Getting a kayak for your kid can be a great decision and teach them a lot about responsibility as well as build up their confidence by allowing them to kayak on their own instead of always having to tag along in your kayak.
However, it’s important to get the best kayak for their needs, and that’s what this article is all about. Here we’ll break down the top rated kayaks for kids in 2020 so you know exactly what to get in order to give your kid the best chance of success on the water.
Kayaking is a fantastic pastime that allows you and your family to really get back to nature and enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you are a veteran sailor or just starting out, it is never too early to get your kids involved in kayaking.
To help, we have put together the ultimate guide to the best kayaks for kids. Time to hit the water and start having fun!
Buying Guide – Kayaks for Children
Taking out a kayak is a great way to stay fit, enjoy some fresh air, and spend time with your kids. As with any sport or activity however there will inevitably be questions and concerns held by parents, and we have done our best to put your mind at rest with our ultimate guide: you will have your kids out and enjoying their new kayak in no time!
Are Kayaks Safe For Kids?
This is a common question from parents who are choosing kayaks for kids, and the concern is understandable; kayaking occurs on water, which holds its own dangers and must be respected. The answer to the question depends entirely on the kayak you choose; some will naturally be safer than others.
You should look at a range of factors, including seat choice, and the option to adjust the feet. The more options available here the better – a fully adjustable seat and set of foot braces will allow you to adjust and move the kayak to meet your child’s size and weight exactly.
This helps to reduce the likelihood of them slipping, falling overboard, or becoming uncomfortable during the trip. The best kayaks for kids will have included all of these considerations in their designs, and will likely have plenty of movement options and flexibility to allow you to enjoy the perfect fit.
A paddle is another essential element to consider when you are choosing your kids kayak – not all kayak models will come with this included. Even smaller kids can be encouraged to gently paddle in shallow water, and this can be one of the best ways to get them used to being on the water, sitting in or on a kayak, and becoming comfortable with the whole experience.
It is important to choose a kayak that has a paddle suitable for your child – make sure that they can grip and hold it with ease and comfort, and that it is not too heavy for them to use.
You should also check how the paddle is stored – can they access it easily and safely from the seat, getting them used to the experience and process? Kids are naturally smaller than adults, so make sure that you adjust key aspects accordingly.
Respect for the environment is another essential aspect of keeping the kayak and kayaking experience a safe place for your child. When choosing your kids kayak, make sure that stability is a priority.
At the same time, however, you should work to make sure that your kids fully understand and appreciate the potential dangers which can come with being on board a kayak.
This will help them to develop a healthy respect for the water, for the kayak, and for the activity itself – and this could be a crucial part of helping to keep them safe as they continue to grow and develop their skills. Start them off in flat, calm shallow lakes to make sure that they are totally comfortable and in control.
Gradually, as their confidence develops and grows, you can move up to rougher waters, more challenging environments, and more exciting currents. By learning to respect the environment early on, you are setting your kids up to be independent, safe and considerate kayakers in the future.
Can A 3 Year Old Go Kayaking?
While a 3-year-old may be a little young to go full steam ahead in total control of a kayak, that does not mean that they can’t start getting used to the whole experience. A kayak may not be the best choice for a child so young; in general, kids aged around 4 to 7 years old will be perfectly fine sitting in the bow of a kayak.
And this is a great chance to include your kids in your hobby, getting them used to the feeling of being in the boat, out and about on all sorts of waters. A 3 year old may not be able to sit still for long periods of time, and this runs the risk of the boat becoming unstable if they are continually moving around.
Many kayaks will also have limited space in the bow – here, a canoe may be a more sensible option, as well as offering more stability. A great deal of this, however, depends on your own experience and confidence as a kayaker.
If you have been boating for years and have full confidence, you may be better equipped to withstand the movements of an unpredictable toddler far better than someone who is new, and just starting out. Always ensure that all members on board the kayak are wearing life jackets and waterproofing.
What Is The Best Beginner Kayak?
Often, the best kayak for kids is one which would also be a great option for a beginner – the needs of both groups are fairly similar. There are a few conditions and criteria you should prioritize for both kids and those in the early stages of their kayak journey – including these in your vessel will help to keep everyone on board safe and secure.
Keeping the kayak stable can be a challenge, and this is made even harder if you have little to no experience! Make sure you choose a kayak with a longer center and one which has both primary and secondary stability.
This will allow kids to focus on other aspects of the kayaking experience, such as paddling, getting their balance and steering, as well as focusing on having fun!
The weight of both your child and the kayak are two things that need to be taken into account. The heavier the kayak is, the more difficult it will be for them to maneuver the kayak around if they’re too small. So, make sure you get a kayak that is light enough for your kids to enjoy.
The length of the kayak should be 6-8 feet for most children. This is an ideal size because it long enough to be sturdy and not tip over, but short enough to where the child will be able to handle the kayak and paddle efficiently.
The best kayak options will also have plenty of movement and flexibility, offering adjustable seats to cater for different heights and body sizes. Feet braces and spaces are also important; kids will have different length legs and need different space requirements.
The best kayak will be one which offers this freedom of movement, and which can grow with your kids as they develop and change.
Sit in or Sit On?
As a rule, sit on top casinos are the best option when choosing a kayak for kids, or for beginners. These feature an open cockpit, and this means that there is more space and movement.
It also allows anyone who falls overboard to climb back in without issue, and this means there is no risk of becoming stuck or trapped if the kayaker falls overboard. Sit on top kayaks also offer a freer feeling, which can be more appealing and less restrictive to those who are still getting used to the feeling of being in a kayak.
Good tracking is another essential element of any kayak, especially if you are a beginner. This refers to the use with which your kayak can stay straight while you are sailing, and means that there is one less thing for the sailor to worry about. Good tracking is essential and will help to keep you safe and comfortable on your adventure.
Having the option to store your personal items on board is important on any vessel, but especially so for a kids kayak, where you are more likely to need snacks and essentials, as well as somewhere to store crucial equipment such as life jackets.
Make sure that there are plenty of options to store the items you need, and that these are waterproof and secure while you are on any type of waters.
Ease of movement
Being able to move your kayak from place to place is another priority, and the best kayak for kids will be one you can easily transport whenever you need to. Choose a material that is lightweight, and make sure that they kayak itself will not encumber you.
Durability and longevity
At the same time, it is important to ensure that the kayak is durable and able to withstand the elements – make sure it can tackle salt, wind, and weather, as well as UV protection which prevents fading from the sun.
Kids Kayaks Reviews
To help make your decision easy, we have put together a list of our top picks of kayaks for kids.
This Intex Challenger Kayak is a perfect choice for kids on the hunt for their first kayak. It uses a durable, welded material, helping to improve the longevity of the kayak, and has the added bonus of bright, eye-catching graphics – perfect for keeping an eye on kids as they venture onto the water.
This vessel has the added bonus of being super easy to inflate and deflate and can be up and ready to go in no time – perfect for then you only have a short time on the water! the lightweight, inflatable design makes it easy to carry, even for kids, and this kayak is perfect to paddle on a slow-moving river.
Comfort is also a key factor, with a roomy spacious cockpit that has the added bonus of a cargo net – ideal for storing spare gear. An open kayak and padded backrest help to ensure that you stay comfortable on your trip, and the inclusion of an aluminum oar is a real bonus for the price. Inflatable I beam floors also help to boost stability – perfect for first-time kayakers.
Vinyl construction helps to resist punctured
Comes with 84-inch aluminum oar
Easy even for kids to carry and use
Not really suitable for larger kayakers – the weight capacity is around 100lbs
The bright blue design of this kayak makes It a perfect choice for kids – you will have no problem spotting them no matter where on the water they may be!
Even better, you can rest assured that the vessel is sturdy and well designed, as the hull is made from a strong, rugged Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene, which has the added bonus of UV protection to help reduce the risk of sun damage.
This can help to preserve the lifespan of the kayak, making a great investment that will stick with your kids as they grow. Kids will also stay comfortable on the water, thanks to a luxurious adjustable seat, which includes high back support.
Adjustable foot braces can also be used to keep kids safe and secure while in the kayak – they can be moved to offer full support. Kids can also take responsibility for their own kayaks, thanks to included carrying handles.
Essentials can also be stored onboard thanks to the storage hatch – a great area to keep lunch and other belongings safe during your journey.
Bright blue color helps to boost visibility
Higher weight capacity than some other kayak options
Plenty of storage onboard
Seat is not fully adjustable
Does not come with a paddle included – unusual for many kayaks
The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is specially designed for kids, and this makes it the perfect choice for the best kayak for kids. With a weight capacity of 130lb, it is perfect for kids age 5 and up.
In addition, the kayak itself only weighs 18lbs, and so it is easy for kids to move and transport independently – this is also facilitated by the molded finger handles. The kid-friendly design is aided by a sloped end with a swim-up step, and this means that the kayaker can easily re-enter the kayak from the water if they find themselves overboard.
Durability is another priority when choosing a new kayak, and the inclusion of high-density polyethylene helps to blend strength and durability with a lightweight finish which is easy to move and accessible for kids. This material also helps reduce the risk of cracking and peeling.
Flexibility is also offered thanks to the option of multiple footrest positions, suitable for different size riders, and an ergonomic cockpit design helps to build balance and motor skills in kids.
Perfectly designed for kids
Strong and durable, while still being easy to move and maneuver
The swim-up step is an extra safety feature if kids end up overboard
Bright green finish ensures perfect visibility
Unlikely to be suitable for taller kids
Molded from two separate pieces – this could increase the chances of leaks or cracks after extended use
If you are a fan of tandem kayaking, this is one of the best kayaks to enjoy the journey! The open cockpit means that it feels roomy and spacious onboard, and there is a choice of three seating positions, making this the perfect kayak for solo or tandem paddle experiences.
Comfort is the main priority here; the kayak includes a pair of comfort plus seats. These can be adjusted four ways, and this helps to boost safety and reduce the chances of slipping when you have kids on board.
In addition, overlapping footwells also help to boost safety, and helps to put feet in the right position and make sure that everyone is kept safe and secure. Best of all, the hull is open and sit on top, making this the perfect kayak for kids – there is no need to worry about getting stuck if you fall overboard!
Open, sit-on-top hull makes it easy to climb in and out of the water whenever needed – perfect for kids
The hull comes with a lifetime warranty – for confidence that you are choosing the best!
Plenty of space for a solo or tandem kayak
There is no on-board storage available
The hull does tend to scratch quite easily, and this increases the risk of damage down the line
The bright orange finish is the first thing we noticed about this Ocean Kayak, and this shade helps to make the kayak a great choice for kids – you will be able to spot them immediately, no matter how far along the water they head!
This is also one of the best kayaks to choose in terms of stability – the Try-Form hull helps to blend both primary and secondary stability. In addition, a longer center than most kayaks means that it is easy to keep straight, and you won’t even have to paddle too much or work too hard!
The combination is best for those who want their kids to enjoy both flat, calm water and playful excitable surf. Comfort is also a key factor, and the Comfort Plus seats help to ensure that you and your kids are comfortable, happy and able to paddle all day with ease.
This can be adjusted four ways to help suit the best fir for any body type and ensure maximum safety. At 9 feet long, this is a great choice for taller kids, while the 43-pound weight allows for easy transportation – this is super light got a kayak!
Molded-in side handles help make movement even easier, and bow and stern carrying handles can be used for extra support. Best of all, there is a handy stern tank well to help keep all your essentials safe and secure throughout your journey!
Super stable for extra safety and security
The bright orange finish makes it easy to keep an eye on kids
Perfect for a paddle, or a longer journey
The paddle is not included
A little heavy on the ground
The bright, vibrant blue helps to immediately make this an attractive prospect to the parents of kayaking kids – it is a great and easy way to keep a close eye on your kid when they head out to the water!
In addition to a stylish, eye-catching design, this kayak also benefits from a sturdy, watertight finish which is easy to paddle and move, while still offering great balance and stability on all types of water – an important consideration when you are picking a kayak for kids!
The padded seat is fully adjustable to help ensure comfort and safety, and there is a handy storage compartment included which helps to keep essentials such as food, phones, cameras and safety equipment safe and dry.
There is even a recessed drink holder to help you stay hydrated on your adventure! This is also a lightweight kayak, making it one of the best choices for independent kids who want the freedom to transport and move their own vessel.
Easy to move and transport
Open hull makes climbing on and off easy, simple and safe
Includes plenty of storage for essential items
Sides are a little higher than other kayaks – this could take a while to get used to
When it comes to picking the best kayaks for kids, we had a lot of competition. With so many factors to take into account, the challenge is difficult, but there was one clear winner: the Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-In Kayak took the crown as the best kayak option. Lightweight and easy to move, it is also sturdy and durable – a perfect blend for those just getting used to their kayak.
In addition, it comes complete with paddle, prioritizes comfort, and best of all, includes plenty of storage for all of the essentials you could possibly need while kayaking. As far as choosing the best kids kayak goes, this is the option in the first place!