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Best Kids Kayaks – Our Selection for 2021

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Kayaking is a sport you love and would love to share with your kids. You’ve already taken them on a couple of trips on your own tandem kayak and watch them grow to love the sport. Now, you feel it’s time to get them their very own yak. And the challenge many parents and guardians face is the type of kayak to buy for their kids.

I don’t need to spell it out that you can’t just buy any kayak for your kids. You need a yak that will provide lots of fun while also keeping your little ones safe. It’s in light of this that I compiled the best kids kayaks on the market.

This list is a result of countless hours of research, testing, and interviews with several parents who have bought yaks for kids. Below you’ll find a brief overview of each kayak, its pros, cons, as well as a buying guide to help you choose the one that suits your kids best.

The 6 Best Kids Kayaks for 2021

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green

$142.59  in stock
20 new from $141.20
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

Lifetime has a reputation for producing high-quality kayaks and the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is no exception. This yak is designed for children aged 5 and above. And your kids will be able to use the Youth Wave until they exceed 130 lbs which is going to take some years. Overall, this kayak is considered a “starter kayak” by many parents.

Entering and exiting this kayak is easy and the swim-up step is a nice touch as it makes it easy for kids to get back into this kayak when they go swimming.

Weighing 18 pounds, this kayak is lightweight. Yes, your child won’t be able to carry it but one parent will be able to without any difficulty. I also like the seat which is very comfortable and makes paddling easier for your kids.

The Lifetime Youth is also very stable and difficult to capsize. This kayak is a great gift to give your child on any gift-giving occasion. I’ve heard reports of kids completely overjoyed at being gifted this kayak by their parents and literally sleeping in it at home because they now have a yak to call their own, haha.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  5+ years old
  • Material: high-density polyethylene
  • Size:  6ft x 24 in / 182.8 x 60.9 cm
  • Weight:  18 lbs / 8.1 kg
  • Weight capacity:  130 lbs / 59 kg

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Excellent starter kayak.
  • Very stable and easy to paddle.
  • Comfortable seat.
  • Great gift idea.
  • Durable and long-lasting.

Cons

  • There are no plugs at the bottom to let out water splashes that get into the yak.

Other Buying Options:

Perception Hi Five KayakOur Top Pick

Perception Kayaks Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs.| Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6" | Sunset

$319.84  in stock
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

The Perception Hi Five kayak has all the features kids need to enjoy hours of enjoyment on the water. There is ample standing space, a swim-up deck, paddle rest, and two solo mount accessory recesses.

The swim-up deck is especially convenient for kids to get back on the yak after going for a swim and the paddle rest ensures there’s a place to put the paddle when it is not in use.

This yak can be used on different water bodies like lakes, ponds, and calm coastal waters. Perception’s “room to grow” design means this kayak can be used by kids from five years till they are about 14. And the paddles are designed for easy use for all kids within this age range.

The stability of this yak is superb which is great for kids as it ensures their safety on the water. There is also the hitch and tether system which your kid can use to attach their yak to yours. You can give the little ones a tow when they are tired or just for fun.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  5-14 years old
  • Material: high-density polyethylene
  • Size:  6ft x 24 in / 182.8 x 60.9 cm
  • Weight:  21 lbs / 9.5 kg
  • Weight capacity:  120 lbs / 54 kg

Pros

  • Lightweight (kids aged 11 and above can conveniently carry this kayak).
  • Solid construction.
  • Superb stability.
  • Easy to paddle and maneuver.
  • Different fun color choices.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

MaxKare Kids Kayak

MaxKare Kids Kayak Youth Kayak with Foldable Back Rest, Cup Holders, Front & Rear Storage Hatches, Paddle, 6.1' Feet, 3 footrest Positions, Ages Years 5 and up,Weight Capacity of 121 lbs

$259.99  out of stock
2 new from $259.99
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

The Maxkare Youth Kayak is another excellent kid kayak you should take a look at. Thanks to the solid construction, this yak is very sturdy, durable, and stable. I like that the kayak is still lightweight despite the solid construction.

Older children will have no problem carrying it and you can make things more fun for younger children by getting them a kayak cart. They sure would love to transport their own yak to shore.

Paddling this kayak is easy and your child will get the hang of it in no time. You can also attach their yak to yours for a tow as they get familiar with paddling, when they are tired, or just for fun.

There’s a foldable backrest and 3 cup footrest positions that can be adjusted to fit your child as he/she grows. There are also 2 cup/bottle holders on the yak. Your little one gotta stay hydrated as they paddle, right.

I like the drainage holes in the cockpit as they keep water out of the yak. And the tracking keel on the bottom of this kayak allows your little ones to easily paddle on a straight line.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  5+ years old
  • Material: high-density polyethylene
  • Size:  6ft x 24 in / 182.8 x 60.9 cm
  • Weight:  21 lbs / 9.5 kg
  • Weight capacity:  121 lbs / 54.8 kg

Pros

  • Lightweight design.
  • Bright and fun colors.
  • Drainage holes in the cockpit.
  • Easy to paddle.
  • Excellent tracking.
  • Durable construction.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Pelican 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

$164.99
$115.00
 in stock
4 new from $115.00
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

The Pelican Solo 6 is as kid-friendly as a kid yak can be. Kids as young as five can easily use this kayak. Being a sit-on-top kayak, it’s easy for your kid to enter or exit this kayak. And it easy for your kid to climb up back into the yak from the water thanks to the swim-up rear deck.

At 19 pounds, parents and older children will have no problem transporting this vessel to the shore. There’s a lot of space in the kayak and kayak and your child is guaranteed to be very comfortable.

I like the ultra-stable design which makes this yak very stable and easy to maneuver. This is important as kids generally won’t have the best stability and having a very stable kayak is important for them to have a fun time on the water.

This kayak is an excellent starter kayak and will make transitioning to larger kayaks super easy for your kids when they get older.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  5+ years old
  • Material: high-density polyethylene
  • Size:  6ft x 24 in / 182.8 x 60.9 cm
  • Weight:  19 lbs / 9 kg
  • Weight capacity:  100 lbs / 45.4 kg

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Ultra-stable design.
  • Very spacious.
  • Easy to maneuver.
  • Easy to enter and exit.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Other Buying Options:

Intex Challenger Kayak

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

$146.99
$84.39
 in stock
23 new from $84.39
3 used from $77.99
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

If you are very familiar with kayaks, something will come to your mind the moment you hear “Intex” and that’s inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks are all the rage nowadays as they are easy to transport, store, and very durable.

The fold to the size of a backpack when not in use and Intex is one of the best producers of inflatable kayaks. And there is no reason for you not to introduce your kids to the world of inflatable kayaks.

The package includes a high pressure hand pump that’s fast and easy to use. Your kid is just minutes away from being on the water. And who knows, the short inflation process can turn out to be fun.

I particularly the deck rigging of this kayak which is one of its standout features. Your kids may want to carry some of their own gear as they get older and the Intex Challenger K1 will provide all the space they’ll ever need.

Since the size of this kayak is closer to the full range, you’ll want to buy it for older and bigger kids, especially teenagers. And with a maximum weight capacity of 220lbs, adults can even make use of this yak from time to time.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  13+ years old
  • Material: Heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl
  • Size:  9ft x 2″ 6 in / 274 x 75 cm
  • Weight:  23.9 lbs / 9 kg
  • Weight capacity:  220 lbs / 100 kg

Pros

  • Inflatable kayak offering unparalleled ease of storage and transport.
  • Teen-friendly.
  • Very spacious.
  • Super comfortable.
  • Easy to paddle.
  • High load capacity.
  • Stable and durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcomings.

Pelican Sonic 80X Kayak

Pelican Kayak Sonic 80X | Sit-On-Top Recreationnal Kayak, Orange, 8 Feet

$295.13  in stock
5 new from $295.13
Free shipping
Amazon.com
as of October 17, 2021 11:45 am

The second Pelican kayak on our list so the company gotta be doing something right, right? The Pelican Sonic 80X, which is 8ft long, is bigger and longer than the Pelican Solo 6 above which has a length of 6ft. Essentially, the Sonic 80X is an upgrade of the Solo 6 and is more suited for older children particularly teenagers.

I’m impressed with the maneuverability and the excellent tracking means your kid will be able to easily cover large distances with ease. The Pelican Sonic 80X also has a good balance of speed and stability.

Thanks to the molded footrest and adjustable ergofoam padded backrest, this kayak is very comfortable. And the self-bailing design helps get rid of splashes that get into the yak when paddling.

The load capacity is very high at 225 lb making this kayak also suitable for adults. And the durable design means your kid will be using this yak for a very long time.

 Specifications

  • Recommended age range:  13+ years old
  • Material: Heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl
  • Size:  8ft x 29 in / 244 x 74 cm
  • Weight:  37 lbs / 17 kg
  • Weight capacity:  225 lbs / 102 kg

Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Excellent tracking and maneuverability.
  • Good balance of speed and stability.
  • Very comfortable.
  • High load capacity.
  • Durable.

Cons

  • No major shortcoming.

Other Buying Options:

Best Kids Kayaks – The Guide 

Now that you know the best kids kayaks to buy for your little ones, I’ll now be taking you through a buying guide. Here, you’ll learn all you need to know about kid kayaks. This will allow you to make informed decisions when choosing kayaks for your kids. So here we go.

Where To Go Kayaking With Kids?

Ideally, you should only take your kids kayaking on calm waters – lakes, ponds, lazy rivers, bays. Stay away from strong currents as kid kayaks are not built for strong currents. Unless you have extensive kayaking experience, you should never go kayaking on faster currents with your kids.

Familiarize yourself with the area you will be kayaking with your kids and try to anticipate any situations you may encounter. Ideally, you should go to places you know very well or have gone to on a kayaking trip before.

What Safety Precautions To Take?

There are other safety precautions you must take into consideration. For one, your kid should never be on the water without a PFD or life jacket. Safety first! Also, make sure you have your eyes on your kids at all times and stay close to them.

It’s advisable you start them out in a quiet area to build their confidence, and make sure you stay well away from low-head dams and strainers. Sunscreens may be necessary to prevent sunburns. And of course, bring food and water with you.

Best kids kayaks - Guide

What To Take Into Consideration When Choosing a Kayak For Kids?

Hardshell vs. Inflatable Kayaks

When it comes to kayaks, two choices are always available – hardshell and inflatable kayaks. Inflatable kayaks have become more popular over the years due to the unparalleled ease of storage and transport they offer. However, inflatable kayaks require more maintenance than hard-shell kayaks and are more affected by wind.

Most kid kayaks are hard shell kayaks because their small size means they won’t be as difficult to store or transport as full-size kayaks. There are also a number of inflatable kayaks you can buy for your kids but most of them aren’t exactly starter kayaks and are suited for older children, especially teenagers.

Size/Length of The Kayak

Choosing the appropriate kayak size is important for easy maneuverability and stability. Choose a yak that’s too large and your child will have problems paddling it. Choose one that’s too light and it won’t be very stable.

The best kid kayaks are those that fall within 6 to 8 feet. The 6 feet models are excellent starter kayaks and are designed for room to grow. This is why a 5-year-old and a 14-year-old will be able to comfortably use most starter kayaks.

Weight Capacity

You’ll have to put the weight capacity of kids’ kayaks into consideration when choosing one that will suit your child. Kayaks with a weight capacity between 110 to 140 pounds are compatible for kids between 5 and 14-year-old. Older kids will need yaks with higher weight capacities and a weight limit of around or over 200 pounds will be desired in this case.

Towing

You may not feel comfortable letting your kids paddle on their own yet in which case you may want to go for a yak with a towing ability. The towing ability will also come in handy when your kid is tired and in need of a tow back to shore.

Final Thoughts

That’s it, the best kids kayaks available on the market. As I pointed out in the buying guide, choosing a kayak for your kid requires you to consider a number of factors with the ultimate aim of choosing a vessel that will provide maximum safety and stability for your kid.

This list is meant to help you filter out the best kid kayaks from the numerous options available on the market. Evaluate each kayak thoroughly and choose the one that best suits your child. And here’s to you and your kid having a nice time on the water!

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