This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive commissions for purchases made through those links, at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure for more info here.

7 Best Kayaks For Kids (2021 Reviews And Guide)

Looking for the best kayak for kids?  If you want to get your little ones out on the water with you, please keep reading as we preview what to look for in a great kids’ kayak.

If you want to take your child kayaking, you can either have them ride tandem with you or buy them one of their own. The first option sounds fun until you are paddling by yourself in a kayak built for two.

The second option is to buy your child their own kayak. There are many benefits for your child to have their kayak, and we will get into that a bit later. You want this to be a fun and enjoyable experience, so setting your child up with the right gear is essential.

Best kayak for kids

If you are in a hurry, check out these top sellers.

Preview
Easy to Carry
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, GreenPinPin
Great Value
Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | FunkadelicPinPin
Best Inflatable
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air PumpPinPin
Title
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | Funkadelic
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Prime
-
-
-
Price
$146.95
Price not available
$124.69
Easy to Carry
Preview
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, GreenPinPin
Title
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green
Prime
-
Price
$146.95
Detail
Great Value
Preview
Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | FunkadelicPinPin
Title
Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | Funkadelic
Prime
-
Price
Price not available
Detail
Best Inflatable
Preview
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air PumpPinPin
Title
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Prime
-
Price
$124.69
Detail

There are so many types of kayaks to choose from, like sit on top, sit inside, inflatable, etc. So with that, let’s get right into it!

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak for Kids

Sale
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
  • Sloped at the end with a swim-up step allowing rider to easily re-enter the kayak...
  • Contstucted of High Density Polyethylene for superior strength and durabilty
  • Multiple footrest positions for different size riders; backed by a 5-year limited...
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:130 pounds
Kayak Weight:18 pounds
Length:6′
Width:24″
Type:Solid
What comes with it?Kayak and paddle

The seat is molded into the kayak, but it does not come with a backrest.  The nice thing is that the kayak is equipped with hooks to add a backrest for added support.  For shorter trips, you may not need a backrest.  There are molded footrests, which allows for different riding positions.

Molded finger handles make it easy to carry the kayak.  The kayak weighs about 18 pounds, so your child might be able to carry it. If not, it’s pretty easy for an adult to haul around.

If the paddler does fall off the kayak or decides to go for a swim, there is a swim-up deck to get back on.  The self-bailing scupper holes help to drain water from the floor of the boat.

PROS

Lightweight
Flip resistant hull design
Scupper holes to help drain water
Good tracking
Open, spacious deck
Comes with a paddle
Durable

CONS

Does not come with a backrest
Pretty lightweight, might be tough to paddle in the wind

Summary

This is one of the best kayaks for kids because it is made of a durable plastic material, and it has a sleek design. The kayak is stable and tracks well.  It’s easy to get on and off the kayak, if your child goes overboard, or just wants to go for a swim. This is a lightweight, easy-to-use kayak.


Perception Hi-Five Sit on Top Kayak for Kids

Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | Funkadelic
  • Inspired by the Award-Winning Hi Life – All the fun of kayaking and stand up paddle...
  • Hybrid approach to Kids kayaking - It can be paddled standing or sitting
  • Comes with a bright yellow, perfectly kid sized, 2- piece paddle that features...
  • Elevated seat makes sit on paddling easy
  • Large front deck area is perfect for kids to stand up and paddle
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:120 pounds
Kayak Weight:21 pounds
Length:6′
Width:24″
Type:Solid
What comes with it?Kayak and kid-sized paddle

This kayak is unique because it has a swim-up deck, paddle rest, and carry handles for easy transport. The Hi-Five also has built-in recesses so you can add accessories without using a drill.

What makes this the best kayak for kids? The Hi-Five is a hybrid, kayak, and SUP specifically built for kids.  The kayak is designed to be stable since it can be used as either a kayak or.  Your child will be able to grow into this vessel for years.

With molded footrests and a raised seat, this kayak is great for paddlers of different sizes. It’s also great if you need to stretch your legs out, there is plenty of room.

You can also add accessories, like deck pads, ropes, etc.  The swim-up deck makes it easy to get back on after swimming.

PROS

Hybrid kayak/SUP
Available in super fun colors
Ready for accessories
Stable design
Ample seating room
Easy to paddle

CONS

Does not come with a backrest
Might be challenging to paddle in the wind

Summary

The Hi-Five is an excellent kayak with room to grow into.  Your child can use it as a kayak for stand up paddleboard.  It’s stable and easy to paddle.  The kayak comes with a 6’6″ kid-sized paddle. A sleek design makes this one of the best kayaks for kids.


Intex Challenger Kayak for kids

Sale
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics...
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add...
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; Inflatable seat...
  • Comes with 84 inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi output manual hand pump; Rugged...
  • Measures 30 by 15 by 108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2 pound weight and 220 pound...
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:220 pounds
Kayak Weight:27 pounds
Length:9′
Width:30″
Type:Inflatable
What comes with it?Paddle, repair kit, pump, inflatable seat, carry bag

The K1 inflatable kayak is an excellent option for kids. It’s lightweight, comfortable and comes with pretty much everything you need to get started.  The inflatable seat is adjustable and removable.  There are grab lines on both the front and back, so it’s easy to transport from your car to the water.

This model comes with a cargo net on the front to store some of your child’s gear.  This is a bigger kayak than others on the list, so you want to make sure your child can handle it.  Since it’s a bit heavier, an adult may have to transport from the vehicle to the water.

Two separate air chambers and an inflatable I-beam keep the kayak rigid and stable.  The vinyl is also puncture resistant, which is helpful when kids are kayaking. You never know what they might run into when they are learning.

PROS

Lightweight
Stable
Easy to setup
Rugged material
Fully equipped

CONS

Might be a bit big for some smaller kids

Summary

The K1 kayak is an excellent kayak for kids because it’s lightweight, extremely portable, and easy to setup.  It comes with everything you need to get started, including a paddle, pump, repair kit, and carry bag.  There is also a two-person model available if you want to ride tandem with your child.


Sevylor Quikpak K1 kayak for kids

Sale
Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak Blue, 8'7" x 3'
  • 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
  • Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
  • 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
  • Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
  • Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:400 pounds
Kayak Weight:18 pounds
Length:8’7″
Width:36″
Type:Inflatable
What comes with it?Paddle, pump and a backpack to carry the kayak

This is a great inflatable kayak for kids. It’s lightweight, easy to pack, and setup. The Quickpak K1 is an excellent kayak for kids or beginners.  It doesn’t steer as well as a traditional kayak, but it’s great for kids to learn on. You can be set up in about five minutes.

The kayak comes with a cargo net on the front for a little bit of storage.  The backpack also doubles as the seat. There are multiple built-in footholds so different paddlers can use this kayak.  There are also carry handles on the front and back.

PROS

Lightweight
Easy to setup
Includes paddle and air pump
Everything you need to get on the water
Convenient carry backpack

CONS

Doesn’t track as well as a traditional kayak

Summary

The Sevylor Quikpak 1 is one of the best kayaks for kids because it’s lightweight and easy to setup. It comes with everything you need for your kayak adventure. There is even a small amount of bungee storage on the front of the kayak for extra gear.


Star Raven I Inflatable Kayak

Star Raven I Inflatable Kayak-Blue
  • Gives the paddler a stable and comfortable position above the water
  • A padded folding seat provides a strong and comfortable paddling position
  • Two easy-to-use straps hold the drop-stitch floor insert securely in place
  • Superior abrasion resistance, longevity and air retention at a great value
  • Bow and stern handles make the Raven easy to carry to and from the water
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:275 pounds
Kayak Weight:37 pounds
Length:9’10”
Width:38″
Type:Inflatable
What comes with it?Carry bag, pump and repair kit

Okay, this is on the higher end as far as price and quality, but it’s a good fit for a child who has some paddling experience. If you are looking for a kayak that he or she can grow into, this is worth a look.

The seat is adjustable and attaches to D-rings on the boat, so it’s easy to setup.  There are also hook and loop fasteners for the seat that attach to the floor of the vessel. This is to provide added support.

There are carry handles on the front and back, so it’s easy to transport to and from the water.  The PVC material is very durable and will give you many years of paddling.

For storage, there is plenty of room behind the seat for gear to take on day trips.  Items like a small cooler and some dry bags will easily fit.

PROS

Quick setup
Durable
Your child can grow into this kayak
Stable
Adjustable seat
Carry handles on front and back

CONS

Might be more than you need
Doesn’t come with a paddle

Summary

As I mentioned, this kayak is more than some people will need, but it’s an excellent option for the right child.  The Raven I has a lot of room to grow into.  It’s a durable kayak that can take whatever your child dishes out.


Pelican Solo 6 Feet Sit-on-top Youth Kayak

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Sit-on-top Youth Kayak Kids Kayak|Perfect for Kids Comes with Kayak Accessories, Paddle and Safety Flag (seat not Included), Yellow, One Size
  • Designed with an open cockpit, molded carrying handle for easy carrying, this...
  • The Twin Tunnel makes it easily maneuverable and provides Ultra Stability which...
  • Has a Swim-up rear deck with a handle so you can easily board the kayak from the...
  • Features: Molded footrests to fit a comfortable paddling position, a paddle park to...
  • Includes 60'' three-piece paddle and a safety flag to keep an eye on they are on the...
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:100 pounds
Kayak Weight:19 pounds
Length:6′
Width:24″
Type:Solid
What comes with it?Kids paddle

This is a great beginner kayak for kids and is best for smaller paddlers.  This kayak is designed with an open cockpit with plenty of room.  There are molded carrying handles, so it’s easy to transport this lightweight kid’s kayak.  The kayak is easy to maneuver and is stable, which is excellent for getting your little one started.

A swim-up rear deck makes it easy to get on the kayak from the water. There are also self-bailing holes, so any water onboard will drain out.  This model does not come with a seat, but it can be added.

PROS

Stable
Durable
Easy to carry
Comes with everything you need
Great for beginners
Easy to maneuver

CONS

Best for calm waters close to shore
Lightweight, might be tough to paddle in the wind

Summary

The Pelican Solo is a great way to get your little one started kayaking.  This short and stable kayak will help your son or daughter gain confidence and have fun in the process.  The boat is durable and stable, making it one of the best kayaks for kids.


SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-on top Kayak (Blue, 10-Feet)
  • Tracks and paddles with ease while offering maximum stability
  • P.A.C. (Portable Accessory Carrier) can be used as extra storage
  • Dry storage compartment with shock cord deck rigging
  • Open cockpit allows the easiest of entry
  • Large, comfortable seating area with protective thigh pads, adjustable foot braces...
Number of Paddlers:1
Weight Capacity:250 pounds
Kayak Weight:44 pounds
Length:9’6″
Width:29.5″
Type:Solid
What comes with it?Backrest

If you have an older child who has some experience kayaking, this may be a great option. This is a solid kayak that has plenty of room for your son or daughter to grow with.  This kayak is probably best for pre-teen or teenage kids.

The Bali SS 10 foot kayak comes with an adjustable high back support.  There is bungee storage on the rear of the kayak a water bottle holder and plenty of legroom up front.

This model is more substantial than others on this list, so it may take two of you to transport it to the water.  Once you are on the water, the kayak handles very well.

PROS

Durable
Stable
Will last a long time
Your child can grow with this model

CONS

Heavier than other models
Might be best suited for older kids

Summary

If you are in the market for a kayak for an older child, or if your child is an experienced kayaker, the Bali SS 10 is worth looking at.  It’s a stable, durable kayak that will last for years. Kids can grow with this boat, or grow into it.


How to choose the best kayak for kids

Price

Let’s get right to it, kids are fickle.  One day they want something the next day they don’t. You may not want to spend a fortune on a kayak right away.  Once you are convinced that your child will enjoy kayaking, you can always upgrade down the road.

That said, if your child has experience kayaking and is maybe a little ahead of the curve, you may want to purchase a kayak he or she can grow into.  If you are buying your kid their first kayak, you may want to stick to a tidy budget. There is no sense in breaking the bank for something they will use a couple of times and be done with.

Most of the time, the prices are pretty reasonable for getting started with a kids’ kayak.

Stability

Kayaks can be wobbly by nature. If your child is new to kayaking, stability is essential. To ensure you get off to a good start, you will want to buy a stable kayak. Look for a boat designed specifically for kids. This will help build confidence and make the whole experience a lot more fun for everyone involved.

Most kayaks that are made for kids are wider and shorter than a more standard size kayak.  This will help your little one stay upright and dry.  Nothing is worse than a wet, cold, upset kid when you are out on the water.

Length

We touched on this a minute ago, but kids kayaks tend to be a lot shorter than an adult kayak.  This shorter length is helpful for stability and works well for kids. Building confidence and having fun is very important when they are just starting out.

Honestly, you won’t have a whole lot of options when it comes to the length of a kid’s kayak. Many kids’ kayaks are designed to be very easy to use. Unless your child is old enough, or big enough to sit in a larger kayak, a shorter kid’s kayak is a great place to start.

Seating

The best kayaks for kids will have high and dry seats, meaning up off the floor.  Again, one goal is to keep the kids dry, so having a seat that isn’t in a position of getting wet can be very helpful.

You also want the seat to be designed for smaller bodies, which will fit them better.  An adjustable seat is vital so you can make sure you get the right fit.  Having a comfortable seat with excellent support can make all the difference with a day on the water.

Some kids’ kayaks will not come with a seat, but rather a seating area. This is usually just a part of the hard plastic kayak deck.  You may be able to add an aftermarket seat with cushion and back support.

Like you, your child will want to be able to stretch their legs now and then, so a seating area with ample legroom is essential. Remember, the goal is to not only have fun, but keep the whining to a minimum, and a comfy seat can really help.

Durability

Kids can be really rough on stuff, I can assure you.  You want a kayak that can take a beating. Fortunately, most kayaks for kids are made of hard plastic that can stand up to whatever you kid can dish out. An inflatable kayak for kids can take a beating as well, so keep that in mind.

When your child is just starting out, I am sure they will hit every rock, tree stump, or tree branch in sight. Buy a kayak that can withstand all things seen and unseen.

Weight

A lightweight kayak for kids is going to be the way to go.  Most kayaks designed for kids should be pretty lightweight.  Depending on how old or strong your child is, he or she may be able to launch it by themselves.  In many cases, though, it will be the adult dragging the kayak to the water.

Either way, if it’s you hauling it, or your child, you want it to be lightweight. This will give your kid the best chance to help out, be independent, and handle the kayak on their own.

Choose a kayak that is lightweight and easy to transport, and you will thank me later.  This is why inflatable kayaks for kids are so popular. They are easy to set up and carry. The kids can even do a lot of it themselves.

The downside to a lightweight kayak is getting pushed around by the wind.  This makes it harder to paddle and less stable.  The best kayak for kids will need to strike the right balance.

Accessories

The best kayak for kids will include all the accessories you need to get on the water.  An inflatable kid’s kayak should come with things like:

  • Hand or foot pump
  • A repair kit
  • A paddle
  • A duffel bag to carry the kayak
  • Most likely an inflatable seat
  • A pressure gauge

If you purchase a hardshell kayak for your child, make sure it comes with a seat and a paddle. Another item that is nice to have is a removable skeg, which helps keep the kayak going straight.

Is your kid ready to kayak?

You want to make sure your child is ready to kayak, so some things to keep in mind are:

  • Skill level. Have they ever been in a kayak before? If not, you will need to teach them the ins and outs of paddling.
  • Is he or she strong enough to maneuver the kayak, whether it’s through the wind on the lake, or hauling the kayak to the water?
  • Can your child swim? Chances are your kid will end up in the water at some point. Is your little darling ready if they go overboard?

Where will you be kayaking?

Try to go kayaking somewhere you are familiar with.  If not, do some research about the area before you go.  Calm water is the best place to start kayaking with your kids. Start with protected areas on a lake or on a quiet river.

Finding a kid-friendly area to kayak will produce much better results than putting them in a situation they are not comfortable with. This will help build confidence and reduce the stress level for both of you.

Another thing to keep in mind is bathroom breaks. This is sound advice, not only for the kids but for the adults too. As best you can, choose an area where you know there will be a place to hit the restroom when you need to. Bathroom breaks are crucial for kids.

How long will you be on the water?

Kids have short attention spans, and they get bored quickly, so keep this in mind.  Although you might dream of paddling for hours on end, chances are your kids may not want to go as long as you do.

At least initially, try to plan a short trip so they will have a good time.  As your child gets more comfortable and confident, you can explore more and be on the water longer.

When you get on the water

Here are some things to remember when you finally do make it to the water.

  • Teach them, show them proper paddling techniques, and talk about safety
  • Make sure your child is wearing a life jacket that fits correctly
  • Take it slow, you don’t want to get separated from your child
  • Set rules, like no standing
  • Have fun
  • Let them explore

Benefits of having their own kayak

You can choose to take your child in a tandem kayak.  But there are some serious benefits to getting them their very own kayak

Independence

Best kids kayak - Child fishing from a kayakPin

Give your kids a chance to learn and explore on their own. This will help build confidence.  If they have their own kayak, it will be a feeling of independence and trust.  Your child will be in control of the kayak, and it will go where they point it.  That’s a pretty cool feeling for a kid.

They will learn a lot

There are a lot of things your child can learn from having their own kayak.  There are simple things, like how much fun it is to be on the water. They will learn how to paddle and get where they want to go. Kids will learn about the outdoors and might see fish and other wildlife along the way.

Trial and error

I don’t know about you, but I have learned a lot by trial and error over the years.  Kids will learn pretty quickly what works and what doesn’t in a kayak.  Things like balance, leaning too far to one side, they will risk flipping over.  Paddling evenly on both sides will help to keep the boat straight.

Wrapping up

Choosing the best kayak for kids doesn’t have to be complicated. There are many great options to get your kids on the water with you.  Be sure to keep it fun, and that will be half the battle. Remember, always wear your life jacket.

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.

Steve Morrow Founder of Paddle About
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steve is an avid kayaker and founder of Paddle About. When he is not on the water, Steve enjoys outdoor activities, including fishing, camping, and hiking with his family. Read more.