Best Kids Kayak

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So, your kids are growing out of your tandem kayak. Or they developed your love for kayaking and insisted to paddle on their own.

But your standard-sized kayak might be too difficult for kids to manage. 

Fret not, you are not alone in this.

Fortunately, the kayak manufacturers did make something specially for kids and that’s what this guide will be all about. 

Table of Contents

KAYAKING WITH KIDS: WHAT TO EXPECT

While kids can definitely use the same adult kayak that you are using, it may be counterintuitive. Especially for beginners because adult kayaks can be a bit difficult to handle or control. Moreover, adult kayaks are generally large or heavy. That can be overwhelming for a kid to manage.  

So, the last thing you’d want is to ruin your kids’ excitement with the wrong type of kayak, or worse – risking their safety. 

Teaching your kids how to kayak is quite similar to teaching them how to cycle. You would ideally want to start them with training wheels. 

(But there is no training wheels for kayak…)

Indeed, the idea is basically to offer a higher safety margin. So, your kids can learn safely and build their experience and confidence in a safer zone.

Same goes for kayaks too.

If your kids are totally new to kayaking and you prefer to warm them up via tandem kayaks first, check out our best 2 person kayak guide instead

In this guide, we put together a list of the 5 best kayaks for kids. We will review all 5 below and help you decide which one suits your kids best.  If you cannot wait and want to get the Best Kids Kayak, check out Perception Hi Five.

5 BEST KIDS KAYAK

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Specs

Length: 6′

Width: 24″

Max Capacity: 130 lbs

Weight: 18 lbs

The Lifetime Youth Wave kayak is a sit-on-top kayak that works well with children as young as 5 years old. And it is generally suitable for use all the way to their teenage years. 

This kayak features a super handy swim-up deck at the stern of the kayak!

Considering that your kids are beginners, tipping overboard is bound to happen eventually right? For all you know, they probably tip overboard on purpose for the fun of it.

So, this swim-up deck is a really handy feature because it will be easier for your kids to climb back into their kayak from the water.  

Fortunately, tipping overboard is made less likely with this kayak owing to its pontoon hull with a reverse chine design. That design creates amazing stability for the kayak. Your kids can practically stand and walk on this kayak comfortably without capsizing. 

So if you are looking for a kayak with superior stability, this Lifetime Youth Wave should be top of your list. 

Last but not least, this kayak has a T-handle on the bow for pulling it in and out of the water. But most importantly, you can also use it as a towing point when necessary. 

Pros

  • Comes with a children-sized paddle 
  • Has enhanced stability
Cons 
  • Hard to steer

PROS

CONS

  • Comes with a children-sized paddle 
  • Has enhanced stability

 

  • Hard to steer

Lifetime Dash 66 Youth Kayak Specs

Length: 6’6″

Width: 24″

Max Capacity: 150 lbs

Weight: 21 lbs

This Lifetime Dash is very similar to the Wave. Both have a swim-up deck, come with a paddle and have the same T-handle on their bow. But there are a few notable differences.

Firstly is the length, it is 6 inches longer than the Wave. 

Next, is its weight limit. The Dash has a higher capacity.

By putting these 2 differences together, it is obvious that the Dash is made to cater for bigger kids. Heck, even you can probably paddle with ease on this kayak too.   

And to reinforce that, the Dash has 3 molded-in footrests at the kayak’s bow!

That allows paddlers with varying heights to comfortably rest their legs on the kayak. Hence, this kayak would be an excellent investment for years ahead. Because your kids can continue using the same kayak as they grow!   

The Dash comes with a low profile backrest. But frankly, it’s nothing to shout about. Most kids could not appreciate it and they end up kayaking without the backrest anyway.

On the other hand, the children sized paddle that comes with the kayak is great. Not needing to order a separate one is a big plus point indeed. 

Pros

  • Has 3 footrest positions 
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle
Cons 
  • Mediocre backrest

PROS

CONS

  • Has 3 footrest positions 
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle

 

  • Mediocre backrest

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Sit-On-Top Youth Kayak Specs

Length: 6′

Width: 24″

Max Capacity: 100 lbs

Weight: 19 lbs

Pelican kayaks are known for their top-notch construction. This Solo is made from their patented RAM-X technology. The material is flexible enough to revert back to its shape after getting hit or dented. 

You know how kids can get clumsy sometimes? 

Those are the moment when you will truly wish for something durable. This kayak does not crack even when your kids dropped it while carrying to and fro your truck. 

A crack, even a small one, on a kayak can affect its performance on the water. So, durability is definitely an excellent plus point for a kids’ kayak. 

What we like about the Pelican Solo is its visibility flag. It is one of the unique features of this kayak that made it stand out from the rest. The flag will provide you with clear visibility of your kid’s location. So, it will be easier for you to keep an eye on them. 

Pelican designed this kayak with room to grow. There are molded footrests (albeit only 2) near the bow. But it is still good enough for your kids to use until their teenage years. 

Pros

  • Has a visibility flag
  • Very durable
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle
Cons
  • Lack of handles – difficult to transport
  • Low weight capacity

PROS

CONS

  • Has a visibility flag
  • Very durable
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle

 

  • Lack of handles – difficult to transport
  • Low weight capacity

 

Perception Hi Five Kayak Specs

Length: 6′

Width: 24″

Max Capacity: 120 lbs

Weight: 21 lbs

Similarly to Lifetime Dash and Wave, this Perception Hi Five has a swim-up deck as well. But what we really truly like about this kayak is – it’s a 2 in 1 kayak and stand-up paddleboard. 

Your kids can stand up and paddle on this watercraft! So, maximum stability is a given. But what if they somehow fell overboard anyhow? No worries! Whether it’s intentionally or unintentionally, just climb back up via the swim-up deck with ease.

Got too tired to stand and paddle?

Not a problem, just sit back and continue paddling in a kayak. 

Being able to switch between standing and sitting while paddling can offer endless fun for kids all day long. 

Designed with room to grow for your kids, this kayak also features 3 molded-in footrests. Imagine years and years of fun on the water, with the same kayak. Staying true to their motto; buy it right or buy it twice! 

Another plus point we like with Perception kayaks is the option to customize or accessorize the kayak to your liking. There is a mold-in recess at the bow of the kayak for you to install a solo mount (you have to buy this separately). Plus, options to add deck pads, paddle leashes or anything that works with a solo mount.

Pros

  • Has 3 footrest positions 
  • Amazing choices of colors for kids 
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle
Cons
  • Low weight capacity

PROS

CONS

  • Has 3 footrest positions 
  • Amazing choices of colors for kids 
  • Comes with a children-sized paddle

 

  • Low weight capacity

Perception Prodigy Kayak XS Specs

Length: 10′

Width: 23″

Max Capacity: 150 lbs

Weight: 26 lbs

Another interesting kayak from Perception. But unlike the Hi Five, this Prodigy XS is a sit-in kayak. The one and only sit-in kayak that we are reviewing in this guide. 

Alright, you may be curious why a sit-in kayak.

Well, sit-in kayaks are generally more stable because of their lower center of gravity. So, this is a niche kayak built to be ultra-stable.

So, who exactly is this kayak made for?

The Prodigy XS is designed for kids who are keen to kayak but still afraid of the water.

This is the training wheels they need to build up their confidence in the water. Therefore, you are not only buying a kayak here. You are also buying confidence to instil into your kids.  

You have probably noticed that this kayak is longer than the others we reviewed. It is a few feet longer than what we normally recommend for kids too.

However, a longer kayak offers greater speed on the water. You may already know that. So, having the ability to swiftly and stably glide through waters like a swan is the nudge needed to boost up your kids’ confidence.

They may even get overconfident with this!

But the main drawback of a sit-in kayak is obviously its cockpit space.

The Prodigy XS cockpit is only 28 inches long and 18 inches wide. Your kids will grow out of that cockpit within several years and find the limited legroom getting uncomfortable.

Pros

  • Ultra-stable design
  • More agile on the water
  • Amazing choices of colors for kids
Cons
  • The cockpit limits room to grow
  • Does not include a paddle
  • Heavy & large

PROS

CONS

  • Ultra-stable design
  • More agile on the water
  • Amazing choices of colors for kids

 

  • The cockpit limits room to grow
  • Does not include a paddle
  • Heavy & large

 

HOW TO CHOOSE A KAYAK FOR KIDS

As mentioned earlier, you will definitely want to avoid ruining your kids’ kayaking experience with an oversized kayak. But picking the right kids kayak is equally as tricky as picking one for yourself. 

That’s why we listed some of the most critical factors to determine which kayak suits your kids best.  

The kayak’s size

This is definitely one of the most obvious factors; the size.  

If it’s too long, it will be difficult to carry into the water. Then once on the water, it will be difficult to manoeuvre.  

So, size matters a lot when choosing a kayak for kids. It affects their overall kayaking experience. Generally, we recommend getting kayaks with a hull of roughly 6 to 8 feet. That should be the ideal zone for kids. 

If you feel that 6 to 8 feet is too short for your kids, then very likely they are too big for kids kayak. In that case, it will be better to look for a beginner adult kayak instead. 

The kayak’s stability

You would definitely want to prioritize stability especially if your children do not have much kayaking experience. Even if they have paddling experience in a tandem kayak with you, paddling alone is quite different. 

You can surely expect your kids making some rookie mistakes. That’s why the main priority now is stability to minimize the mistakes and prevent the major ones which lead to capsizing. 

The stability of the kayak is primarily dependent on 2 aspects:

  • The hull width. A wider width increases the kayak’s stability. We recommend getting kayaks with a width of at least….. 
  • The hull design. There are multiple different designs for a kayak hull. However, only a flat hull and a pontoon hull offer the best stability. So, look out for those designs only

No doubt that a wide hull will decrease the kayak’s performance on the water. But safety and stability are more important than performance now right?

The overall kayak’s weight

Yes…This is not truly a deal-breaker factor.  

Because if the kayak is somehow too heavy for your child, you only need to lend them a hand when transporting their kayak. Or get another adult to help out.

But we all surely can appreciate some convenience right?

That’s why, we believe that the kayak’s weight is still a good factor to be taken into consideration anyway.  

Just remember that children do grow up pretty quick. Before you know it, 2 to 3 years can zoom past. Hence, it is alright to get something slightly beyond your kids’ lifting capability at the beginning. They will grow bigger and thus be able to carry their kayak eventually.  

Having a towing point

Children being children, they can be very unpredictable.

Not to mention often landing themselves into trouble.

And in the most mind-boggling ways.  

So trust us on this; always ensure that any kayak you get for your children has a towing point. 

If the kayak you really want does not have a towing point, get it by hook or by crook. Buy it as an aftermarket accessory if you must. Drill it into the kayak if you must. 

In the event that your kids somehow got stranded on the water, having a towing system on their kayak would be an absolute lifesaver! Just hook up their kayak to yours and you can tow them safely to the shore.  

Now you understand how important it is? 

PS: Just in case you overlook it, your kayak needs the towing point too. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)

Q: What age are kids kayaks for?

A: Kids as young as 5 years old can begin kayaking on their own. Of course, with close supervision from adults. Generally, kids’ kayaks are good to use until 12 to 15 years old. But it is highly dependent on the size of your kids honestly. 

Q: Can a 3 years old go on a kayak?

A: Normally we advise 2 to 5 years old to kayak with you on the same boat. Warm them up to kayaking first instead of immediately allowing them to kayak alone.

Q: Where can kids kayak?

A: Best to start off with safer places first such as lakes or slow-moving rivers. Avoid going to oceans with strong waves so soon. Being inexperienced, kids need to learn and build up their confidence first.

OUR VERDICT

After reviewing all 5 kayaks above, we felt that Perception Hi Five is generally the best choice among all. Primarily because it can double up as a stand-up paddleboard as well. It will definitely keep your kids occupied for long hours.

Moreover, Perception kayaks give you the freedom to upgrade them with aftermarket accessories according to your need or liking. 

Versatility and flexibility in one watercraft, it cannot get any better than that for now. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Note that none of these kayaks comes with a PFD (personal floatation device). This is the most important aspect of kayaking. Safety always has to come first. 

So, we strongly advise you to immediately look for a suitable PFD for your kids right after purchasing a kids kayak. Do not skimp on PFDs or overlook getting one.  

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Kids Kayak or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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