Sit on kayaks, in terms of their designs are a done deal – right? A plastic (usually rotomolded) product that’s more of a beach toy than a performance oriented paddling machine – sit on kayaks, in some circles, are the lowest form of paddling craft available. And yet, the popularity of the sit on top is staggering.

Head to any stretch of water during a warm spell of weather and you’ll probably be confronted with numerous sit on kayaks, all frolicking about with their pilots having immense amounts of fun. But what happens when you reach a skill level that requires performance? Surely this is when you bite the bullet and buy a sit in – isn’t it?

Forward thinking

Some kayaking brands have taken the concept of what a sit on actually is and improved on the idea – integrating features and traits that allow previous ‘no go’ paddling environments to be more of a viable option.

With certain sit on boats it’s perfectly applicable to now tackle moderate whitewater while others are actually designed as dual discipline craft (see hybrid SUP/SOT shapes).
In an already flooded market, where the extreme elements of kayaking are forever spoon fed to the masses, it’s encouraging to see some companies implementing a real world approach with their products.

Fatyak Kaafu

The Kaafu from Fatyak is a classic example of something that’s well engineered and designed to straddle multi disciplines. While not being revolutionary in the sense that it’s going to set the world ablaze, it’s still a well-engineered bit of kit nevertheless.

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The Kaafu’s hull is where its secrets lie. The deep set chines allow for improved stability on the flat while during wave rides, the water line length can be reduced by banking the boat onto its edges. This reduction in contact with the wave face gives less drag, improved speed and enhanced maneuverability. And let’s not forget the added width in the rear of the Kaafu that’s great for storage during touring or fishing trips.

By no means a high performance kayak surfing shape the Fatyak does an admirable job of bridging paddling styles – a trait which will be loved by most everyday kayakers.

GoSea Tough SUP 10

As stand up paddle boarding (SUP) charges forwards with ever increasing momentum, some kayaking brands are sitting up and taking note – particularly in sit on circles.

In efforts to appeal to a broader market one such company looking to offer a sit on shape for stand up exploits is GoSea. Their Tough SUP 10 is one of a number of hybrid designs, currently out in the market, which offer paddlers either a stand tall or down low paddling experience.

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Packed with many features that make sit on kayaks appealing – such as on board storage and a robust construction – the GoSea Tough SUP 10 is at home on flat water, in moderate waves, standing up or sitting down – the choice is yours.

Perception Five – O

A wave ski or sit on kayak? The Perception Five – O is an uber maneuverable sit on paddle shape that will rip, shred and tear in waves. Some diehards may not agree with the term sit on when used to describe the Five – O and yet, that’s exactly the position you adopt when riding this unique shape.

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The heavily rockered hull shape, secure thigh straps and soft rails of the Five – O allows for snapping turns, full throttle cut backs and even some air time if you have the skills. As far as designs go, this is definitely head and shoulders above what you’d normally associate with sit on kayaking performance.

Dag Mid Way

If you’re the type of paddler who loves smashing out the miles then to make the most of your marathon sessions you’ll need the right tool for the job.
With its svelte arrow like design and narrow width the Dag Mid Way is the type of hybrid sit on design that loves grinding out distance. Efficiency and straight line tracking are this boats forte and you could give a sit in distance machine a run for its money with the Midway.

It’s also suitable for casting a line and chasing your end of session fish supper.

Fluid Do It Now

True whitewater sit on kayaking is thought to be almost impossible and yet, Fluid’s Do It Now shape totally bucks that trend. OK, there’s probably no way that anyone is going to be charging huge volume whitewater but playing at your local weir or moderate rapid is more than doable.

The design of the Do It Now allows for smooth entries into moderate flows and easy ferry gliding, inspiring confidence in the paddler to maybe push it a little. The Do It Now is also rollable. With a degree of skill, and prior practice, you can invert the Fluid and right yourself with relative ease.

A conscious effort needs to be made to keep your legs locked out to the side, otherwise you’ll be swimming, but as far as sit ons with whitewater performance go, the Do It Now is a top drawer piece of engineering.

Sitons – not just a toy

The examples given are just some of the more performance orientated hybrid sit on kayak designs available.

Sit on kayaking doesn’t have to mean floating about on plastic ‘brick’. However, if you’re all you’re after is a simple beach toy, that all the family can have fun with, then a sit on would make a great choice, but likewise, those with more aspirational paddling scenarios in mind should give the sit on a chance as well.