There’s nothing like being out on the water! The beauty of nature all around as you navigate the currents can range from calming to exhilarating! For when your kiddos are old enough to begin learning of the wonders of kayaking, it’s important to have the right gear for them such as a kids kayak.
They should be able to swim and be comfortable with sitting still while propelling themselves forward. They should have a life vest that fits just right and be knowledgeable about what to do in an emergency.
That’s everything, right? Don’t forget about choosing a kids kayak that will work perfectly for them!
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What to Consider
- How well can your child balance in a kayak alone?
- Does a sit-in model make them feel closed in and uncomfortable?
- Will they be doing more smaller trips or longer expeditions overall?
Here are some of the top choices to help foster your child’s love for the water.
Disclosure: This review includes affiliate links, if you go through and make a purchase, I will receive a commission at no cost to you.
For those who are still starting out on kayaking on their own, Lifetime Youth Wave is a good choice for you! The sit-on-top design is perfect for those who may feel a bit claustrophobic in a sit-in version.
The reverse chine and wide design make this one of the most stable choices available. It weighs under 20 pounds, making it easy for parents or children to carry to and from launch sites.
The craft is built to be self-draining so you don’t have to fear the craft taking on water from any splash fights. If your adventurer does need to return from the water, a set of swim-up steps is built into the back, allowing for easy return to the seating area.
While the “Soft Fit” contours allow for comfy seating, longer trips may leave your paddler wishing to return to land sooner because of a sore bottom. There is no padding or extra comfort of any kind in the seating area. The craft is also built for those weighing 130 pounds or less so keep on eye out that your little one doesn’t outgrow it too fast!
- Weighs under 20 pounds
- Very stable
- No extra padding
If a flat sit-on-top design is a little beneath your paddler’s level, try this one on for size! The deep deck allows for the illusion of sitting inside the craft with plenty of open space.
The recessed seat does come with a backrest, allowing for extra comfort for the longer treks. This 6-footer is a bit narrower than the preceding choice, meaning that the stability goes down a notch, but it still handles well.
The tracking kneel allows for your kiddo to keep going straight ahead as you both race off into the unknown! Along with a cupholder, this pick also has open as well as sealed compartments for stashing necessities, like phones or snacks. The graduated foot wells allow your growing paddler to fit comfortably inside as they go out on many an adventure.
The recessed seat comes with a backrest but the seat itself is still molded to the deck without any extra comfort, resulting in soreness of the rear on longer expeditions. The open storage uses a bungee cord to hold things in place.
The cord can dry rot when frequently exposed to the elements or even snap if pulled too taut over cargo. This number also has a weight limit of 121 pounds, meaning your youngster may outgrow this one before you know it! Those with children around 4’9” just will fit inside comfortably.
- Recessed seat with backrest
- Cupholder and stash bin for anything you want to bring
- Large foot well
- No extra padding, may get sore on longer trips
This kids kayak choice is inflatable, making it easy to carry around and store for later. It does come with its own pump and patch kit along with a paddle so you can hit the water as soon as possible.
Nine feet long when fully inflated, this number still handles well on the water and has a removable skeg for longer excursions. The roomy cockpit and I-beam floor allow for great stability in the water. Kids will love the built-in seat, allowing them to ride on-air as they glide about the water’s surface.
Front open storage is available for stashing cargo for the voyage. National Marine Manufacturers Association has this craft certified to be ready for anything that comes your way!
Because this is an inflatable, that does mean the hull is more prone to punctures. Make sure your adventurer knows to steer clear of objects that may cause them to quickly sink.
Also, for the impatient child, waiting on their kayak to become fully inflated may cause them to become irritable. The open storage is covered by loose netting attached to the hull at five points, resulting in a triangle formation. Smaller items such as favorite toys or smaller snacks can become lost in the water if not careful.
The built-in seat does inflate with the rest of the boat, but the backrest may not have enough support for heavy recliners. The darker parts of the hull are prone to absorbing the sun quicker than the rest of the hull, resulting in hot spots that may burn the rider. Splashers also beware for ridding the kayak of water may also pose a problem.
- Very stable
- Comes with pump and patch kit
- Light since it is inflatable
- Front storage bin
- Backrest may not have much support
- Can get hot spots if very warm outside
Kayaking is a great way to get your kiddo outdoors and exercising. Having to care for a kayak and related equipment also teaches them about responsibility. Researching water currents and other features of the location you’ll be exploring can inspire your child in so many ways.
Kids stay young for such a short amount of time, and we want every moment spent together to turn into memories they will treasure forever. Whether you’re following a lazy river for the first time ever or going fishing at the family fishing spot, sharing these bonding moments with your child will turn into memories you’ll never forget!
If you enjoyed this review, check out our review of the best 10 person tents!
Leave a comment below or contact us if you have a favorite kayak brand for kids!