10 Best Kayaks for Kids in 2022

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Needless to say, kids and adults have entirely different skills. As a result, they can’t, or shouldn’t, use the same kayaks. Kids lack the strength and balance needed to handle a huge 12-feet yak, let alone carry it.  That’s why it is crucial to find something light, maneuverable, and user-friendly. Luckily for you, we’ve found 10 of the best kayaks for kids you can find on the market. 

After a lot of reading and testing, we found out that the Goplus 6-feet kayak is the best kayak for kids. It might be a little off in terms of budget. But it has a simple construction, adjustable backrest, molded footrests, rear cargo area, and already comes with a paddle!

But if you are looking for something more affordable, then we suggest getting the Lifetime Wave Youth. It does not have all the bells and whistles. But it gets the job done. And it does come with a paddle if you are wondering. 

Lastly, the Perception Prodigy XS is the best option for kids with 14 plus years. 

If you have time to spare, you can join us to discuss these, and more, kayaks for kids. 

Goplus 6-feet Youth Kayak

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 6
  • Width (inches): 24
  • Weight (pounds): 22
  • Capacity (pounds): 120
  • Molded footrests
  • Adjustable backrest

Available in three colors, the Goplus features a high-density polyurethane construction. Despite looking thick, the craft is pleasantly light, weighing only 22 pounds. It also comes with rear wells. This way, your kid can pull the kayak using the front handle without any kind of help. 

The Goplus already comes with a detachable, double-headed paddle. It is strong and light enough for your kid to paddle without any problem. The hull design favors stability and tracking the most. That’s why it is a suitable choice for those still learning. 

Inside the kayak, you find the molded seat with an adjustable backrest. It might not be the most comfortable place to lay your back. But at least it has one. You can tuck it away for better transportation and storage. The deck also features a cup holder and a molded footrest with three positions. The roomy interior makes it easy to get in and out without swinging the craft. 

Pros: 

  • Very light 
  • Rear wheels for easy transportation
  • It comes with a paddle 
  • Sturdy craft

Cons: 

  • Low capacity 
  • Uncomfortable backrest

Lifetime 90479 Youth 6 Feet Wave Kayak

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 6
  • Width (inches): 24
  • Weight (pounds): 18
  • Capacity (pounds): 130
  • Molded footrests
  • Molded seat
  • Swim-in stern

The Lifetime 6-feet youth kayak should be your first option if you are looking to get something around 150 bucks. But the Wave is more than an affordable price. 

For instance, it is among the lightest craft on this list. It only weighs around 18 pounds. Plus, the small footprint makes the Wave one of the most portable kayaks for kids you can find. 

The polyethylene craft comes with a molded seat. There is no backrest. Furthermore, the molded footrest only offers two positions. As a result, the Wave kayak is only suitable for kids under 130 pounds. 

The hull features a reverse chin for better stability. Plus, the twin fins at the stern help to keep the craft paddling straight. The stern also has a swim-up deck that your kid can use to get in and out of the kayak at any time. This way, it will be easier to re-enter if the craft happens to turn over. 

The Wave kids kayak has a very low capacity. It only holds up to 130 pounds worth of cargo. Consequently, you have almost no space to keep some gear close. That’s why we recommend this craft to all children who are learning how to paddle. 

Pros: 

  • It comes with a youth paddle
  • Stable
  • Tracks well
  • Fairly maneuverable 

Cons: 

  • There is no padded seat  
  • Only two footrest positions 
  • Low capacity

Perception Prodigy XS Sit-Inside Kayak For Kids 

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 10
  • Width (inches): 23
  • Weight (pounds): 26
  • Capacity (pounds): 150
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Padded seat with adjustable bottom

At first glance, the Prodigy XS looks a little too expensive for a kid. However, the 10-feet long and 23 inches wide craft offers enough space for young paddlers to grow in. Plus, despite the size, the Prodigy XS remains surprisingly light. It only weighs 26 pounds! 

Inside the cockpit, you find a comfortable padded seat. You can adjust the bottom according to your size. We can’t say the same about the backrest. Still, the seat remains comfy in the long run. 

It also comes with a quick-adjust footrest. This way, you can fine-tune the craft to your liking. 

The Prodigy XS only comes with a bungee tie-down in front of the cockpit. However, there is little to no room there for large items. Sadly, the Prodigy XS lacks cargo capacity anyways. 

The good thing is that the Prodigy is stable. It is also easy to maneuver as well. On the other hand, the wide cockpit eases the process of getting in and out of the craft. As you can see, the Prodigy XS is an investment that will pay itself in time. 

Pros: 

  • Solid, UV-resistant frame with built-in buoyancy chambers 
  • Comfortable seat
  • Lightweight
  • Roomy cockpit

Cons:

  • There is no paddle
  • Low capacity
  • There is almost no room for gear

Pelican Kayak Sonic 80X Sit-On-Top Kayak

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 8
  • Width (inches): 29
  • Weight (pounds): 37
  • Capacity (pounds): 225
  • Molded footrests
  • Adjustable backrest

The Sonic 80X is an ideal kayak if your kid is starting to paddle alone. It is very stable and maneuverable, thanks to the twin tunnel hull. 

The Pelican Sonic 80X comes with an adjustable backrest. It grants enough support for small paddlers and dries quickly as well. 

The kayak is 8 feet long and 29 inches wide. Despite the small size, the Sonic 80X is surprisingly heavy. You might need to help your kiddo to transport the yak to the water. 

The deck comes with molded footrests that promise to accommodate kids of all sizes. Apart from that, you only get a built-in bottle holder and bungee cord cargo area. Still, it is likely that your kid won’t need anything more than that.

Pros: 

  • Very stable
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Decent capacity for the price

Cons: 

  • It is quite heavy
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle

Perception Joyride 10 Sit-inside Kayak for Kids

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 10
  • Width (inches): 29.5
  • Weight (pounds): 50
  • Capacity (pounds): 275
  • Adjustable footrests
  • Padded seat with adjustable backrest
  • Storage hatch

The Perception Joyride 10 is a superb craft for teenage kids that already know how to paddle. It is a craft that your kid can grow on without needing to change it. So, the hefty investment is justifiable in the long run. 

The Perception Joyride is 10 feet long and 29.5 inches wide. It is slightly larger than the average for kids. And, it is heavier as well. So, it is not the best option for kids under 10 years old or kids that don’t know how to handle a kayak. 

Still, the Joyride offers lots of features that your kid will love. For instance, the padded seat with an adjustable backrest is by far the most comfortable we’ve seen thus far. It also has a bigger water-tight hatch where you can keep small, water-sensitive items. On the other hand, the dashboard comes in handy for keeping a water bottle close. It also has two holes where you can attach anything you want. 

The Perception Joyride is also the first youth kayak with an adjustable footrest. Plus, the sharp bow and stern help with tracking and speed. It is also fairly stable. But it does move a lot when getting in and out, so watch out. 

Pros: 

  • It is a kayak that your kid can use for years to come
  • Comfortable seat 
  • It comes with a huge hatch
  • Decent carrying capacity

Cons: 

  • Not suitable for kids under 10 
  • It doesn’t come with a paddle
  • Heavy

Pelican Solo 6-Feet Sit-On-Top Kayak for Kids

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 6
  • Width (inches): 24
  • Weight (pounds): 19
  • Capacity (pounds): 100
  • Molded footrests
  • Molded footrest 
  • Paddle included
  • Swim-up rear

Affordable, light, and simple are three words we would use to define the Pelican Solo. It is available in three colors. But they don’t retail at the same price for some reason. For instance, the blue model is the cheapest, while the red one is the most expensive of all.

As the name suggests, the Solo kayak is 6 feet long and 24 inches wide. The open deck offers plenty of space for your kid and comes with a 2-position molded footrest. The craft comes with a molded seat as well with no backrest. You can purchase one if you wish, as it is compatible with Pelican’s ERGOFORM PS1562 backrest. 

The Pelican Solo also has a swim-up deck so your kid can get in the kayak from the water. 

The hull looks very much like the Pelican Sonic we reviewed before. The twin tunnel favors maneuverability and stability over tracking and speed. Nevertheless, the Solo kayak for kids still handles well in both departments. 

Another great thing is that the Pelican Solo already comes with a youth paddle. So, no need to search the market for a suitable one.

Pros: 

  • Lightweight
  • It already comes with a paddle
  • Stable and easy to use
  • It comes with a safety flag 

Cons: 

  • There is no room for cargo
  • It has no backrest 

Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak for Kids

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 9
  • Width (inches): 30
  • Weight (pounds): 23.9
  • Capacity (pounds): 220
  • Inflatable vinyl construction
  • Adjustable seat
  • Aluminum oar

The K1 is arguably the best kayak for kids under 100 bucks. It has an inflatable, rugged vinyl construction that is puncture-resistant. It also makes the craft pleasantly light for its size. And don’t worry, the K1 already comes with a pump.

The craft has two separate air chambers with a Boston valve each. This way, if one happens to get flat, the other will keep the kayak afloat. Intex also added a couple of repair patches so you can fix things in the wild. 

The K1 is 9 feet long and 30 inches wide. The hull design gives some degree of stability. However, it is somewhat hard to maneuver, especially if the craft is not fully inflated. 

The cockpit is not as spacious as other crafts. Therefore, your kid might need a little help when getting in. Apart from that, the inflatable, adjustable seat provides comfort during long paddling sessions. 

There is not much room for cargo inside the K1 despite having a 220-pound capacity. You only get a cargo net at the front, which is not within reach at all. 

Pros: 

  • Light for the size
  • It comes with a paddle 
  • It has repair patches 
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Two air chambers 

Cons: 

  • It is hard to maneuver
  • It is not as stable as a rigid craft
  • There is no cargo areas within the paddler’s reach

Sevylor Quikpak K1 Inflatable Kayak for Kids

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 8
  • Width (inches): 36
  • Weight (pounds): 18
  • Capacity (pounds): 400
  • Inflatable PVC construction
  • Adjustable seat
  • Aluminum oar

The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is another option for those looking for an affordable craft. The best thing is that it only takes around 5 minutes to pump the 21-gauge PVC frame full. Again, the multiple air chambers keep the craft above the water even if one section gets pierced.

In contrast with the last inflatable kayak, the Sevylor Quikpak has an open deck. Therefore, it offers more space to get in and out. Sadly, there are no cargo areas within reach. So, the 400-pounds capacity is pretty much wasted. 

The seat is another problem we found. It is not as comfortable and supportive as our previous inflatable kayak. It gets the job done, sure. But it is something that we had to say.

Apart from that, the Quikpak K1 tracks well. It is stable and maneuverable as well. The difference here was the Tarpaulin bottom, which is stiffer than the one on the Intex model. 

Pros: 

  • It takes around 5 minutes to inflate
  • Lightweight
  • Stable and easy to paddle 
  • It comes with a paddle and pump

Cons: 

  • Not enough space for cargo
  • The seat is not that comfortable 

Lifetime Lotus Sit-On-Top Kayak with Paddle

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 8
  • Width (inches): 30
  • Weight (pounds): 38
  • Capacity (pounds): 250
  • Polyethylene construction
  • Adjustable backrest
  • Molded footrest
  • Paddle included

Simple in design yet sturdy, the Lotus sit-on-top kayak is ideal for those young paddlers that require something larger. The 8-feet long and 30 inches craft features a flat hull with a multi-chine design and twin skegs. The resulting craft tracks with ease and remains steady on slow-moving waters. Nevertheless, we found it gets very unstable once it tides a little.

The molded seat comes with a foldable plastic backrest. It offers enough support. But it lacks comfort. The good thing is that you get one at least. 

The deck has a molded footrest. It offers four positions, making it suitable for a wide range of kids. There is plenty of space to move your legs around as well. 

The Lotus youth kayak is able to hold up to 250 pounds of cargo. It has a single tank well on the stern. 

Although the Lotus is a small craft, the polyethylene construction sits on the heavy side. 

Pros: 

  • It comes with a paddle
  • Tracks with ease
  • The cargo area is within the paddler’s reach

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • It lacks secondary stability 
  • It moves slow 

Perception Hi-Five Sit-On-Top Kayak for Kids

Features: 

  • Length (feet): 6.5
  • Width (inches): 24
  • Weight (pounds): 21
  • Capacity (pounds): 120
  • Molded footrests
  • Molded seat

Despite looking more like a SUP, the Hi-Five is our last kayak of today’s piece. It is 6.5 feet long and 24 inches wide. The flat hull allows the craft to sit still on calm water. Thankfully, it is also quite maneuverable. 

The Hi-Five comes with a molded elevated seat. There is no backrest, and you can’t fix an aftermarket one. It also comes with a molded footrest with three positions. 

The low-profile and small footprint allowed Perception to cut the weight up to 21 pounds. You kid can easily drag the yak up to the water and back. Besides, the swim-up stern means that you don’t need to help the child to get in and out.  

The Hi-Five already comes with a paddle for kids between 5 to 14 years old. 

Like the rest, it offers a low carrying capacity. It only hauls up to 120 pounds worth of cargo. 

Pros: 

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to get in and out
  • It comes with a kid’s size paddle 
  • Easy to maneuver 

Cons: 

  • It comes with no backrest
  • Low capacity
  • The color wash off rather quickly

Choosing Kayaks for Kids: Things to Consider

Choosing a kayak for kids is no different from picking one for an adult. Naturally, the size and weight should adapt to that of the kid. Apart from that, all the features are equivalent. 

So, it pays to learn which these features are and how they impact performance. We will also provide hints on which features are a must on kid’s kayaks and which are not. This way, you can save money where needed. Thus, making the best out of it. 

We also took the time to search for the most common questions and answer them. So, let’s get started. 

Understanding the Different Types of Kayaks

You will only find some of the many types of crafts in today’s piece. That’s because neither touring nor racing kayaks will be of any use to a kid. You see. You want something easy to use, light, and stable. This is something that only recreational kayaks can offer. Let’s see why.

Recreational Kayaks

These are, by far, the most common models you will find. They offer more stability than tracking and maneuverability.

Typically they go from 6 to 10 feet with an average width of 30 inches. 

Whitewater Kayaks

These are very short crafts. They are easy to recognize because of their rounded edges and hull. The design grants unparallel secondary stability at the expense of terrible primary stability. 

These aren’t suitable for kids. 

Racing Kayaks

Like whitewater crafts, these are easy to recognize too. They are long and slim, like a needle. As a result, they are prone to glide in a straight line fast. Again, not the one for kids. 

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks split the difference between recreational and racing kayaks. As a result, they offer a middle ground between speed, maneuverability, and tracking. 

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

You might notice that some kayaks have an open deck design, while others have a cockpit where you find the seat. Well, sit-on-top kayaks are of the first type. Here, you sit right on top of the deck. 

Sit-on-top kayaks offer more space to move around to the point that you can stand up. The open deck allows the paddler to get in and out of the craft easily. 

However, because you sit above the water, sit-on-top kayaks are not as stable as sit-inside models. They neither offer the same protection against the elements. 

Sit-Inside Kayaks

In contrast, sit-inside have a single opening known as the cockpit. There you will find the seat. As a result, your lower body remains inside the craft, protecting you from splashes and sun exposure. 

Because you sit closer to the water, sit-inside kayaks are inherently more stable than their sit-on-top brothers. Nevertheless, getting in and out is more challenging. 

Both sit-inside and sit-on-top are suitable for kids. 

Kayak Dimensions and Performance

Not all kayaks are equal. Some are built for speed and tracking, while others favor stability or maneuverability the most. It depends, among other things, on the dimensions of the craft. So, let’s check how length and width impact performance. 

Kayak Length

Most kayaks for kids are between 6 to 10 feet long. The bigger your kid is, the larger the kayak should be, mainly because those yaks can hold more weight. 

Length also determines how fast the kayaks glide through the water. For instance, long kayaks cut through faster than shorter ones. That’s why both touring and racing kayaks are so lengthy and thin. 

What’s the Best Kayak Size for Kids?

Kayaks come in all shapes and sizes. But we recommend 6 to 8 feet kayaks for kids around 5 to 12 years old. You can push it up to 10 feet if your kid is, at least, 14 years old. 

Kayak Width

Yes, kayak width changes between the bow and the stern. But when we talk about width. We are referring to the widest section of the yak. That is the beam. 

Kayaks with prominent beams are inherently more stable than narrow models. Plus, since the contact area between the yak and the water is larger, they hold more weight as well. Nevertheless, maneuverability and speed decrease as the kayak gets wider.

Typically most kayaks are around 30 inches wide. 

Hull Design

Because the hull is the section in contact with the water, it has a huge impact on speed, maneuverability, and carrying capacity. 

There are several hull types available, ranging from flat bottoms and V-shaped to rounded hulls and pontoons. We won’t dive too deep here. Don’t worry. 

The important thing is to seek a kayak with a flat bottom. Why? Well. It splits the difference between speed, maneuverability, and stability. Thus, it is a great starting point.

Round hulls, on the other hand, favor maneuverability the most. In contrast, V-shaped kayaks are ideal for those looking for something fast, which is not the case here. 

The Chine

The chine is that line where the hull meets the side of the kayak. And it is more important than it looks. 

There are two chine configurations: Soft and hard chine. 

The first has rounded edges, making it a better choice for fast crafts. In contrast, hard chine features sharp edges. As a result, the kayak has greater secondary stability. 

Some brands offer multi-chine designs. This way, they can combine the pros of each approach. 

Primary Vs Secondary Stability: Which Is More Important? 

It depends on the application. For example, kids will be paddling on a calm lake or river. Thus, a kayak with decent primary stability is the best choice. But, what’s primary stability anyways? 

Primary stability refers to how stable the craft is on calm water. Kayaks with poor primary stability are prone to tide at the slightest pressure.  

In contrast, secondary stability refers to how stable the kayak is once it leans on the side. Naturally, this is only important for those planning on paddling in rough waters, which is not the case for kids. 

Kayak Weight and Portability

Dimensions and weight dictate how portable a kayak is. We already talked about the first. Now, it is time to discuss the latter. 

Although we all desire something light, it is not possible all the time. Besides, weight often comes at the expense of durability and carrying capacity. So, you have to think carefully about what your needs are. 

In the kid’s case, weight is even more important. Try your best to seek something with less than 30 pounds. Some models, like the Goplus 6-feet, come with rear wheels. This way, your kid can easily tow the kayak alone. 

Kayak Capacity

All kayaks have a maximum carrying capacity. As the name suggests, it refers to how much weight it can handle. Naturally, this includes the paddler. Therefore, it is crucial to know the kid’s weight and the extra cargo, where applicable.  

Remember to leave some free capacity. This way you won’t be pushing the craft to its limits. Besides, you will be leaving some room for your kid to grow in.   

Inflatable or Rigid Frame?

Many people come to us asking the exact same question. Here you have to consider some things. First, how much space can you spare? Some people live in tiny households with little room for storage. They are the ones that will benefit from an inflatable kayak the most. The same goes for those with a small car. 

The budget is important as well. Most inflatable kayaks retail for around 150 bucks or less. Hence, they are sometimes the only option you have. 

But don’t worry, inflatable kayaks have come a long way. Now, they are sturdier and feature several inflatable chambers. This way, if you can still float if one gets pierced. 

However, if space and budget are not a problem, then we recommend getting a rigid kayak. They are more stable, durable, and with more capacity. 

Are Kayaks Safe for Kids? 

First-timers should always be under supervision. And kids even more. We don’t mean to scare you. But you and your kid should take some precautions. 

For instance, a PFD is a must. If possible, the craft should have vivid, easily identifiable colors. This way, you will be able to locate the kayak faster. 

It also pays to take your kid to a calm lake or reservoir. This way, you can minimize risks. 

How Do I Choose a Kayak For My Child? 

Keep things simple. It is the best advice we can give you. There is no point in getting something too premium. You don’t even know if your kid will pick up the hobby. Therefore, it is wise to get a small, simple kayak. 

In other words, get something with a molded seat, minimal storage areas, and easy to get in and out. 

Best Kayak for Kids: Goplus 6-Feet Youth Kayak

Today’s piece has come to an end. We’ve talked about 10 different kayaks for kids and reviewed the features you should look at when browsing for options. 

While your kid will be fine with any of the kayaks here, there is one that we recommend. It is the Goplus 6-feet. 

First, it has an adjustable backrest, which is ideal for older kids between 10 and 14 years. On the other hand, the molded footrest and roomy deck give plenty of space for your kid to get in and out. 

It also comes with a paddle and a modest cargo area at the stern. The netting keeps the gear in place while your kid focuses on paddling. 

The craft is impressively light. In addition, the built-in wheels ease the towing process. 

On top of that, the kayak is very stable and easy to spot. You can click here and get your Goplus 6-feet!

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