The 9 Best Kids Kayak Selections For A Safe And Exciting Water Adventure

Last Updated 25 Apr 2024 by Fiona Perisone

EDITOR'S PICKS

Recommended
Best Overall    
Goplus 6FT Youth Kayak thumbnail

4.8/5

  • High durability and corrosion resistance
  • Ensures ultra-stability and safety
  • Suitable for domestic pool, river, lake, and calm sea
Recommended
Premium Choice
Water Bear Kids Kayak By Evrwild thumbnail

5/5

  • Versatile and durable
  • Can fit everyone from the smallest kids up to a young adult
  • Made from HDPE, a non-toxic recyclable plastic
Recommended
most budget-friendly
Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak thumbnail

4.6/5

  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Great stability
  • Easy to carry and maneuver
  • Requires less storage space

MORE PICKS TO CHOOSE FROM

Discover the thrill and excitement of kayaking as a family. With the right kayak, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for both parents and kids. But with so many options on the market, finding the perfect fit for your child can be overwhelming.

To help you search, we have done the research for you and rounded up the best kids' kayaks on the market. But before you dive in, let's take a closer look at what to consider when shopping for a kid's kayak. Safety is key, so we'll cover important factors like size and weight, weight capacity, durability, and more.

What To Look And Consider When Shopping For In Kid's Kayaks

Type Of Kayak

There are different types of kayaks for different activities, such as recreational kayaks, touring kayaks, whitewater kayaks, fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks, and sit-on-top kayaks. 

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks are the most popular type, designed for calm waters such as lakes or slow-moving rivers.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are designed for longer trips and are built for speed and tracking, and can handle choppy waters and waves. 

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are built for fast-moving water, such as rapids and rivers. However, whitewater kayaking can be dangerous for kids. Whitewater kayaks are best avoided for kids unless a certified instructor ensures that the children are ready to start whitewater kayaking. 

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are designed for anglers who want to fish in calm waters such as lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. They are typically longer and wider than recreational kayaks. 

Inflatable Kayaks

An inflatable kayak is made of PVC or nylon material and is inflated with air. They are lightweight, easy to transport and store, and great for casual and short trips. 

Sit in Kayaks Or Sit On Top Kayaks

A sit-in kayak is a type of kayak where the cockpit is enclosed, and the paddler sits inside the kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks have an open deck that you sit on top of rather than inside the kayak. Unlike a sit-in kayak, sit-on-top kayaks are great for warmer climates and are easy to get in and out of. 

Size and weight

It's important to choose a kayak with the right size and weight for your child. Adult kayaks are designed for adults and are not always the best option for younger paddlers.

Kids kayaks are typically smaller and lighter in weight than youth kayaks and are designed for children who are just learning to kayak. They typically have a lower weight capacity and are easier for children to maneuver.

A kayak that is too big or heavy can be difficult for a child to maneuver, while a kayak that is too small may not be comfortable or stable enough. Look for a kayak that is the right size and weight for your child's age and skill level. When in doubt, there are kayak size charts available.

Weight Capacity

The kayak's weight capacity is also important as it will determine how much gear and supplies your child can bring on the trip. Make sure the kayak has a weight capacity that is suitable for your child's needs.

Stability

Stability is the key to kayaking, especially for children who are just learning. Look for a stable and easily maneuverable kayak with a wide beam and a flat bottom.

Durability

Kids can be tough on gear, so it's important to look for a kayak that can withstand them. Look for a kayak made of high-quality materials with features like a reinforced bottom and sides to ensure it will last for many future trips.

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to children kayaking. Look for a kayak with features such as a secure footrest and backrest to ensure comfort and security.

Ease of Use

It's important to find a kayak that is easy for your child to use. Look for a kayak with a simple, user-friendly design that is easy for a child to navigate and lightweight.

Swim-up Deck

Especially when it comes to kids, it's always good to find a kayak with a swim-up deck. It makes it easy for the child to climb back into the kayak after swimming or if they accidentally fall out.

Tow System

If you're planning on taking your child kayaking with you on a river or lake, a tow system can be a great feature to avoid separation on an adventure. Look for a youth or junior kayak with a tow system that is easy to use and can be attached to a rope or other type of tow line.

9 Best Kayaks For Kids To Explore the Great Outdoors

Goplus 6FT Youth Kayak

Best Overall

overall 

4.8/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Goplus 6FT Youth Kayak

Features:

  • Made of odor-free and non-toxic HDPE material
  • Lightweight design
  • Folding backrest with ergonomic design
  • Storage space with storage bag

The Goplus recreational kayak is the ultimate water adventure companion for any child. Designed with safety and fun in mind, it features a sturdy, durable construction that will withstand the rough and tumble of kids' play.

The Goplus Youth Kayak includes a comfortable backrest and footrests, adjustable straps, and a lightweight design that makes it easy for children to handle. With its bright and vibrant colors, this kayak is sure to be a hit with kids of all ages. But it's not just fun and games - the kayak also features a sleek and streamlined design that makes it easy to navigate through the water. Whether your child is just starting out or is an experienced paddler, the Goplus kayak is the perfect choice for a safe and enjoyable water adventure.

Material

Polyethylene

Weight

22 Pounds

Weight Capacity

150 pounds

Dimensions

73" L X 24" W X 9" H

Pros:

  • High durability and corrosion resistance
  • Ensures ultra-stability and safety
  • Suitable for domestic pool, river, lake, and calm sea

Cons:

  • Pricey

Water Bear Kids Kayak by Evrwild

Premium Choice

overall 

5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Water Bear Kids Kayak By Evrwild

Features:

  • Premium ergonomic design
  • Treasure tray and cup holder
  • Paddled seat and molded-in footrest
  • Storage with bungee

Made in the USA, this kayak is designed specifically for children, with a weight capacity of up to 120 lbs. and multiple footrest options, making it good for a variety of body sizes. This kayak has a slip-resistant seat and carries handles. It features excellent stability with its wide and flat bottom design and swim-up deck for re-entry. It's made of high-quality, durable UV-stabilized polyethylene plastic and is actually recyclable.

In addition, it also has a 5-year warranty, a bungee storage area in the front, a cup holder, and a "Treasure Tray" (perfect for kids to store their snacks, rocks, or other cool finds).

Material

Polyethylene

Weight

30 pounds

Weight Capacity

‎130 Pounds

Dimensions

78" l x 24" w x 9" h

Pros:

  • Versatile and durable
  • Can  fit everyone from the smallest kids up to a young adult
  • Made from HDPE, a non-toxic recyclable plastic

Cons:

  • Paddle is not included

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Most Budget-Friendly

overall 

4.6/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Features:

  • Ergonomic cockpit design
  • Molded finger handles on each side of the kayak
  • Reverse chine

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is an excellent choice for young paddlers. This kayak is specifically designed for young people and has a weight capacity of 130 pounds, making it perfect for growing kids who are ready to take their kayaking to the next level.

Constructed with high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic, this kayak is built to last and withstand the rigors of the outdoors. It's designed for stability and durability, so young paddlers can confidently navigate in rougher waters and enjoy their time on the water. Featuring multiple footrest positions, so growing kids can adjust the kayak to fit their size and ensure a comfortable ride. Additionally, it has a paddle holder, which can greatly help store the paddle when not in use.

Material

Hard Shell

Weight

19 Pounds

Weight Capacity

130 pounds

Dimensions

72" l x 24" w x 9" h

Pros:

  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Great stability
  • Easy to carry and maneuver
  • Requires less storage space

Cons:

  • Can be small for 8 years old and above
  • No storage bin

Lifetime Cadet Youth Kayak

Best kids kayak for Beginners

overall 

4.7/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Lifetime Cadet Youth Kayak

Features:

  • Molded paddle cradle
  • Reverse chine for enhanced stability
  • UV protection

The Cadet is the best option for beginners due to its stability and ease of use. It really shines in its performance by having a wide and flat bottom design, along with dual channels for speed, reverse chine for enhanced stability, and a tracking skeg for straight paddling. Additionally, the kayak's lightweight design and center carry handles make transportation a breeze.

The Cadet also has a molded paddle cradle, multiple footrest positions, and a tow handle. Given that the seat is made of hard plastic, it is recommended that you add a comfortable seat attachment for your child. The kayak also comes with a limited 5-year warranty and a paddle.

Material

Polyethylene

Weight

16.9 Pounds

Weight Capacity

‎100 Pounds

Dimensions

‎66" l x 23.25" w x 7.8" h

Pros:

  • Durable construction
  • Excellent quality and design
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Can be too wide for others
  • No storage space

Lifetime Dash 66 Youth Kayak

Best for Smaller Paddlers

overall 

4.7/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Lifetime Dash 66 Youth Kayak

Features:

  • Patented swim-up deck design
  • Multiple footrest positions
  • Ergonomic design

The Dash 66 is a great option for smaller paddlers due to its compact design and weight capacity of only 150 pounds. Its stability is also noteworthy, with a wide design that makes it easy for kids to maneuver, not tip over, and feel secure while paddling.

Made of high-dense polyethylene, Lifetime Dash Youth Kayak is durable and resistant to impacts, ensuring that it can withstand even the roughest kid. Designed to include front and rear bungee cords to store gear so kids can bring snacks and other items on their trips. It also features a grab handle on the bow and stern for easy transport, making it easy to carry to the water. Features a comfortable and adjustable backrest, which can be adjusted to fit the child's body shape. It also has a footrest that can be adjusted to fit different size legs, providing a more comfortable paddling experience.

Material

Plastic

Weight

20 Pounds

Weight Capacity

150 pounds

Dimensions

78" l x 24" w x 10" h

Pros:

  • Patented swim-up deck design
  • Cool color options
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Cons:

  • Tracks slowly

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Best Value

overall 

4.4/5

Quality

durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Features:

  • Inflatable seat with backrest
  • Eye catching graphics
  • Convenient zippered storage bag

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a popular inflatable kayak designed for children. It's compact, lightweight (27.2 lbs), and easy to transport and store when deflated. When inflated, the kayak is 9 ft. long and 2 ft. wide, providing ample space for a child or even an adult (220 lbs. max. capacity). It has an inflatable I-beam floor that provides rigidity and stability and is made of durable, puncture-resistant material.

The kayak comes with a pump for easy inflation/deflation, a removable skeg for improved tracking and stability, grab handles, a safety valve, a netted front pouch for additional belongings, a high-quality aluminum oar, and a repair patch kit. It also features an inflatable seat and backrest for comfort during your kayaking adventure.

Material

N/A

Weight

7.2 pounds

Weight Capacity

220 pounds

Dimensions

108" w x 13" h x 30" d

Pros:

  • Includes life jacket and manual hand pump
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Easy to inflate and store
  • Best for lakes and rivers

Cons:

  • Slow and hard to maneuver

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Kayak

Best kids kayak for Lakes

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Kayak

Features:

  • Bottle holder, drain plug, and a safety flag
  • Molded carrying handle
  • Swim-up rear deck with handle
  • Open cockpit for easy carrying

The Pelican Solo 6 Feet Kayak is the ultimate watercraft for the adventurous spirit. Ideal for small children, it has a weight capacity of 100 lbs. This kayak is designed for performance and durability, featuring a high-density polyethylene construction that can withstand the toughest conditions. The kayak is lightweight and easy to transport, making it perfect for solo trips or for those who like to travel light. The kayak features a comfortable and adjustable seat, with footrests to provide a secure and comfortable fit. It also includes a paddle, so you can start exploring right away.

But the Pelican Solo 6 Feet Kayak is not just about practicality, it is also about style. The kayak features a sleek, streamlined design that is sure to turn heads on the water. With its bright and vibrant colors, the kayak is sure to be a hit with kayakers of all ages.

Material

Plastic

Weight

8.8 pounds

Weight Capacity

100 pounds

Dimensions

72" l x 24" w x 9" h

Pros:

  • Excellent quality
  • Safe design and easy to handle
  • Lightweight and stable

Cons:

  • Doesn't include the seat or the paddle

Perception Hi-Five Kayak

Best Kayak/SUP Hybrid

overall 

4.9/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Perception Hi-Five Kayak

Features:

  • Kid-tested design
  • Molded-in paddle rest
  • Molded-in rear handles for lockable storage

The Perception Hi-Five kayak is a sit-on-top kayak designed for children and youth and is the best option for those looking for a kayak/stand-up paddleboard hybrid. It is a lightweight and durable kayak that is easy for kids to handle and maneuver. 

The Perception Hi-Five Kayak features a comfortable and adjustable seat, with footrests to provide a secure and comfortable fit. It also includes a paddle, so your child can start using it right away. The kayak has a bright and colorful design that is sure to appeal to children. The Perception Hi-Five kayak is perfect for both beginners and experienced kayakers, providing a fun and safe adventure on the water. The kayak is also versatile, allowing children to explore different types of water, whether it's a lake, river, or even the ocean. It's a great way to introduce kids to the world of kayaking and help them develop their skills.

Material

Polyethylene

Weight

21 pounds

Weight Capacity

120 pounds

Dimensions

72" l x 24" w x 8" h

Pros:

  • High-quality and upgradeable
  • Excellent stability and balance on water
  • Eye-catching colors
  • Best for lakes, ponds and calm coastal waters

Cons:

  • Pricey

Perception Hi-Life 11 kids' kayak

Multi-Functional Kids Kayak

overall 

4.5/5

Quality

Durability

Ease of Use

Cost

Perception Hi-Life 11 Kids' Kayak

Features:

  • Elevated seat with supportive, fold-down backrest
  • Thick padding
  • Convenient drink holder and built-in cooler
  • Ready to Accessorize

The Hi-Life is a top choice for young paddlers looking for a versatile and multi-functional option. It can be used for stand-up/kneeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking. It is a great way for kids to learn balance and paddling skills with this kayak. With a capacity of 280 lbs., the kayak can accommodate kids and/or adults and extra gear. The kayak is also made of durable high-density polyethylene.

The kayak's wide, stable design and swim-up deck provide added safety and stability for children. It has a tow system, a front bungee deck, a drink holder, and a nicely cushioned backrest with an awesome built-in cooler under it for drinks and snacks!

This award-winning kayak is made in the USA, comes in 4 different colors, and is a great all-around choice for you or your child's next adventure.

Material

Polyethylene

Weight

55 Pounds

Weight Capacity

280 pounds

Dimensions

132" l x 34" w x 9" h

Pros:

  • Versatile and multifunctional
  • Excellent stability, comfort, and safety
  • Made in USA
  • Sturdy and durable

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Doesn't come with a paddle

FAQ

What is the best age for a child to start kayaking

The age at which children can start kayaking depends on a number of factors, such as the child's physical abilities and maturity level. Generally, children as young as 5 or 6 years old can start kayaking with adult supervision and in calm, protected waters. Some kids may even be ready to be in their own kayak. A kid can kayak with a grown-up by sitting in the center of a tandem kayak. However, this is only recommended if the adult has some kayaking skills and experience.

How to teach kids to kayak safely

Introducing your child to the wonderful world of kayaking is an exciting and rewarding experience. But before you hit the water, it's crucial to ensure their safety and well-being. Teaching kids to kayak safely starts with proper instruction, supervision, and the right equipment.

First and foremost, before getting on the water, teach kids about the importance of wearing a life jacket and how to fit and wear it properly. It's also vital to teach them basic water safety, such as what to do if they fall out of the kayak and how to signal for help.

Next, choose the right kayak for your child. Make sure the kayak is the right size and weight limit for them. Start in calm, shallow water, such as a lake or a slow-moving river. This will allow your child to get used to the kayak and develop basic paddling skills before tackling more challenging conditions.

Provide close supervision the whole time, and be within easy reach in case they need help. It's essential to teach proper paddling techniques to your child, showing them how to hold the paddle correctly and how to use the proper paddling technique.

If you feel uncomfortable teaching your kids to kayak, seek certified professionals.

About the Author

Fiona is a veteran travel consultant, photographer and travel writer at planetrider.com. She has spent many years as a corporate travel consultant and decided to actually live the life rather than plan it for others!

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