Comparing duckies and sit on top kayaks

Comparing duckies and sit on top kayaks

There are several ways to enjoy a day on the river with us here at Wilderness Voyageurs. Enjoy a float down the Middle Yough—either guided or unguided—on a raft, ducky, sit on top, stand up paddleboard, and even more. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can hit the Lower Yough on a fully guided or guide escorted trip, and maybe even upgrade to a ducky or shredder. There are so many options, between different boats, sections and trip types. We want to help you choose by breaking things down a bit. Let’s start with a comparison of sit on top kayaks and duckies!

Simply, a ducky is an inflatable kayak made from the same material of our bigger rafts and built with whitewater in mind. Sit on top kayaks are hard plastic and more recreational in design.

Sit on top and Ducky


Although duckies and sit on top kayaks are two completely different boats, they do share some similarities. On both boats, the paddlers sit on top with legs outstretched in front and use a double bladed paddle. Also, both kayaks offer a good deal of stability, making it easier to stay upright and on the boat while paddling. 

Duckies and sit on top kayaks are both available for rental on the Middle Yough and do great through the Class II rapids found on that section of river.


There are several key differences between these boats. Depending on where and what type of paddling you want to do, one may be better than the other.

Obviously, the two kayaks are made of completely different material. This difference makes the sit on top just a little bit more heavy to carry. On the bright side, we minimize carrying by taking care of the majority of shuttling and transportation for you. At most, you will carry the kayaks a handful of yards to and from the put in and take out.

Also, the inflatable nature of the ducky makes it less jarring to accidentally hit rocks. The boat will partially absorb the impact.  On the sit on top, you will need to use more balance and lean toward the rock. This makes it so the ducky is better to paddle in faster moving water with rocks and other obstacles. 

But, the hull design of the sit on top kayak allows it to move faster through the water and stay straighter. This is perfect for the longer stretches of calm water found on the Middle Yough. You will use significantly less energy paddling the sit on top, rather than the ducky, down the Middle. 

On the other hand, duckies are designed to turn. Turning on a dime helps paddlers maneuver through more difficult rapids, like on the Lower Yough.  On the gentle waters of the Middle, you might find yourself fighting the ducky to keep it straight and moving down river. 

Additionally, we have double ducks, which fit two paddlers in tandem. This is a great way to paddle with your children, or have a fun day with a friend. We only offer single person sit on top kayaks.

Sit on top kayaks are only available for rental on the Middle Yough, while duckies are available for rental on both sections of river here in Ohiopyle. You can even upgrade to a ducky on our guide escorted trips on the Lower Yough

So, which is better?

At the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference, paddling style and section of river.

The ducky is definitely the better choice for paddling on the Lower Yough. However, the sit on top may be the best bet for the Middle Yough. You might just have to come try both out, and make a decision for yourself. Sit on top or ducky? Book a trip today to find out.

To see the two kayaks in action, check out this video.

Wilderness VoyageursKayak Logo Wilderness Voyageurs operates white water rafting trips on 15 rivers in Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Give our helpful reservation staff a call to plan your next adventure vacation. (800) 272 – 4141