Best Kayaks for Kids

The Best Kayaks for Kids

It seems like kids always have a boundless store of energy.

Whether they’re bouncing off walls or trying to entertain themselves while bored, they’re always up to something.

Kids need outlets -- something productive that they can put their energy into.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that spending time in nature is critical for kids. Getting their hands dirty, building a little teepee with sticks, throwing rocks in the water, getting their feet wet.

It’s important for a kid to have the chance to be a kid and a kayak is great way for them to explore the natural world.

Kayaking can teach them many lessons:

  • That brute force isn’t always the best way forward.
  • That technique and fluidity are powerful.
  • That the ocean, rivers, and lakes are wonderful teachers in their own right.

We’re going to cover a lot of ground in this article but for those of you have already decided to get a kayak for your kid here are some quick picks:

editor's choice

Lifetime Youth Wave

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle
  • Ergonomic kid-friendly design.
  • Stability training for kids.
  • Great value.

best value

Intex Challenger K1

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Lightweight.
  • Puncture resistant.
  • Lowest price.

How to Find the Best Kayak For Your Kids

What makes a kayak great for kids comes down to a few factors:

  1. Size
  2. Stability
  3. Maneuverability

Size

This should come as no surprise but you want a smaller kayak. If the kayak is too big they’ll be swimming in it (and probably swimming in the water before too long). Unless your “child” is adult-sized, you should aim for less than 10 feet in length.

Not only should the length be shorter than normal, but the cockpit should be shallower as well. If the cockpit is too deep then a child will sit too low in it and won’t be able to paddle at a good angle to generate power. If they sit to low they won’t have much fun.

Stability

Kids are notoriously clumsy since they haven’t quite developed their balance yet so you probably want a kayak with stability. That is unless you want your kid spending plenty of time in the drink (which I suppose is valid).

Maneuverability

Maneuverability is going to depend a lot on the length and the ability of the child to paddle effectively which we’ve already talked about. However, it also has to do with the design of the kayak and as a rule of thumb, the more you spend the better the kayak will track and the quicker and more maneuverable it will be.

Weight

Depending on how old your kids are you can get away with heavier kayaks (they’re young, they can handle it right?) But a 60 pound kid is going to struggle with a 60 pound kayak so you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Safety First

You want to introduce your kids to the concept of minimizing risk as early as possible. They probably won’t fully understand it for many years (I still have to remind myself) but the younger you can get them familiar with safety protocols the better. Kayaking is a relatively safe sport but there’s always the potential for things to go wrong.

Life Vests

Do you always need a life vest? No, you really don’t. But it’s the habit of wearing one that matters. Most people will never be in a situation where they need one but it’s the one-in-a-million situation that will make you thankful that you wore it. Teach your kids a mentality of minimizing risk and you can rest a little easier knowing that they’re safe.

The Best Kayaks for Kids

It isn’t terribly important to get the perfect kayak for you kid because the truth of matter is that they will eventually grow out of it.

The important thing is that they get out there and start building their skills and confidence. And to that end which kayak you choose is less important.

That said, we’ll try to explain which of these best kayaks for kids is the best fit for you.

Let’s get to it!

*Keep in mind that not every kayak includes a paddle.

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle, Blue, 8'

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 8’
  • Weight: 38 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Accessories: Rear bungee storage, paddle included, multiple foot rests, adjustable seat
  • Price: $$

The Lifetime Lotus is a compact lightweight kayak. At just 8 feet and 38 pounds it’s more than manageable for a child and is a great kayak to paddle around the surf in or take across the lake.

Why Choose This Model?

The Lifetime Lotus is a great family kayak because it is small enough for kids to fit in and use efficiently but large enough for the majority of adults to use and have fun with. No one regrets having a Lifetime Lotus on hand for anyone to use.


Ocean Kayak Frenzy 1-Person Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Sunrise, 9 Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Accessories: Comfort plus seat, rear tank well with bungees,
  • Price: $$

If you're looking for big fun in a compact kayak - check out the Frenzy. This little kayak is responsive and stable, playful in the surf, but behaves well on flat water. Perfect for a wide range of paddlers but particularly suited to the younger crowd.

Why Choose This Model?

Despite being a quote “kids kayak” the Ocean Kayak Frenzy is highly regarded by children and adults alike. People really seem to love this kayak and we’re sure you will too.


BKC UH-FK184 9'2" Sit on Top Single Fishing Kayak Seat And Paddle included

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 44 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Accessories: 5 rod holders, adjustable seat, staggered foot rests
  • Price: $$$

The Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-FK184 1-person sit on top kayak has all the features the solo paddler needs. Whether you’re headed out for an afternoon of lake fishing or you are headed downriver on a multi-day adventure, this solo kayak is ready to launch. The weight-to-length ratio of the Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-FK184 offers ideal balance and stability for myriad activities; the craft is well-suited to kayak fishing, navigating swift currents or light chop, or traveling distances over open water.

Why Choose This Model?

If you’d like to fish alongside your son or daughter then this Brooklyn Kayak Company 9-footer is absolutely the perfect kayak for you.


Sun Dolphin Bali Sit-on-top Kayak (Ocean, 6-Feet)

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 6’
  • Weight: 23 lbs
  • Material: V-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 140 lbs
  • Accessories: Paddle included,
  • Price: $

Perfect for family fun on the water. The Sun Dolphin Bali 6' Kayak tracks and paddles with ease while offering maximum stability. It is versatile, lightweight and great for all. Open cockpit allows the easiest of entry and the graduated foot wells are molded in to accommodate paddlers of any size.

Why Choose This Model?

This is a very playful little kayak that allows kids the freedom to use it in many different ways. It’s stable enough to keep them safe but will still help them develop paddling skills. I love the Sun Dolphin Bali 6 for kids closer to the toddler age range.


Ocean Kayak Banzai Kids Kayak, Surf, 9 Feet 6 Inches

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’6
  • Weight: 36 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 250 lbs
  • Accessories: Low profile deck, molded cup holder, Tag Along towing system
  • Price: $$

At just under 10 feet and 36 pounds this a great ocean kayak for kids. It’s got plenty of capacity to allow for gear if you’re looking to go on a multi-day trip and a low profile design so that your child can paddle efficiently.

Why Choose This Model?

This probably the fastest kid friendly kayak due to its long and thin hull. The Ocean Kayaks Bonzai is surf ready and I would recommend it for anyone with kids from 6-10.


Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak Paddle

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 6’
  • Weight: 18 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 130 lbs
  • Accessories: Ergonomic cockpit, paddle included, swim up step
  • Price: $

The Lifetime Youth Wave is a great kids kayak because it was designed specifically to teach young tikes how to kayak. It’s super lightweight at 18 pounds -- so your kids will have no problem transporting it and they’ll have loads of fun tooling around the shallows and learning the ropes.

Why Choose This Model?

Lifetime is a company that dedicates itself to bringing paddlers together and the Youth Wave is a family oriented kayak that kids will love!


Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’
  • Weight: 23 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 220 lbs
  • Accessories: Paddle included, front cargo net, adjustable seat, closed cockpit
  • Price: $$

The nimble, durable Challenger K1 kayak is made of welded material with eye-catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow-moving river. It’s streamlined to float easily through the water, and its cockpit is designed for comfort. Inflatable I-beam floors add stability, and an 84-inch oar and high-output hand pump are also included.

Why Choose This Model?

The Intex Challenger K1 is pretty remarkable kayak: It’s incredibly versatile and both kids and lighter adults will find it easy to maneuver and comfortable to ride in. At this price you really can’t go wrong with this kayak.


Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

Kayaking is wonderful activity for kids that offers tons of benefits:

  • Good exercise for kids.
  • Introduces them to the natural world of water.
  • Great opportunity for parents to spend time with their little ones.

I remember when I was a kid paddling around Rhode Island with my mom and dad. I honestly can’t remember how old I was but it must have been 4 or 5. It’s amazing that I still remember that experience like it was yesterday.

The smell of the ocean, the salty breeze, a man dangling a line from a bridge fishing for crabs in the bay. I remember the feeling of floating and how novel it was at that age.

It’s a memory I cherish forever and one that I highly recommend parents introduce their kids to.

The Best Kayaks for Kids | 7 Kayak Reviews in 2019

Picture yourself paddling towards a glassy horizon.

It’s getting a little chilly in the evening and you and your children are happily tired from a day of paddling.

The kids weren’t very good at it at the beginning but my god how they improved so quickly…

...What it’s like to be a kid again…

They may not be a lifelong kayaker but you’ve introduced them to something positive and that’s all you can really ask for.

Here’s to paddling with those you love!

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