The 10 Best Kayaks for Kids in 2021
Kayaking is one of the most popular and rewarding water sports out there.
So, it is only natural that parents want to initiate their child to it. If that is your case, then you will need a specialized kayak intended for children.
Indeed, unlike kayaks for adults, kayaks for children are usually smaller, have better stability, and easier to maneuver.
Throughout our kayak for kids review below, we give you an overview of some popular models by age group. Without any further ado, let’s get to it!
- 10 Best Kayaks for Kids – Review
- 1. Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave – Best Kayak for 4 to 8-Year-Old
- 2. Best Choice Products SKY3120 – Best Kayak for Maneuverability
- 3. Lifetime Emotion 90245 – Excellent Tracking over Long Distances
- 4. Sun Dolphin 51605 – Most Flexible Kayak for Kids
- 5. Sun Dolphin 52270 – Small and Compact
- 6. Old Town Heron Junior – Designed to Fit a Child
- 7. Intex 68306EP Challenger – Best Kayak for 12+ Years Old
- 8. Sun Dolphin 51320 Aruba – Adjustable Padded Seat
- 9. Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Durable and Long-lasting
- 10. Ocean Kayak Frenzy – Superior Weight Capacity
- How to Buy the Best Kayak for Kids
10 Best Kayaks for Kids – Review
1. Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave (Best for 4 to 8-Year-Old)
2. Best Choice Products SKY3120 (Best for Maneuverability)
3. Lifetime Emotion 90245 (Excellent Tracking over Long Distances)
4. Sun Dolphin 51605 (Most Flexible)
5. Sun Dolphin 52270 (Small & Compact)
6. Old Town Heron Junior (Designed to Fit a Child)
7. Intex 68306EP Challenger (Best for 12+ Years Old)
8. Sun Dolphin 51320 Aruba (Adjustable Padded Seat)
9. Sevylor Quikpak K1 (Durable & Long-lasting)
10. Ocean Kayak Frenzy (Superior Weight Capacity)
1. Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave
(Best for 4 to 8-Year-Old)
2. Best Choice Products SKY3120
(Best for Maneuverability)
3. Lifetime Emotion 90245
(Excellent Tracking over Long Distances)
4. Sun Dolphin 51605
5. Sun Dolphin 52270
(Small & Compact)
6. Old Town Heron Junior
(Designed to Fit a Child)
7. Intex 68306EP Challenger
(Best for 12+ Years Old)
8. Sun Dolphin 51320 Aruba
(Adjustable Padded Seat)
9. Sevylor Quikpak K1
(Durable & Long-lasting)
10. Ocean Kayak Frenzy
(Superior Weight Capacity)
For 4-8 Years Old
1. Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave – Best Kayak for 4 to 8-Year-Old
- Weight Capacity: 130 lbs
- Materials: HDPE
- Dimension: 72 inches x 24 inches x 9 inches
- Weight: 18 lbs
The Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave is one of the best kayaks for kids on the market. What makes it so is that this model has a durable build construction from HDPE, molded paddle handle, and can easily be controlled regardless of experience.
Further, with its weight of 18 lbs, you will have no problem carrying it to your desired location. It is also relatively small, with a maximum length of 72 inches and a width of 24 inches. So, it offers good maneuverability in the water.
And since it is made from HDPE, it is quite durable and long-lasting as well. This model will not dent easily, even during impact.
Best, you get 1 high-quality paddle with this purchase. The handle of this paddle has molded fingers that will make it more ergonomic and comfortable for your child to hold.
You will also like the fact that the manufacturer backs it with a 5-year warranty which makes it even more appealing.
The only problems with this model are that it does not have the best tracking. Furthermore, this is a basic kayak that does not come with many accessories.
2. Best Choice Products SKY3120 – Best Kayak for Maneuverability
- Weight Capacity: 121 lbs
- Materials: UV Resistant Plastic
- Dimension: 72 inches x 26 inches x 7 inches
- Weight: 18 lbs
When it comes to maneuverability, the Best Choice Products SKY3120 is simply unbeatable. In fact, its length of only 72 inches makes it very easy to control by a child.
In addition, this model is made from UV resistant plastic so you can safely leave it in the sun. It will not degrade or change color over time. Moreover, this composite material is highly durable and long-lasting.
Inside this kayak, we find multiple molded footrests so that your child can have a better position while paddling. There is also built-in storage right under the seat for storing various accessories.
At the front, we find a tow handle where you can easily attach a tow rope if necessary. There is no doubt that this model is one of the best kayaks for children out there. It is simple and yet very easy to maneuver, especially by very small children who are freshly learning how to kayak.
The only issue we have with it is that it has a lower weight capacity of 121 lbs when compared to others. Also, the paddle is short and heavy.
3. Lifetime Emotion 90245 – Excellent Tracking over Long Distances
- Weight Capacity: 240 lbs
- Materials: HDPE
- Dimension: 96 inches x 31.5 inches x 14 inches
- Weight: 39 lbs
The Lifetime Emotion 90245 is an excellent model when it comes to tracking. Indeed, its long length of 96 inches and a width of 31.5 inches allows it to move with great stability in a straight line.
But above all, we like the fact that this model has a weight capacity of 240 lbs. Sure, a child below 8 years old won’t need that much weight capacity, but it is still advantageous because it can be used to store a lot of heavy accessories in its storage compartment.
In addition, this model is made from a high-grade HDPE material which is very durable and long-lasting. It will not suffer from damage even during impacts, which makes it an excellent choice for those freshly learning how to kayak.
Best, it is UV resistant, and it will not degrade even if it is left in direct sunlight for an extended period.
Inside the cockpit, we find multiple molded footrests so the paddle can get a better position. The backside is also fully adjustable and quite comfortable as well.
However, just be careful not to let your child kayak in rapid waters with this model. This is because it lacks stability and can easily turn over if there are big waves.
For 8-12 Years Old
4. Sun Dolphin 51605 – Most Flexible Kayak for Kids
- Materials: HDPE
- Dimension: 96 inches x 28 inches x 16 inches
- Weight: 27 lbs
The Sun Dolphin 51605 is a kayak for kids that is a real winner when it comes to flexibility. Indeed, you can use this model in rivers, lakes, or ponds, and it will perform equally well.
One of the best things about it is that it comes in 3 different colors to suit your preference.
Moreover, the back seat is fully adjustable, and due to its sit-in cockpit design, your child will be cocooned inside. This will help protect your kid against impacts and various other accidents doing kayaking.
For better ease-of-use, there is a drink holder that is retractable when not in use. Also, this model performs excellently during tracking, and you can use a tow rope with it.
As mentioned, you will enjoy a lot of flexibility with this model. You can even use it to teach your kid how to fish, as this model is also one of the best kids fishing kayaks out there.
The only problem we face with this model is that the sides are a bit raised so it can make paddling difficult, especially if your child is short. Also, this model is not as stable as others, so we only recommend it on calm waters.
5. Sun Dolphin 52270 – Small and Compact
- Weight Capacity: 140 lbs
- Materials: HDPE
- Dimension: 72 inches x 24 inches x 8 inches
- Weight: 23 lbs
With a length of 72 inches and a width of 24 inches, the Sun Dolphin 52270 is small and compact. Indeed, if you’re looking for a small model that is easy to carry and does not occupy a lot of space, then this model is an excellent choice.
Additionally, it has a simple design that makes it easy to use. Especially by those who have never kayaked before because movement inside the cockpit is very easy.
This model is made from HDPE, which is a very durable and long-lasting material. Also, it has excellent UV resistance so you can safely use it in direct sunlight for long periods.
The only issue we take is that due to its open design, it lacks maneuverability, especially when doing corners. Further, it does not have a cushioned seat, so it can get uncomfortable over time.
However, this model is very easy to use and an excellent choice for those who have never paddled before.
6. Old Town Heron Junior – Designed to Fit a Child
- Weight Capacity: 115 lbs
- Materials: Single-layer Polyethylene
- Dimension: 89 inches x 25 inches x 16.2 inches
- Weight: 26 lbs
As its name suggests, the Old Town Heron Junior is a kayak designed specifically to fit the body of a child. Inside, your child will be able to fully maneuver with ease and comfort.
Moreover, the seat is molded and very comfortable. Maneuverability is excellent as this model measures only 89 inches in length and 25 inches in width.
Additionally, due to its height of 16.2 inches, it is a little bit higher than other models, so water will not easily get inside. Your child will always remain warm and dry.
Also, there are front and rear handles that will allow you to easily carry this kayak to and from the kayaking location. You can use a feature to pull the kayak whenever your child is feeling tired.
The only problem is that it does not have paddle holders. But other than this, this model is worth it, especially if you’re looking for a comfortable kid kayak.
For 12+ Years Old
7. Intex 68306EP Challenger – Best Kayak for 12+ Years Old
- Weight Capacity: 220 lbs
- Materials: Rugged Vinyl
- Dimension: 108 inches x 30 inches x 15 inches
- Weight: 27.2 lbs
The Intex 68306EP Challenger is an inflatable kayak that has an excellent price to performance ratio, comes with a durable aluminum oar, and comes with graphics for visibility at night.
We also like about this model is that since it is inflatable, you can easily store it when not in use. Furthermore, it is extremely easy to use, and it comes with a heavy-duty pump as well.
The provided paddle is heavy-duty as well, and since it is made from aluminum, it will not corrode and will offer a long lifespan. It also has plastic handles that make it easier to grip when paddling.
And even if this model is inflatable, the cockpit is quite spacious. Your 12+ child will have no problem maneuvering this kayak in all comfort.
Feature-wise, this model is one of the best sit-on-top kayaks for kids that are 12+ years old. The only problem is that it is a little bit slower during tracking than competing models. Additionally, it punctures quite easily because it is inflatable.
More Detailed: Intex Challenger K1 Review
8. Sun Dolphin 51320 Aruba – Adjustable Padded Seat
- Weight Capacity: 250 lbs
- Materials: HDPE
- Dimension: 120 inches x 30 inches x 13 inches
- Weight: 40 lbs
The Sun Dolphin 51320 Aruba demarks itself from the rest of the competition by providing you with a lot of flexibility when it comes to seat adjustment.
This will make it more comfortable for your child to find a comfortable position while paddling. Best, even the foot braces are adjustable for even more flexibility.
Moreover, this model comes in a wide range of colors to suit your needs. The colors are vivid and easy to see at night.
Also, it is equipped with a front storage compartment to carry your various accessories. And at the front of this kayak, we find a tow handle that can be attached with a tow rope for towing convenience.
Clearly, when it comes to adjustments, then this is a top-rated kayak for kids who are 12+ years old.
The only problems are that since it has a low-profile design. So, water easily enters the hatch. Moreover, due to its long length of 120 inches, it is more difficult to turn than other smaller models.
More Detailed: Sun Dolphin 51320 Review
9. Sevylor Quikpak K1 – Durable and Long-lasting
- Materials: 21-gauge PVC
- Dimension: 103 inches x 36 inches x 30 inches
- Weight: 18 lbs
The Sevylor Quikpak K1 is one of the best units in this kayak for kids review when it comes to durability. Indeed, it’s made from a thick 21-gauge PVC material that is extremely durable and long-lasting.
It also offers good resistance against impacts, and so, it can be used by absolute beginners who have never used a kayak before and freshly learning.
This model uses a unique airtight system that has been specifically designed to prevent leaks.
Moreover, it is equipped with a double lock system that makes it easier to inflate as well as to deflate. We like the fact that the manufacturer provides you with all accessories, including an aluminum paddle, a heavy-duty pump, and a carry bag with this purchase.
The only caveat here is the paddle handle, which has a plastic coating. It is slippery and uncomfortable to hold.
More Detailed: Sevylor Quikpak K1 Review
10. Ocean Kayak Frenzy – Superior Weight Capacity
- Weight Capacity: 325 lbs
- Dimension: 108 inches x 31 inches x 18 inches
- Weight: 44 lbs
The Ocean Kayak Frenzy is an excellent model that has the best weight capacity in this kayak for kids review. In fact, with its weight capacity of 325 lbs, you can use it to carry many heavy accessories as well as provide room to carry a child with ease.
And in order to store your accessories, there is a dedicated hatch right under the seat. You can use it to store food, fishing accessories, and anything else.
Inside this sit on top kayak, we find a comfortable backrest that is fully adjustable. Your child will be able to find a comfortable position with this seat. Also, there is a molded footrest for a better paddling position.
What we also like about this model is that it comes with a lifetime warranty on the hull.
The only caveats here are that since it is a little bit shallow on the water, water can easily enter inside. Also, it weighs 44 lbs, so it is difficult to carry. But once on the water, that’s not a problem.
How to Buy the Best Kayak for Kids
1. Kid's Age
One of the most important factors to consider when purchasing a Kayak for kids is age. This is because kayaks are usually built with age in mind.
Indeed, the best kayak for kids is, most of the time, age-related and does not directly depend on the kayak or features of the kayak itself.
For example, a kayak intended for 12+ years old kids is usually heavier and more difficult to maneuver than models made for an 8-year-old.
There are basically 3 age groups when it comes to kayaks for kids:
4 – 8-years: This type of kayak is usually lightweight, small, and has a low weight capacity.
It is intended for children freshly starting to learn how to kayak because they offer a high level of maneuverability and are easy to control.
8 – 12 years: The 8 – 12-year-old Kayaks have the best of both worlds. They are medium in size, not exceeding a length of 100 inches.
They remain lightweight for maneuverability and ease-of-use.
12+ years: Once your child has mastered the basics of kayaking and has the appropriate age, you can start using kayaks intended for 12+ years.
They are longer and less maneuverable. However, due to the long size, they offer excellent tracking when used for covering long distances.
One thing you will notice with the length of kayaks for kids is that they are usually shorter than kayaks intended for adults. So much so, most kids kayaks do not exceed 120 inches in length.
However, the length of the kayak is important because it dictates 2 factors. Tracking and maneuverability.
If you plan to teach your kid how to track, then go with a longer kayak. On the other hand, a shorter kayak with a high level of maneuverability is usually the best choice for most kids.
Therefore, for superior maneuverability, go with a kayak that has a shorter length like the Lifetime 90477. And when it comes to tracking, it is usually best to go with a longer kayak like the Intex 68306EP Challenger.
Of course, you need to ensure that your child has the right weight rating and right age before choosing those models.
3. Weight Ratings
Most manufacturers of kid kayaks use a weight rating to show whether a kayak is age-appropriate or not.
It is very important that you refer to this weight rating when purchasing a kayak because it will show if the kayak is ideally suited and safe for your child or not.
Younger children who are usually lighter may not necessarily fit in the weight rating of a kayak.
Therefore, you need to wait a little bit for your child to gain some weight before he or she is ready to start kayaking.
And if your kid becomes heavier than the weight rating of the kayak, then it is a good indication that they are now ready to upgrade to a bigger model.
4. Sit on Top Kayaks
The sit on top kayak is possibly one of the best kayaks for children out there.
This type of kayak has an open space inside the kayak where your child can freely maneuver arms and legs.
Moreover, it does not constrain movements and offers excellent visibility to the front and to the sides. Many parents prefer the sit on top kayak for its durability, simplicity, and ease-of-use.
5. Adding a Tow Rope
It is always best to go with a kayak that is equipped with a front tow mount and tow rope.
Your child may not always paddle during kayaking, and you may come to a point where you need to tow the kayak for long distances.
6. Paddle Holders
The paddle is the most important accessory in the kayak. A kayak that is not equipped with a paddle holder usually means that your child will eventually lose the paddle in the water.
So, your chosen kayak must come with paddle holders that will allow you to quickly and easily store your paddle when not in use.
7. Adjustable Foot Braces
Foot braces allow kayakers to get a better grip while paddling.
A kid kayak equipped with an adjustable foot brace is usually preferred because children grow and will eventually need a foot brace at a different position.
So, instead of purchasing a brand-new kayak, go with a model with an adjustable foot brace for more flexibility.
When it comes to kayaking, safety is vital. Therefore, you need to ensure that the kayak employs stability features like chines that will help stabilize the kayak during motion.
In addition, for better safety for your child, look for reverse chines in the kayak. Those offer both superior lateral stability as well as tracking stability.
As we have seen, choosing a kayak for your kid is age-specific.
For children who are freshly learning and below the age of 8, we recommend that the Lifetime 90477 Youth Wave. It has excellent maneuverability and comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty.
Anyone between the age of 8 and 12 years old will like the Sun Dolphin 51605. This is because this model is highly flexible and safe against impacts.
And for those who are above 12 years old, the Intex 68306EP Challenger is an excellent choice because of its ease of use and excellent price to performance ratio.