You love to kayak and want to share the stoke.
What better way to usher in a new generation of paddlers than teaching kids! They are open to learning and eager for excitement.
Whether you are teaching a child for their first time, or honing in on their technique, the right, child friendly kayak is key in their experience.
Here at Fin Bin, we have compiled a list of out top seven best kayaks for kids.
These kayaks have kids in mind, with lighter weights, smaller hulls that are easier to maneuver, and ease of re entry. With these kayaks, kids will be eager to get in the water, and you won’t have to worry about their safety.
So pick any of these kayaks and get your little paddler out on the water!
The Top 7
#1 Best Overall: Lifetime Youth Wave 6’
This kayak is so stable, your little one can even stand up paddle it! The Lifetime Youth Wave 6’ is made with a easy reentry scoop stern and step up ladder, so re entry is easy and safe. Because this kayak is 18 lbs., children five to eleven years old will have no trouble getting it in and out of the water.
There’s so many things to love about our number one best kayak for kids. A reverse chine allows for ultimate stability and wide platform will make tipping over virtually impossible. There are multiple foot rests for kids of varying ages.
Safety is a priority with the Lifetime Youth Wave 6’. There is no sharp or protruding hardware and all contours are soft to prevent injury. If your little paddler is a beginner, this kayak is ideal. The ergonomic cockpit design and double-wedge fin design is great for paddle and tracking practice. They’ll be a kayak pro before you know it!
#2 Best Overall: Sun Dolphin Aruba 10’
If your child wants to learn to paddle in a sit inside kayak, the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10’ is for them! Much more stable than an adult sit inside, you can be assured that they will be safe and having fun.
Learning to paddle a sit inside is hard work enough, so we want our little buddy to be as comfortable as possible. The seat is padded and adjustable, and there are adjustable foot rests as well. The hull is lightweight and sleek so maneuvering and turning is very easy.
The hull design is also wide to be exceptionally stable. This kayak can take a beating, which is good if kids are using it. It is made from a super durable single piece of high-density polyethylene monocoque, virtually indestructible. Not only is the Aruba 10’ easy to paddle and good for taking a beating, but it’s also easy to transport. The handles at bow and stern and lightness make it easy to get it to and from the beach.
A great feature of this kayak is it can carry up to 250 lbs. This is perfect for older kids/ young teens. The ample hull space and large weight capacity is also perfect for carrying gear, like fishing gear, sightseeing accessories and food. There is also a cargo hatch at the stern and bungee tie downs on the deck. With the watertight hatch, great stability and maneuverable hull design, you won’t be able to get your child/ teen out of the water.
#3 Best Overall: Best Choice Sports 6’
The Best Choice Products 6 ft Kids Kayak w/Bonus Paddle is perfect for getting your child into the water and comfortable with kayaking. The hull design is short and wide, with multiple channels, providing optimum stability.
Not only is the hull stable, but it is made with durable polyethylene that is UV resistant for durability. The flat stern and side handles are ideal for re-entry and the molded in foot rests allow kids of multiple ages to use this kayak.
There are many different kayak activities your little one can do on the Best Choice Sports 6’. The two storage compartments on the bow and stern, cup holder and open cockpit holder will hold any kind of gear, from fishing to camping.
An included special kid size paddle will allow your paddler to perfect their stroke technique, while the streamline hull design is highly maneuverable for turning practice. Whether on fresh or saltwater, the Best Choice Sports 6’ kids kayak is a must have for children five years of age and up.
#4 Intex Challenger K2
Transport couldn’t be easier with this inflatable kayak. Because it is filled with air and made with smooth vinyl, safety won’t be an issue either. You won’t have to worry about pointy deck mounting gear or sharp corners and rails.
This is a great tandem kayak for kids, as it come with two inflatable seats and two paddles. It is light and maneuverable enough that it can be paddled solo. The skeg under the stern allows for balance and efficient paddling and the streamline hull tracks great.
The Intex Challenger K2 is made with Super Tough vinyl that is puncture and UV damage resistant. It will last your little paddler for years of adventure. Even though the kayak is inflatable, it still has a 400 lb. weight capacity! You be loading up with lots of gear for a myriad of kayaking activities.
Deck lines in front and back and a mesh tie down at the bow are perfect for gear and accessories storage. You can use this kayak for fishing trips, camping trips, sightseeing or even short day trips. You won’t have to worry about gear falling overboard as it securely attaches to the deck.
At only 37, this kayak is a breeze to transport, and you won’t have to worry about car racks! Just use the included pump to inflate it on the beach. A perfect convenient choice for kids.
#5 Sun Dolphin Bali 6’
Adventure awaits the young paddler with the Sun Dolphin Bali 6’. With the durable and stable hull and beginner friendly paddle, you’re child will be kayaking in no time. This kayak is made with extremely lightweight yet durable Fortiflex® High Density Polyethylene which is also UV damage resistant.
The chances of tipping are very low in the BAli6’ because of its wide and stable deck. In the case a roll over does happen, this kayak is so easy to upright, you’re child can do it themselves! And re entry is no problem with open flat, stern. Made to be stable and safe, it’s a perfect choice for a beginner paddler.
Some of the awesome features of this kayak are the molded foot wells, paddle holders and swim platform. Your paddler will be in ultimate comfort and style while paddling. The hull tracks incredibly well, which will make it easier for a beginner kayaker to practice paddling technique.
The Sun Dolphin Bali is six feet long with a weight capacity of 200 lbs. and includes a paddle. With a durable design and one year warranty, this would be a great investment for any child kayaker.
#6 Sun Dolphin Camino SS 8’
Another great design by Sun Dolphin, the Camino 8 foot is similar to the BAli 6’, but with a few more features. This kayak is best for slightly older kids who also want to bring gear on their paddle.
Gear can be stowed in the well behind the seat and secured with bungee tie downs. Belongings are guaranteed to stay dry in the below deck storage with sealed hatch. The square stern provides optimum stability and the molded in handles on bow and stern make transport a breeze.
Comfort will not be a problem on the Camino SS 8’. The molded foot wells and padded adjustable seat will fit a wide range of ages. The lightweight, 40 lb. kayak can carry up to 225 lbs. As is the Sun Dolphin way, this kayak is also made with their patented Fortiflex® High Density Polyethylene and UV resistant coating.
The young paddler will be obsessed with kayaking the minute they step inside the Sun Dolphin Camino SS 8’. Don’t sit on this chance to get a durable, long lasting and fun kayak for your child or young teen!
#7 Old Town Canoes and Kayaks Heron
A long-time trusted brand, you can guarantee quality and durability with the Old Town Canoes and Kayak Junior/Kids Heron. This is the perfect beginner youth sit in kayak. With an open cockpit and wide base, this kayak is incredibly stable and easy to up right, so you won’t have to worry about tipping over.
With kids in mind, Old Town designed the Heron Jr. to be comfortable and extremely user friendly. It is only 26 pounds but can handle up to 115 lbs of weight. The handles on the stern and bow make transport easy and comfortable. It glides well and tracks straight so paddling will be a breeze.
The seat is padded for ultimate comfort and the internal foam billet adds buoyancy. With the comfort features and sleek, well tracking hull, paddling will be fun and enjoyable for any kid wanting to get into kayaking. Good luck getting them out of the water.
Top 5 Safety Tips For Kayaking With Kids
Ocean safety knowledge: It’s always top priority to teach your child ocean safety BEFORE they get out on the water. They need to know what to do in case they tip over, hit a rock or get lost in a current. This will allow them to stay calm and minimize risk of injury.
Make them wear a life jacket: It might not look the coolest, but life jackets can make the difference between a slight inconvenience and a major emergency. It will also make it easier to lift your child out of the water and into your own kayak if needed.
Keep an eye on them: Kids can get distracted when they are having fun. It’s great that they are so immersed in their paddling environment, but keep an eye out that they don’t get into sticky situations. It’s good to imprint the idea of being super aware of their surroundings. But if they get distracted, it’s up to you to keep them safe.
Sun exposure can be harmful: Some sun is great, but too much can actually be dangerous. A severe sunburn can be avoided by making sure your child wears sun protection gear and sunscreen. And don’t forget to periodically reapply!
Dehydration sucks: Being dehydrated happens much more quickly for children, and can lead to a potentially dangerous situation for their health. Make sure they bring and drink liquids that are hydrating throughout the whole trip.
Things To Consider When Buying a Kayak For Kids
Kids are just learning to paddle so stability is really important. The great thing about the kayaks on our list is that they are made shorter and wider, so the risk of rolling is low. An empty cockpit without a lot of deck lines and deck gear is important to, as kids tend to trip a lot. Ideally, a smaller kayak with a wider base and simple deck is what you should be looking for.
Kids also generally don’t like to carry heavy gear around, so kid friendly kayaks are generally made lighter. A good example is the Best Choice Sports 6' kayak, it’s only 21 lbs and easy to transport to the water.
Kids like to break things. It’s not that they aren’t appreciative of what they own, they just don’t have as much control over their motor skills as adults do. Getting a strong durable kayak and sturdy paddle is a must. The Fortiflex® High Density Polyethylene of the Sun Dolphin Camino SS 8' and Bali 6' is a good example of kid proof toughness.
Ease of Entry and Exit
Many kids kayaks come with a stern that is flat and easy to climb back into. It can be hard enough for an adult to get back in their kayaks, so brands like Lifetime have made kayaks like the Youth Wave Kayak, which have a stern that you can kick swim on and climb onto. Without the fear of not being able to reenter the kayak, your child will be very eager to get in the water.
A long kayak will be hard for a smaller teen and child to maneuver. It would be better to get a shorter kayak that is easier to turn. A kayak like the Sun Dolphin Aruba 10’ is a good example of a smaller kayak that is easier to turn.
Paddle holders aren’t 100% necessary but they are a good idea. Kids might drop their paddle in the water or just get tired of holding it. A paddle holder is especially nice to have if you plan on taking your little paddler fishing.
If your paddler gets tired or conditions get tough, it will important to have a way to tow them to shore. The Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Kids Kayak comes with the Tag Along Tow System so you can set up a tow line when needed.
Looking for a good kayak for yourself to paddle alongside your little one? Make sure to take a look at our FinBin page on the best kayak reviews!
Where Is the Best Place To Teach My Kids How To Kayak?
A perfect place for learning is water that is calm and flat as possible. Calm, flat water allows a child or teen to learn to steer, paddle and track without the added distraction of chop or heavy currents. Not so ideal places to teach are rivers with strong currents, or oceans with chop and swell.
Is Kayaking Safe For Kids?
Any water sport is safe for kids with the right conditions, gear and teacher. With a paddler teaching who knows water safety and proper technique, your child will be in good hands. A proper kayak that is a good size and has easy reentry is ideal for a smaller paddler. If the water conditions are calm and flat, there’s no need to worry about safety. Also, a life jacket is key for safe paddling. If you observe proper water safety and make your child wear a life jacket, kayaking can be an extremely safe and enjoyable experience.
What is the correct kayak paddle grip?
Child sized paddles are used the same way adult sized are. Elbows are bent at about a 90 degree angle and arms are parallel to water surface. When dipping the paddle into the water, you just want the blade in the water, not the shaft. Remind your little paddler that we are not digging deep into the water, but rather skimming the surface of the water with the blade. You want a nice and easy semi circle stroke. There is no need to grip the paddle with extreme force. Just grip it enough so that it doesn’t fall out of your hands.
Final Thoughts - Which Should You Get?
An ideal kid’s kayak will have a stable hull, a stern with easy re entry and a smaller, easier to use paddle. It will also be light and easy to carry. There is no better kayak that includes all these aspects than the Lifetime Youth 6 Feet Wave Kayak with Paddle, our top choice in youth kayaks. It has a sturdy design with a stable base that makes learning to kayak a breeze. If your child decides, intentionally or not, to get into the water, climbing back into this kayak will be no problem. There are no sharp or protruding deck gear pieces, so there isn’t a risk of injury.
When deciding on a kayak for your child, make sure you take a look at this list of Best Kayaks for Kids. Every kayak on here is ideal for children and young teens and you won’t find any other kayaks out there better suited. Smaller, easy to maneuver size, a stable hull and child friendly accessories are important in youth kayaks. Here at Fin Bin, we have you covered on all of that plus more. Your child will be over the moon when you come home with a kayak from this list. Good luck getting them out of the water! Happy paddling.