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Sit-On-Top Kayaks – Top Tips for Safe Paddling

Posted on July 5, 2011 @ 4:05 PM in Canoeing

A mini revolution in kayaking has happened over the past few years, with the continued growth of Sit-On-Top Kayaks or SOTs.  They were perhaps frowned upon initially by the traditional canoeing fraternity but no one can deny their success in allowing a whole new wave of people enjoying paddle sports.

To get to the bottom of this we caught up with Rodger Hamilton, Participation and Club Development Officer at the Canoe Association Northern Ireland (CANI). – What exactly is a sit on top kayak?

A Sit on Top is a kayak that has no closed cockpit; you just sit on top of the hull where you will have a molded seat and footrest to get comfortable on. - Why have they become so popular?

Like most good ideas they are simple and easy to use.  Some people fear getting their legs trapped inside a conventional kayak but sit on tops are really stable, even if you do fall off you can just climb back on board again.

Watersports have traditionally been quite expensive but this has changed with sit on tops, they are relatively inexpensive with a starter kit costing around £300-£350 from several major retailers.  They can easily be carried on a roof rack and their plastic structure makes them very durable. - What are they best used for?

Their versatility is also their strength. People use them to play in the surf, short trips along flat water rivers, and because they are so stable they have become really popular with keen fisherman. - What are the top five tips to paddling on safely?

Even though the boats are very forgiving it is still important that you master the basic skills and safety procedures.

  • Let people know your route plan for your paddle trip
  • Paddle in a groups of 3
  • Be able to self rescue
  • Be able to do an assisted rescue incase a group member is tired is struggling to get back onto his craft
  • Carry appropriate safety equipment

The best way to ensure you are prepared is to sign up for a free CANI Sit on Top awareness day. The aim of the course is to raise awareness and provide you with basic skills, rescue techniques and knowledge that you need for paddling in different environments.


 Upcoming CANI Sit on Top Awareness Courses

Saturday 2nd July – Location East Coast                    

Saturday 23rd July – Location North Coast

Saturday 6th August – Location North Coast

Don’t forget to check out’s Have a go section for more have a go days, courses, guided trips etc.



Chris Scott
Chris Scott

When not boring everyone about his little kids’ latest antics, Chris enjoys sailing and cycling, if only to offset his love of eating out and Marlborough Cabernet Sauvignon..

4 comments have been posted in reply to this article

Posted by one stop shop on December 1, 2011 @ 4:15 PM

Ever since I love adventures! Seeing the pictures in your web page, I am already thinking of a great vacation with my family. I know others who would visit your website will be thinking the same.

Posted by Sharon on May 23, 2017 @ 4:05 PM

These do look awesome and safe for kayaking. Especially during the summer. :) Thanks for those tops as well/

Posted by Angler Guides on August 23, 2017 @ 9:10 AM

Outstanding shearing various informative and helpful information about sit on the top in kayak.Thanks for shearing

Posted by Bote on December 13, 2018 @ 8:54 AM

I loved this. I'm starting to enjoy the world of kayaking, and I'm immersing myself fully into it, so much so that I had to make a review about the best kayak helmet in 2018 here:

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