The 5 Best Kayaks for Kids

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Kayaking is healthy for kids.

It’s a great way for them to get fresh air and exercise as they spend time out in nature, away from their smart phones and video games. Also, when a boy or girl learns how to paddle a kayak independently, the child will feel powerful. It’s fun to be in complete control of a kayak.

Today, we want to share information about 5 of the best kayaks for kids. All of them are popular choices which are parent and guardian-approved.

Before we review these youth kayaks, we want to let you know the most important features to look for, as well as the top concerns that you should be aware of.

Best Kayaks for Kids: Features to Look For

children share a kayak

It’s important to seek out certain features which boost comfort, performance and safety. Finding a kid’s kayak with all of the these features is the key to ensuring that your child will have a great experience in the new boat.

When you look for these features, you’ll boost the odds of a successful purchase.

Appropriate Size

The size of the kayak must be right. It needs to be scaled to the size of your child’s body. Some kayaks work for older kids and adults. Younger kids need smaller kayaks that fit their heights and weights.

Children’s kayaks have seats which are the right size, so they are more comfortable for kids. Also, these specialized kayaks are easier for children with shorter arms to paddle.

There are lots of great reasons to buy a kayak that is a children’s design.

With this in mind, be sure to select a kayak that is appropriate for your child’s age, height and weight. Some kids weigh a lot more than others. However, most children’s kayaks have pretty generous weight maximums.

If you think your child might be too heavy for a kid’s kayak, check the weight maximum before you buy. Our reviews of children’s kayaks include weight maximum information.

Tag Along Tow Systems

If you want to paddle your own kayak while your child does the same thing, you should know that choosing a kid’s kayak with a “tag along” tow system will be smart. With this type of feature, you’ll be able to attach a tow line from your child’s kayak to your own. Then, you’ll be able to pull your child along when he or she needs a rest.

Without this system, you may find that your kayaking trips with your child are shorter than you’d like them to be. Children do tire easily when they paddle. Sometimes, they need a tow from Mom or Dad, so they can take a little break.

Scupper Holes

Scupper holes are drainage holes. They function as self-draining systems for kayaks. Some kid’s kayaks have scupper holes and some don’t.

It’s quite common for kayaks to take on a bit of water while they’re out on rivers. In general, sit-on-top kayaks tend to take on more water than sit-in style kayaks. If you want to ensure that your child stays as dry as possible, go for a chiidren’s kayak with scupper holes.

Key Things to Consider

As a parent, you’re probably thinking about safety first. That’s smart. To ensure that a child’s kayak is safe, choose an age-appropriate (and weight-appropriate) style from a trusted manufacturer. Then, buy a life vest which is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. The life vest should be the right size for your child.

Also, consider the paddle. Is the paddle included with purchase? If you need to buy one separately, make sure that it’s a good size for your child. A paddle which is too long and/or heavy is going to raise the risk of an accident (such as a paddle getting dropped into the water) or muscle strain.

Also, don’t plan on letting your child kayak without adult supervision. There should always be an adult present when a child is paddling.

Here are some fun and functional children’s kayaks, plus one two-seater model which is ideal for a parent-and-child outing…

Old Town Heron Junior Kids Kayak

youth kayak from Old Town

Via Amazon

The Old Town Heron Junior Kids Kayak looks good, thanks to its blue-and-white “ombré” design. It’s suitable for children aged 5 and up. The length of this kayak is 7.5 feet. It tracks (travels in a straight line) very well and it’s equipped with a “tag along” system which will allow you to tow your son or daughter whenever you want to.

Weighing in at just 26 pounds, this kayak comes with a contoured and comfortable seat which is just right for children’s bodies. The boat hold up to 115 pounds.

Since this vessel is sized just right for kids, it’s easy to paddle. It’s meant for recreational kayaking. It’s equipped with a foam billet which ensures that it won’t sink to the bottom of a river when it’s tipped over.

A child will sit on top of this design, rather than sitting inside. Your child will feel like he or she is “in” the water because the seat has a lower profile. Sit-in styles do provide an authentic kayaking experience, although they are a little harder to get in and out of than “sit-on-top” designs.

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle

children's kayak from LIfetime

Via Amazon

This kayak for kids, the Lifetime Youth Wave, is available in a 6-foot and 6.5-foot length, so you’ll be able to choose the length that is right for your child. The 6-foot design is available in blue, green, orange, pink and yellow. The 6.5-foot design is available in lime green. When you choose this model, your son or daughter will enjoy an ergonomic cockpit which is designed to enhance motor skills and balance.

The 6-foot design weighs in at just 18 pounds. This kayak can handle up to 130 pounds. It’s recommended for kids of 5 years of age or older. This design comes with a paddle.

One key benefit of this kayak is its wide stance, which promotes stability. The back end of the kayak is sloped and there is a “swim-up” step which makes it easy for a rider to get into the kayak from the water. Other notable features include multiple footrest positions and scupper holes (these drain out water).

This kayak is suitable for recreational paddling. It’s a sit-on-top kayak which is very easy to get in and out of.

Ocean Kayak Banzai Kid’s Kayak

children's kayak Banzai

Via Amazon

The Banzai Kids Kayak from Ocean Kayak is a sporty green-and-white youth kayak with a low-profile deck, a comfy seat and clean, attractive lines. It’s specially designed to be easy for younger people to paddle. Kids have shorter arms than adults, so they need kayaks that are scaled to their bodies. This one is an ideal size.

Equipped with a practical towing setup, which allows a parent or guardian to tow the junior kayak when a child needs a break from paddling, this design also comes with a cup holder which is “molded in”, in addition to carrying handles on the stern and bow and a skid plate that is replaceable (this adds durability).

This children’s kayak in made in America. It’s a sit-on-top style (this makes entry and exit easy) which measures 9 feet and 6 inches in length. Its weight capacity is two hundred and thirty pounds. This youth kayak weighs 36 pounds, which is quite a light weight. This design is meant for children five and up.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Inflatable Kayak Intex Challanger K1

Via Amazon

If your child is a little older, you’ll find that this inflatable kayak from Intex is an appropriate choice. It’s a durable, nimble kayak which is crafted from rugged, welded material. It’s got a sporty and colorful appearance which makes it simple to spot out on the water. Kids who are 10 years of age or older should be very comfortable in this kayak. This design is a strong seller because it’s budget-friendly and tends to make users happy.

This Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is suitable for adults and older children. This makes it a good choice as a family kayak. Bring it to the cabin or take it on trips to a local beach. The cockpit of this design is made for comfort. This model has an I-beam floor that is inflatable. The floor adds stability and support.

This kayak weighs 27.2 pounds and it has a weight maximum of 220 pounds. It dimensions are 30 (W) by 15 (H) by 108 (L). When you order, you’ll get an aluminum oar, high-output hand pump and repair patch along with the kayak.

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

tandem kayak from Intex

Via Amazon

Another option is buying a tandem kayak. This two-seater from Intex is inflatable, so it’s not too expensive, and it’s ideal for a parent/child day out on the water. While it’s designed for two adults, lots of parents use it as a parent/child kayak. If your child is a bit older, such as 10 or older, this style should be a good fit.

This kayak comes with two aluminum oars, a hand pump and a repair patch kit. The kayak has two seats with inflatable backrests. This kayak has grab lines, so it’s easy to get hold of the kayak from the water. Also, this bright yellow design is easy for other boaters to see. The kayak will hold up to 400 pounds.

When you choose this model, you and your child will need to paddle together in a synchronized way. It’ll be fun to move your kayak forward as a family unit. This tandem design is best for milder rivers and lakes.

What is your favorite kayak choice for kids?

Let us know your recommendations below.


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