8 Kayak For Kids: Reviews For Fishing, SOT & More

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Kayaking is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable water sports you can do with your children. Not only do you teach them the responsibility of being on the water, but you can also enjoy countless hours of adventure and exploration. 

If you’re looking forward to getting outdoors with your little ones but aren’t sure which kayak to start them off with or upgrade them to, then you’ve come to the right place. No matter the age of your young kayaker, we’ve put together some of the best options on the market.

Children's Kayaks Compared

Preview

Product

Kayak Type

Max Capacity

Check Price

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6...

Lifetime

Youth Wave

Sit-On, Hard Shell

130 Lbs.

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Sit-on-top Youth Kayak...

Pelican Solo

Youth Kayak

Sit-On, Hard Shell

100 Lbs.

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle...

Lifetime Lotus

Sit-On, Hard Shell

250 Lbs.

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak...

Sun Dolphin

Aruba

Sit-in hard shell

300 Lbs.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top...

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem

Sit-on Hard Shell

425 Lbs.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person...

Intex Challenger K1

Sit-in, Inflatable

220 Lbs.

Old Town Heron Junior Kids Kayak, Sunrise

Old Town

Heron Junior

Sit-On, Hard Shell

115 Lbs.

Perception Kayaks Sound 9.5 | Sit Inside...

Perception Sound

Sit-in, Hard Shell

300 Lbs.


Benefits of Kayaking for Kids & Teens

Packing up the family and taking them on an outdoor adventure for the weekend has plenty of benefits. Not only do you find the time to bond with your kids, but you can also teach them valuable survival skills and how to appreciate nature.

Kayaking is a fun water sport, but there are specific rules and procedures you should teach your kids, so they are safe. Some lessons include teaching them about the importance of wearing a life jacket, steering, and what dangers to look for in any body of water. 

Teaching kids how to safely and adequately kayak can build their confidence and give them a hobby outside of video games and the television.


Choosing the Best Kayak for Your Children

Age of Child

When looking for the right kayak for your child, consider their age and how much they intend to use it. If they are nearing their teen years, you might consider something they can go into and still use for years to come. If they are rather young, then find a kayak that suites their current strength and abilities.

Kayak Type

There is a lot of debate about the best type of kayak for children. Most kids find that sit-on kayaks are more comfortable to maneuver and more enjoyable since they don't take on water. Yet, sit-in kayaks offer more protection and stability, which can be crucial in colder waters. Many parents with children under the age of five or with disabilities also find that tandem kayaks are still fun and enjoyable.

Build Quality/Durability

The construction of a kayak for children depends mainly on your lifestyle. Do you have the room to store hard-shell kayaks, or do you prefer to inflate and deflate your child's kayak whenever you need it? Either way, both constructions are meant to be durable, long-lasting, and easy to use.

Kayak Size

Children kayaks come in a variety of sizes and weights, depending on the material they are made from and how heavy the paddles are. When searching kids kayak, consider if they can lift the kayak in and out of the water, use the oars, and don't exceed the weight capacity for the vessel.

Seat Design

Part of enjoying kayaking includes a comfortable seat. Most kayaks come with a built-in bench and back, but if your child finds this uncomfortable, they may not want to use the kayak as it's intended. Look for one with deep groves and has a supporting back panel that helps keep them upright.

Stability & Mobility

To ensure that your child's kayak is easy to steer and maneuver, take the maximum weight capacity, and the shape of the chine of the kayak. Hard chines track the water better and offer better primary stability, but are still prone to tipping in choppy, rough seas. A soft chine is usually faster and provides secondary stability. Skegs can be added to the front of the kayak for better tracking in choppier waters.

Safety Features

The safety features of your child's kayak could include things like towing capabilities and paddle holders, which are most important for younger kayakers. Keeping your child's paddles in place and attached to the kayak means they can't lose them. Towing capabilities allow you to help them out of weeds and brush in the water or pull behind an adult's kayak.

Storage & Extra Features

Children's kayaks often come with storage compartments at the front and rear. This makes it easy to store additional outdoor gear, extra bungee cords, water shoes, and life jackets. Some other features might include adjustable foot braces and seat cushions.

Price & Warranty

Getting the best bang for your buck is essential when looking for the right kayak for your child. Consider the price and the warranty for each of these and determine which one is right for your child.


8 Best Kayaks for Kids Reviewed

1. Lifetime Youth Wave

Our Top Pick

Kayak Type

Sit-On, Hard Shell

Dimensions

6’ L x 24” W

Weight of Yak

18 Lbs.

Max Capacity

130 Lbs.

Paddle Included

Yes

Warranty

5-Year

Our top pick for the best kayak for kids is the Lifetime Youth Wave vessel. This ultra-lightweight kayak is perfect for children 5+. It comes with molded finger handles so your child can quickly pick this kayak up out of the water and transport it anywhere.

The lightweight design is also essential for long trips, making it easy to maneuver over the water and paddle for hours of fun. With multiple footrests, this kayak grows with your child and is constructed to last for years. With a 5-year warranty, we guarantee you'll be able to enjoy countless weekend trips and summer getaways, exploring water channels and coastlines.

We know that finding the right kayak for your child’s age can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve recommended the Lifetime Youth Wave as the best kayak for kids. Not only is it affordable and comes with a lengthy warranty, but it's also designed for kids of all ages. This allows your child to build their confidence with each trip in this kayak. 

Stability, mobility, and safety are all taken into consideration when Lifetime constructed this kayak. The stable hull is flip resistant, and the reverse chine design offers enhanced stability, even on choppy waters. The twin-fin design in the rear assist in tracking and help your child glide over the water with ease. It also has a swim-up deck that makes climbing back in a breeze should your child fall off.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Designed to enhance motor skills
  • Best for kids 5+
Cons
  • Parents can’t ride along

2. Pelican Solo Youth Kayak

Best Rated Pelican Kayak for Kids

Kayak Type

Sit-On, Hard Shell

Dimensions

6’ L x 24” W x 9” D

Weight of Yak

19 Lbs.

Max Capacity

100 Lbs.

Paddle Included

Yes

Warranty

2-Year

Are you looking for an affordable kayak for you younger tykes with a lot of energy to give? Then look no further than the Pelican Solo Youth Kayak. Designed with an open cockpit, built-in hand molds, and a twin tunnel hull, this vessel is the best rated Pelican kayak for kids. This kayak is highly functional, easy to maneuver as your child paddles across the water’s surface and is made from RAM-XS impact-resistant material.

Pelican has designed this kayak with all the safety in mind. After long days on the lake, your child can easily put up the safety flag to let you know they need help or are too tired to paddle in. This vessel also comes with a swim-up deck and handles that make it easy for your child to get back into their kayak if they fall off. The self-bailing drain plug reduces the risk of the best rated Pelican kayak for kids taking on too much water.

This Solo Youth kayak is suitable for younger children that are just starting out with their own kayak. The built-in footrests ensure that kids can grow into the best rated Pelican kayak for kids and enjoy making years or memories on the water. This kayak is also designed to help build your child’s confidence in their own abilities on the water. It’s easy to maneuver, lightweight, and skims the surface of the water quickly, only adding to your child’s enjoyment each time they climb on board.

Pros
  • Twin Tunnel maneuverability
  • Self-bailing
  • Safety Flag Included
Cons
  • Not fit for children over 100 lbs.

3. Lifetime Lotus

Best Sit on Top Kayak for Kids

Kayak Type

Sit-On, Hard Shell

Dimensions

8’ L x 30” W x 10” D

Weight of Yak

38 Lbs.

Max Capacity

250 Lbs.

Paddle Included

Yes

Warranty

5-Year

The Lifetime Lotus kayak receives rave reviews for being the best sit-on kayak for kids. Whether your child has outgrown their previous vessel or you're looking for the right one for an older beginner, this is the kayak for you.

Children of all ages can take this kayak out for a spin, build their confidence, and learn new skills while paddling around in this sit-on kayak. Even adults enjoy using the Lifetime Lotus kayak. They can easily adjust themselves with comfortable built-in footrests and an adjustable backrest for ultimate comfort.

When it comes to finding a durable kayak for your kids, the Lifetime Lotus fits that description. Constructed from durable high-density polyethylene, this kayak is made to withstand rocky shores and won’t dent if you hit a rock or boulder in the water. To complete the build, this kayak is UV resistant and won’t fade, crack or peel, no matter how many hours of sun exposure. 

One of the reasons parents look to Lifetime is for the safety, stability, and mobility they put into each of their kayak designs. The Lotus is just one example and comes with a stable hull that’s flip resistant. The multi-chine hull increases stability while the twin built-in skegs provide better tracking through the water. It also comes with self-bailing scupper holes to help keep the cockpit water-free and safe for kids of all ages.

Pros
  • Molded paddle cradle
  • Multiple footrest positions
  • Rear storage
Cons
  • Backrest is difficult to adjust

4. Sun Dolphin Aruba

Best Sit-In Kayak for Teens

Kayak Type

Sit-in hard shell

Dimensions

120”L x 30” W x 13” D

Weight of Yak

40 Lbs.

Max Capacity

300 Lbs.

Paddle Included

Yes

Warranty

2-Year

The Sun Dolphin Aruba 10-foot kayak is the best sit-in kayak for teens. As one of the top manufacturers, Sun Dolphin has equipped this kayak with a padded seat for more comfort and adjustable foot braces. The cockpit is large and open, allowing for maximum storage and making it comfortable to ride in for hours of fun or on long water excursions. You can even tow this kayak if your teen gets tuckered out.

The Sun Dolphin Aruba is our best sit-in kayak for teens and is durable enough to handle rough waters and rocky shores. Made from UV stabilized fortiflex high-density polyethylene, this hard-shell kayak is one of the best-made kayaks on our list. 

Selecting the right kayak for your child is tricky, which is why we love this kayak so much. While it may be the best sit-in kayak for teens, we recommended that you purchase this one before they turn 13. The weight of the kayak is just 40-pounds, making it easy to maneuver and handle for any child 10 and older. They'll get acquainted with the vessel, and they can grow into this kayak in the years to come.

Pros
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Durable, high-quality
  • Lots of storage
Cons
  • No fishing rod holder

5. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem

Best Tandem Kayak for Kids

Kayak Type

Sit-on Hard Shell

Dimensions

12’ L x 34” W

Weight of Yak

57 Lbs.

Max Capacity

425 Lbs.

Paddle Included

No

Warranty

Lifetime Warranty on hull

Water-loving families with young children and pets can still enjoy kayaking as a whole, especially with the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem vessel. This kayak is the best tandem kayak for kids and parents. As a sit-on unit, this vessel provides more stability and offers Comfort Plus seats that offer four-way adjustability for more comfort. The overlapping footwells ensure you and your little one can stay strapped in for ultimate fun and safety.

If you’re on a budget for a kayak but still want to get the best bang for your buck, then the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem vessel is the right one for you and your family. While the price tag may come as a shock, this kayak is built well and has a lifetime warranty on the hull, ensuring you get your money's worth. It can accommodate paddlers of all sizes, which means your child can even grow into this kayak, making it worth your investment. 

Ocean Kayak makes a variety of tandem vessels, but this is the best tandem kayak for kids and adults. The extra-stable tri-hull construction completes the 12-foot frame and is capable of holding up to 425-pounds. This means you, two adults, a small child or pet, and a cooler can all ride comfortably on your trip around the lake or your weekend excursions along the coastline.

Pros
  • Comfort Plus Seats
  • Three seating positions
  • Large Max Weight
Cons
  • No Paddles Included
  • Pricey

6. Intex Challenger K1

Best Inflatable Kayak for Kids

Kayak Type

Sit-in, Inflatable

Dimensions

30” W x 15” H x 108” L

Weight of Yak

27.2 Lbs.

Max Capacity

220 Lbs.

Paddle Included

Yes

Warranty

90-Day

For adventurous families that don’t have enough room for hard shell kayaks, look no further than the Intex Challenger K1—the best inflatable kayak for kids. Intex is the leading maker of inflatable water sport devices, which means you know you’re getting a quality kayak when you purchase the Challenger K1.

With this kayak, you get more than you'd expect from something inflatable. Not only does it come equipped with a metal ore and ore holders, but the seat is also comfortable and offers plenty of back support. The large cockpit extends deep into the kayak, giving you plenty of room to stretch your legs. It even comes with a mesh storage compartment for easy access to sunblock, water bottles, and fishing gear.

The Intext Challenger K1 is made from heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl. It has two separate air chambers, so you never have to worry about your child's safety out on deeper waters. The inflatable I-beam floor allows this kayak to withstand rugged terrain and rocky shores. The removable skeg is also a nice touch, especially for choppier waters.  

Don’t let the idea of an inflatable kayak fool you. As the best inflatable kayak for kids, the Intex Challenger K1 is suitable for any child at any age and kayaking expertise. Measuring 9-feet long, you can rest assured that your child will enjoy this kayak no matter what body of water you’re exploring.

Pros
  • Comfortable Seat
  • Easy to store
  • Storage compartment
Cons
  • Short Warranty

7. Old Town Heron Junior

Best Mini Kayak for Kids

Kayak Type

Sit-On, Hard Shell

Dimensions

7’5” L x 25” W

Weight of Yak

26 Lbs.

Max Capacity

115 Lbs.

Paddle Included

No

Warranty

-

Old Town is the oldest and largest manufacturer of canoes and kayaks in the world, so it's no surprise that we'd include their best mini kayak for kids on our list.

Old Town stays true to its quality craftsmanship with this vessel and has designed it specifically for kids. Your child can ride comfortably on top of this hard-shell kayak that's nimble, lightweight, and easy to maneuver around any water obstacle. And when they get tired, the tag-along towing system allows you to tie their kayak to yours and row them home easily.

Old Town has taken the guesswork out of finding the right kayak for the age of your child with the best mini kayak for kids. Not only is the cockpit designed for a child's body shape and size, but it also comes with a lightweight foam billet that provides ultimate stability and maneuverability. The contoured seat completes this kayak and makes sitting and paddling for hours easy for your younger water explorers.

Since Old Town has designated this kayak for kids, it's no surprise that it's shorter in length and width and weighs just 26 pounds. No matter your child's age, if they can paddle on the water, they can handle this kayak with ease. All you need to do is make sure you get a paddle that's suitable for their size and strength, and away they go for hours of endless water fun and splash fights.

Pros
  • Tag along system
  • Ultra-lightweight
  • Made for Specifically for Kids
Cons
  • No Paddles Included
  • Easy to Outgrow

8. Perception Sound

Best Kids Fishing Kayak

Kayak Type

Sit-in, Hard Shell

Dimensions

9’6” L x 28” W x 20” D

Weight of Yak

38 Lbs.

Max Capacity

300 Lbs.

Paddle Included

No

Warranty

5-Year

For anglers who love to skim the water recreationally or find new river fishing spots, the Perception Sound kayak is the best kids fishing kayak on the market.

Made specifically for calmer waters and slow-moving streams, this well-built kayak is packed full of storage spots. It comes with an extra cushy zone seat and adjustable backrest for hours of solo fishing. The additional built-in front and rear molded handles provide comfort and lockable security when transporting this kayak with your kids to your favorite fishing spot.

If you’re looking for the best kids fishing kayak, then this one is the right one for your family. All throughout the cockpit and around this kayak, you’ll find storage compartments that make it easy for you to store essentials and attach a cooler for mid-day snacking or for storing your catch. You can easily pack up your tackle box, rods, and other fishing gear in this kayak and not even come close to the 300-pound weight limit.

The Perception Sound kayak is made with both fishing and fun in mind. The sit-in design is perfect for anglers and kayakers of all ages and experience, lowering the center of gravity for more control and stability over your vessel. The smooth straight-tracking tri-keel hull allows you to quickly move through the water and maneuver around boulders, weeds, and downed trees.

Pros
  • Built-in rod holders
  • Lots of storage
  • Cushioned Seat
Cons
  • Not suitable for rough waters

Kayak Facts - Tips for Teaching Kids to Paddle

Once you've settled on the right kayak for your kids, and you're ready for the next family adventure on the water, you should take some time to teach them the forward paddle. Along with this lesson, teach them how to properly grip the paddle for more control over their kayak.

For older children, we recommend you show them the stroking motion on dry land. For younger ones that can still sit in your lap, take them out on the water and guide their hands and strokes so they can get a sense of the motion that propels them forward and gives them steering control over the vessel.

Before they had out, make sure they watch a safety video that teaches them how to climb back into their kayak if it capsizes.

If you’re planning on letting your children fish while they kayak, make sure to teach them not to lean too abruptly into the water and always wear their PFD.

They should also be aware of general water safety rules, such as where to fish, and how to stay clear of motorized boats. Once they have these basics down, your child will be able to paddle away and enjoy hours of adventure on the water.


Safety Tips When Kayaking with Kids

Keeping your kids safe on the water, and while they use their kayaks, should always be the top priority. Always teach them the importance of wearing their PFD and how to avoid rough waters or high-traffic boating areas. Equip your child with the basics such as wearing sunscreen protection, closed-toed water shoes, and carry a water bottle with them to avoid dehydration.

Being on the water is a fun and rewarding experience. It can help your child build their confidence while navigating new obstacles. Still, parents should always keep an eye on the weather, choppy waters, and know the signs of hypothermia and hyperthermia.


Kayak Games for Kids: Activities While Kayaking

Once your child feels confident in their abilities to handle a kayak, you might enjoy family games and fun that will include everyone for an afternoon on the water.

Some of the most popular games on the water that kids can enjoy in their kayaks include kayak basketball, polo, sharks and minnows, and even kayak races. You can also set up an obstacle course that involves dryland challenges as well as buoys in the water.

If you're looking for more ideas for fun and games, there are online resources for your reading pleasure.


Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of maintenance is needed and how often it has to be done for kid’s kayaks?

After each use, it's best to rinse any kayak or canoe with the hose to wash away grime, salt, and other bacteria that could grow and eat away at your kayak. Use a soft cloth to dry out the cockpit and the hull before storing it.

How much does a decent kid kayak cost?

Kayak prices for kids can range anywhere between less than $100 to more than $600.

Do kayaks flip easily? Which kayak reviewed above is most stable?

Kayaks are more stable than you might think and do not tip easily. All of the kayaks reviewed here rate high in stability.

Are kayaks safe for kids? Can a 3-year-old go kayaking?

Yes, kayaks are safe for children. Parents should use their own discretion when determining the right age for a child to kayak on their own.

How much weight can most kids’ kayaks hold?

Children kayaks can hold as much as 425-pounds.

What is the best size paddle for kids?

The best size paddle for kids depends on your child’s height and arm span. If your kayak did not come with one, search these popular choices on Amazon.

Where is the best place to teach my kids how to kayak for the first time?

The best place to teach your kids to kayak is on land. Once they’ve mastered the paddling technique and know which safety gear to be wearing, then take them to calm waters, such as your local lake or pond. If you have a pool large enough, you might also get them used to their kayak there.

Where is the best place to find a kid’s kayak for sale?

You will find the best deals for kid’s kayaks on Amazon.


Conclusion

Finding the right kayak for your child means you can all enjoy this water sport and bonding time as a family. While all of our kayaks on this guide are suitable for kids, our number one pick remains as the Lifetime Youth Wave. It's durable, long-lasting, and comes with the paddle, all for a conveniently low price.