Best Lifetime Sit-On-Top Kayaks For 2024

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Lifetime kayaks are widely distributed through large retail outlets, which makes sense given these inexpensive recreational kayaks’ appeal to casual paddlers. Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks comprise over half of the brand’s recreational kayak lineup and nearly all of their fishing kayaks.

Sit-on-top kayaks are inherently beginner-friendly, and at Lifetime’s price point they are perfect for someone who is just starting their paddling journey. Within the Lifetime sit-on kayak category, there are also sit-on-top youth kayaks and fishing kayaks.

With no cockpit to climb into, the easy on/off and unrestrictive, open deck are the main advantages of a sit-on-top kayak. Lifetime sit-on kayaks are stable and buoyant; the high weight capacity can fit a range of paddler sizes, making them ideal for sharing. Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks are comparable in price and performance to other recreational sit-on-tops that you will find at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Walmart and other big-box retailers.

They are starter kayaks, and well-suited for short outings in sheltered waters. For a quick paddle around the lake on a calm summer day, a Lifetime sit-on-top kayak is all you need. Paddlers who want to develop their skills and venture out in windier conditions or on longer trips should upgrade to a sit-inside touring kayak.

If you’re just getting your feet wet, a Lifetime sit-on-top kayak could be a perfect match for your paddling needs. In this guide, we’ll share advice for buying new and used Lifetime sit-on kayaks, as well as links to learn more about specific models in our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide.

Top picks: Best Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks for 2024

The following Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks here.

Shop Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks

If you’re ready to jump in and start looking at Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks, follow the links below to our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. Here you’ll find detailed information about every Lifetime sit-on-top on the market, including specs, prices, reviews and where to buy. Use the filters below to narrow your choices by size, type and store.

Shopping for a used Lifetime sit-on-top kayak?

Lifetime sit-on-tops are great starter kayaks. Their low cost makes them attractive to first-time paddlers who are unsure if they will stick with the sport. Those who get hooked will likely upgrade to sit-inside kayaks or premium sit-on-tops with more features. This creates a robust used market where you can find a secondhand Lifetime sit-on-top kayak for a great price.

There are a few things you’ll want to consider when looking at used kayaks. Knowing where to look and what to look for helps get the most out of your future kayak.

Look for used Lifetime sit-on kayaks listed on classifieds sites like Craigslist, Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. On these sites, you can set up alerts to get notified when new listings matching your search criteria are posted. Used kayak owners may not include the brand or model name in the heading, so just searching “sit-on-top kayak” will ensure you don’t miss any postings.

If you’re looking at a used Lifetime sit-on kayak, be sure to give it a thorough inspection before committing to a purchase. All Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks are made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a durable plastic that can withstand abrasion and impact. Some scratches are fine, so long as the shape of the kayak remains intact.

However, even the toughest material is subject to sun damage if stored outside. Over time, the hull of a UV-damaged Lifetime kayak may become warped; this is a telltale sign of a used kayak to avoid.

HDPE is the most durable of all kayak materials, but nothing is truly indestructible. Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks are hollow inside; if there has been a breach to the hull, you’ll hear water sloshing inside after paddling. Also look for cracking along the sides of the hull.

Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks come with minimal outfitting, and do not have many proprietary parts. The molded-in seats and footwells further reduce the number of parts that could potentially break. You can easily replace bungees or other webbing that may be worn and torn by contacting Lifetime or finding equivalent pieces at general hardware stores.

Buying used may also give you the option to try out a Lifetime sit-on-top kayak before you buy it—something that isn’t possible at Walmart or Costco. If the seller agrees, take the boat onto the water and see if you feel stable. Bring the PFD (personal flotation device) you plan to wear while paddling, and make sure it fits comfortably when you are seated in the kayak. Ultimately, trying a kayak before you buy it is the best way to know if it’s a good match for you.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Always wear a USCG-approved Level 70 or Type III life jacket designed for paddling.

The pandemic lockdowns caused many people to stay closer to home and enjoy the outdoors in new ways. Paddlesports participation skyrocketed, and cheap boats like Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks sold out rapidly. As restrictions lift, expect to see more of these kayaks on the market as people either upgrade or lose interest in kayaking.

So what’s a fair price to pay for a used sit-on-top? As a general rule, a kayak in working condition will be at least 50 percent of its original price, no matter how old it is. Beware of attempted price-gougers who try to take advantage of product shortages, marking-up used kayaks to even higher than their original price. Cross-reference prices you see with the ones listed in our Paddling Buyers Guide to be sure you’re getting a fair price.

For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.

Lifetime sit-on-top kayak buying advice

Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks are great for new kayakers who want to start kayaking without emptying their bank account. All Lifetime sit-on kayaks are made with durable, maintenance-free HDPE plastic, so you can enjoy your time on the water without worry. On a quick afternoon excursion, you won’t miss the upgraded outfitting features found on more expensive sit-on-tops.

Why choose a Lifetime over other sit-on-top kayaks? The availability and affordability of these kayaks makes them solid choices. Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks accommodate a wide range of paddler sizes, including kids kayaks. If you are a casual or novice kayaker, these are good boats to have at the cottage or bring along on an RV trip.

The hardcore angler may want the additional features found on more expensive fishing kayaks, but if you’re just looking to fish casually and float sheltered waters or slow-moving rivers, a Lifetime sit-on-top kayak is likely all you need.

Among the lineup of Lifetime sit-on kayaks, there are some differences to look out for. Certain models may be a better fit for you than others. Let’s look at the dimensions and design to see how they differ.

Commonly provided kayak dimensions include length, width, weight and weight capacity. The length and width of the kayak often influence the weight and capacity. As a general rule, longer/wider kayaks will weigh more (they use more material), and have a higher weight capacity. This is true for Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks. The 8-foot Lifetime Lotus weighs 38 pounds and can safely support 250 pounds. The 11-foot Lifetime Temptation is heavier, at 58 pounds, but boasts a 350-pound weight capacity.

Length is important to think about as well, because it determines how well the kayak will track, or travel straight. Longer kayaks track better, which means less effort is needed to keep forward momentum. Wider kayaks are more stable, although stability is a hallmark of Lifetime and isn’t an issue on any of their recreational sit-on-tops.

Paddle Sober And Smart
  • Never mix alcohol and paddling. Coast Guard and state BUI (boating under the influence) laws apply to all vessels. This includes canoes, kayaks, SUPs and rafts.

Longer kayaks are also generally faster. If you’re planning to paddle with friends who already have kayaks, look at the lengths of their boats. If everyone else is paddling a 10-foot kayak, you may find you struggle to keep up in an 8-foot boat.

The design of the sit-on-tops will likely be a deciding factor between different Lifetime models. Look at the outfitting, and see if certain features are “must-have” for you. The more bells and whistles, the more expensive the kayak will be.

Lifetime also makes kayaks specifically for fishing, most of which are sit-on-tops. These have angler-specific features like integrated rod holders, frame seats (for a higher seating position and better vantage of the water), gear mounts and extra bungee cords to hold tackle. At the top of the Lifetime fishing kayak lineup (and most expensive) is the sit-on-top Renegade pedal drive kayak, which allows anglers to propel the boat with their legs while keeping their hands free for fishing.

Tandem sit-on-top kayaks are another option for paddling with a friend or child. The Lifetime Kokanee 106 can be adjusted to fit either one or two paddlers. This boat weighs a bit more (77 pounds) but has a higher weight capacity at 425 pounds.

Some Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks that are the same price are essentially the same boat. Color is the only major difference between the Triton, Tamarack and Tioga kayaks, so just choose the one you like the best—or whatever’s available.

Lifetime also makes a variety of recreational sit-inside kayaks. To learn more about the other boats they offer, check out our Best Lifetime Kayaks.

Education: Get Some!
  • Take a paddling safety course from the American Canoe Association (ACA), your local paddling shop or outfitter, or other reputable source.
  • Take a boating safety course from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, U.S. Power Squadrons® or your own state’s boating agency.
  • Take on-the-water skills training.

Lifetime sit-on-top kayak reviews

Reviews are a powerful tool when it comes to finding the right kayak, especially if you will be unable to paddle it before you buy. Our expert reviews of Lifetime sit-on-top kayaks discuss each boat’s performance, comfort, accessories, best uses and more to help you in your search.


This content was made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.

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