Old Town Topwater 120 Review

Bottom Line:

While not quite built for speed or roaming the wildest of waters, the Old Town Topwater 120 still offers tons of stability and handling confidence when fishing on calmer currents.

Experts rate this boat highly for its variety of storage customization, incredible stability, and how it’s built with anglers in mind. It’s a great value boat for occasional anglers



based on 4 reviews

Performance Ratings:

  • Handling
  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Onboard Storage
  • Portability
  • Durability


BrandOld Town
Size (length x width)12' x 33.5"
Weight82 lbs
Capacity500 lbs
MaterialPolyethylene (single layer)
WarrantyLifetime (on plastic)

Comparison to Similar Kayaks:

Old Town Topwater 120 Pelican Sentinel 100X Angler Hobie Mirage Outback Vibe Sea Ghost 130 Vibe Sea Ghost 110
Expert Rating
Size12' x 33.5"9'5" x 30"12'9" x 34"13' x 33"11'6" x 33"
Weight82 lbs44 lbs85 lbs75 lbs84 lbs
Onboard Storage9.

Old Town Topwater 120 Review

Reasons to Buy:
  • Highly stable on calm waters
  • Handles well even at speed
  • Drains reasonably without encouragement
  • Ample customization options
  • Very comfortable and supportive
Reasons Not to Buy:
  • May need a rudder for the best handling performance
  • Not the swiftest on the water

Performance of the Old Town Topwater 120

Experts reviewing the Old Town Topwater 120 seem to agree on a few key areas. Perhaps most of all, the fact this boat is so stable and undemanding on the water despite its low price tag will appeal to anglers looking for a great value tide-over.

Reviewers praise the kayak highly for its ease of adaptability between sat and standing fishing positions, helped along by a wide platform and an adjustable seat.

Comfort also seems to be high on Old Town’s agenda here, with its wide, two-position seat reportedly being very easy to configure and reset. For anglers riding over long periods of time, the angle of the seat’s backrest and the width of the seat itself will certainly help to distribute weight and prevent fatigue.

That said, there is some disagreement on the overall quality of the seat’s build, meaning if you’re looking for a more padded option, it’s best to look at other Old Town boats.

Stability is a huge plus point for experts – the Topwater is clearly built to offer steadiness on the water if you want to stand up and fish, and it’ll take a heavy lean from side to side without tipping. There’s reportedly some loss of speed and acceleration as a result, but this is to be expected to some extent.

That said, experts claim this Old Town kayak performs amazingly in shallow and tight waters and will turn without much encouragement. It also tracks reasonably well, but buyers shouldn’t expect it to work any miracles on open water or under rough weather conditions.

Seasoned fisherpeople will also enjoy the secure, waterproof storage onboard as well as how easy it is to access. The front hatch is reportedly easy to reach and use while in the boat itself, and there are also rubber side pockets for tech and gear if you need them.

Further back into the boat, secondary rod holders and wide cup holders pick up further interest from reviewers, particularly as they’re positioned in such a way that your average paddler won’t need to stretch too far.

What experts really like about this boat is the fact you probably won’t have to drill much tech into the body of the kayak. There’s lots of room for customization, with plenty of flat surfaces that should appeal to anglers and riders looking to upgrade with their own preferred gadgets.

The boat’s scupper holes are self-draining, meaning that while water will get into the boat under pressure, it’ll soon drain free. That said, it seems the kayak probably won’t let much in unless you really push it to its absolute limits.

With a rudder attached, the Topwater 120 can reach impressive speeds for a kayak of its class. However, it’s unlikely the target audience for this vessel will want to go at a breakneck pace!

The boat also seems to garner high praise in terms of portability despite its relatively high weight. Handles are positioned accessibly enough to ensure solo and duo paddlers can carry it to and from the waterline, and you can collapse or remove the seat to easily store on a car or at home.

Durability tends to be pretty high on Old Town’s agenda, and their lifetime warranty applies to the super-tough polyethylene here. Provided you don’t purposely try to damage the boat on purpose, this boat will barely take a scratch or a dent over time.

As such, reviewers appear to suggest it’s a reasonably comfortable, extremely convenient kayak clearly built with the multiple needs of a feature-friendly angler in mind. That, and for a vessel under $2,000, it picks up a lot of “great value” labels online.

Expert Reviews of the Old Town Topwater 120

8.4The Florida Bass PaddlerThis is by far the most comfortable fishing kayak I've ever tested for under $1,000. It's fantastic value. It's on par with Old Town's 106 if you're looking for an enduring fishing boat for less than $2k.Read more
6.8Aliex FolgueiraThis is an impressive little kayak that handles and balances well under pressure. It's got reasonable acceleration, and I like the fact you can adjust the seat easily to improve your paddling thrust. I think it'll make a good river boat.Read more
8.8Lancaster County MarineIt's clear that this kayak was designed with stability in mind, and it's a great value boat that aims to tick plenty of popular boxes. It's demonstrably stable, packed with features, and comes with a few little fishing tweaks that genuinely surprised me.Read more
7.9Field and StreamOff the bat, this kayak is a lot of fun to paddle and fish on. It's amazingly stable and one of the best value boats I've tested in its line.Read more

Handling of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 7.3

7.0The Florida Bass PaddlerThis boat is never going to break any speed records, but that's because it really is built for stability on smaller bodies of water. It may take a little bit of water on here and there, but it's generally easy to handle.Read more
7.5Aliex FolgueiraWow - this boat can really pick up some speed (and on a straight run) when you give it some force with a rudder. There's really no need to correct your stroke if you have this kit attached. There's a speed boost, but honestly, it's not huge. It still turns nicely when I need it to - good marks for responsiveness. I'd recommend you fit a rudder if you're going into choppy waters. There's a little bit of turning when you don't expect it, but it's not a deal-breaker.Read more
7.5Field and StreamThe Old Ton Topwater is impressively fast at times, largely thanks to the hull design. It performs best in shallow waters chock-full of weeds, and is pretty resilient against the current. The hull works hard to keep the boat steady in high winds, and it paddles straight in choppy waters and tight spots. The tracking's really solid and the kayak responds well on the turn - it's absolutely one of the best in the category for handling. It's not great on open water, but that's to be expected. It loses a little power thanks to the stable design, meaning it's best for short distances.Read more

Stability of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 8.1

8.5The Florida Bass PaddlerThe non-slip pads onboard this kayak make it really easy for me to stand up and cast without risking a slip or stumbling over any catching features. This is an unbelievably stable boat given its class - it's really not built for speed and may not be the best for wide open water, but it's always nice and stable to sit and stand in when I'm fishing. It barely rocks.Read more
6.5Aliex FolgueiraThis is a superb stable fishing platform that keeps you straight and balanced. It'll keep stable and steady at various speeds.Read more
9.0Lancaster County MarineThe main draw of this kayak is that it's stable - and this is pretty easy to see just from looking at the design. For example, I find it really easy to adjust my center of gravity just by adjusting the seat position. The hull design is an absolute classic for stable fishing trips.Read more
8.5Field and StreamThe hull design on this kayak really does create a lot of stability - and on the top, the flat deck makes for ideal stand-up fishing. Getting up and sitting back down barely rocks the boat, and it'll handle a heavy lean and give stacks of confidence.Read more

Comfort of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 7.6

9.0The Florida Bass PaddlerI've always liked an open cockpit floor in my kayaks, and the Topwater 120 offers lots of room with comfortable, non-slip pads (great for standing up) - they're flush with the floor of the boat, so never get in the way. Old Town stick to their superb seating standards here with a two-position seat that's high-backed at a nice angle - it never pokes you awkwardly as you're riding. The seat's nice and wide for extra comfort, too.Read more
6.5Aliex FolgueiraThe seat's really easy to fix into place, and I'd highly recommend using it in the lower position if you really want to get some extra power behind your paddle.Read more
8.5Lancaster County MarineThere's tons of legroom here and I can easily stand up to fish as when I want to. The platform's nice and solid, too. The seat's nice and wide, and the kayak's designed to help ease you in from standing up angling. I find it really easy to change the angle of my back if I'm paddling, and the foot braces are quick and simple to adjust if I need to. At around six foot in height, I think I have at least another eight inches of legroom left in this boat!Read more
6.5Field and StreamHonestly, the seat feels a little bit of a "bargain" addition, but it's nice enough. I like that I can angle and position it for greater support when I go out for all-day fishing. However, there's next to no padding as the seat's essentially a layer of mesh fabric on an aluminum frame. It's functional enough.Read more

Onboard Storage of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 9.2

9.0The Florida Bass PaddlerThere's a superb hatch to the front of the boat that I find really easy to secure with bungee ropes - ideal for placing dry bags inside. It's always kept water out thanks to the design of the lip and inside rim. I also really like the flat surfaces - they're great for customization (for example, I went ahead and added a camera mount). It's also pretty easy to get at the front hatch while paddling. The tracks on either side of the boat are super-sturdy, and they allow for ease of access right when I need them during paddling.Read more
9.5Lancaster County MarineYou pretty much have everything you need to get started in one simple kayak here. There's accessory and gear tracks accessible from the seating position, as well as a nice storage hatch to the front (with a pretty solid seal). Do also check out the flush-mount rod holders, too - one's designed to help you handle a catch while keeping free of the rod. There's lots of customisation potential for rudders and extra kit, too.Read more
9.0Field and StreamThere are tons of storage options onboard this kayak, from conveniently placed rod holders to gear tracks - nicely positioned to help avoid line snagging, I might add. There's a nice transducer mount and easy track access if you want to set up a camera or a fish finder. I'm a big fan of the under-seat storage, too. It's one of the most creative and flexible kayaks I've paddled at this price tag.Read more

Portability of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 8.0

8.5The Florida Bass PaddlerThe bow and stern handles are nice and comfortable, making it carrying this kayak a breeze. You shouldn't have much difficulty moving the Old Town Topwater 120 around.Read more
7.5Lancaster County MarineLoading this boat on and off a vehicle is a breeze - it's got fantastic grab handles and it's easy to compact or remove the seat if you want to. I had no problems carrying this boat by myself (the skid plate definitely helps), but it's also a cinch with two people despite the boat's weight.Read more

Durability of the Old Town Topwater 120

Expert Rating: 9.5

9.5Lancaster County MarineThere's a lifetime guarantee on the polyethylene in this kayak, which is a massive bonus - and Old Town always pulls through on plastic that endures years of use.Read more