How to Make a Sit On Top Kayak More Stable

Kayaks come in various forms that change the core riding experience. Sit on top kayaks are some of the most common kayaks on the market. If you ever have ridden in a sit on top kayak than you know just how unstable they can be. Fisherman, beginners, and even professional kayakers, sometimes have problems with it.

We have searched through the internet to provide you with information on how you can make sit on top kayaks more stable.

Learn Your Tipping Points

If you are not used to sitting on top kayaks, or you have kayaked before and have a feel for the kayak, it is important that you understand your tipping points. Knowing your tipping points can be the difference between panicking when your kayak is going to tip, and remaining calm.

To learn the tipping points on a sit on top kayak, you must intentionally flip the kayak over. When you are sitting on the sit on top kayak, you’re going to want to practice leaning left and right. Each time you lean you want to lean until you feel the boat tipping over, then lean back.

Keep practicing leaning from side to side to get a feel for your kayak’s tipping point. Ultimately learning your tipping points is going to help you achieve overall balance on a stand-up kayak. By understanding when your kayak is going to tip, you can then form strategies on how to counterbalance your kayak tipping over.

Modify Your Kayak

Once you understand your tipping points, you can then begin to form solutions to making your sit on top kayak more stable. There are a number of modifications you can add to increase the stability of your kayak. The following modifications can positively affect the stability of your kayak:

  • Adding Ballast
  • Adding Foot Pedals
  • Adjusting Your Seat

Add Ballast


Ballast is any material or object that is used to control the heeling motion that occurs when a person uses a kayak on the water. Ballast lowers the center of gravity and increases the stability of a kayak. There are a number of materials that can be used as ballast. The best materials to choose for ballast are dense materials that take up a small amount of physical space.

Many paddlers use water placed in special bags or bottles as a form of ballast to help balance their kayak. We recommend you add ballast to your kayak in increments of 5 lbs. until the kayak feels more stable. You want to position the ballast so that they rest along the keel of your kayak. This is an easy solution, and can often help make your kayak feel more stable.

Add Foot Pedals


Foot pedals can help kayak riders feel more stable by giving their feet an object with grip to rest on. When you ride on a sit on top kayak, chances are you are going to get wet. Having a stable area for footing is going to be very important for feeling any form of stability.

We recommend you try out different forms of foot pedal attachments to get a feel for which foot pedals help you feel more secure. The best foot pedal will offer stability no matter how wet your feet are.

Adjust the Kayak Seat


The seating on sit on top kayaks can also account for the level of stability the kayak itself has. If you have an uncomfortable seat, chances are you will experience an uncomfortable, not very stable ride. You want to make sure that your kayak seat is comfortable, and providing you with enough room to rest your legs comfortably.

Your sit on top kayak could be unstable because you are trying to hold on to too many things at once on your kayak. If you’re trying to bring a cell phone along, you could be nervous that you might drop it in the water. There are kayak seats sold that have cell phone holders. This way you have the added security of knowing you won’t accidentally drop your phone in the water.

Another modification you can make to the kayak to make it more stable is to add hip pads to the kayak seat. Hip pads are orthopedic and help absorb impact from the sides of a kayak. Preventing too much impact from the side is essential for helping folks that have major stability on sit on top kayaks. At the end of the day, the comfort level of the rider in the kayak will have an effect on the stability of the kayak itself.

Change Your Paddling Technique

Another major factor that contributes to the stability of a kayak is the riders paddling technique. A proper paddling technique can have you speeding down the river at high speeds. On the other hand, an improper technique won’t just move your kayak slower, it can also contribute to a higher risk of tipping the kayak over.

The following paddling techniques can be used to improve the stability of your sit on top kayak:

  • Forward paddling
  • Turning stroke
  • Side stroke
  • Low support stroke

Forward Paddling


Forward paddling is one of the most basic paddling techniques used when kayaking. When done correctly you can be propelled to high speed quickly. When done incorrectly you can actually slow down your momentum, and burn more energy.

The forward paddling technique relies on the strength of your core muscles. Sit Ons has an excellent step by step tutorial breaking down the exact process of how you need to move your arms to achieve a correct forward paddling motion.

Turning Stroke


The turning stroke is the name for the stroke that you use when you are turning your kayak to face the direction you actually want to go. Mastering this stroke will definitely help stabilize your sit on top kayak, by forcing you to use the proper technique to turn your kayak.  

Mastering the turning stroke involves being able to angle the paddle far enough away from the kayak that the kayak effectively turns. Understanding how to properly use this technique will prevent your kayak from becoming unstable when you make turns.

Side Stroke

The sidestroke is a tricky stroke that you can use to help move your kayak from side to side. This is useful in situations when you want to remain stable and move your boat away from oncoming objects. When you utilize the side stroke, you prevent possible accidents from occurring from using the wrong technique.

The technique for the side stroke is admittedly complicated. We recommend you watch a few video tutorials online to teach you the mechanics of how this technic works.

Low Support Stroke


One of the last techniques you can use to ensure a more stable kayaking experience is to know the low support stroke. The low support stroke is a stroke that is used to prevent the rider from falling out of the boat when it is off balance. We know you would prefer to never be off balance on a sit on top kayak, but the reality is, you may find yourself in a situation where you don’t want to take a plunge into the lake.

This movement is also somewhat complicated. We recommend watching this video by Australian Canoeing. The instructor in this video details how to complete this stroke and also includes a live demonstration.

Keep Calm

One of the last ways you can affect a sit on top kayak’s stability is by remaining calm. When you are calm the only factors that you have to combat in the water is your kayak’s hull size and the condition of the water. If you panic, you will have to worry about your body’s effect on the stability of the kayak.

Understanding that you may have to swim if you tip over your kayak, is key to making your kayak more stable. When you know what hitting the water feels like, you will be better prepared when your kayak tips over.

One of the last things you can do to keep calm is to kayak more. With more kayaking experience comes the ability to make kayaks a bit more stable. You will start to learn how your sit on top kayak specifically function in different situations. Once you have a better feel for your kayak, you will be able to use it in a variety of situations comfortably.

There are Many Steps You Can Take to Make a Sit On Top Kayak More Stable

We have covered a number of ways you can make your sit on top kayak more stable. You could modify your kayak to counterbalance any buoyancy issues it may have. Or, you might modify your kayak so that it provides you with a more comfortable riding experience.

Understanding the different stroke techniques that can be used with a sit on top kayak will ultimately help with your stability as well. Finally, understand that you are the final factor in making your kayak stable. Remaining calm and collected can definitely help make your sit on top kayak more stable.

No products found.

Last update on 2022-11-24 at 05:58 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Leave a Comment