Whether you are new to kayaking or a seasoned kayaker, a sit in kayak is a wise choice when the water is cool and you prefer to stay dry during your kayaking adventure. A sit in kayak shelters your body from wind and water spray while paddling.
However, if you are a new kayaker you may want to test out a sit in kayak before purchasing. The con of sit in kayaks is that they are not easy to get in and out of the water. If the kayak flips, it will likely fill with water and can be difficult to recover. The upside is sit in kayaks are spacious and easy to paddle and guide through the water.
If you are new to kayaking, you will want to get some training before you head out on the water. Seeking a certified instructor or even a friend or family member who has experience in kayaking would be beneficial. Kayaking takes a lot of patience, especially when you are starting out. If you do not have any friends or family who kayak, consider joining a local kayaking club. The kayak club might have certified instructors that are eager to help beginning kayakers like you. Before choosing an instructor, take note of their personality and their paddling skills in the water. If you find an instructor that is willing to be patient and is knowledgeable, you will be able to kayak on your own much faster than trying to teach yourself. Visual learning and practice is recommended.
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Once you have some training under your belt, you can begin the research of which sit in kayak is best for you. Although there are many options when purchasing your kayak, the features of sit in kayaks are fairly simple to understand. Of course, color, style and budget also play a role in choosing the best sit in kayak.
Pick the Right Sit In Kayak for You
There are many options when choosing a sit in kayak. You will need to decide what length to purchase, shape and whether to pick a hard shell or inflatable.
If you are looking for speed, you will want to purchase a long and narrow kayak. A wider kayak will give you more stability but will be slower in the water. Wider sit in kayaks are more for everyday recreational use, while narrower sit in kayaks are faster and will give you better handling due to their sleek exterior. If you do not care about speed, choose a short kayak that can easily be moved around from land to water and vice versa. If you are new to kayaking it is important to choose a kayak with the greatest stability. The strong stability will help you gain confidence while working on your paddling skills. It will also help you from tipping over and creating unnecessary anxiety as you navigate through calm and more challenging water currents.
The majority of kayaks are built with a hard plastic shell. This shell requires little to no maintenance and is affordable. Other hard shell kayaks are made with Kevlar, fiberglass and carbon. These materials are lighter but do not take the abuse of frequent kayaking very well. These materials are also a lot more expensive than standard hard plastic.
If you do not have space to store a kayak, you might consider purchasing an inflatable kayak. This specially designed kayak can be easily inflated and deflated. Once deflated, the kayak can fit in small spaces, such as the size of a backpack. They are also very durable and are easy to paddle. However, if you are seeking speed from your kayak, the inflatable kayak might not be the best option as they tend to be slower than their hard shell counterparts.
We have chosen our top ten picks for the best sit in kayak. Each kayak varies in design, accessories and price. Remember to take into consideration the length, shape and whether you need a hard shell or inflatable kayak.
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Our top ten kayak choices range in price from just under three hundred dollars to over six hundred dollars. The cheapest kayak is also the shortest kayak at eight feet. It also does not include a lot of the comfort padding and accessories that many of the more expensive kayaks include. The most expensive kayak on the list is twelve feet long and includes accessories for fishing as well as a higher comfort level. It is also lighter and easier to transport. Most people will purchase a kayak in the mid-range for around four hundred dollars.
The Top 10 Best Sit-In Kayak Options
The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-Foot Sit In Kayak, is perfect for people who live for the water. This kayak is made with a UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene hull and features a large open cockpit with adjustable padded seat. The seat has a high back support for added comfort. Added gear storage with shock cord deck rigging makes it easy to store all of your valuables so you can focus on kayaking. The kayak includes carrying handles for easy transport and a water bottle holder to keep you hydrated all day long. The sit in kayak has adjustable foot braces with a capacity of 113kg.
The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 8-Foot Sit in Kayak is perfect for rivers and lakes. It is super lightweight, which makes carrying a breeze. The kayak also includes an adjustable padded seat back for extra comfort. A convenient storage compartment safely holds all of your valuables. A recessed drink holder will help keep you hydrated without compromising style.
The Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit in Kayak is designed with maximum stability and is super lightweight and easy to carry. It is able to track through the water and paddle with ease. The Sun Dolphin is made with rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex® High Density Polyethylene for lasting durability. This kayak features a covered console and a P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) for all of your extra gear. If you like to fish, this kayak was designed for you. It is styled with flush mount fishing rod holders. Perfect for a mid-journey fishing session and the holders will not get in the way when you are paddling your way back down the river.
The Perception Kayak Sound is packed full of features and is built to last. The kayak features a body that is UV and abrasion-resistant. The kayak varies in thickness to give you strength where you need it without adding unnecessary weight. The Perception Kayak Sound is easy to repair, recyclable and sustainably produced. The Sound is proudly designed, molded & assembled in the USA. You can rest assured your investment in this kayak will last you for years to come.
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The Perception Kayak Sound is the perfect beginner kayak. It is meant for calm waters and features amazing stability to give you the confidence on the water you need. Unique tri-keel hull allows for easy loading and launching. Quickly change the foot rest adjustment to accommodate riders of all sizes. It is well respected by paddlers and anglers for supreme comfort and durability. The ergonomic cushioned seat with adjustable backrest offers the most comfort in its class. The Sound includes a dashboard with mounting points for accessories, two molded-in rod holders, and a spacious rear storage zone with bungee cord security. Also includes leg padding, a gear tray and a drink holder.
The Excursion 10 SS Sit-in Fishing Kayak is great for lakes and rivers. It includes one swivel and two flush mount rod holders, a conveniently located storage compartment, large comfortable seating area, protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces, shock cord deck rigging, retractable carrying handles and paddle holder – all at an affordable price. This kayak is lightweight and easy to carry. It is made from Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene.
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 12-Foot Sit in Fishing Kayak is great for lakes and river. The kayak is lightweight and easy to carry. Super easy to paddle and track while offering maximum stability. The kayak is made with Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene and has a large open cockpit. If you like to fish, this kayak has been designed for you. It is styled with flush mount fishing rod holders. Other features include a swivel rod holder, adjustable padded seat, storage compartment for all of your valuables, shock cord deck rigging, adjustable foot braces, water bottle holder and protective thigh pads.
The Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit in Fishing Kayak is great for lakes and river. The kayak is lightweight and easy to carry. Super easy to paddle and track while offering maximum stability. The kayak is made with Rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene and has a large open cockpit. If you like to fish, this kayak has been designed for you. It is styled with flush mount fishing rod holders. Other features include a swivel rod holder, adjustable padded seat, and storage compartment for all of your valuables, shock cord deck rigging, adjustable foot braces, water bottle holder and protective thigh pads.
The Third Coast Arbor 100 Sit In Recreational Kayak (Citron/Blue/White) has a bold look and a sleek hull that lets you paddle with ease. Made from rot molded polyethylene, the recreational sit-in arbor series kayaks are comfortable, easy to steer and impact resistant. Features such as an adjustable foot brace system with thigh pads, 20″ oval and 9″ round clamshell hatches, both with removable bags, cushioned carrying handles, a paddle holder and an adjustable plush seating system with pull straps, the arbors are never short on comfort. Storage is another big plus. Arbor kayaks come standard with onboard shock cord deck rigging, storage hatches with removable bags and eight-inch yak attack mounts that are ideal for all your electronics and valuables. The arbor series is the perfect blend of value and performance.
The Lifetime Arrow 103 Sit In Kayak has a stable flat bottom with deep tracking channels and stability chine rails. The kayak features a skeg wheel for enhanced tracking and easy transportation. For added comfort, the Lifetime Arrow 104 has an adjustable padded seat back and seat pad. The Lifetime Arrow 103 also has heavy-duty adjustable foot braces for comfort and durability, rear hatch for added storage beneath the deck and a 275 lb. weight capacity.
The Emotion Guster Sit-Inside Kayak has a ST performance hull for excellent stability and tracking. The kayak is built with a durable high-density polyethylene (HDPE) construction. The Emotion Guster also features an adjustable padded seat back and comfortable seat pad. It has added storage beneath the deck via an oval hatch. Easily transport this kayak with front and rear handles. Secure any loose items with the front and rear shock cord straps. The Emotion Guster Sit-Inside Kayak weighs forty-eight pounds and has a 275 pound weight capacity.
Wear Safety Devices
After purchasing your sit in kayak, you will want to also purchase a few necessary accessories. A lot of the accessories are must-haves for keeping you safe in the water. A few of the kayak accessories are for convenience but all of our recommendations will make your day on the water easier and keep you prepared for uncertain waters.
The most important accessory for your sit in kayak is a PDF (personal flotation device) or life jacket. You will at some point be thrown in the water in your kayak. Your kayak can also roll causing you to enter the water. Wearing a life jacket is not an option. You must wear a life jacket to keep from drowning from swift river currents or white water rapids.
Other essential safety devices you will need include a helmet to protect your head from sharp rocks and debris. You will also need a well-built paddle to navigate through the water. Choose a paddle that is the correct length and weight for your size. The paddle should have a comfortable grip for longer sessions on the water. Depending on the style of kayak you purchase you might also need a spray skirt. A spray skirt helps keep water out of the kayak.
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Other accessories that can be added to your kayaking gear include a dry suit, paddling gloves and special footwear that allows water to pass through and dries quickly. If you are going on a multi-day kayaking adventure you might also consider packing a throw bag that includes a long length of rope, a dry bag that has an air and water tight seal to keep your valuables safe and a river knife to cut rope and small branches. A river knife also comes in handy for meal times, allowing you to open packages or clean fish.
Now that you have packed all of your gear it is time to plan your trip. Weather is one of the most important factors in preparing for a kayaking adventure. The wind should be calm and the skies should be sunny.
Know the Weather, Even if You Have One of The Best Sit-in Kayaks
It is important to pay close attention to the weather. It is very difficult and dangerous to kayak in a rain storm and should be avoided. Check the weather report to see if there is rain in the forecast or if there is a strong wind, either stay close to shore or choose another day that would be safer to kayak.
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If the wind is too intense it will be hard for you to paddle back to shore. Even experienced kayakers have a hard time paddling for a long time period. Depending on which direction the heavy winds are blowing, paddling or not paddling could send you out farther into the water causing panic and anxiety.
Weather can be unpredictable and even checking the weather before you leave for the day is not enough. Luckily reading the weather does not require purchasing any fancy electronics. However, if you are an inexperienced on the water carrying a weather radio or a compass with barometer will help you be prepared for swift weather changes. You can gauge the weather simply by observing the clouds, air pressure, nature and wind.
There are three types of clouds that you will see while kayaking. High clouds look like rippled sand and form a halo around the sun. High clouds are often a sign that bad weather is approaching. Middle clouds are a dull gray cover that nearly blocks sunlight. Middle clouds can tell you the weather over a large area. Low clouds are puffy and straight. They are often layered or form a cluster. They are generally a sign of the current weather.
Air pressure is noticed when the temperature changes. High air pressure means the air is being pushed downward and causes the temperature to increase. High air pressure generally creates warm dry air. Low air pressure can bring rain, wind and storms. The important thing to observe is that high air pressure circulates wind clockwise and low air pressure circulates wind counter-clockwise. If you can formulate which way the wind is circulating, you can better predict if a storm is on its way.
There are a lot of ways we can observe nature to forecast the weather. Low pressure air causes odors to increase in smell and sounds to seem louder. Birds will also fly lower to the ground with the air pressure is low.
Wind is the most complicated of the observations. Wind can often creep up on you even when the weather appears perfect for kayaking. When high winds push water inland and make large waves, surges can occur. Surges can cause dangerous surf zones and even damage to the shoreline. If the winds start to increase, do not go farther out to sea to try to beat the waves. When the winds increase you will not know how long or how far the winds will affect your paddling. It is best to come back to shore and wait for the winds to decrease before going out into the water again.
Once you have mastered observing the weather, it is time to practice your technique. In order to have a good experience on the water, you will want to be in good shape and have patience when navigating the water. You will need both when faced with decisions on which stroke to use and the ability to know when you are fatigued and need a rest.
Practice Kayaking Techniques
It is imperative to know how to paddle when kayaking. In order to safely navigate the water, you will need to practice paddle strokes. Practicing will boost your confidence in the water and the ability to help other kayakers when needed.
A draw stroke is moving the kayak sideways. This stroke is especially helpful when you need to pull yourself next to something such as another kayaker or resting spot in the water. You will need to reach out to the side, put your paddle in the water, and pull your kayak and body towards the paddle by leaning to that same side. The draw stroke will be easier if you turn your head and body toward the paddle. Make sure the paddle is completely vertical. Pull the paddle towards your hip. Just before the paddle comes in contact with the kayak, slice the paddle out of the water towards the stern of the kayak.
The sweep stroke can be used when your kayak is stationery and when it is in motion in the water. It is a great way to make simple course corrections. Fully immerse the paddle in the water by your feet. Sweep in the paddle in a half circle motion as far out from the side of your kayak as possible. Continue sweeping until you reach the stern of the kayak. It is best to have an upright posture and a smooth motion while making the half circle arc. Padding is a great exercise for your core.
Re-entering a kayak while you are already in the water is much easier if you have a friend or fellow kayaker near. While the other person is holding onto your kayak to keep it from moving, get a firm grip on the side of the kayak. Allow your legs to float to the surface behind you. With a strong kick, use your legs and arms to get your upper body onto the kayak. Hug the kayak with your body and twist to get into the seated position.
Sit-on kayaks are very difficult for re-entering due to water not draining off of them and their large cavities that can contain excess water. Unless you have training, it is recommended to keep your sit-on kayak near the shore. That way if the kayak does flip, you are able to disconnect yourself from the kayak and simple pull it to shore. Once on shore flip over the kayak to remove excess water and any debris.
Now that you can look confident on the water, it is a great time to learn about etiquette while you are kayaking.
Practicing good etiquette while you are on shore and in the water with your kayak will only increase the amount of kayaking friends you will gain. Respecting nature and other kayakers is just as important as learning how to paddle.
When you are on shore and getting ready to take off or you are on a break, keep you paddle inside or on top of your kayak. This allows other kayakers a clear path when walking on the shoreline. It also keeps your paddle from floating downstream.
While you are kayaking in the water, keep adequate distance between you and other kayakers. Kayakers need room to make various paddle strokes and with unpredictable waters, every kayaker needs room to make adjustments here and there.
If you are in the front of a group of kayakers make sure you know where you are headed. It can be a huge waste of time if you overshoot a break spot in which everyone has to complete a turn to get back to the shoreline. If you are in the close to the back of the pack, do not let the last kayak get too far behind you. It is an unwritten rule that you are responsible for keeping tabs on the slowest kayak.
Leave the wildlife be. Enjoy nature while you kayak but do not disturb it. If you have any trash from snacks or gear, keep it with you and dispose of it properly. Never throw trash in the water or in the woods.
Kayaking can be a fun experience whether you are new to the sport or experienced. Choosing the best sit in kayak for your style, location and storage capabilities is an investment that will last you for years to come.
It can be intimidating to start kayaking especially if you do not have any friends or family members that currently know the sport. Asking a certified kayaking expert for help will fast track your way to a better understanding of the sport and prevent you from getting frustrated trying to learn everything on your own.
Having the right gear, practicing your paddling strokes and learning weather patterns will give you even more confidence. Once you have done your research, the etiquette tips will help you foster new kayaking friends and give you a better appreciation for fellow kayakers and the beauty of nature.
Whether you kayak near home or half way around the world, continuing to learn about weather and river patterns is a must. While there is a lot to consider before heading off downstream for a day on the water, rest assured your passion for the sport will help you stay safe. Enjoy all of your future adventures in your sit in kayak.