Teach your child to enjoy the classic work sport of kayaking by buying them a Kayak designed for kids. Make kayaking a family tradition by buying a vessel with a kid-friendly size that is great for splash-filled adventures. If this is your child’s first time going solo in the water, you will want them to love kayaking just as much as you do!
You want to buy a kayak that will keep your child happy as navigate through the water. Finding the best kayak for kids doesn’t have to be a chore as we will introduce you to the top 5 options and help you find one that will fit your child. We will guide you in the right direction when it comes to deciding on the perfect kayak for your little one.
Lifetime Youth 6 Feet Wave Kayak
Intex Challenger K1
Intex Explorer K2
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids
Best Choice Products Sports 6′ Kids
Are There Any Prerequisites?
- Practice with an Adult – Before your child navigates the water on their own kayak, it is extremely helpful if they get some experience kayaking with an adult. It won’t take long for them to get the hand of paddling but they should be introduced to the sport before going solo. It is best to start in calm waters such as slow rivers, bays or lakes.
- Safety First – Children should always wear a life preserver when kayaking even if they are experienced swimmers. Make sure they use sunscreen and drink plenty of wear especially if it is a hot summer day. Never let your child go out on the kayak without supervision, ideally you should be close-by in your own kayak.
Choosing a Kids Kayak
When selecting a kayak for kids, you not only want to make sure it will fit your child but that it will provide comfortable and long lasting water adventures. Here are several basic considerations to keep in mind when narrowing down your options:
- Size – When looking for a kayak for kids, the first consideration you should take into account is how big the boat is. While full-size kayaks may seem to be packed full of features, little ones won’t be able to learn how to paddle in a huge, ponderous ship. You want to purchase a model that has a kid friendly size that will safely accommodate your child.
- Load Capacity– Take note of the weight limit or maximum load range when looking at options to ensure that your choice will last for more than a few months. A good rule of thumb to go by is to ensure the maximum weight is at least 10 to 20 pounds more than your child’s current weight.
- Comfort– Your child’s comfort is definitely something to keep in mind as it will often determine how long they will be able to enjoy the kayaking experience. Look for a model with a backrest for your child to sit comfortably and ideally some level of cushioning on the seat. Footrests are also helpful to keep their feet relaxed while paddling through the water.
- Durability– If you plan on taking lots of adventures, the durability of the material is an important consideration as it will ultimately speak to the lifespan of your kayak. High density polyethylene is by far the most durable as it cannot be punctured and provides more strength for encountering obstacles. Regular plastic and vinyl materials still provide a favorable amount of durability but they often have the potential of being damaged if you were to encounter rough surfaces.
Features to Look For
Once you have taken a look at the initial characteristics, you want to look for features that will enhance your child’s kayaking experience. Here are some helpful features that can be found in the best kayaks for kids:
- Sloped Back End and Swim-Up Step – When you child wants to swim in the water while kayaking, having a sloped back end can keep the vessel stable as they climb in. The swim-up step feature makes it much easier to enter the kids kayak without it tipping over or wobbling.
- Tow Along Rope – An attached towing rope is particularly helpful if your child is brand new to kayaking as you can help to pull them along as they get used to kayaking. This feature is also good for pulling the kayak in and out of the water.
- UV Protection– If you plan on using the kayak for many water trips in the summer, UV protection can not only repel the heat but prevent the surface from cracking or melting. This feature will give you added peace of mind that the kayak won’t be ruined when sitting out in the sun for extended periods of time.
- Included Accessories– Finding a kayak for kids with the paddle included will save you the hassle of buying one separately. Some models come with additional accessories such as an air pump or repair kit for inflatable kayaks.
Is There a Downside?
- Not for Faster Currents – Kayaks for kids are generally not intended for white water rapids or other bodies of water with a rough current. This is primarily for your child’s safety as you would not want your little one to get swept away when paddling on their own. Some may be discouraged that this type of kayak is not for all types of water but keep in mind that it is a good starting point for your child. They can learn how to read the water currents and eventually transition into a full size kayak as they grow older.
Top 5 Picks for Kayaks for Kids
1. Best Choice Products Sports 6′ Kids Kayak
The Best Choice Products Sports 6’ Kids Kayak will provide a stable platform for your child to learn how to paddle. They can easily climb in from the edge of the water with a sloped back end and swim-up step for when they are in the water. It even features molded finger handles so little hands can firmly grip on while in motion. The handles are also helpful for carrying it to and from your vehicle. Not only is it portable for traveling, but it is extremely lightweight weighing at only 18 pounds. This model comes included with a 50” dual-finned paddle that will propel the kayak forward and backward. You can choose a color that best fits your family as this kayak comes in two bright color options including yellow and blue.
Designed for children ages 5 and up, this kayak can hold up to 130 pounds. Your family can enjoy paddling side by side with this kids kayak made from high density polyethylene. The surface is UV-protected and will withstand hours of sun without fading or damaging the kayak. The seat features a backrest and padded seat so your child can stay comfortable while drifting through the water. Measuring as 72 x 26 x 7 inches, this kayak will be a great choice for your next river trip. If you are looking for a sturdy kayak for your child’s first boating experience, you will like the comfort and durability that this model provides.
- Lightweight Design
- Includes paddle
- Easy to climb into
- Only holds 1 child
- Small size
2. Lifetime Youth 6 Feet Wave Kayak
The Lifetime Wave Kayak is a 6 foot kayak that is great for kids ages 5 and up to learn balance and enhance their motor skills. This 72 x 24 x 8 inch model will safely hold one child up to 130 pounds and provides maximum stability for beginners who have never kayaked before. The wide structure of the kayak provides an excellent platform to keep your little one inside the kayak while navigating through the water. The swim-up step and sloped back end makes it easy for kids to enter the kayak without it tipping over. Parents will have added peace of mind that even their smaller children can learn the ropes with ease.
This kayak has a self-bailing features that drains the cockpit of water so you don’t have to worry about water filling up while in the river or lake. The bright blue color is attractive for keys and fits perfectly with the color of the water. Multiple footrest positions give this kayak plenty of flexibility for paddlers of different sizes. The seat is ergonomically designed for comfort and ease of use. The entire kayak is made from polyethylene material that is extremely durable to last for years of use. The UV-protected coating also extends it’s longevity as it can sit in the sun for hours without fading or splitting. It comes with a youth paddle included along with molded paddle cradles for when your child just wants to relax and drift through the water. This kayak has plenty of convenient features to make your child’s kayaking experience memorable.
- UV-protected surface
- Stable design
- Versatility for different sized children
- Paddle is not adjustable
- No added seat cushioning
3. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
If you are looking for an eye-catching kayak for your child, the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak features a unique blue, green and black design. This is an inflatable model which makes it great for portability, especially if you don’t have a large vehicle to tow around a large kayak. You won’t need to purchase an air pump separately as it comes with a manual hand pump for quick inflation. When fully inflated, this model measures 30 x 15 x 108 inches and weighs 27.2 pounds. Holding up to 220 pounds, this kids kayak has plenty of room to accommodate your child and parents may even be able to use it themselves. The l-beam floors inflate to provide extra stability for any skill or experience level.
With 2 separate air chambers, the Challenger provides plenty of durability for frequent use. The heavy duty vinyl is puncture resistant which can be helpful if you happen to run into any obstacles in the water. If you do happen to damage the surface, the kayak comes included with a repair kit to easily patch a small hole or puncture. If you need to store extra gear for your child, there is a convenient cargo net attached to the surface. There is also pull lines on both sides of the kayak which makes it easy to grab when pulling in or out of the water. For paddling through the water, this model comes with a dual-sided 84 inch aluminum oar. When your child is done for the day and you want to secure the kayak in the ground, it has a removable skeg to keep it in place. This 1-passenger kayak is an excellent choice for both adults and kids to share.
- Higher weight limit
- Inclusive of repair kit, oar and air pump
- Bold design
- Can easily fill up with water
- Requires inflation
4. Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak
The Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak is a premium kayak model designed just for little ones. It can safely hold one child with a maximum load range of 100 to 115 pounds. This colorful kayak comes in two different vibrant options including sunrise and cloud. With a comfortable seat, this model is perfectly contoured for small children to feel secure. Your little one will also find that this kayak is easy to maneuver so they won’t have to worry about getting stuck trying to wade through the lake. It measures at 16.25 x 25 x 89 inches and weighs a mere 26 pounds. There is no shortage of durability in this kayak as the polyethylene surface is built to withstand any water expedition.
If you are joining your child for the adventures, you can use the attached Tag Along Tow System to pull them along as needed. That way if they get tired of paddling, you won’t have to wait for them to get more energy to keep moving along. Young children will do just fine with a little bit of extra help learning how to use the paddle. There is foam on both ends of the kayak which keeps it from sink when in the water. Don’t forget to purchase a life vest and paddle for your child separately and ensure they are supervised at all times. This is a high quality kayak model that will provide plenty of water-filled fun.
- Towing rope attached
- Durable surface
- Vibrant colors
- Doesn’t include paddle
- No footrests
5. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
For those who are in need of a 2 passenger kids kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a popular choice. This kayak provides maximum comfort with two inflatable backrests and seats that hold a total maximum capacity of 400 pounds. That is more than enough for two children or even you and your little one. The l-beam floor helps to provide stability while passengers are climbing in and out of the yellow and black kayak. To help with directional stability, there is a removable keg that can be attached to the bottom of the boat. The design is also intended for increased visibility in the water just incase of an emergency.
If you plan on traveling through smaller bodies of water such as rivers, lakes or pond, this is an ideal solution for 2. The surface is made from a heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl that easily inflates to a full size of 36 x 20 x 123 inches. If the surface does happen to get damaged, the kayak comes included with a repair kit to fix small punctures or tears. This model weighs 36.9 which is surprisingly lightweight for a 2 passenger kayak boat. It comes with two paddles which will allow your little ones to learn the ropes with ease. This kayak for kids is a great way to get your children to enjoy the outdoors while getting some exercise in the water.
- Holds 2 children or adults
- Enhanced stability
- Includes paddles
- Requires inflation
- Thin carrying bag
The winner for the best kayak for kids goes to the Lifetime Wave Kayak because of its convenient features and long lasting comfort. This model is an excellent choice for first-time kayakers to learn the ropes with enhanced stability, a sloped back end and built-in swim up step. Kids will love the comfortable seat with adjustable footrests and it even comes included with a youth size paddle.
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