Picking out the best kayak for kids isn’t as hard as you might think, and we’re here to make the process even easier by reviewing 10 of the top kiddie kayaks available on the market today.
All these kayaks have one thing in common: they place the safety and well-being of your child first. Your kid may or may not stick with kayaking later on in life, but if you get one of these boats, you’ll definitely be giving them a head start!
Be sure to read until the very end as there are a number of key things to consider before making your final decision.
- Quick Answer: Best Kayaks For Kids
- 10 Best Kayaks for Kids
- 1. Sun Dolphin Journey Fishing Kayak
- 2. Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle
- 3. Sevylor Quikpak K1
- 4. Perception Hi Five
- 5. Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak
- 6. Pelican Solo
- 7. Intex Challenger K1
- 8. Sevylor Quikpak K5
- 9. Explorer K2 Kayak
- 10. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
- How to Choose the Best Kayak for Kids
- Taking Your Kid Kayaking
Quick Answer: Best Kayaks For Kids
|Sun Dolphin Journey Fishing Kayak||44 lbs||10'||30"||250 lbs||$$$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle||36.5 lbs||8'||29"||250 lbs||$$||View on Amazon|
|Sevylor Quikpak K1||18 lbs||8' 7"||36"||400 lbs||$||View on Amazon|
|Perception Hi Five||21 lbs||6'||24"||120 lbs||$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Hydros Angler 85 Fishing Kayak||38 lbs||8' 5"||29.5"||225 lbs||$$||View on Amazon|
|Pelican Solo||19 lbs||6'||24"||100 lbs||$||View on Amazon|
|Intex Challenger K1||27.2 lbs||9'||30"||220 lbs||$||View on Amazon|
|Sevylor Quikpak K5||23 lbs||10'||32"||250 lbs||$$||View on Amazon|
|Explorer K2 Kayak||30.60 lbs||6' 1"||24.6"||350 lbs||$$||View on Amazon|
|Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak||18 lbs||6'||24"||130 lbs||$||View on Amazon|
10 Best Kayaks for Kids
To get your children started on the right foot, take a good look at the 10 best kayaks for kids you can hope to get in 2023:
Weight: 44 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 250 lbs
Features: Open cockpit | Self-bailing | Adjustable foot braces | Portable Accessory Carrier | Fishing gear compatible
The best kayaks for kids offer the perfect blend of comfort and ease of maneuverability, and that’s definitely the case for the Sun Dolphin Journey.
A child looking to learn the basics of kayaking would really get a kick out of this swanky specimen. What makes the Sun Dolphin so easy to recommend for kids is that it offers superb tracking, allowing for a lengthy paddling session that doesn’t compromise on your child’s safety.
Everything from a spacious cockpit to a comfortable chair and footrests is included here, and if you’re interested in a two-for-one special, this is also the perfect kayak for your child to practice fishing, courtesy of the storage compartment and rod holders.
With that said, the main thing on any parent’s mind when it comes to kayaking with their kid is safety, and you can rest assured the polyethylene construction won’t take on damage in relatively stable waters.
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Weight: 36.5 lbs | Length: 8′ | Width: 29″ | Max Capacity: 250 lbs
Features: UV-Protected polyethylene | Molded paddle cradle | Ultra stable hull | Multiple footrest positions & adjustable seat | Self-bailing scupper holes | Tankwell storage w/ bungee cords
The last thing you want to do when teaching your child how to operate a kayak is to leave them feeling claustrophobic in an enclosed cockpit, which is where this junior kayak comes in.
Much like the previous entry, what guarantees this boat’s longevity is the sturdy polyethylene construction. One thing we have to mention is that the kayak weighs in at around 40 pounds, so you’ll probably need to help with getting it into the water. With that said, this is made all the easier by the center handle which makes it so you don’t have to drag the kayak by the bow to transport it on dry land.
Finally, the abundance of legroom can’t go unmentioned here. With the storage area in the back of the boat and a fully adjustable seat, your child will be free to focus on his paddling while resting his or her legs in a number of possible positions.
Weight: 18 lbs | Length: 8′ 7″ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 400 lbs
Features: 5-minute set up | Backpack system that turns into seat | 21-gauge PVC w/ tarpaulin bottom | Multiple air chambers | Double lock valves | Multi-position footrests
The fact that the Sevylor Quikpak is so easy to set up makes it one of the best beginner kayaks for kids by default.
Getting this thing to leak is next to impossible even if you tried, and the tarpaulin bottom provides some of the best protection from rocks and other annoyances you can get at this price range. The body of the kayak is no slouch either, as the PVC coating makes it suited for lakes and rivers alike.
To soothe the troubled minds of skeptical parents, the boat features multiple air chambers, so it’s guaranteed to stay afloat even if you do get a puncture for whatever reason.
As for portability, there’s light, and then there’s this kayak. The boat itself folds into an 18-pound backpack (about as heavy as the average schoolbag), meaning your child should have no problem carrying it to wherever he or she will be paddling.
Weight: 21 lbs | Length: 6′ | Width: 24″ | Max Capacity: 120 lbs
Features: Paddle standing or sitting | 2 piece paddle included | Elevated seat | Large front deck & rear swim-up deck | Kid hitch & tether system
A good way of selling the idea of boating to your child is to buy one that looks interesting. On top of just aesthetics, however, the Perception Hi Five is one of the very best kayaks for kids available today.
On top of functioning as a kayak, this beauty can also act as a stand-up paddleboard, so your kids can graduate from sitting to standing on it when they get more comfortable. Another huge selling point here is the size – coming in at just over 6.5 feet, the kayak is very easy to maneuver in rivers without being unstable in the slightest.
If you want to keep extremely close tabs on your children as they paddle, you can take full advantage of the tether system and attach the kayak to your own boat. If the kid wants to take a break, the large front deck will give them plenty of space to move around, and the rear deck is perfect for a dog or any other smaller animal.
Weight: 38 lbs | Length: 8′ 5″ | Width: 29.5″ | Max Capacity: 225 lbs
Features: Combination tunnel hull design | Multiple footrest positions | Molded-in swim-up deck w/ bungee lacing | Adjustable seat back | T-handles for transport
If your child already knows the fundamentals of kayaking, you may be tempted to go for a more conventional, “adult” boat. The Lifetime Hydros Angler can also function as a junior kayak and give your little ones a taste of what it’s like to paddle in the big leagues.
Although it’s a bit plain-looking at first glance, this boat features everything you could possibly want out of an intermediate-level kayak. The swim-up deck and bungee lacing storage are always a big plus, and with a length of just over 8.5 feet, your child can get a feel for what paddling a proper kayak is like while still being able to use it in a narrow body of water.
The polyethylene build makes this thing practically impervious to punctures and extremely resistant to UV sunlight. The name of the game when teaching your child something like kayaking is safety, and we can guarantee there’s plenty of that to go around with the Hydros Angler.
6. Pelican Solo
Weight: 19 lbs | Length: 6′ | Width: 24″ | Max Capacity: 100 lbs
Features: Open cockpit | Twin tunnel for stability | Self-bailing | Swim-up rear deck w/ handle | Molded footrests | Paddle park | Bottle holder | Safety flag
From the moment you set eyes on this thing, you can tell it’s a youth kayak through and through. What might not be apparent at first glance, however, is that this is one of the best kayaks for kids you could ever get.
As an opening disclaimer, the kayak can only support up to 100 pounds of weight – it’s a kiddie boat if we’ve ever seen one. With that said, the cockpit is a lot more comfortable than you might expect from looking at it, and the swim-up deck gives you something to grab onto in case you need to push the kayak yourself.
The steering on this polyethylene kayak is superb, and with a weight of around 19 pounds, moving it around should be no trouble at all. On top of all that, the Pelican Solo comes in a variety of eye-popping colors so you never lose track of your child, and there’s even a “safety flag” thrown in for good measure.
Weight: 27.2 lbs | Length: 9′ | Width: 30″ | Max Capacity: 220 lbs
Features: Removable adjustable seat | Closed deck | Cargo net storage | Grab line | Removable skeg | Carry bag, pump & paddle
Even though this is one of the more “grown-up” kayaks on our list, its amazing mix of features makes it one of the best kayaks for kids as well. It’s hard to say if this was intentional, but coming from Intex, it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest!
Although it has a variety of sister models, we’d recommend the K1 for children since it’s by far the lightest one. What sets this thing apart from some of the other options on our list is that it’s an inflatable, so it trades off some sturdiness in favor of extra buoyancy. This is a fairly understandable tradeoff given the extremely generous price, but in a way, it works to the kayak’s advantage as it gives it some extra bounce in case of a collision.
As far as comfort goes, the inflatable seat and footrest are among the most comfortable out of all our picks. What’s more, the I-beam floor was designed with beginners in mind, since you’d really have to try hard to flip this thing over.
Weight: 23 lbs | Length: 10′ | Width: 32″ | Max Capacity: 250 lbs
Features: 5-minute setup | Backpack system that converts to seat | 24-gauge PVC w/ tarpaulin bottom | Multiple air chambers | Double lock valves | Spray covers
Sevylor has put out some of the best kayaks for kids of the past few years, so we couldn’t help but add another one of their boats to our list.
For all intents and purposes, you can think of this kayak as the more advanced sibling of the Quikpak K1. The K5 is slightly longer at about 10 feet, giving it a bit of extra stability in the water and a fair bit more storage space to work with. While an adult should be able to manage a kayak of this length in any body of water, we’d recommend this particular model for children with a bit more experience.
Most of the other specifications closely resemble those of the K1. The PVC build makes this kayak plenty sturdy (slightly sturdier than its tinier counterpart, in fact), and it can be deflated into a bag, making the transportation process extremely easy.
Weight: 30.60 lbs | Length: 10″ | Width: 36″ | Max Capacity: 350 lbs
Although this traditionally isn’t a kayak for kids or youth, since it has an adjustable seat, it is a kayak that both adults and kids can use. The beauty of inflatable kayaks is that it is highly portable, allowing you to easily transport it around.
While it is on the heavier side, the fact that it can be used by multiple members of the family is why we decided to include the Explorer K2 Kayak. It is made of a heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl with 3 separate air chambers, making it easier to inflate and deflate.
If you’re looking for a kayak that can be used by all, this is your best bet!
Weight: 18 lbs | Length: 6′ | Width: 24″ | Max Capacity: 130 lbs
Features: Molded paddle cradle | Twin fin design | UV-protected | Multiple footrest positions | Swim-up deck design | Self-bailing scupper holes
Youth kayaks don’t get much better than this, so we just had to include another Lifetime entry in our list of best kayaks for kids.
The boat is only around 6 feet long, which is exactly what your child needs for reasons you’ll read further down. The swim-up step is a very nifty feature for any kids’ boat, and the adjustable footrests give you a bit of leeway if your child is on the taller side.
If our incessant praising of polyethylene boats hasn’t made this abundantly clear by now, HDPE boats are among the most impact-resistant you could ever find. The kayak itself weighs around 20 pounds and can support up to 120, and the handles on the side make it extremely portable, even by children’s kayak standards.
How to Choose the Best Kayak for Kids
Picking out the best kayak for kids is a bit more straightforward than buying one for yourself. Here are some of the main things to pay attention to:
Although a parent should spare no expense when it comes to the safety of their child, if you’re getting charged more for a youth boat than for the average adult kayak, you’re likely getting ripped off.
Even if you decide not to get any of the kayaks on our list, their prices should serve as a good reference point for what you should be paying.
We wouldn’t want to generalize by giving exact numbers, but ask yourself if you can see your child pursuing kayaking in the future. If you’re buying a boat on a whim or just aren’t sure if they’ll get into it, there’s no need to overspend on a kayak they’ll outgrow in a matter of months or years.
Weight & Capacity
In general, you’ll want to get your kid the lightest boat you can find. Chances are they won’t be out paddling all by themselves, but you don’t want to pin them with a 50-pound boat they wouldn’t be able to transport by themselves if it ever came to that.
As for the weight capacity of the kayak itself, you’ll find that most boats intended for children can hold up to 150 pounds at most. Assuming your child won’t also be fishing while out on the water, this is a perfectly reasonable number to aim for.
While the exact length should also depend on the body of water your children will be paddling in, you’d be wise to get a shorter kayak, preferably one under 10 feet.
Slipping and other mistakes are par for the course when learning how to kayak, but the lower the chances of collision, the better. Smaller kayaks are also much easier to turn, as there’s a lot less “dead weight” around the bow.
Although this isn’t exactly mandatory, it would be nice if your junior kayak of choice could somehow be linked to your own boat.
Besides this adding an important safety net, you can also think of it as a useful tool during the learning process – when you teach your children how to swim or ride a bike, you hold them and let them go through the motions before letting them go. Being able to tie the kayak to a boat you’ll be controlling and letting them practice their paddling might be a great way to get them started.
The safest bet when it comes to picking out a material for a kids’ boat would have to be polyethylene – these types of boats are both light and sturdy, not to mention affordable and quite resistant to the elements.
If you know for a fact your lake or river of choice is without obstacles, you can also go for an inflatable. These tend to be a little bit more comfortable, and provided that the build is solid enough (see the Intex Challenger K1), even if your child does hit something, chances are the boat will bounce right off.
Taking Your Kid Kayaking
You know your kids best and as such, you’re the only one who knows whether they’re ready for kayaking or not. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when deciding whether your child is ready for kayaking:
Experience in the Water
If your child isn’t much of a swimmer, you might not want to jump the gun and go straight to kayaking. Make sure your children can keep themselves afloat in water before tasking them with keeping a kayak afloat!
Another thing to consider is how good of a kayaker you are yourself. You’ll need to give your child very specific instructions to help them learn the skill, so if you don’t know the first thing about kayaking, either hold off on teaching your children or ask a more experienced kayaker to help them out.
No matter how safe you think a certain body of water is, there’s always some room for error when it comes to kayaking, especially for children.
Be sure to keep your kids within eyesight at all times during early kayaking stints, and only start toning it down when you’re absolutely sure they’re ready.
Again, this is a fairly obvious one, but you may want to get a life jacket or other floatation device for your kids before taking them out on the water.
Even if the kayaking part goes as planned, chances are your child will want to take a dip at some point, and your day will go from a paddling session to an afternoon of splashing around in the water.
And that’s everything you need to know about the best kayaks for kids! Whatever you do, remember that safety should be the number one priority in kayaking (even for adults), so if you’re going to introduce your children to the wonderful world of kayaks, be sure to do it right!