The sit in kayak is the original design of kayaks. The Inuit people who occupied, and still occupy, the arctic regions are the inventors of the kayak. The first kayak that they made was a sit in kayak. The kayak, which was a rounded vessel, was made using a rigid frame made from light locally available materials which usually consisted of whale bones or drift wood. This frame was then tightly covered with seal skins that were sewn together. The seams were made water tight using whale fat.
This initial design of the kayak had a singular small opening which was the pilot’s cockpit. The pilot would get into the cockpit where there was a seat for him in the deck. Consequently, the pilot would have his lower body recessed into the hollow of the vessel with his head and upper body exposed atop the kayak. This is basically the same design that has been maintained even in present times for the sit in kayak.
Sit on top kayaks are kayaks that have been introduced in more recent times. The sit on top kayak still maintains the narrow, long shape of the sit in kayak although in this design, the pilot sits on the deck of the kayak with his/ her entire body being fully exposed on the kayak’s surface.
There are several advantages and disadvantages of these two kayak models.
The main advantage of the sit in kayak is the fact that the kayaker is usually snugly fit into the kayak. The main benefit for this is the fact that the kayaker can easily control the kayak using his body. The kayaker can easily steer the kayak into any direction by turning his body and by using his legs. A major plus for this kayak is the fact that an experienced kayaker can roll a sit in kayak – this is where the kayaker can turn the kayak into a capsized position and turn it again to an upright position again.
This maneuver is important for the Inuit kayakers who cannot swim due to their heavy clothing that would drown them and the icy conditions of the waters in the region which would kill anybody exposed to the chilly temperatures. Today this maneuver is used by other kayakers to cool themselves after some exhausting paddling or to cool themselves in hot weather.
Sit on top kayaks is a design that was adopted mainly for the sake of recreational kayakers. Recreational kayakers prefer a vessel where they can easily embark and quickly disembark. The sit in kayak was also very restricting in terms of affording the kayaker the freedom to turn the body around in any direction when atop the kayak.
Sit on top kayaks are good for allowing the kayaker a better opportunity to enjoy the sun and the cool breezes. Sit on top kayaks can also accommodate another passenger and more cargo more easily.