What Is the Best Kayak for Kids?

Best Kayak for Kids

You want to have a fantastic time kayaking with your kid. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to get some sun and exercise. Not to mention being able to bond with your little champ and teach them a few things about kayaking.

A kayak of their own will help them learn faster. So, which junior kayak should you get? There are countless brands from reputable manufacturers. Everyone claims that theirs is the best. This can be confusing if you’ve never bought a kid’s kayak before. Don’t waste your resources on an inferior kayak. Let me help you find the perfect kayak for your child.

Here, I discuss six of the best kayaks for kids in 2020.

Kids Kayaks Compared

Kids Kayaks
Length
Weight
Capacity
My rating
1. Lifetime Youth Wave
1. Lifetime Youth Wave
6′
18 lbs
130 lbs
4.6
2. Old Town Heron Junior
2. Old Town Heron Junior
7’5
26 lbs
115 lbs
4.6
3. Sun Dolphin Aruba
3. Sun Dolphin Aruba
8′
27 lbs
260 lbs
4.4
4. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
4. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
9′
23.9 lbs
220 lbs
4.4
5. Perception Prodigy XS
5. Perception Prodigy XS
10′
26 lbs
150 lbs
4.4
6. Sun Dolphin Bali
6. Sun Dolphin Bali
6′
28 lbs
140 lbs
3.9

Best Kayaks For Kids Reviews

Read on for my reviews:

1. Lifetime Youth Wave Kids Kayak with Paddle

Lifetime Youth Wave Kids Kayak with Paddle

This kayak is ideal for really young kayakers. It has features that are meant to enhance comfort and make it easier for them to learn. Check the details below.

Build Quality

The Lifetime Youth is made using high-density polyethylene. It is lightweight and super durable. This is exactly what a child needs. Something that can’t be easily destroyed, but is light enough for them to carry and steer. It is UV-protected and will maintain its bright color.

Design

This kayak has some cool features such as a molded paddle cradle and finger handles. There are several footrest positions so the child can continue using it even as he/she grows.

It includes scupper holes and a twin-fin design.

Stability

The hull design of the Lifetime Youth is flip-resistant. While the kayak is not entirely flip-proof, it won’t be easy for it to flip. It has a reversed chine for enhanced stability.

Package

The youth kayak comes with a paddle. Nothing else is included. The only thing the child will need is a PFD and they can get started.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with high-density polyethylene
  • UV-protected
  • Molded paddle cradle
  • Molded finger handles
  • Scupper holes
  • Twin-fin design
  • Flip-resistant hull
  • Reversed chine
  • Ergonomic cockpit design
  • Swim-up deck
  • For ages 5+
  • Measures: 6’ x 24”
  • Weight capacity: 130 lbs
  • Weighs 18 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Stable and flip-resistant
  • Durable
  • Multiple footrest positions
  • No storage area

Customer Feedback

Kids are having a lot of fun with their Lifetime Youth kayak. Parents and grandparents say they are happy they bought it. The kayak is stable and light. Children are handling it without much trouble. One buyer wishes there was a storage bin.

Check Price

2. Old Town Heron Junior Recreational Kayak

Old Town Heron Junior Recreational Kayak

If you think your child would love a sit-in kayak, the Old Town Heron Junior is one of the best. Every detail was made with young kayakers in mind.

Build Quality

The Heron Junior is made using single-layer polyethylene. This material makes it lightweight without compromising the durability. It is something that your child will use until they outgrow it. Their younger siblings can use it as well because it has a limited lifetime warranty.

Design

The kayak has a contoured seat that is padded. Many junior yaks don’t have that and kids start fidgeting after an hour or two.

Stability

Any child will find the 25-inch wide Heron Junior stable. The hull type also helps with this, making it hard for the kayak to flip.

Package

The Old Town does not come with anything. It is a little disappointing but it’s a great kayak.

Features and Specifications

  • Made using single-layer polyethylene
  • Contoured padded seat
  • Tag-along tow system
  • Foam billet
  • Stern and bow carry handles
  • Two colors available
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Measures: 7’5 x 25”
  • Weight capacity: 115 lbs
  • Weighs 26 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Padded seat
  • Lightweight
  • Lifetime warranty
  • No paddle

Customer Feedback

According to the reviews, kids aged 5 to 10 have tried the Heron Junior kayak. Parents and grandparents say that the children loved it. Paddling is super easy and it doesn’t spin. They appreciate the padded seat. There are no negative reviews.

Check Price

3. Sun Dolphin Aruba Youth Kayak

Sun Dolphin Aruba Youth Kayak

The Aruba has more advanced features than most of the junior kayaks here. And with a weight capacity of 260 pounds, it would be great for older kids.

Build Quality

This kayak is built using high-density polyethylene. The material is rugged and UV-stabilized. Its quality is outstanding.

Design

You can get the Aruba in three colors: ocean blue, red and tangerine. The seatback is padded and adjustable. It has a storage compartment and a recessed drink holder.

Stability

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is wide with a hull designed for stability. It may be a little tippy when the kayaker is standing.

Package

This kayak does not come with a paddle.

Features and Specifications

  • Built using high-density polyethylene
  • UV-stabilized
  • Comes in three colors
  • Padded and adjustable seatback
  • Recessed drink holder
  • Storage compartment
  • Measures: 8’ x 28”
  • Weight capacity: 260 lbs
  • Weighs 27 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Storage area
  • Great weight capacity
  • Heavy-duty construction
  • No paddle
  • No footrests

Customer Feedback

Many kayakers love the Aruba because it is lightweight. Transporting it is so easy. It’s also affordable. The construction is amazing and they don’t doubt its durability. There are a lot of comments about it not being stable. However, users say that it is something you can get used to in no time.

Check Price

4. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Intex-Challenger-K1-Kayak

Sometimes an inflatable kayak is the better option. The K1 is ideal for kids as well as adults—so anyone in the family will be able to use it.

Build Quality

The Intex Challenger K1 is made using heavy-duty vinyl. The material is puncture-resistant and virtually indestructible. The seams are commendable too.

Design

This kayak’s inflatable I-beam floor offers outstanding rigidity. The kayak seat is both adjustable and removable. The skeg is removable too.

There are Boston valves for quick inflation and two grab lines. The manufacturer was generous with storage space.

Stability

The K1 is 30 inches wide and super rigid. You’ll never have to worry about stability, even when it’s a child using it. (As long as an adult supervises).

Package

The inflatable kayak comes with everything you will need. It includes a high-output manual pump, repair patch and an aluminum oar.

Features and Specifications

  • Made with heavy-duty vinyl
  • Inflatable I-beam floor
  • Adjustable and removable seat
  • Removable skeg
  • Boston valves
  • Two grab lines
  • Storage net
  • Measures: 9’ x 30”
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs
  • Weighs 23.9 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • All-inclusive package
  • Virtually indestructible
  • Rigid and stable
  • Cheap paddle

Customer Feedback

Going by the reviews, the K1 is a fantastic family kayak. It is light and inflation is not that hard. No one is complaining about stability. Some people think that the manufacturer should have provided a better paddle.

Check Price

5. Perception Prodigy XS Sit Inside Kayak for Kids

Perception Prodigy XS Sit Inside Kayak for Kids

Perception Kayaks never disappoint. This sit-in kayak for young paddlers aims at making them comfortable as you introduce them to the world of kayaking.

Build Quality

The Prodigy XS is made using proprietary high-density polyethylene and industry-leading molding process. The hull is resistant to abrasions and UV rays.

Design

The footrests are adjustable so your child can continue to use it even as they grow. It comes in four vibrant colors: sunset, salsa, funkadelic and déjà vu.

There is leg padding and the seat is thick and adjustable. The Prodigy has a storage area and two carry handles.

Stability

This kayak is perfect if your child is trying to build confidence. It has a sturdy on-water feel and does not wobble.

Package

Unfortunately, the Perception paddle is sold separately. You don’t get anything exciting in the package—except the kayak.

Features and Specifications

  • Built with high-density polyethylene
  • Industry-leading molding process
  • Resistant to abrasion and UV rays
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Four colors available
  • Leg padding
  • Thick adjustable seat
  • Bungee storage area
  • Two carry handles
  • Integrated floatation foam
  • Measures: 10’ x 23”
  • Weight capacity: 150 lbs
  • Weighs 26 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Vibrant colors
  • High-quality construction
  • Foam bulkhead
  • Paddle sold separately

Customer Feedback

The Prodigy XS is perfect according to parents. It is lightweight and kids can carry it on their own. More importantly, it is stable and easy to control. Children are comfortable in the water and keeping up with the adults.

Check Price

6. Sun Dolphin Bali

sun dolphin bali kids kayak

This sit-on-top kayak from Sun Dolphin features a simple design. It is everything a young kayaker would want.

Build Quality

The Sun Dolphin Bali is built with high-density polyethylene. Its durability is incomparable. The kayak is also UV-stabilized to keep it bright and colorful.

Design

This kayak features an open cockpit that makes entry easier. It comes in three colors: ocean blue, red and tangerine. The seating area is large and comfortable. The Bali also has graduated footwells, making it ideal for paddlers of different sizes. There is a paddle holder.

Stability

The tail is wide—a feature that makes the kayak exceptionally stable. This short and wide kayak does not feel tippy at all.

Package

The Sun Dolphin Bali comes with a paddle.

Features and Specifications

  • Built with high-density polyethylene
  • UV-stabilized
  • Open cockpit
  • Three colors available
  • Large seating area
  • Graduated footwells
  • Has a paddle holder
  • Wide tail
  • Comes with a paddle
  • Measures: 6’ x 24”
  • Weight capacity: 140 lbs
  • Weighs 26 lbs

Pros & Cons

  • Color options
  • Durable
  • Stable
  • Cheap paddle

Customer Feedback

Paddlers have nothing but positive things to say about the quality of the Bali. They are confident that their kids will use it for a long time. The kayak is stable and perfect for kids. The bright colors are much appreciated as well. Some people are complaining about the quality of the paddle.

Check Price

Conclusion

The next time you are going kayaking, your child can ride alongside you in their own kayak. The six junior kayaks discussed above are the best. They have all the necessary features to keep young kayakers comfortable. You can buy a sit-in or a sit-on-top, depending on what you want for your kid. Choose one now and make kayaking plans. Remember to have fun and make lasting memories.

How to Choose the Best Kayak for Kids

It’s good to see your kids show interest in the activities you love. Kayaking is awesome as it is. But there is something special about having a little loved one(s) to share the experience with. While they can ride with you in your kayak, it is more fun to have a smaller one for them. Then you can paddle side by side.

This means choosing something that they will like. There are many kayaks made for kids but they come in different sizes and designs. It’s easy to pick one if you know what to look for. And that’s the point of this post.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Kayak for Kids

a. Weight

When it comes to weight you need to strike a balance. On one hand, you want the kayak to be light and easy for the child to carry. On the other hand, a kayak that is too light may not be safe in the water, especially in choppy conditions.

Get a kayak that won’t be hard for the kid to transport and steer. The last thing you want is to frustrate a young kayaker or to have them whine the entire trip.

There is also the issue of capsizing. When teaching a child, you can’t leave out the crucial skill of righting. So the kid should be able to flip the kayak back up.

Generally, a weight of 20 pounds to 30 pounds would be fine. The kayak will be light enough for the young kayaker to handle, but not too light that it gets tossed about when it is windy.

b. Size

This may not be much of an issue because most kids’ kayaks come in appropriate sizes. But you still have to consider the specific needs of your child. How tall and strong are they?

The longer the kayak, the harder it will be to control it, more so for a kid. A shorter kayak is preferable. However, don’t forget that kids grow fast. Have that in mind and buy something that they can use for a few years. Go for 6 feet to 10 feet, depending on your child’s age and how fast they are growing.

Size also involves the width. Kids have short arms and wide kayaks will be difficult to use. Their elbows will get hit a lot. While a very narrow kayak would be great, you also have to think about stability. Speaking of…

c. Stability

In most cases, children are not pro kayakers. They are still learning. The kayak you choose for your little champ should make the process easier. It should be as stable as possible.

This is where the width, and other features, come in.

Starting with the width, you have seen above that a wide kayak may not be great for a child. But again, a wider kayak is more stable. Just like with weight, you have to find a balance. Let the kayak be wide enough for stability and narrow enough for the kid to paddle without hitting their elbows.

Some kayaks come with anti-capsize features. To be clear, no kayak is capsize-proof. Don’t waste your time looking. Stability features, however, make it harder for the boat to flip. There are primary stability features and secondary stability features.

Kayaks with primary stability are meant to be used in flat water. They are usually wide (30+ inches) and flat-bottomed. This kind of kayak is stable when you lean to one side, but only up to a certain point. If you lean too much, it will capsize. This is the best one for beginners and, of course, kids.

Kayaks with secondary stability allow you to lean too much to one side and even have that side of the kayak immersed in water. And it still won’t capsize. This leaning position makes it easy for the paddler to turn quickly and aggressively. A kayak like this is ideal for rough conditions. It is not good for kids as they may find it tippy.

d. Durability

Most children are super active and adventurous. This means that they’ll probably be rough with their kayak. You already see how they handle their toys; so you understand. A kayak can be costly and you want it to last.

Inflatable kayaks are the best for durability. The child will have to try extremely hard to dent it. Heavy-duty polyethylene is also tough and durable.

Make sure that the material has some kind of UV protection. It may be exposed to the sun a lot and you don’t want the colors fading.

e. Type

An inflatable or a hard-shell kayak? A sit-on-top or a sit-in?

For many parents, an inflatable kayak is the better option. It is durable, lightweight and cheaper. You also get to save on storage space. All you have to do is deflate it.

You can either decide to go with a sit-on-top (SOP) or a sit-in. Both of them are okay. But for children who are fairly new to kayaking, an SOP is ideal. Getting on and off is easy. This helps when the kayak capsizes and they have to flip it back.

A sit-in kayak can be hard to drain for children. SOPs usually have drainage holes which save you the trouble.

f. Weight Capacity

There’s nothing complicated about getting the weight capacity right. You just have to factor in your child’s weight and the estimated weight of gear.

Maximum weight capacity of 120 pounds would suit most kids.

g. Extra Features

In addition to the above factors, these other additional features will make things easier for you.

Do yourself a favor and buy a kids’ kayak with a towing feature. Children are full of energy—but they can get worn out easily. After a few hours of paddling, don’t be surprised if they start dosing or complaining that they are tired. When this happens, you’ll need to tow their kayak back to the shore.

Adjustable foot braces are something else that you may appreciate down the road. As the kid grows, they can continue to use the kayak.

Other features include a molded seat, paddle holders and fins.

A Few Important Tips When Kayaking With Kids

Safety: you cannot predict what will happen during your adventure. But you can prepare for possible outcomes. Ensure that the kid knows how to swim and teach them a few rescue tactics. They should also have a PFD, a whistle and every other safety essential.

Keep them close: this goes without saying. Parents don’t even need a reminder. Check how they are paddling and help them perfect it.

Don’t overdo it: the whole experience can be too exciting and you may want to keep going. Start small and keep the trips short and sweet. Let the child build endurance.

Getting a kid’s yak doesn’t have to be a headache. Use the above factors to find the perfect boat for your little or not-so-little one. It should be the right size, durable and stable. Go ahead and narrow down your options further by looking for additional features. Everything depends on how old your child is and their skill level.

As usual, remember to have fun and make lasting memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *