Kids kayaks come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and specifications. The choice can be a bit overwhelming at first – especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
So, before you find yourself in a kayak-induced panic, it’s worth doing a bit of research. Lucky for you, I’ve been through this already. Lately I’ve been scouring the market for the best kids kayaks in 2021. Whether you’re looking for a lightweight solo kayak or something with a bit more pep in its step – there’s the perfect kayak out there ready for a fun day out on the water.
Heck, it might just be on this list. Here’s the kids kayaks I’ll be covering:
- The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
- The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
- The Pelican SOLO Sit-on-Top Youth Kayak
- The Goplus 6FT Youth Kayak
- Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak Set
- Perception Hi Five Sit-on-Top Kids Kayak
- Oru Foldable Kayak
- Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 Kayak for Kids
Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the list.
1. The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
The lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a great entry-level kids kayak set at an affordable price of $149.60. The dimensions (6ft by 24 inches) are ideal for children aged five years and up. Plus, its super convenient as you can buy it straight from Amazon and get it delivered direct to your door.
This super sturdy Kayak has a recommended weight capacity of 130lb and is super sturdy thanks to its stable hull, ergonomic cockpit design, reverse chine, and twin fin tracking assist, for increased balance and easy maneuvering. Weighing just 18lb, the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is built from a durable high-density polyethylene construction making it lightweight and built to last.
- Molded finger handles
- Molded paddle cradle
- Reverse chine
- Swim-up step
- Self-bailing scupper holes
- Multiple footrest positions
2. The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
If you’re looking for a lightweight, easy-to-store, inflatable kayak for kids then this is your guy. The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is made of a durable welded material and comes with its own 84-inch aluminum oar. In fact, why not treat yourself to one size up so that you can kayak in this stylishly designed kayak alongside your kid! The K2 is perfect for larger adventurers.
- Eye-catching graphics
- Super comfortable cockpit
- Stable beam floor
- Cargo net storage
- Grab line at both ends
- Inflatable seat with backrest
- Repair patch
- Boston valves for quick inflation/ deflation
- Hi-output pump
Measuring up at 9ft. long (274cm) and 2ft 6 in. wide (76 cm), the Challenger is super roomy and can withstand a weight capacity of up to 220 lbs. (100kg). Despite its generous dimensions, this kayak remains incredibly lightweight at just 27.2 lbs.
3. The Pelican SOLO Sit-on-Top Youth Kayak
The Pelican SOLO is a 6ft. (183cm), one-person kid’s kayak. This kayak is a fully functional Pelican kayak scaled down for smaller humans with a maximum weight capacity of 100lbs. (45.4kg). The pelican deserves a thumbs up for durability. The frame is made of RAM-XS impact-resistant material that’s built to last and super lightweight (19lb./8.6kg). The Pelican SOLO is agile, stable, fast, and ensures easy tracking. Perfectly adapted to kid-sized arms and strength.
- Paddle Park
- Rear deck handle
- Molded carrying handle
- Bottle holder
- Drain plug
- Aluminum paddle
- Ergoform padded backrest
- Safety flag
4. The Goplus 6ft Youth Kayak
This 73 x 24 x 9-inch Kayak by Goplus is made from kid-friendly material and boasts a super lightweight design. Weighing just 22lbs, this kayak is ideal for maneuverability and portability. One of the best things about this Kayak by Goplus is the double-head paddle which helps novice kayakers train balance by tracking and surfing. Plus, with a super stable hull and rear self-bailing scupper hole, you can rest assured that this kayak is built with safety and stability in mind.
- Premium HDPF material
- 4-position footrests
- Front carrying handle
- Front and rear hitches
- Cup holder
- Drain hole
5. Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak Set
If you’re after the tandem experience then this is the kayak for you. For older kids 14 years and up, this 10ft. 3in. kayak offers the opportunity for adventure. The Intex Explorer is an inflatable tandem Kayak set and comes complete with aluminum oars and a high-output air pump. This kayak is made from heavy duty puncture-resistant vinyl so it’s super durable and can handle a weight capacity of up to 400lbs. Perfect for family days out on the water. Easily stow it in your car and paddle alongside your kid. Plus, it looks a bit like a banana so you can go crazy on the nicknames.
- Hi-output pump
- Carry bag
- Removable skeg
- Removable seats
- Grab line on both ends
- Inflatable I-beam floor
- Boston valves for quick inflation/ deflation
6. Perception Hi Five Sit-on-Top Kids Kayak
This 6’ x 24” Kayak by Perception offers all the fun of kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding in one! A great choice for kids who just want to enjoy the water. The Hi Five holds a weight capacity of 120lbs and can be paddled standing or sitting. It even comes with a kid-sized, two-piece paddle specially designed for smaller hands. Plus, for all you dog lovers out there, you’ll be able to bring your canine pal with you! Dogs just love sitting on the rear swim-up deck.
The perfect hybrid kayak for hours of fun on the water.
- Molded carry handles
- Molded in footrests
- Pull up hand grips
- Bow carry handle
- Elevated seat
7. Oru Foldable Kayak
If you’re looking for maximum portability then this Foldable Kayak for adults and youth by Oru is made for you. This kayak is designed to help you get out on the water as quickly and easily as possible. If you’re looking for convenient, casual kayaking then you’ve hit the jackpot. You’ll be able to get your Oru kayak from box to boat in under five minutes thanks to the origami-inspired foldable structure.
- No roof rack required
- Award winning design as featured on Shark Tank
- Construct your kayak in 5 minutes
The Oru Foldable Kayak can be bought on Amazon for $850.00 so it’s definitely not a cheap kids kayak.
8. Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 Kayak for Kids
The Lagoon 1 has a rigid bow and stern to help cut through waves and ensure stability. This is a roomy 8ft. 4-inch x 34-inch kayak. Thanks to the innovative inner tube, the Lagoon 1 is super rigid and durable. Weighing in at 23lb (10kg) and with a weight capacity of 250lb. (113kg), this robust kayak is super versatile and will take you from river to sea no problem.
- Inflatable seat rest
- Foam floor
- Paddle loops
- Tracking fin
What Do I Need to Consider When Buying a Kayak for My Kids?
This is a question I get a lot. As parents we want our kids to have fun and — most importantly — to stay safe on the water. And choosing the right kayak is key. So, what features should we be prioritizing as we start shopping around for a new kayak for our kids?
Make Sure the Kayak Is Age Appropriate
First things first, make sure the kayak you choose is age appropriate for your kid. Sure, you might think bigger is better. They’ll just grow into it, right? But, in reality, this might not be the safest option for your child right now.
If your kid is very young, opting for a tandem kayak is a great idea. You won’t have to worry about them navigating the waters solo. But they’ll still be able to join in all the family fun. Finding the right kayak for slightly older kids who want their own kayak to splash about in will require some extra considerations.
Ask yourself a few questions…
- How are my kids paddling skills?
- Does my kid get tired easily?
- Does my child know what to do if their kayak capsizes?
If your kid wants to go solo but you’re not sure about their paddling abilities just yet, it’s wise to bring along a toe rope. If your kid gets tired, or starts struggling to maneuver their kayak, you’ll be able to guide them to safety.
Make Sure It’s the Right Fit
Kids are, by nature, small. And these mini people need boats that fit them. Adult recreational kayaks are simply too long and too wide for most children to maneuver effectively. So, first thing’s first, you’ll need to look for a recreational kayak designed specifically with children in mind. These kayaks are designed to be much narrower than their adult equivalents, making them easier for shorter arms to control on the water.
So before buying a kayak make sure to check the dimensions. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.
Length of Hull
Kids need a kayak with a shorter hull for easy maneuverability. A Kayak with a hull length of around 6-8 feet is ideal.
Width of hull
Width is super important for stability. Kids with little-to-no paddling experience will benefit from a wide hulled kayak that’s less likely to capsize. For newbie kayakers look for a boat with a wide hull, flat bottom, and reverse chines.
Height & Weight
Kayaks are categorized based on height and weight ratings. So be prepared with your kid’s measurements when choosing a kayak. Now, we know that kids grow so it’s alright to pick a kayak with a little growing room. But don’t go too crazy. If the kayak is much too big, your kid will struggle to paddle it.
Look Out for Additional Accessories
Kayak accessories are non-essential items but pick wisely and they can come in a lot of handy. Kid-sized paddles are a must if you want your kid to have any success on the water. Children need paddles that are light in weight and smaller in size in order to paddle comfortably. For safety, you’ll also want to equip your kids kayak with a high-quality life jacket.
You’ll want your kayak to last. And to ensure this it’s important to check out the materials used to manufacture each kayak. Typical materials used for kayak construction include plastic, wood, composite materials, and thermoform. It is also possible to find inflatable kayaks (great if you’re tight for storage space at home). For kids, a lightweight kayak is best so best avoid any wooden options. In general, inflatables are going to be less durable and more vulnerable to damage. Thermoform and composite kayaks are super lightweight. Plastic kayaks offer a happy medium. They’re durable and relatively lightweight and usually the cheapest of all the options.
And, of Course, Price
Last but not least let’s talk money. Affordability is an important factor when choosing a kayak. Prices can range dramatically. In general, the simpler the design the more affordable the kayak. So, if you’re just looking for a recreational kayak that your kid can splash about with in gentle waters then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something to fit your budget. If your kid is already a bit of a pro, then, needless to say, kitting them out with a full-featured boat is going to cost more.
So, there we have it. There really is a kayak out there for everyone. Whether you’re after fun or function, kids kayak come in a wide range of styles and specifications. All that’s left is to choose the one for you!