length and Width: Longer kayaks are faster and track better, while shorter kayaks are more maneuverable. Wider kayaks offer more stability.

  2. Weight Capacity: Make sure the kayak can comfortably support your weight along with any gear you plan to bring.

  3. Features: Look for features like comfortable seating, storage compartments, and accessories like rod holders if you plan to fish.

Essential Gear for Sit-On-Top Kayaking

  1. Paddle: A good quality paddle that suits your height and paddling style.

  2. PFD (Personal Flotation Device): Always wear a PFD for safety.

  3. Sun Protection: Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses to protect against UV rays.

  4. Clothing: Wear moisture-wicking and quick-drying clothes. A wetsuit may be necessary for colder waters.

  5. Safety Gear: A whistle, a bilge pump, and a paddle leash are essential for safety.

Getting Started with Sit-On-Top Kayaking

  1. Launching Your Kayak: Place your kayak in shallow water. Sit on the edge and swing your legs over to straddle the kayak. Use your paddle for balance as you settle into your seat.

  2. Basic Paddling Techniques: Hold your paddle with both hands, shoulder-width apart. Dip the paddle blade fully into the water near your toes, pull back in a smooth, sweeping motion, and lift out of the water near your hip. Alternate sides to propel yourself forward.

  3. Steering and Turning: Use wide, sweeping strokes on one side to turn your kayak. To make sharper turns, paddle backward on the opposite side.

Tips for a Great Kayaking Experience

  1. Start Slow: Begin in calm, shallow waters to get a feel for your kayak.

  2. Practice Re-Entry: Learn how to get back on your kayak from the water. It’s a crucial skill in case you capsize.

  3. Stay Hydrated: Bring plenty of water and snacks, especially for longer trips.

  4. Know the Weather: Always check the weather forecast before heading out. Avoid kayaking in strong winds, heavy rain, or storms.

  5. Buddy Up: Kayaking with a friend is not only more fun but also safer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Overpacking: Don’t overload your kayak with too much gear. It can affect stability and maneuverability.

  2. Ignoring Safety Gear: Always wear your PFD and carry necessary safety equipment.

  3. Poor Posture: Maintain good posture by sitting upright. Slouching can lead to back pain and inefficient paddling.

  4. Neglecting to Secure Gear: Use bungee cords or storage hatches to secure your gear and prevent it from falling overboard.


kayak seat on an inflatable paddle board

Sit-on-top kayaking is a fantastic way to explore the water, enjoy nature, and get some exercise. With its ease of use and versatility, it’s no wonder it’s a popular choice for beginners. By following this guide, you'll be well on your way to having fun and safe adventures on your sit-on-top kayak. And remember, with Glide inflatable paddle boards, you get the added benefit of a kayak seat, allowing you to seamlessly switch between paddle boarding and kayaking. So grab your paddle, put on your PFD, and hit the water – adventure awaits!