Kids kayaks come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and specifications. The choice can be a bit overwhelming at first – especially if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.
So, before you find yourself in a kayak-induced panic, it’s worth doing a bit of research. Lucky for you, I’ve been through this already. Lately I’ve been scouring the market for the best kids kayaks in 2022. Whether you’re looking for a lightweight solo kayak or something with a bit more pep in its step – there’s the perfect kayak out there ready for a fun day out on the water.
Heck, it might just be on this list. Without further ado, let’s dive straight into the list.
1. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is a great entry-level kids kayak set at an affordable price of about $150. The dimensions (6 ft by 24 in) are ideal for children aged five years and up.
It has 772 ratings on Amazon with an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars. So we’re definitely not alone about our excitement for the Lifetime Youth Wave.
What’s super cool about it is the fact that it has a weight capacity of 130 lb. It’s super sturdy thanks to its stable hull, ergonomic cockpit design, reverse chine, and twin fin tracking assist.
The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is built from a durable high-density polyethylene construction making it lightweight (18 lb. to be specific) and built to last.
So if you’re looking for a relatively cheap, very lightweight, and long-lasting kayak for your kids, then the Lifetime Youth Wave is a solid choice.
- Incredibly lightweight at just 18 lb.
- Easy to get up on in the water
- Wide which offers great stability
- A bit on the short side
- Could use a handle for transportation
- Retains water
2. Intex Challenger K1 Kayak
If you’re looking for a lightweight, easy-to-store, and inflatable kayak for kids that’s going to last you a long time, then the Intex Challenger K1 is your safest bet.
It has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Amazon with 22.529 ratings, so it’s an extremely popular inflatable kids kayak and even marked as a #1 Best Seller.
It’s made of a durable welded material and comes with its own 84 inches long aluminum paddle which is, honestly, a little too lightweight for stronger strokes.
Measuring up at 9 ft. long and 2 ft. 6 in. wide, the Intex Challenger K1 is super roomy and can withstand a weight capacity of up to 220 lb. So most adults can also use it.
Despite its generous dimensions and impressive weight capacity, it remains incredibly lightweight at just 27.2 lb. which is ideal for transportation.
Well, it all sounds incredible but such an inflatable kayak can’t be cheap, right? It is. Last time I checked the price on Amazon it was $78. You’re getting SO much value!
- Surprisingly cheap at $78
- Impressive weight capacity
- Very easy to store when not in use
- Paddle is too lightweight
- Inflatable seat is a little high
- Water splashes into the kayak
3. Pelican Solo Youth Kayak
If you’re not a huge fan of inflatable kayaks and just want a safe kayak for your kids (with safebeing the keyword), then the Pelican Solo Youth is worth a look.
The reason it’s such a safe kayak is because it’s a sit-on-top kayak and features swim-up rear deck with handle. So it’s really easy to get out of the kayak and in it again.
The Pelican Solo Youth deserves a thumbs up for durability. The frame is made of RAM-XS impact-resistant material that’s built to last and super lightweight. In fact, the entire kayak weighs just 19 lb. and has a weight capacity of 100 lb.
It’s not exactly cheap coming in at $192. For that price, you can get almost 3 Intex Challenger K1’s. However, in terms of durability, no one beats the Pelican Solo Youth.
Oh, and it has 4.5 out of 5 stars on Amazon with 166 ratings so other parents seem to love their purchase. Even given the higher price.
- Easy to get out of and into
- Surprisingly lightweight at 19 lb.
- Will pretty much last forever
- Very expensive at $192
- Handhold could be better
- Paddle may break after long use
4. Goplus 6 ft Youth Kayak
If you found the Pelican Solo Youth too expensive, then you might want to skip this one because the Goplus 6 ft Youth costs almost twice as much at $370.
However, if you’re the type of parent that’s 110% devoted and want your kids to have the best of the best, then it’s worth taking a look at the Goplus.
One of the best things about it is the double-head paddle which helps novice kayakers train balance by tracking and surfing. Plus, with a super stable hull and rear self-bailing scupper hole, you can rest assured that this kayak is built with safety and stability in mind.
It measures 73″ (L) x 24″ (W) x 9″ (H) and is made from High Density Poly Ethylene which is a really kid-friendly material since it’s unlikely to leach any chemicals.
The Goplus 6 ft Youth comes in 3 different colors (blue, orange, and red) and weighs just 22 lb. so it’s light enough to be easy to carry while also being stable while in the water.
- Made from kid-friendly materials
- Weighs just 22 lb. and easy to carry
- Awesome double-headed paddle
- Very, very expensive at $370
- Lacks reviews on Amazon
- Backrest could use some padding
5. Intex Explorer K2
If you’re after the tandem experience with your kids, then this is the kids kayak for you. It’s really for older kids (aged 14 and up) since it’s 10 ft. 3 in. long and weighs 35 lb.
The Intex Explorer K2 comes with 2 sturdy aluminum paddles and a high-output air pump so it won’t take much longer than 10-12 minutes to pack it out and pump it up.
It’s made from a heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl so it’s super durable and can handle a weight capacity of up to 400 lb. Yes, you heard it…400 lb.!
You can easily stow it in your car and paddle alongside your kid. Plus, it looks a bit like a banana so you can go crazy on the nicknames.
Just like the Intex Challenger K1, it has a surprising amount of reviews on Amazon. 21.871 ratings to be exact – with 4.5 out of 5 stars on average. So people seem to love it!
Also, it costs $156 on Amazon which is just about half the price of the Goplus 6 ft Youth kayak. If you don’t care about it being an inflatable kayak, then you’re getting a ton of value from it.
- Comes with 2 sturdy paddles
- Can easily be stored away
- Has a weight capacity of 400 lb.
- A little short for 2 people over 6′
- Valves could be better
- Paddles are a bit short
What do I need to consider when buying a kayak for my kids?
This is a question I get a lot. As parents we want our kids to have fun and — most importantly — to stay safe on the water. And choosing the right kayak is key. So, what features should we be prioritizing as we start shopping around for a new kayak for our kids?
Make sure the kayak is age appropriate
First things first, make sure the kayak you choose is age appropriate for your kid. Sure, you might think bigger is better. They’ll just grow into it, right? But, in reality, this might not be the safest option for your child right now.
If your kid is very young, opting for a tandem kayak is a great idea. You won’t have to worry about them navigating the waters solo. But they’ll still be able to join in all the family fun. Finding the right kayak for slightly older kids who want their own kayak to splash about in will require some extra considerations.
Ask yourself a few questions…
- How are my kids paddling skills?
- Does my kid get tired easily?
- Does my child know what to do if their kayak capsizes?
If your kid wants to go solo but you’re not sure about their paddling abilities just yet, it’s wise to bring along a toe rope. If your kid gets tired, or starts struggling to maneuver their kayak, you’ll be able to guide them to safety.
Make sure it’s the right fit
Kids are, by nature, small. And these mini people need boats that fit them. Adult recreational kayaks are simply too long and too wide for most children to maneuver effectively. So, first thing’s first, you’ll need to look for a recreational kayak designed specifically with children in mind. These kayaks are designed to be much narrower than their adult equivalents, making them easier for shorter arms to control on the water.
So before buying a kayak make sure to check the dimensions. Here are some general guidelines to get you started.
Length of hull
Kids need a kayak with a shorter hull for easy maneuverability. A Kayak with a hull length of around 6-8 feet is ideal.
Width of hull
Width is super important for stability. Kids with little-to-no paddling experience will benefit from a wide hulled kayak that’s less likely to capsize. For newbie kayakers look for a boat with a wide hull, flat bottom, and reverse chines.
Height & weight
Kayaks are categorized based on height and weight ratings. So be prepared with your kid’s measurements when choosing a kayak. Now, we know that kids grow so it’s alright to pick a kayak with a little growing room. But don’t go too crazy. If the kayak is much too big, your kid will struggle to paddle it.
Look out for additional accessories
Kayak accessories are non-essential items but pick wisely and they can come in a lot of handy. Kid-sized paddles are a must if you want your kid to have any success on the water. Children need paddles that are light in weight and smaller in size in order to paddle comfortably. For safety, you’ll also want to equip your kids kayak with a high-quality life jacket.
You’ll want your kayak to last. And to ensure this it’s important to check out the materials used to manufacture each kayak. Typical materials used for kayak construction include plastic, wood, composite materials, and thermoform. It is also possible to find inflatable kayaks (great if you’re tight for storage space at home). For kids, a lightweight kayak is best so best avoid any wooden options. In general, inflatables are going to be less durable and more vulnerable to damage. Thermoform and composite kayaks are super lightweight. Plastic kayaks offer a happy medium. They’re durable and relatively lightweight and usually the cheapest of all the options.
And, of course, price
Last but not least let’s talk money. Affordability is an important factor when choosing a kayak. Prices can range dramatically. In general, the simpler the design the more affordable the kayak. So, if you’re just looking for a recreational kayak that your kid can splash about with in gentle waters then you shouldn’t have much trouble finding something to fit your budget. If your kid is already a bit of a pro, then, needless to say, kitting them out with a full-featured boat is going to cost more.
So, there we have it. There really is a kayak out there for everyone. Whether you’re after fun or function, kids kayak come in a wide range of styles and specifications. All that’s left is to choose the one for you!