Kayaking is always more fun with a friend. Even a furry friend can be a great companion to help you enjoy a sunny, relaxing day on your neighborhood waterways.
Sit on top kayaks are designed for many different purposes. There are kayaks optimized for fishing, navigating whitewater, and achieving top speeds on flat water.
Recreational kayaks are best for covering shorter distances on calm waters and sit on top kayaks are generally more comfortable than sit-inside kayaks.
A sit on top kayak also gives you extra deck space where your dog can get comfortable.
One of the biggest challenges of kayaking with dogs is keeping the kayak stable as your dog shifts around.
Unless your dog is incredibly well-trained and will sit still for the entire duration of your paddle, you’ll want a sit on top kayak that’s extra stable.
In this review, we’ve compiled a list of ten of the best sit on top kayaks for dogs. All of these kayaks come with ample room for you and your dog to sit comfortably and they are all among the most stable sit on top kayaks on the market!
- Jargon Buster
- Buying Guide
- Reviews Of Sit On Top Kayaks For Dogs
- Our Pick – Perception Pescador Pro 12
- Enjoyed 10 Best Sit On Top Kayaks For Dogs? Share it with your friends so they too can follow the KayakHelp journey.
Before we dive into the reviews of these ten sit on top kayaks, we need to get into some of the common jargon used when describing kayak features. This section will include some of the most common kayak terms that you’ll hear throughout the rest of the article.
The bow is the front of the kayak. You can easily remember this term by remembering that, in some cultures, we bow FORWARD as a sign of respect upon greeting someone.
The stern in the back of your kayak. One way to remember this is that a stern face is one that your mother might give you when you want to take BACK something that you said or did.
The hull is the bottom of your kayak. The design of a kayak’s hull determines how well it tracks straight and how easy it is to maneuver in windy or wavy conditions.
Gunwale is the fancy term for the side of your kayak. Most sit on top kayaks have low gunwales to make it easier to get in and out of the kayak.
Scupper holes are holes in the hull of your kayak. But don’t be alarmed, these holes work to help water drain out of the kayak if it splashes over the sides (gunwales) of the kayak. This is a really important feature when kayaking with a dog.
Dogs tend to bring a lot of water with them when they climb into a kayak, so scupper holes will keep that water from building up in your kayak and prevent your kayak from weighing a lot more towards the end of your paddle than it did at the beginning.
PFD stands for ‘personal flotation device’. Many of us grew up calling them life jackets, but PFD is the more accurate, technical term.
The deck is the top of your kayak. Sit on top kayaks generally have smaller decks than sit inside kayaks because of their open cockpit design.
Trim is the leveling design of the kayak that affects how easy (or difficult) it is to control the boat. Trim leveling is done from bow-to-stern and the stern of most kayaks should be lower in the water than the bow.
The cockpit of your kayak is the place where you sit while paddling.
The footpegs in a kayak give you a place to rest your feet comfortably. They are designed so that your knees are slightly bent and your core is engaged as you paddle.
Knee braces are more common to sit inside kayaks than sit on top kayaks. They serve to pad your knees from rubbing against the side of your kayak’s interior so that you can paddle longer in comfort.
A spray skirt is a kayak accessory that goes over your torso and attaches to your kayak to keep water from entering the cockpit. These are generally only used with sit inside kayaks.
The skeg is essentially a large fin on the bottom of the kayak’s hull. This fin helps the kayak track straighter in windy and wavy conditions.
Selecting a kayak is largely a matter of personal preference. But there are a number of small decisions you can make that will help you hone in on the sit on top kayak that’s right for you and your dog.
In this kayak buying guide, we’ll provide some pros and cons of different kayak features that will help you narrow down your choices!
Sit On Top Versus Sit Inside
When deciding between a sit on top and a sit inside kayak for dogs, stability is really the major factor. Sit inside kayaks tend to be narrower and more difficult to climb into, which makes them far-from-ideal when paddling with a dog.
Sit on top kayaks offer large, open cockpits with plenty of space for you and your dog. They’re also much easier to climb into and they offer scupper holes for any water that your dog tracks in to drain easily before it starts weighing you down.
Rotomolded Versus Inflatable
Hard plastic kayaks are generally rotomolded to their unique shape. There are multiple advantages to this style of kayak, but there are also a few disadvantages.
Rotomolded kayaks are generally more durable and will last longer. They also generally perform better than their inflatable counterparts.
Rotomolded kayaks also have the advantage of offering an internal storage compartment to keep your gear dry.
When it comes to downsides, rotomolded kayaks are heavier and harder to transport. They also take up more space when it comes to storage.
Inflatable kayaks have the major advantage of deflating to fit in a compact storage bag. This makes it easier to transport them and only inflate them when you’re ready to paddle.
However, inflatable kayaks are generally less durable and more prone to scratches and punctures. Their flatter hull design also makes them more difficult to paddle in your desired direction.
Length comes into play when you’re thinking about a kayak’s top speed and performance over long distances. In general, longer kayaks can achieve higher top speeds.
Most of the kayaks you’ll see used for long-distance racing are also extremely long and skinny. A longer and skinnier kayak will cut through the water more seamlessly and help to optimize each paddle stroke.
When buying a kayak for dogs, you’ll need to find a balance on the topic of length. You’ll need enough length for you and your dog to fit comfortably, but you won’t want too much length that makes your kayak difficult to maneuver.
Scupper holes or another method of drainage is really the essential feature when it comes to paddling with dogs. If your dog likes to swim and climb in and out of your kayak, it’ll need to drain water efficiently and effectively.
Another dog-friendly feature to consider is multiple attachment points. Some of you might prefer to keep your dog on a leash while it’s onboard, and you’ll need a place to attach a leash so you can maintain hands-free control of your pup.
Reviews Of Sit On Top Kayaks For Dogs
While you might worry about a dog’s claws damaging an inflatable kayak, the Coleman Colorado is made with extra-durable tarpaulin and nylon material that’s resistant to scratches and punctures.
It is also designed with 18-gauge PVC construction that gives this kayak added structure. This extra structure makes the kayak perform better and makes it easier for you to steer it where you want it to go.
This kayak is designed with multiple isolated air chambers. This means the kayak won’t lose all of its air if one chamber is accidentally punctured or otherwise damaged.
There are multiple D-ring attachment points in the cockpit of this kayak for securing gear. You’ll also be able to keep any items that you need quick access to in the mesh storage pockets in this kayak’s cockpit.
Sevylor has designed this kayak with an airtight fill system that won’t leak and is easy to use. It uses a Boston valve for easy inflation and deflation at the water’s edge.
One of the best benefits of an inflatable kayak pertains to storage. Because you’ll be able to deflate this kayak when you’re not using it, you won’t need as much storage space for it at home or in your vehicle.
This kayak is also equipped with multiple rod holders for hands-free fishing and stern fittings for securing a small trolling motor. It also features paddle holders to keep your paddle out of the way when you’re pulling your precious pup back on board.
Because the seats in this inflatable kayak are removable, there’s plenty of space in the cockpit for you and your dog. But this kayak is also adaptable if you want to paddle with a partner or take your kids out for a day on the water.
It’s a very lightweight option that weighs a total of just 26 pounds. It can also be deflated and stored in a small, compact area, which makes it a great option for travelers or those living in small apartments.
Although it is rated for Class III Whitewater, this sit on top kayak is best suited for calm waters. It does, however, come with two skegs on the bottom that help you track straighter and paddle with more speed.
The Sea Eagle comes with two lashed down spray skirts in the bow and stern. These skirts give you a place to store gear that’s protected from splashing or water falling out of the sky!
This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of a whopping 400 pounds. This means you could conceivably fit two paddlers and a small dog for a comfortable day on the lake.
Both of the seats in this kayak are adjustable for comfort. The cockpit offers plenty of room (even for larger paddlers) and covered storage areas in the bow and stern give you plenty of space to store your gear.
This kayak is best suited for smaller bodies of water, such as ponds, lakes, or slow-moving rivers. It does, however, come with removable skeg that will help you track straighter when you paddle.
It’s made with highly durable, puncture-resistant vinyl and includes three separate air chambers. These air chambers are isolated so that the entire kayak doesn’t deflate if one chamber is compromised.
The Explorer K2 is ten feet long when fully inflated, but can deflate into much smaller dimensions for more compact storage. In addition to the kayak itself, this package comes with two paddles, a hand pump, and a carry bag.
The Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 is a ten-foot kayak that weighs a total of 55 pounds. It offers a larger cockpit than many kayaks of similar length, which gives you more space for your dog to sit comfortably.
This kayak is best suited for the flat waters of lakes and slow-moving rivers, but it can also be used to play around in mild surf at your nearest beach. While there’s plenty of room for you and your dog in the cockpit, there’s also a large storage area in the stern where your pup can sit or lie down.
The seating system fits in a molded-in tank and the backrest is adjustable for comfort. You’ll also be able to adjust the footpegs in this kayak to help you maintain an ergonomic paddling position.
There are two dry storage hatches in this kayak. The first is located all the way at the kayak’s bow and the second is just in front of the seat, which gives you dry storage in a place that you can reach while you’re sitting in the kayak.
This kayak also features two paddle holders on either gunwale that use bungee cords to keep your paddle secure when you need your hands-free. Bungee cords are also used for keeping items secure in the stern storage area and on the bow deck.
The Tarpon 100 has a total weight capacity of 325 pounds. It is known for its extremely good maneuverability for a kayak of its size and is also versatile enough to perform well on longer paddle adventures.
The Ocean Kayak Prowler 13 is one of the longest kayaks on our list. It measures thirteen feet, four inches in length and weighs a total of 55 pounds.
This kayak has a weight capacity of 325 pounds and is versatile enough to handle rough waters. Multiple scupper holes allow water to drain out quickly when it comes splashing over the gunwales of this kayak.
Because of its extra length, this sit on top kayak is best-suited to paddlers that want to cover some distance. A large cockpit gives you plenty of space for you and your dog, but your pup might also like sitting in the large storage area in the stern of this kayak.
The Prowler 13 offers a snap-in seat that should be removed after paddling. Although the seat isn’t molded-in, this makes it more adjustable than many others so that you can find a paddling position that’s most comfortable for you.
It offers a large dry storage hatch on the bow deck that gives you access to a large internal storage compartment that runs from the bow to the stern of this kayak.
The storage compartment allows you to store coolers, dog accessories, or multiple fishing rods. You can also use the space for dry bags, tackle boxes, and any other gear you want to bring along.
This is an exceptional choice for spending full days on the water. It also boasts two paddle keeps for secure storage when you’re not paddling and multiple cup holders so you can keep beverages within reach.
The Lifetime Daylite is an eight-foot sit on top kayak that has a total weight capacity of 250 pounds. It comes with its own paddle so you won’t have to worry about finding one separately.
This kayak is a relatively small option and, therefore, is best for folks with smaller dogs. Its small size makes it easier to load and unload and transport from your vehicle to the water’s edge.
This sit on top kayak comes with an attached seat that can be adjusted for comfort. It also features a small open storage area in the stern of the kayak.
The stern storage area uses bungee cords to hold your gear in place. This kayak also boasts a molded-in beverage holder and multiple footpegs to suit paddlers of varying heights.
The Perception Hi Life is a hybrid sit on top kayak that can also function as a paddleboard if you remove the seat. It is eleven feet long and is best suited for calm, slow-moving rivers or relatively flat lakes or coastal waterways.
The flat deck of this kayak gives you plenty of space for your furry companion to get comfortable with making the kayak feel unstable. This also makes it a great choice for parents who want to take young children out paddling.
The kayak has two swim decks in the bow and stern for easy loading and unloading of your dog. There are also convenient handles near both of these swim decks to make it easier for you to climb back on your kayak after you go for a swim.
The seat is elevated and boasts an adjustable backrest with plenty of padding for comfort. The backrest easily folds down if you decide to use this kayak for a little stand-up paddleboarding.
In front of the seat, you’ll find a convenient beverage holder that’ll keep your water bottle or drink cup from spilling as you’re paddling. There’s also a hidden cooler compartment under the seat for a great place to store extra drinks or snacks.
The Sundolphin Bali SS 12 is a twelve-foot sit on top kayak that offers a unique design. Although it falls squarely in the ‘sit on top’ category, this kayak is designed with the cockpit sunk into the sides.
The sunken cockpit design of this kayak adds a significant amount of stability. You’ll sit a little lower in the water in this kayak, which will make it easier to stay balanced as your dog shifts around.
The cockpit of this kayak features knee braces on the gunwales of the kayak to keep your knees and thighs from rubbing against the plastic. The footpegs also make it easier for you to maintain a comfortable paddling position.
The Bali SS has an open storage area in the bow that’s secured with bungee cords. There’s a closed storage compartment in the stern of the kayak for keeping items dry on longer paddles.
You’ll also find more bungee cords above the closed storage compartment in the stern of the kayak. This gives you extra ability to store items on top of the kayak’s stern deck.
This kayak offers a great balance between extra length and lightweight design. The length makes it faster and easier to keep straight in the water while the lightweight design makes it easier to transport.
While the paddle itself is sold separately, this kayak does feature paddle holders on the gunwales. This gives you a place to secure your paddle as you relax without worrying about it falling overboard and floating away.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is eleven feet, six inches long and is made with high gunwales for wavy conditions. Even if the waves are just coming from your dog splashing next to your kayak, this kayak offers exceptional stability in choppy waters.
The Malibu 11.5 is designed with a molded-in seat and an adjustable backrest that will fit paddlers of all sizes. Multiple molded-in footpegs also give paddlers of different heights options for comfortably resting your feet.
For the paddler that’s determined to stay hydrated, this kayak offers three molded-in cup holders. A central hatch located just in front of the seat gives you a place to store dry goods within reach.
If you plan on buying multiple kayaks, this is a great option because it can easily be stored with multiple of its partners. The Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 is stackable with other Ocean Kayaks of the same size so that they don’t require extra space to be stored side-by-side.
This sit on top kayak has a total weight capacity of 360 pounds, which means it’s a great option for paddlers with larger canines. It also features two storage areas in the bow and stern that are both secured with bungee cords to keep your gear safe.
The Perception Pescador Pro 12 is a twelve-foot kayak with a very large open storage area in the stern. It also features a small bow storage area that’s covered with mesh netting to keep your gear secure.
The seat in this kayak can be adjusted to two different levels so that you can sit up higher if you desire. The seat is also made of mesh material so it breathes well and keeps you cool on hot days.
Although the stern storage area is a great place for your pup to ride, it’s also the perfect place for a larger cooler, dry bag, or fishing tackle box. And yes, this kayak is equipped with several features that make fishing from it comfortable and fun.
It boasts multiple fishing rod holders and integrated accessory rails in the gunwales. These rails allow you to attach a fish finder or any other fishing-related accessories that you want to bring along.
This kayak has a maximum weight capacity of 375 pounds and the kayak itself weighs 64 pounds. It’s best-suited for calm lakes, slow-moving rivers, and relatively mellow coastal waterways.
Our Pick – Perception Pescador Pro 12
We have chosen the Perception Pescador Pro 12 as our top pick because it provides a very large area in the stern for your dog to get comfortable. The stern of your kayak is the best place for your pup to ride as you paddle.
Especially if you have a large dog, more weight in the front of your kayak will make it harder to paddle and steer. This kayak will help you keep your dog in the stern and make your paddling life much easier.
Additionally, this kayak is equipped for kayak fishing. As your dog sits comfortably in the stern storage area, you’ll have plenty of space to cast and fish off the bow of your kayak.
The Perception Pescador Pro 12 also features a seat design that’s unique from the other kayaks on our list. The “lawnchair-style” seat is much more comfortable for larger paddlers and will encourage you to stay out longer.
The seat also adjusts to multiple levels depending on your activity. You can raise it up for a better casting angle if you’re fishing or you need more leverage to pull your dog back on board.
You can also lower the seat down when needed. This lower seat position is great for leisurely paddling or in windy conditions.