Taking your kids to enjoy the water is a great alternative to outdoor activities like playing baseball or football. And when it comes to water activities, kayaking is a good choice. It’s alright to take them with you on the boat, but when they reach a certain age, they might want to have their kayaks.
It gives you a sense of fulfillment seeing them on their own and a great experience getting your child his or her boat. With plenty of options available in the market today, finding the best youth kayak will be hard.
The process will not be as hard however if you know what to look for in a kid’s kayak. And we have made it even easier with our compilation of the ten best youth kayaks you can find for your child. Plus, we have included the buying guide and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about kayak and kayaking.
Why is Kayaking Good for Your Kids?
Kayaking has multiple benefits for your kids. Instead of staying at home and playing video games, they can spend quality time outdoors. It is an intense physical activity and at the same time an exhilarating experience for them. When you encourage your children to participate in this activity, they can have good exercise and enjoy the adventure.
In addition to the great experience, your kids will also get close to nature. The fun of being outdoors and away from the distraction of the virtual world and becoming a couch potato. As a bonus, kayaking can boost your kid’s confidence too. The idea of letting them handle their boat will make them realize their potential and boost their confidence.
10 of the Best Youth Kayak for Kids
Our list of the best kayak for kids will narrow down your search. Let’s get started.
First on the list is the Lifetime Youth 6-Ft Wave Kayak review. Lifetime is a renowned maker of kayaks and paddleboards. Their kayaks are said to be the most stable sit-on-top kayaks in the world and the endearing quality is present in this model.
The Lifetime Youth 6-Ft Wave Kayak is made for children who are more than 5 years old and with a maximum weight capacity of 130 pounds. This kayak is durable and sturdy as it’s made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE). To make the boat more resilient against the UV rays, it has integrated UV protection. That means the boat will not crack or fade with prolonged exposure to the sun. It has a 5-year warranty as to the manufacturer’s assurance of its product quality.
Even if this kayak has a sturdy build it is extremely lightweight at 18 pounds. With the child’s safety in mind, the craft has a molded finger handles position on each side to easily carry around and transport. Your kid can show his or her independence carrying it himself.
The kayak’s design is focused on the safety of your kids. You can see this on the reversed backbone that contributes to its improved stability. It also has built-in scupper holes that drain the water from the cockpit. Lifetime has also a patented design known as the Swim-Up Deck. This will help your kid to re-enter the kayak safely.
Paddling is also not easy using this particular model. The cockpit has an ergonomic design and several footrest positions to choose from. Even the sit-up position on the kayak is very stable and a walk in the park for beginners.
- Durable and sturdy
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Easy to re-enter
- Ergonomically designed cockpit
- It lacks the rigging cord to hold the paddle.
The Sun Dolphin Aruba is a beginner’s kayak and most definitely fit kids who are beginning to explore the wonders of kayaking. It is also reasonably priced, which helps parents provide their kids with an introductory boat without spending so much money on something that their kids might outgrow.
Sun Dolphin is a popular label from inexpensive kayaks. However, being cheap doesn’t mean they are not good. This Aruba 10 offers ease of transport, good maneuverability, and tracking. It is just right for kids because it is comfortable and gives them confidence in paddling.
Thanks to its semi-upswept and pointed bow and stern, it helps the boat to track. In turn, it gives longer and smoother glides over the water. All it needs is some extra strokes and it will glide handsomely across the water. Your kids can also kayak remarkably well with few strokes. The angled bow also helps the hull through the water with the boat handling the maneuvering well.
This boat has an expansive cockpit for kids to get in and out of the kayak quite comfortably. There are also storages that they can use for longer trips. It also has an adjustable foot brace, so your kids can grow with them.
What makes this kayak for kids a good buy is it’s built. It is made from UV stabilized fortified high-density polyethylene. That means it can withstand rocky terrains and even rough handling by your kids relatively well.
- Value for money
- Designed to glide smoothly on the water
- Plenty of cockpit space
- Adjustable foot brace
- Not very comfortable seats
- No additional outfitting for comfort
This kayak model from Intex looks fun and comfortable, which is perfect for the youngsters. It is an affordable choice for kids with plenty of great features that you and your kids will like. And even with the lower price, this boat is made to last.
The Intex Challenger K1 is a sit-inside model that is made with durable and heavy-duty vinyl. This material may look like what’s used in your inflatable pool but this version is puncture-resistant. It has two separate air chambers and a stiff I-beam floor. It has a low-profile design which is more appropriate for recreational use in mild rivers and lakes.
This boat has a length of 9 feet and 30 inches in width with a maximum capacity of 220 pounds. That makes it perfect not only for kids and teenagers but even for adults too. It is a little heavier than the above kayaks at 27 pounds on its deflated form. But still, it offers convenience during transportation because it can be collapsed. The Boston valves fitted on this kayak makes it easy to inflate and deflate.
The cockpit of this kayak has removable and adjustable seats, and a cargo safety net to store your child’s gear without the fear of falling. You’ve got everything you need when you buy this kayak, the 84-inch paddle, repair kit, and hand pump.
- Durable and sturdy your kayak
- Convenient to carry and store
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Not designed for use in open waters
- The paddle is a little fragile
#4 Best Choice Products Sports Kid’s 6-Foot Kayak
Another kayak on our list is designed for younger paddlers, specifically kids who are from 5 years and up. This boat contains special features to cater to its young passengers including the open cockpit and the finger handles that’s molded in the boat.
On top of that, this kayak is sturdy as it is durable. It’s made from UV-protected and high-density polyethylene that can withstand the blistering heat of the sun that would fade or crack the boat. The seats are comfortable with padding. While the kayak backrest offers greater comfort while paddling. There is an included paddle when you but the kayak, however, it is not as sturdy as you would expect.
This boat is easy to transport because it is sleek and lightweight. It only weighs about 18 pounds at a dimension of 6 feet in length. Its maximum capacity is only 130 pounds. which is perfect for two passengers. The finger handles also help when carrying the boat to the water and back.
Kids safety is a primary concern when kayaking, especially getting in and out of the boat. Best Choice Products Sports 6’ Kayak has solved this issue with the swim-up step and sloped backend. It helps to keep the boat stable during re-entry to the boat.
- Reliable boat for kids
- Lightweight and durable
- With a padded seat and backrest for paddler’s comfort
- Wide cockpit design
- Not good quality paddle
- Low weight capacity limit
Another high-quality youth kayak for kids is the Lifetime Dash. This is a compact model that’s perfect for kids who started kayaking at a very young age. It’s perfect for 5 years and above and comes with a limited 5-year guarantee. The hull of this kayak is 6.6 feet, with a width of 24 inches and the maximum capacity of this boat is 150 pounds. It’s big enough to carry paddlers comfortably.
It comes with an ergonomically designed cockpit that provides enough balance and stability for your young kids. This kayak is also fitted with an integrated skeg and reverse chine for more stability. It also has a lightweight body, about 20 pounds which makes it easy for your kid to maneuver in the waters. That and the molder center carry handle and T-handle at the front.
When it comes to durability, Lifetime kayaks truly delivers, and this one is made from high-density polyethylene. It can withstand rocky terrains without getting cracks along the way. Like other models from the same brand, it has a wide seating area and multiple footrests for comfortable paddling.
Getting in and out of the boat is not hard either with the swim-up deck that has molded hand grips. It helps your child get on board safely. The cockpit also has drain holes to remove the water.
- Lightweight and with molded hand grips for easy transport
- Different footrest positions
- Stable and easy to maneuver
- Wide cockpit with drain holes
- Not so durable paddle
- Tracking is not great as they are short
This is another quality product from the known make of kayaks, Sun Dolphin. The 6-Foot Bali is made with great design and durability perfect for kids who are into kayaking. It is a 6-foot long kayak with a weight limit of 140 pounds and made from tough high-density polyethylene.
Kayaks are exposed to the damaging of the sun when used. But the good news is the Sun Dolphin Bali is made with UV stabilized material. That means. It can withstand the damages caused by exposure to UV. This material is also lightweight. So, it’s easy to carry, even your kids can do them.
The wide-open cockpit is an excellent feature. It facilitates easy re-entry to the boat. This also ensures that the little paddler is comfortable and has plenty of legroom. However, it lacks the self-bailing feature that you can find in most sit-on-top kayaks.
When it comes to stability, it’s a plus for this youth kayak. The material and design of the boat greatly contributes to easy maneuvering and tracking features. If only the paddle could have been sturdier, then this kayak ticks all the right boxes.
But with the durability, stability, and lightweight hull it offers, this is an affordable kayak that you can get for your kids. They will have lots of fun paddling around the lake with this one.
- Easy to track and maneuver
- Open cockpit design
- Durable and sturdy
- The paddle needs improvement
- Has no self-bailing feature
It’s like a kayak with a toddler sitting on. This is the common impression that Ocean Kayak 12-Ft Malibu 2-Person Sit-on-Top gives but it’s a boat that will give you hours of endless fun at the water. It provides three seating positions: solo, tandem, or two persons accompanied by a pet or kid. This is a solid sit-on-top kayak that has earned many positive feedbacks from users.
The Malibu Two Person Sit-on-Top has many exciting features that you might be looking for in a youth kayak. Its cockpit has two comfortable seats and a third one available if you need them. And if you don’t want this chair, you can opt for the molded-in seats too.
This kayak has well-designed overlapping foot wells. It’s a position that allows the center paddler to sit in any position without feeling discomfort. The next revolutionary feature of the Malibu is the skid plate. This protects that keel of the kayak from damage. It can be replaced should you lose or break them.
While it’s made for two or three persons, this kayak is versatile. Your child can use it on his own but he has to sit higher on the kayak because of its lighter weight. But that’s alright because that means the water will not make it through the scupper holes, so you’ll have dry feet throughout the journey.
- With multiple color choices
- Versatile as it can cater from one to three passengers
- Comfortable seats
- Multiple footrests for the paddler at any position
- It’s a little expensive but well worth the money you’ll spend
If you and your kids like to go fishing, then it’s about time to buy him this Sun Dolphin Journey 10-FT Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak. It is designed not only as a recreational youth kayak but also as a watercraft that your little angler will surely like.
This boat can hold up to 250 pounds in weight. It means the kayak will remain stable even with a teenager on board. On top of that, it also has plenty of space on the hull for the fishing gear. You can find multiple storages in the compartments on the cockpit, plus a portable carrier that you can use as additional storage space for your kid’s catch.
And to make his fishing experience even more satisfying, the Sun Dolphin Journey has one swivel and two Flush-mounted rod holders. You don’t have to worry about stability and comfort for your kids while in the water. It has an adjustable footrest and padded seat for his comfort on your extended fishing and kayaking adventure.
This youth fishing kayak is sturdy and durable. It’s made from UV-resistant high-density polyethylene that is guaranteed to last, even your kid may outgrow the kayak. It has a wide cockpit, typical of kayaks of this type where your kids could get on and off quite easily. Plus, its self-bailing feature allows it to drain the water without help.
- Durable and sturdy
- Wide cockpit for easy getting in and out
- With built-in fishing accessories
- Safe and stable
- Weighs 44 pounds, which is heavy for kids
- Some users are not happy with the self-ailing feature
#9 Old Towns Canoes and Kayaks Heron Junior Kid’s Kayak
The company that makes high-quality kayaks for serious boat enthusiasts have made a junior version that your kids will love. It’s called the Heron junior Kids Kayak. The boat is about 7.5 feet long and has a weight limit of 110-115 pounds.
Since it’s made by one of the biggest names in kayaks, you could expect nothing less from this one. The boat manufacturer used a single layer of polypropylene, a good quality material for kayaks. It also comes with a foam billet at its front. Its purpose is to improve the stability and floatation of the boat. When we talk about tacking and maneuvering, this model is a very efficient boat. It is easy to paddle, maneuverable, and agile. The only downside here is you have to purchase the paddle separately.
Since this model is designed for kids, it has a built-in tag along tow system. This will help you tow your kid to shore if your need to. The boat is also easy to carry because it has bow and stern handles. However, it weighs about 26 pounds. a little heavy for your independent kid.
In terms of comfort to the paddler and aesthetics, this boat does not disappoint. It has contoured and padded seats for kids and two stylish colors they can choose from. All in all, this is a superior boat that you can buy for your kid.
- Easy to transport
- Durable and made with high-quality materials
- Easy to maneuver
- With integrated Tag Along Tow System
- It does not have an included paddle, you have to buy it separately
Another quality youth kayak from Sun Dolphin completes our list for the best kayak for kids. This Sun Dolphin Camino is reliable and can bring a lot of fun to your mini-me who loves the water. It can be classified as a recreational kayak and has a remarkable square stern. The boat is 8 feet long and a width of 32 inches. It’s solid and stable in water with the highest weight limit on our list at 225 pounds.
The Sun Dolphin products are made in the USA and it’s made with a UV stabilized high-density polyethylene. That means the boat is not only durable but it’s also made to last even with prolonged exposure to the sun. However, it is not one of the lightest in the lot because it weighs a whopping 40 pounds. To ease the burden of transporting this kayak it has molded carrying handles in the sides.
Your kids will not have any problem in re-entering the boat if it capsizes because it has a wide cockpit. The boat also has storage space equipped with shock cord deck rigging. Its self-bailing feature keeps the cockpit dry so your little paddler is comfortable all the time. And speaking of comfort, the padded seats in the boat are adjustable with backrest and graduated footrests for ultimate comfort.
- Reliable and durable
- Provide better stability
- Multiple colors to choose from
- Wide cockpit with drain holes
- A little heavy for its size
Buying Guide for Choosing the Best Youth Kayak for Kids
If you are willing to buy your kid a kayak of his own, we suggest that you get the best youth kayak for them. As there are many kayaks available in the market today, the choice can be hard. Luckily, we have prepared a buying guide to help you with this process.
Things to Consider in Buying a Youth Kayak
When looking for the best kayak for your kid, here are the factors and features you have to consider.
We cannot stress more than enough how important is stability in kayaks. And because your child is going to use this boat, you need a boat with more than average stability. It can help build their confidence and adept with their padding skills if their boats are stable. This can also give you peace of mind, knowing that they are safe.
There are many misconceptions when it comes to the weight of a kayak. The most prominent is the lighter the boat, the better it will be for your kid. Well, that is not always the case. Yes, having a lighter boat has its benefits but it can also have downsides.
For one a lightweight boat with a much lighter child can be a problem when in the water. Although it may be easier to paddle, it can be pushed around during windy conditions. It may also lose some of its stability because they are lightweight and affect its stability.
Adjustable seats and foot braces
Your children can grow rapidly and will outgrow their kayak just as fast. Hence, you need to choose a kayak with adjustable foot braces so that it can last longer. When you have this feature, the boat can last longer and you will end up saving money.
No sharp protrusions
Most of the materials used in the kayaks mentioned in our list are HDPE, which means they are not sharp. However, you should inspect the kayak thoroughly for sharp protrusions for your child’s safety. Make sure there are no spikes or bumpy edges.
You know how rough kids can be especially when they are having fun. With that in mind, you should choose a kayak that is durable and can withstand rough and tumble. It should also have UV protection, if possible, to be able to protect the boat from cracking and fading.
If you’re looking for another fun water activity, I’d recommend you checkout my guide on the best towable tubes for kids!
There are plenty of options for the best youth kayaks for kids that can fit their age and expertise. Aside from the factors, we have mentioned that you should consider when buying one, you also need to think about the age of your child and his or her interest in kayaking before buying. For younger kids, you buy them the simple and easy to paddle kayaks. But for older kids, you can buy them the more advanced boats. Your kids might outgrow his or her kayak and you may need to upgrade and look for a new one to fit their needs. We hope that our lists of recommended kayaks for your kids and the buying guide can help you find the right one for your child’s needs.
My name Is Larry Noel, the voice behind BoatCrunch.
I’m a boating enthusiast that loves nothing more than being out on the water. So much so that I’ve acquired a Degree in Marine Biology (MB) as well as a degree in Ocean Engineering (OE).
I’m very familiar with a wide range of different boats and I’ve owned a variety of different boats myself however I have a particular obsession with Pontoon boats. I’ve lived all across the United States and always kept company in the form of boats and now my loving family.