Youth Kayak – Best Kayak for Your Children

As someone from the Pacific Northwest, I have always had a soft spot for kayaking. Sure, most of the time of the year I can’t swim in our chilly waters but you certainly can’t stop my love for paddling.

two teens kayaking

It’s a good thing my kid has inherited the family’s love for the outdoors and kayaking.

There are plenty of good reasons to encourage your child to engage in kayaking. Aside from getting them off the couch and away from their iPads, going on a kayak trip with your kids is a terrific way to build memories that last a lifetime.

So for today’s post, we have shortlisted some of the best kayaks that will help your kid enjoy the outdoors more. Plus, we have made a short buyer’s guide that will help you get the best youth kayak for your money.

How We Chose Our Ratings

We fancy ourselves to be quite the authority when it comes to kayaks which is why many of our readers trust our judgment when it comes to picking out the best kayaking gear. Therefore, we always strive to be honest and accurate when providing guides and recommendations to our readers.

We have come up with this youth kayak list by basing it on a number of crucial factors like quality, features, and price.

On top of that, we have also checked out the reviews and feedback from actual buyers and have taken it into account while choosing. So you can trust that the kayaks we have featured here are not just top-rated but fairly popular with buyers as well. Let’s jump right into it!

Top 5 Best Youth Kayaks

Below are some of the best kayaks that your kids can use in your family’s kayaking adventures.

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak (Paddle Included), Blue, 6'
  • Ergonomic Cockpit Design Enhances Balance and Motor Skills
  • Molded finger handles on each side of the kayak
  • Reverse chine for enhanced stability with swim-up step
  • Weight: 18 lbs.
  • Weight Capacity: 130 lbs.
  • Size: 6 ft.
  • Recommended age: 5 and up
  • Key features: Ergonomic Cockpit Design, Molded finger handles, Reverse chine for enhanced stability, Lightweight

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak bears the Amazon’s choice and it’s not hard to see why.

This kayak is simple, effective, and comes at a great price. One of the best things I love about this kayak is the lightweight design. At 18 pounds, you won’t find me complaining that I have to lug this thing around during trips. Coupled with the molded finger handles, this kayak is a breeze to transport.

The kayak also comes with reverse chines which helps with lateral stability while paddling. The aggressive hull design helps ensure that the kayak is kept stable. This is fairly common with kids’ kayaks to ensure safety and prevent unnecessary tips.

In addition, the step-up design on the back of the boat is a nice touch as it allows the kids to get back into the kayak in case they fall in on accident.

At first, I was skeptical with the included paddle and didn’t have that much expectations. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the paddle and is a nice bonus to the entire package.

It’s an amazing kayak that offers incredible value.

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, 1-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum...
  • Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow...
  • Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I beam floors add stability
  • Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
  • Weight: 27 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 220 lbs.
  • Size: 9 ft.
  • Recommended age: 12 and up
  • Key features: Durable welded material, Inflatable I-beam floors, Cargo net to store extra gear, 84-inch aluminum oar, Hi-output manual hand pump

The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is an inflatable model which might be a good starting kayak for your kid. The best reason for this is that the kayak is cheap and affordable. So if you’re not sure if your kid will take up your love of kayaking, this is a great choice without spending too much money.

However, that’s not saying that the Intex Challenger K1 is just a cheap kayak and that’s it. For starters, the size of the kayak is a massive 9 feet and can accommodate up to 220 pounds.

This boat should have no problem accommodating older kids and adults. The design and color scheme of the Challenger K1 will surely attract the kids. For a budget model, the kayak tracks surprisingly well, thanks to its removable skeg. The Challenger’s cockpit is quite large and tough, so you don’t have to be concerned about reliability.

It might be a budget kayak but it’s far from a substandard product.

Best Choice Products 6ft Kids Kayak w/Paddle, Cushioned Backrest,...
  • HIGH-QUALITY DESIGN: Crafted with an open cockpit, molded-in footwells for security, and a front toggle handle with...
  • BUILT-IN STORAGE: Made with a cup and bottle holder, rear cargo storage compartment covered by net lacing, and front...
  • COMFORTABLE BACKREST: Children will be able to tread waters in optimal comfort, as the kayak is built with a padded...
  • Weight: 18 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 130 lbs.
  • Size: 6 ft.
  • Recommended age: 5 and up
  • Key features: Open cockpit design, Molded finger handles, sloped back end, Swim-up step, Padded seat and backrest, 50” two-fin paddle included

The Best Choice Sports 6' Kids Kayak is quite similar to the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak but with some extra features.

This kayak is actually an adaptation of Best Choice’s a popular adult kayak and is designed to help kids learn how to paddle. The boat weighs only 18 pounds, so it’s a lightweight and easy to handle kayak. It can support up to 130 pounds which is good enough for most kids.

Perhaps the best thing I like about this product is the padded seat and backrest. Once a kid gets uncomfortable and tired from paddling, it’s reasonable to expect a cranky episode. With the padded seat and backrest, the comfort factor shoots all the way up.

The kayak also features a “swim-up step” feature that will allow little Bruce to easily climb back into the Kayak from the water – a great safety feature in case your kid wants to swim or accidentally falls off the boat.

The kayak also comes with a 50-inch paddle which is a nice bonus.

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
  • Capacity of one, two, or two plus a child, 375-425 lbs. maximum capacity, perfect for a couple with a child
  • Three seating position, bow, stern and middle for paddling solo, tandem, or tandem with a child
  • 2 Comfort Plus seats, three molded-in seat wells, gear straps, patented overlapping foot wells, molded-in handles, skid...
  • Weight: 57 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 375-425 lbs.
  • Size: 12 ft.
  • Recommended age: Accommodates 2 adults and 1 child
  • Key features: Three seating position, Overlapping foot wells, 2 Comfort Plus seats, Three molded-in seat wells, Allows easy stacking of multiple hulls

If you prefer to kayak with the whole family instead, the Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Recreational Kayak is an easy recommendation.

This beast of a kayak can accommodate up to two adults and a child with 375-425 lbs. maximum capacity. So mom and dad plus the kid can go on their kayaking adventures in one boat. The seating design of the kayak is just brilliant and ensures maximum comfort for everyone on the boat. Regardless of your leg length, you’re in for a comfortable ride.

The sit-on-top design is just successful. Other features include three molded-in seat wells, gear straps, patented overlapping foot wells, molded-in handles, and a skid plate. From my experience, the kayak is very stable as well. Since this is a three-seater with limited space, you might need to be a little bit creative if you want to customize.

This kayak is a bit expensive compared to the other products here but it’s definitely worth the investment.

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali SS Sit-on top Kayak (Tangerine, 8-Feet)
  • Light weight design easy to carry
  • Adjustable padded seat back
  • Open cockpit allows the easiest of entry
  • Weight: 30 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 197 lbs.
  • Size: 8 ft.
  • Recommended age: Teens and older kids
  • Key features: Lightweight design, Adjustable padded seat back, Open cockpit design, Graduated foot wells, On-board storage

The Sun Dolphin Bali SS 8-Foot Sit-on top Kayak is mainly designed for older kids and teens. It’s an intermediate boat that can support up to nearly 200 pounds of weight. This sit on top kayak features a deeper deck than the traditional flat-hull boat. This doesn’t just add stability but it gives the good confidence boost for kids against a rough surf or waves.

The kayak comes in an open design cockpit with a recessed seat. The backrest is padded for added comfort and smooth ride. There’s also the graduated foot wells that will give the passenger ample room to stretch out.

If your kid loves to bring toys or snacks, the Bali SS comes with an open and sealed dry storage compartments there’s even a cup-holder. This makes the Bali SS a great first fishing kayak for kids. The high-quality polyethylene construction adds value to the package and it still manages to be lightweight.

This is highly recommended for growing paddlers with a growing love for the sport

Comparison Table

Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Youth Kayak

When buying a kayak for your kid, here are some factors to keep in mind.

Length – Kayaks for kids tend to be shorter. Shorter kayaks are easier for kids because they can turn better when compared to longer boats. They are also lighter and easier to transport. It’s a good thing that most youth kayaks are premade and are just the right size for kids.

Weight Ratings – Kids kayaks have weight ratings. Manufacturers will indicate the weight range that’s acceptable for each boat. If the child is lighter, they may have to do some more growing before he or she can fit in the boat. If the child is heavier than the max weight rating, you’re going to need a bigger boat.

Width – The width of the kayak can directly impact its stability. So the wider the kayak, the more stable it is and less likely to flip. Width is important for a kid’s kayak due to safety. A wider kayak is not efficient but it’s not the priority here. We want them to stay safe and have fun at the same time.

Other stability features – Along with the width of the boat, there are other features to look out for as well. Chines are found on the hull and can contribute greatly to the stability of the boat. Reverse chines are quite common in youth kayaks as they provide lateral stability and improved tracking. Whenever fins, chines or skegs are present, they add greatly to the boat’s stability and tracking.

Paddles – Most kayaks for kids come bundled with paddles but there are times that this is not the case. A child’s paddle should have smaller diameter shafts so they can hold it easily. They need to have the right size and weight for kids to use for hours.

The Verdict

There you have it, some of the best youth kayaks that you can buy for your kid. When searching for the best youth kayak, make sure you inform yourself about the things that matter like types of kayaks, measurements, weight ratings, features, and reputable brands.

The kayaks that we have highlighted here are good places to start your search. They are all top-rated boats coming from reputable brands.Hopefully, this guide has helped you find the right kayak for your kid’s paddling needs. If you have any questions about the list or youth kayaks in general, feel free to drop by the comment section below.

Janice Friedman

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