Shopping for any kayak can be a hassle if you do not know where to begin. Shopping for the best kayak for kids can be even harder.
We put together this handy kids kayak buying guide to help you make the best decision when it comes to picking out a kayak for kids and young adults.
In a Hurry? Here Are Our Top 3 PicksInvalid table id.
Reviews of the 5 Best Kayaks For Kids
Our reviews are 100% unbiased and we only include the top-rated models currently on the market. Here are our picks for the best kayak for kids including our best overall, runner-up, and best budget pick:
1. Perception Joyride 10 | Sit Inside Kayak for Adults and Kids | Recreational and Multi-Water Kayak with Selfie Slot
- The Joyride- features worry-free stability, super comfortable seating, quick and easy-access...
- Best-in-Class Comfort & Support with Zone Deluxe padded and adjustable seating system
The Perception Joyride 10 ft kayak is larger than some youth kayaks, but wins our spot for the number one best overall kayak for kids because it has the best construction and features. Other kids’ kayaks are made out of flimsy materials to be more lightweight, which on the other hand makes them less sturdy and more likely to flip. The Joyride kayak for adults and kids is made with an adjustable footrest so that people of all sizes can use it.
It is a great looking Kayak that comes in five different colors. The seating is thick and padded unlike other kayaks which have a hard plastic seat. Some of the unique features of this particular kayak are how it is outfitted with a drink holder, a selfie slot for your electronics, and two mounting points that allow you to add accessories to the kayak without modifying it in any way.
- Good for both adults and kids
- Made in the USA out of high-quality materials
- Can accommodate people of different heights
- Has a cup holder and a slot for your phone
- Lidded storage latch
- Adjust the footrest to accommodate the child’s growth
- May be a bit too pricey for a beginner/child kayaker
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2. Perception Prodigy XS | Sit Inside Kayak For Kids and Petite Paddlers | Recreational Kayak for All Day Fun
- The ultimate sit-inside kayak for kids and Petite paddlers - Made in USA
- Sets the standard for confidence-building stability comfort and performance
Our runner-up for the second best kayak for kids is another Perception model. The Perception Prodigy XS is similar to the Perception Joyride 10 ft kayak except it is smaller to be more accommodating for children. The Perception Joyride may be best for older children while the Perception Prodigy is made specifically for children or petite people.
You sit inside this kayak and paddle to move it, and the padded seat is way more comfortable than kayaks that have a plastic seat which is pretty common. There are also floatation devices installed on the front and rear of the kayak which is a safety addition for children that is not found on most kid’s kayaks. It is a lightweight design that is easy to carry for petite people and children.
- Made for kids
- Four different colors
- Sit inside with comfortable padded seat
- Lightweight at only 23 lbs
- Added safety floatation devices integrated
- Adjustable foot rests for as the child grows
- Not suitable for fast moving water
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3. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
- Specifically designed for kids ages 5 and up; 130 LB weight capacity
- Lightweight 18 Lb. design with molded finger handles on each side for easy transport
Lifetime is a brand that makes kayaks for kids that are affordable and efficient. This kayak comes in a few different colors including this bright green model. It is made with children five year old and up in mind and the weight capacity is 130 lbs, which is high enough for most children and even petite young adults. The kayak is made out of dense polyethylene which is very strong and durable to withstand the test of time and the elements.
The footrest can be adjusted for children of all heights, and as the child grows you can simply adjust the footrest for more room, so you can get many years of use out of this model of kayak. It is one of the most lightweight models of kayaks you can buy and it has finger handles on each side to help you carry it.
- Very lightweight
- Not as expensive as other kayaks
- Only 18 lbs
- Easy to re-enter from the water in case it tips
- Five year warranty from the manufacturer
- Youth paddle included
- No padding on the seat
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4. Lifetime 90100 Yellow 6′ Youth Wave Kayak One Double-side Paddle
Lifetime is one of the best brands currently manufacturing kayaks for kids which is why you will find multiple of their products in our buying guides for the best kayaks for kids. There are a few differences between this model of youth kayak and the others offered by Lifetime. This yellow six foot kayak for kids has a 131 lb weight capacity and has an adjustable footrest for kids of different heights.
There is a reverse chine on the front of the kayak which is modeled to increase the overall stability of the kayak and prevent water from splashing back. The finger shaped handles on the side help make the already lightweight youth kayak even easier to carry.
- Adjustable foot positions
- Easy to carry
- For children five years and older and under 131 lbs
- Made for increased stability
- Accessories are not included with the purchase of this kayak
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5. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
- Lightweight, compact and easy to assemble
Our pick for the best budget kayak for kids is this one person inflatable kayak from Intex. It inflates using an air pump which is included with your purchase. It is a lower price than other kayaks because the inflatable design makes it less expensive. Plastic kayaks for kids can be uncomfortable, but this kayak has an inflatable seat and backrest for ultimate comfort.
Even though it is inflatable this kayak is no toy. You can use it on a lake or river with complete confidence as long as the water is not fast moving. There are a few cool features that set this kayak apart from other inflatable kayaks, such as the cargo net for storage and the 84 inch oar that is included with your purchase.
- Easy to inflate with the high output air pump
- Comfortable sit-in design with padded backrest
- Made out of rugged vinyl for long-lasting performance
- Less expensive than other kayaks for kids
- Comes with an oar
- No adjustable foot rest
- If it pops it is pretty much ruined
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Shopping for the right kayak for kids is hard because you need to make sure that it is safe and also small and lightweight enough for children to enjoy. Now that we have provided a list of the best-selling kayaks for kids currently on the market, we can go into greater detail about what features are most important to consider when shopping.
Features to Consider When Buying the Best Kayak For Kids
Here is a list of the most important features for you to consider when shopping for the best kayak for kids. All of the features will have an effect on the price, including the brand, weight, size, and safety features. Learning about the features of kayaks before you buy will help you make the right decision so we recommend thinking about all of the following things when shopping.
Kayaks are not cheap, but if you buy your own instead of renting you will save a lot of money over time. You can expect to spend up to $1000 on a good kayak for children or otherwise. Kids kayaks are less expensive than adult kayaks because they are smaller, costing less to make. Avoiding cheap knock-offs of the major brands is essential unless you want to give your child a kayak that is not as safe as it should be.
If the kayak has extra features such as storage or cupholders it comes with accessories you can expect a larger price. The accessories included should be taken into account when considering which is the best product for the money. If you want the least expensive kayak for your child because they may not use it enough then there are inflatable or cheap plastic kayaks that will get the job done.
Another price matter to consider is that of maintenance over time. Here is a good guide to pricing for kayaks.
The size of the kayak is very important for children. While an adjustable footrest can be used to accommodate different sizes or as the child grows, the kayak itself needs to be a smaller size and weight for a child to be able to use it properly. One factor that will have an effect on the size of the kayak is whether it is for one or multiple people.
A small kayak for one person is great for kids and they also make kayaks that are perfect for an adult and a child. The size of the kayak in combination with the materials used will affect the weight. A heavy kayak will be hard for a child to use and be harder to propel through the water. A lightweight kayak that is small enough for a child, but has an adjustable foot rest for if they grow, is the best choice when it comes to the size of kayak for kids.
Kids also come in many different sizes just like adults, so the length and weight capacity is important when shopping for a kids kayak. A kayak that is big enough for a five year old may not necessarily be the best one for a 6’ tall eighth grader, so the age and weight of the child is important to consider as well as the length of their legs for sitting inside of the cabin.
Most kayaks will tell you how much they weigh in the product description. Adult kayaks can be very heavy, which is why special kayaks are made for kids, youth, and petite adults. The weight is important for several reasons.
First of all, if it flips over the kayakers is trapped beneath the weight may be too much for them to overturn the kayak. It also may be harder to propel the kayak through water if the kayak is too heavy for the person using it.
The biggest struggle when it comes to the weight of the kayak is carrying it to the destination and also getting in and out of the water. For a child these tasks will be difficult to begin with, so a smaller lightweight kayak helps a lot.
Related to the weight of the kayak is also how it is carried. Most kayaks come with handles on either side, but the quality of the handles will vary. The grip is important in addition to the placement of the handles.
Thinking about the size of the hands of the child kayaker can help you figure out whether or not they will be able to carry the kayak by the handles. Some kayaks have finger grooves that work as handles, but the best kayaks will include easy carry handles because they know how difficult it can be to tote a kayak back and forth from the water.
Whether you are shopping for a kids kayak for your own children, a summer camp, or as a gift, you want to be sure that the kayak is safe. Children are precious and to protect them while kayaking some safety precautions should be made.
However, it is also important for parents and supervisors to keep in mind that all the safety features in the world on the kayak will not make up for wearing a life vest. Proper safety protocol should always be used when kayaking whether you are an adult or a child. There are some safety features that are included in kids kayaks that are not included in adult kayaks.
Here is a list of safety features to look out for when shopping:
- Protection against flipping over
One of the most dangerous things that can happen to anyone while kayaking is that the kayak accidentally flips over. For small children this could even be deadly. Kids kayaks should be designed to prevent the kayak from overturning completely which could trap the kayaker in the water beneath.
- Floatation devices integrated
“Floaties” are often used for children during water activities, but did you know that they also make kayaks that have floatation devices on the front and back to keep the kayak up right? For children the addition of floatation devices can make a world of difference and can be the difference between staying upright and dry and ending up in the water (potentially hazardous).
- Easy to climb back in
There is also a chance that the kayak could turn over or the child could simply fall out while joking around or not being careful. While a life jacket should always be worn in case the child does end up in the water, the kayak itself can also protect the child from harm in it’s design by making it easy to climb back into the kayak from the water. Getting into the kayak on land is one thing, but to climb back in the water is very hard especially in a stressed situation.
When shopping for a kayak for kids you do get to pick what color you want. Kids love to express themselves, so if you get them a kayak in their favorite color they will appreciate it. Some kids are picky and might not want to use the kayak if they don’t like how it looks or if they are in a bad mood that day and don’t feel like joining in on the fun activities, but if the kayak is a fun color that you picked out especially because it is there favorite, then they may be more excited for each trip.
If you want to get straight to the best products and avoid cheap knocks you can start by looking at the best selling brands of kayaks for kids. The best kayak brands for adults may also carry a smaller version of your favorite kayak that is a smaller size for children.
While the brand is not as important as the features, the company can be important when you consider whether or not they use materials which are ethically sourced and safe, and if they offer any warranties or satisfaction guarantees.
Kayaks can be very expensive, even the affordable options. To make sure that you get the most out of your purchase we recommend only shopping with companies that offer some type of warranty of their kayaks in case it comes with a factory defect or it does not reach up to the expectations of they advertised. If the kayak is too big or small for your kid you also will have to deal with returns, so paying attention to all warranties, guaranties, and return policies is highly recommended.
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions about buying the best kayak for kids.
What is the difference between a kayak for adults and a kayak for kids?
For children the kayak will need to be a smaller size. There should also be some accommodations made so that it is safer and less likely to turn over. If it does turn over, it is important to be able to easily climb back in and kayaks that are made for kids focus on this aspect more.
Is it safe for kids to go kayaking?
Yes! Kids older than five can go kayaking with adult supervision. They can sit in the back of your kayak or have their own. There are several high-quality kayaks for children available on the market so you can find one that is the right size for your kid. Safety vests should always be worn according to local ordinances.
We want to help you make an informed decision about what is the best kayak for your kids which is why we put together this handy kayak for kids buying guide. In addition to our detailed buying guide that explains the features that you should be shopping for, we also provided reviews for the best-selling kayaks for kids on the market.
Our top pick is the Perception Joyride 10 because it is a kayak that is suitable for youth that is also fully loaded with the features that kayakers love. There is a cup holder and a spot for your phone. It comes in a lot of colors and is a very high-quality construction.
If your kid is not super serious about kayaking just yet and you want a more affordable option, we recommend an inflatable kayak for kids like the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. It is super affordable and the fact that it is inflatable makes it very lightweight and good for small kayakers.