Sit-on-top kayaks are great.
You can climb in and out easily when you want. They are customizable, and you can convert almost any sit on top kayak, with accessories like rod holders and fishing poles.
If you are looking for one, here are the best sit on top kayaks under $400.
This is the best sit on top kayak on this list:
Best Sit On Top Kayaks – Comparison Table
Best Sit On Top Kayaks – Reviews
1. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 10 ft Fishing Kayak
- Good stability, even in challenging conditions
- Cushioned seat
- Tracks straight
- Front and rear storage wells
- Five year warranty
- Seat could use more padding
Lifetime Tamarack Angler 10 ft fishing kayak is one of the bestselling sit-on-top kayaks out there. It is 10 feet long, so longer than most sit on top kayaks under $400 and it glides smoothly through water.
Here is why it is our #1 pick:
The kayak is made of high density polyethylene material (HDPE). It is a high-quality polymer with many impressive qualities including flexibility, weather resistance and structural strength.
The kayak is super stable on water. This is due to the flat bottom and stability chine rails. The built-in skeg allows for straight tracking. The sharp front design helps it slice through water and move fast.
The real test of stability isn’t when the weather is calm. Stability is put to test under rough conditions such as winds or choppy waters. The Tamarack holds its ground even through rough waves or winds. It sure doesn’t feel like it can capsize. You can even stand up on the deck and the boat will stay stable. It doesn’t get better than this. Users rave about how easy it is to handle.
The seat is cushioned enough to be comfortable for a long kayaking session. However, you may need to add an extra seat pad based on your personal preference. Some users even added a stadium seat to take the comfort to the next level.
The backrest can be adjusted for maximum support using straps. Also, the kayak accommodates riders of all sizes, with its multiple built-in footwells. The kayak is long enough to be able to stretch your legs. Users as tall as 6’2” found it long enough to stay comfortable.
Did you think you would get just a basic kayak under $400? Think again. The Tamarack Angler is anything but basic. It comes with rod holders, two paddle cradles with shock cords, front and rear carry handles. It also comes with two six-inch storage compartments in the rear and center.
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2. Lifetime Lotus Sit on Top Kayak
- Solid build quality
- UV protection
- Doesn’t capsize
- Carry handles
- Tracks well
The Lifetime Lotus is lightweight, so you can haul it around on your own. The kayak is made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) material, which is a sturdy thermoplastic polymer that holds its quality under challenging weather conditions and is resistant against impact or abrasion.
The build material also offers UV protection, so the kayak won’t fade, crack or peel. Its multi-chine design makes it stable, so it won’t capsize. In fact, our tests show that it takes tremendous effort to tip this kayak over.
The kayak has a center carry handle molded in. It also has front and rear T handles for easy transport. It has self-bailing scupper holes that automatically drain water from the cockpit and the tankwell. There are molded in footwells in multiple positions so that riders of all sizes can sit comfortably.
The seat has adjustable, ‘quick release’ back support, to provide optimal comfort. But customers have reported that the seat is a bit hard and uncomfortable, so you will need a seat pad or cushion.
The next thing that impressed us is the performance of the Lifetime Lotus kayak. Despite being a robust kayak, it is easy to handle. It also tracks straight on water. The stability of the Lotus sit-on-top kayak is mind blowing. You can have your dog jumping on the kayak and it still won’t budge. You can park it while in water, take a nap, and it will stay stable throughout.
The only downside is that the kayak moves a bit slow, although it is the same thing that makes it stable and safe for families. The kayak can be your perfect companion on rivers, lakes or ocean bays.
The kayak comes with a flat stern, which allows you to store it vertically.
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3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- Heavy duty
- Supports 400 lbs
- Three air chambers
- Foldable into Backpack
- Responsive to paddling
- Comfortable seat
- Bungee storage
- Heavy to carry
- Paddle is a bit flimsy
Sevylor Quikpak 1 person kayak is one of the best value sit on top kayaks under $400. If you are looking to kayak on slow moving and flat water, it is a compelling choice. The kayak comes with a backpack system, so that the entire kayak can be folded into a backpack.
It is built with 21 gauge PVC material and a tarpaulin bottom. The material doesn’t mold due to impact from external objects, like in low-quality kayaks. The kayak has five air chambers, 2 large and 3 small. It is made with performance in mind – an airtight system secures the kayak against leakages. It comes with double lock valves to help with inflating and deflating the kayak. Three air chambers prevent the boat from sinking if one of them gets punctured.
The kayak isn’t lightweight when folded. It is quite heavy duty since it supports a staggering 400 lbs of weight. This shows the kayak will last a long time. You may need a hand to transport it if you aren’t physically strong. You can set up the kayak in as little time as five minutes.
For storage, you can secure any items using the bungee cord. The seat back offers enough support and cushion for longer rides. The paddle supplied is okay for beginners but you may want to use better quality paddles in the long-term. The paddle can be folded for storage.
Multiple footrests allow riders of all sizes to sit comfortably. The open cockpit gives you enough leg space to stay comfortable for a long time. For easy inflation, the kayak also comes with a high-pressure hand pump. The kayak can be inflated and deflated within five minutes.
The kayak comes with two skegs but they are small, so tracking is average at best. The skegs, however, minimize the sideway bobbing or weaving as you paddle. The good thing is that the kayak is very responsive to paddling, unlike hardshell kayaks.
The kayak is as fun as it gets – tie it to a bigger boat by connecting a rope to its handle and you can enjoy tubing it. The kayak has amazing stability, more so than comparable inflatable kayaks. This is because of its wider design.
The downside is that the paddle is rather flimsy. You are better off buying an aftermarket paddle.
Overall, the Sevylor is an amazing kayak if you don’t want to carry a huge load. It is accessible, heavy duty and fun.
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4. Sun Dolphin Camino 8-foot Sit on Top Recreational Kayak
- Tracks well
- Extra space for dog/kid
- Solid build quality
- Easy to transport
- Value for money
- Not for speed or challenging conditions
If you are looking for a comfortable and stable kayak in a smaller size, the Sun Dolphin Camino is a quality option. Or if you are looking for a quality kayak for your kid, it is a great option for that too.
The kayak is built with polyethylene material, which can resist impact from underwater objects and take years of abuse from water. But it doesn’t provide UV protection like the Lifetime Lotus sit on top kayak above. So it has to be stored away from direct sunlight.
The kayak is 8 feet long, so if you are somewhere around 5 feet tall, you will find it to be super comfortable. It is remarkably stable, so you can even go fishing on it. The seat is okay but it is better if you get a padded seat to make things more comfortable. This is because the stock seat only has a padded backrest, the bottom is the hard polyethylene. Overall, the seat is comfortable since the backrest is quite comfortable.
The kayak gives you a smooth ride and tracks well on calm and mild waters. You shouldn’t test it too much in rough waters though. Despite being a short kayak, it tracks quite well. However, you may have to get used to its tracking. However, the kayak still stays stable on choppy waters.
This kayak is built for relaxing and having fun. This is not meant for white water or speed.
It comes with carry handles in the front and rear, that make it easy to load and unload. Whether you are buying it for your kid or yourself, you will be amazed at how much value for money the Sun Dolphin Camino is.
There is no dry storage box, so if you want one, you will need a waterproof storage bag. There is ample storage space in the back, which is further secured with bungee cords.
The icing on the cake is that it has extra space to bring your dog or kid along. It is lightweight at just 40 pounds, so you can easily load it into your car by yourself.
If you get some good paddles and learn proper paddling technique, the Camino can show you a good time every time you hit the water.
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5. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
- Highly stable
- Bailing port for draining water
- Easy to carry/store
- Comfortable seat
- Comes with paddles
- Not just for kids
- Can stand on it for fishing
- Molded in seat with no cushion
Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is another great option if you want a quality kayak for kids under $400. It is 6 feet long and weighs just 18 lbs. It can accommodate 130 lbs. of weight.
The kayak is built with quality polyethylene material that is resistant to impact and abrasions. So it won’t get affected if you bump into rocks or tree branches. It comes with an ergonomic cockpit design that keeps it stable and balanced for kids. Keep in mind that you will have to supervise your kid at all times for their safety.
It comes with a reverse chine design that gives it more stability than other similar kayaks. The boat comes with a bailing port in the front that can help you get the water out. There is no height limit to use this kayak for kids, as long as they weigh up to 130 lbs. The kayak also comes with kid sized paddles, which is a big cost saver.
This is a great kayak for recreation. You can even get your kid into fishing with this kayak since it has good stability and your kid can stand on it. The kayak is kid-friendly.
The company has made a swim-up step on one end, so that if your kid were to slip out, they can easily climb back without any help. This is a commendable safety measure. However, as a safety measure, never let your kids step into water without a life jacket on.
Size and Weight
It is small, so you can fit in the back of your truck. It is so light that even your kid can carry it whether they are 4 years old or 14 years old. It is meant for ages 5 and up. The molded seat is comfortable for long kayaking sessions.
The only downside is that there is no cushioned seat, so your kid has to sit on the molded polyethylene seat. However, with the stability and fun it provides, your kids won’t care.
Overall, this is an amazing kayak that will last for years on. You or your kid will have fun and can even try fishing given its stable platform.
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6. Pelican Sonic 80X Kayak
- Solid build quality
- 225 lbs capacity
- Stable in waves
- Easy to maneuver
- Reasonably fast
- Tracks well
- Doesn’t capsize easily
- People use it as a 1 adult +1 kid seater easily
- Heavy, not easy to transport
- No carry handles on sides
Looking for a high-quality kayak that is beginner friendly too? Check out the Pelican Sonic 80x.
It is a compact kayak made for small paddlers. It comes with an adjustable padded backrest that keeps the rider comfortable for long kayak rides. The molded footrests are comfortable and accommodate paddlers of all sizes. The rear tank well is strapped with elastic bungee cords so that you can store your gear and supplies.
Weight and Size
The kayak is 7 feet 9 inches long and 29 inches (2’5”) wide. It weighs 35 lbs, which shows how sturdy and durable it is. It can carry up to 225 lbs of weight including the paddler and the additional gear.
It comes with a bottle holder to store beverages, a drain plug to evacuate water out of the cockpit, molded carrying handle to make storage easy and a self-bailing design to drain the water automatically out of the holes.
It is the perfect kayak for your kids to have fun. It can even accommodate an adult given its weight capacity. The kayak can be heavy to move, so using a kayak cart can solve the issue. The kayak performs well on water. It is stable in waves and when rocking. It won’t capsize, in fact it would require serious effort to capsize this kayak.
Bring your kid along
Many users have reportedly used this kayak as a two-seater without any issues, which shows its high build quality and stability on water. The kayak is light enough that your young kids can carry it from the parking spot to the water.
The only downside is that there is no carry handle on either side, which makes it a bit hard to carry this kayak. Another hiccup is that one of the bailing holes is beneath the seat. Due to this, water splashes onto your seat and one can get wet.
The kayak is not just for kids, it is long enough to accommodate even adults.
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7. Freein Stand Up Paddle Board Inflatable SUP Kayak Convertible
- Durable and solid quality
- Unmatched versatility – kayak, paddleboard or fish.
- Convertible paddle
- Stable – stand, sit, kneel
- Excellent customer service
- 257 lb capacity
- Fast unlike comparable kayaks
- Efficient hand pump
- Easy to carry in backpack
- Seat could be more comfortable, of better quality
Looking for a SUP kayak hybrid? Want to try something unique? The Freein Stand Up SUP Kayak convertible is exactly what you might need. This hybrid is perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding or fishing. Talk about getting the best of “all” worlds.
This is lightweight at just 17 lbs. It comes with a detachable kayak seat. The seat is okay but isn’t comfortable for long kayak rides. The board is easy to inflate with the supplied double action pump. The hand pump inflates the board in as little as 5 to 10 minutes. The pressure gauge on the pump proves to be quite useful. Give it a few pumps before each use and the board is ready to go. The board doesn’t leak or deflate over time, which is a huge plus.
This kayak SUP hybrid is super fast – something that budget kayaks cannot offer. The board is stable on water, especially if you weigh around 180 lbs. It has a weight capacity of 257 lbs, which shows that it has a solid build quality. It is 10 inches long, so riders of all sizes will fit in this hybrid kayak SUP.
The paddle can be converted to a kayak paddle using the second blade. The whole package including the paddle board and accessories can be packed into a backpack. When packed, it weighs just 25 lbs which makes it easy to carry. The company provides great customer service as per user reports. The board is 31 inches wide, which gives it stability and balance.
The hybrid Kayak SUP comes with many accessories. You get a convertible single/dual blade floating paddle, double action hand pump, travel backpack, 10-inch coiled leash and a repair kit.
You can paddle this board standing, sitting or kneeling depending on the weather and water conditions. Or if you want to relax, just lay on it and soak in the sun. You can ride it alone or have your kids hop on for some fun!
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What should you look out for when buying Kayaks?
The first thing to determine is what will you use the kayak for?
Do you want to use it just for recreation? If yes, you will love a sit-on-top. They have an open cockpit and allow you to jump out and take a swim.
Many people use a sit on top kayak for fishing. If this is the case, look for stability. You should be able to stand on the kayak without it rocking. Check for the weight capacity too as you would be carrying some gear while fishing. Some kayaks come with accessories like rod holders and extra storage space. They are the best type of kayaks for fishing.
Are you planning a multi-day tour with your sit on top kayak. In that case, you will need to invest more than $400. Touring kayaks have more storage space to keep things like sleeping bags, tents and other gear. They also have a longer and narrower hull than typical recreational kayaks. This helps with speed and agility.
Are you looking for a tandem kayak? Not all kayaks under $400 can be used as a tandem. That said, there are a handful of them that can accommodate one adult and one kid or pet.
The next thing to check is the weather where you will be using the kayak. It is often hot and windy where you live? Or do you have long winters? If you live in a tropical climate, you will enjoy the sit on top kayak. But if you have cold weather quite often, the sit on top may not be the perfect fit since cold water may splash in and you can’t protect yourself with a spray skirt like in a sit-inside kayak.
You should also know whether you want a kayak for small rivers, large rivers or lakes. The sit on top kayaks in this list are best suited for flat and calm rivers to rivers with mild waves. The Lifetime Tamarack Angler is the best if you want to kayak in challenging conditions.
Hardshell or Inflatable
Is the sit on top made of hardshell material or is it an inflatable?
Inflatable kayaks are easy to carry since they can be collapsed and packed into a backpack after use. If you don’t have storage space or don’t want a huge load to carry, an inflatable sit on top like the Sevylor Quikpak is best suited for you. Inflatable sit on tops are also cheaper. The downside is that, since they are lightweight, they are not as easy to maneuver as hardshell kayaks.
Hardshell kayaks, on the other hand, weigh more and may require more than one person to transport them. They are reasonably heavy, so they are easier to maneuver than inflatable kayaks. The downside is that they are harder to transport and require more maintenance and upkeep than inflatable kayaks. They are also more expensive, in general.
No matter how cool features a kayak has, it can’t last if it is poorly made with average quality materials. Usually, there are two or three types of building materials used to construct sit on top kayaks.
They are polyethylene and PVC. Polyethylene is resistant to impact from underwater objects as it molds when coming in contact with a foreign object. Polyethylene itself comes in various grades – High Density Polyethylene material, known as HDPE, is used on our #1 pick, the Lifetime Tamarack Angler Kayak. Some materials are UV resistant, so the kayak doesn’t fade, crack or peel in exposure to sunlight.
Inflatable kayaks are made from PVC material, which also absorbs impact from external objects and is resistant to cuts and abrasions.
The hull design along with the shape of the bow and the stern shows how the kayak will behave on water.
Some kayaks are wide and have streamlined bows or fronts to cut through water fast. Other kayaks have narrow hulls and non-streamlined bows. Streamlining reduces the drag the boat gets when pushing through a volume of water. So kayaks with streamlined fronts are faster.
As a thumb rule, a long and narrow kayak is faster than a wide and short kayak. Long kayaks also have less secondary stability (ability to remain stable when the kayak moves over on its side).
Moreover, some kayaks have a round hull design while others have a chine or multi-chine design. A chine is nothing but the transition of the boat from the bottom to the side edges. Multi-chine hulls consist of narrow and flat panels. They are slightly faster than hard chined hulls. Multi-chine hulls also make the boat more stable.
Comfort is the precursor to enjoying anything. You can’t enjoy kayaking if your back hurts every time you sit on the hard surface of the boat.
When it comes to comfort, there are a few things you should take into consideration.
The first thing to look for is the quality of the seat. Does it have enough padding both on the bottom and on the back support? Is the back support adjustable? Is there enough space to extend your legs? Many kayaks come with multiple footwells to accommodate paddlers of all sizes.
A seat makes you comfortable when you’re inside the kayak. But adequate carry handles that fit on your fingers can help you transport the kayak easily from your car to the lake/river.
Storage and Weight
If you want to use your kayak for fishing, you will need plenty of storage space. And even if you use it for recreation, some storage space is necessary to store things like your smartphone, extra clothes and some beverages.
So make the following checks. Does the kayak have tankwells on the front and rear? Are they secured by a bungee cord? Is there a dry storage compartment?
Another thing that determines how much stuff you can bring on board is the weight capacity. So if you plan to take a lot of gear or supplies on board, be sure to check the weight capacity.
You can have the perfect kayak for your needs even on a budget. There are many kayaks in the budget range that are versatile, stable, long-lasting and fun.
Look for the features you want and match it with the reviews in this guide to make an informed decision.