Best Kids Kayak Guide for 2023

Canoes and Kayaks

Introducing kayaking to your children can be a great way to get them active and outdoors. But with so many different types of kayaks on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is the best kids kayak for them. 

In this blog post, we will take a look at the best kayak for kids and what to look for when choosing the perfect kayak for your little one. So whether you’re a beginner or experienced kayaker, read on to find out more.

kid kayak

How Old Do Kids Need To Be To Learn To Kayak?

Ideally, children can start kayaking at the age of 5.  Initially they should be taught the basic kayaking skills in a tandem kayak with an adult before graduating to their own child-sized kayak or youth kayak. Ages 7 to 10 are the ideal ages at which you can teach your child how to kayak as they are grown enough to learn all the essentials. At this age, they will also have developed the required attention span, physical attributes, and skill development necessary for operating a kayak.

Your kids should start learning to kayak in calm lakes, ponds, and slow moving rivers under the guidance of an experienced adult. Of course it is best not to go for choppy waters or the ocean until they are old enough and more experienced.

What Is The Best Size Kids Kayak?

A suitable size kids kayak is one that provides them with the greatest stability and control. Therefore, you do not want your child to have a kayak that is too big, so opt for something between 6 to 8 feet. This is the ideal size for enhanced balance, handling, and tracking.

The width of the kayak is also important. A kids kayak that is too wide will be more stable, however results in kids constantly hitting their elbows on the side of the boat. Additionally the kayak should be light weight enough for them to be able to lift it in and out of the water.

kids kayak red youth kayak

Features To Look For In a Youth Kayak

When choosing a youth kayak, there are several essential features to look out for.
First and foremost, the kayak should be the correct size. It should be small enough for your child to sit in comfortably but large enough that they won’t outgrow it quickly.

The kids kayak should also be lightweight and maneuverable so your child can quickly move it around without additional help.

Furthermore, the kayak should have a large cockpit to enable easier re-entering from the water.   Sit-on-the-top kayaks can be a great option for a childs first kayak.

Tips For Kayaking With Children

If your child is kayaking for the first time with you, then there are a few essential tips that you should take into consideration:

  • Remember that your children should always sit in the front of a tandem kayak, and you should take the backseat to keep an eye on them.
  • Practice safety first so that your children are familiar with any rules you might set, and create good habits while kayaking, such as no standing in the kayak.
  • When your child is new to kayaking, opt for small ponds and lakes instead of going out into the ocean until they are confident with their skills. 
  • Understand your child’s ability when it comes to kayaking. Don’t push them too far too soon. Allow for breaks, and don’t be out on the water for long periods of time.
  • It’s also a good idea to teach as you go by explaining what you are doing and why you are doing it. This will help build their skills, knowledge, and their confidence.
  • Always wear life jackets to ensure you and your children’s safety.
  • Also, pack the much-needed essentials such as sunscreen, water bottles, and snacks.

Best Kids Kayak Reviews

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Weight: 18lb
Length: 6ft
Width: 24 inches
Weight Capacity: 130lb

Available in vibrant blue color, this 6ft little kayak is a perfect shape and size for kids that are around 5 to 7 years old. With an ergonomic cockpit design, it provides balance and stability to young children who are learning yo kayak.

This Lifetime Youth Kayak has molded finger handles on both sides that are amazing for a firm grip when carrying out of the water and has a swim up step at the rear to allow for easy access from the water. 

This kids kayak comes with a paddle included.


  • Lightweight
  • Easy to transport
  • Stable


  • Not suitable for long trips

Pelican SOLO Sit-On-Top Youth Kayak

Weight: 19lbs 
Length: 6ft
Width: 24 inches
Weight Capacity: 100lb

The Pelican Solo Sit-on-Top Youth Kayak is a highly functional kayak for small kids fond of kayaking. Uniquely designed for rugged use, this strong and durable kayak weighs around 19lbs and has a weight capacity of 100lb.

This kayak features a bottle holder, drain plug, backrest, and a molded handle for carrying the kayak offshore. This handle would be better if it was a complete cut-out rather than having a little indent. This kayak is known for its safety and stability, and for convenience includes a paddle park for when your kayak paddle is not in use.

This kids kayak comes with a 72 inch aluminium junior paddle, a safety flag and a padded backrest.  Color options are Red, Yellow or Blue.


  • Fast speed
  • Has good tracking
  • Good option for beginners


  • No built for long distance paddling

Perception Hi-Five Sit-On-Top Kids Kayak

Weight: 21 pounds
Length: 6ft
Width: 24 inches
Weight Capacity: 120lbs

Inspired by the award-winning Hi-Five, this kids kayak by Perception has all the attributes that make it perfect for kids. It has molded-in carry handles, pull-up hand grips, an elevated seat, and molded-in footrests, making it an all-in-one kayak.

It also comes with a yellow 2-piece paddle, built for smaller hands, and the rear swim-up deck makes it easier for kids to climb back in. The moulded seat is elevated which helps to keep your kids bottom dry and a 2-piece kayak paddle.


  • Safe and stable
  • Has a swim up deck
  • Elevated seat


  • Some customers have complained of dull colors

Pelican Sonic 80X Youth Kayak

Weight: 37 pounds
Length: 8ft
Width: 29 inches
Weight Capacity: 225lb

The Sonic Youth Kayak by Pelican is currently one of the safest kayaks you will find. With a maximum weight capacity of 225 lb and a safety flag, this kayak offers superior stability and water drainage holes at the bottom.  The larger length and width and extra weight of this kayak makes it suitable for slightly older kids and small adults.

The stable and lightweight hull is a safe ride for young kids and offers excellent support to young paddlers. The only downside for this youth kayak is that the drain holes are placed right where the seat is, so the kayaker gets wet as soon as they sit in the kayak.


  • Includes a drain plug
  • Ideal for tracking distances
  • Ergonomic padded back rest


  • Drain hole placement not ideal

Lifetime Dash 6'6" Youth Kayak

Weight: 21 pounds
Length: 6.6ft
Width: 24 inches
Weight Capacity: 150lb

The Lifetime Dash kayak is excellent for small paddlers with a carry handle molded into the seat and is very convenient for transport. This kayak weighs around 21pounds, is 6.6ft long, and is made from high-quality and durable plastic.

Available in a beautiful glacier blue shade, it has footrest positions for the users and an ergonomic cockpit that improves the balance. It has a swim up deck at the rear with hand grips to assist in pulling yourself out of the water and comes with a padded foam backrest.  However the backrest is a little flimsy and doesn’t provide much support. This kayak comes with a 5 year limited warranty.  If you’re looking for a budget-friendly kayak that doesn’t empty your pockets, you should consider the Lifetime Dash kayak.


  • Swim up deck handles
  • Lightweight and balanced
  • 5-year limited warranty


  • Back rest is a bit flimsy

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak

Weight: 28.2 pounds
Length: 9ft
Width: 30 inches
Weight Capacity: 220lb

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is an inflatable kayak suitable for kids. Whilst this kayak is actually designed for adults, it is also a great fit for children.  It is one of the most comfortable kayaks to sit with its inflatable seat and its design make it very difficult to flip in the water.  

This kayak come with a paddle and inflation pump making it a great option for paddling in areas requiring a reasonable walk in to the waters edge.  The Intex Challenger kayak is ideal for lakes, rivers, and ponds and with a retractable skeg makes it excellent for tracking in a straight line.

View our in depth article for more on the Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak.


  • Exceptional directional movement
  • Super comfortable
  • Very stable in the water


  • The carry bag quality is not great

Conclusion on Kids Kayaks

Choosing the most suitable kayak for your kids can be tricky if you’re not armed with the right knowledge. However, with the multiple youth kayak options provided above, it shouldn’t be too difficult to pick a kayak that suits your child in terms of pricing, weight capacity, and features.
We wish you the best of luck with your kayak purchase. Happy Kayaking!

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