Best Kayak For Kids

The Best Kayak For Kids

[A 2018 Guide]

Imagine this:

You're preparing an awesome day of kayaking with the kids at the lake when you find out that your kid's kayak has a hole in the hull.

That's a whole day ruined by a single kayak.

Spending time in the water with your kids is special, and shouldn't be ruined by the quality of a kayak.

But there is good news.

The whole scenario can be avoided by taking the time to realize what exactly it is you're looking for in a kayak, and then finding the best kids kayak within your budget.

When buying a kayak, I try to make sure each kayak follows the DECS checklist.

DECS is short for: Durable, Easy to use, Comfortable, and Safe.

If a kayak has all of these traits, then you can be pretty sure that it will be a good choice for your kid.

Let's take a look at some of this year's top youth kayaks.

The Best Kids Sit On Top Kayak For Most People

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

An affordable kayak that's durable, high-quality, and light-weight

See the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak


  • Impact-resistant
  • Light-weight
  • Great price
  • Has a “swim-up step” for easy re-entry


  • No padding on the seats


The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak was our choice for the best kids sit on top kayak for most people. this was due to a variety of factors including cost and convenience.

When you first order the kayak, you can expect to wait around 5-7 days before it arrives.

The kayak comes wrapped in a plastic bag, which had me a little worried about denting.

I reached out to their customer service to ease my fears prior to making a purchase (thanks to Darwin for helping me out with that!).


As you can see from the chat, it seems like they only ship kayaks in boxes when you purchase more than one.

I then asked Darwin if using plastic increases the risk of denting, and he was pretty honest by saying it does.

However, from his experience, it normally didn't happen. Most companies seem to ship kayaks in plastic as opposed to something more durable, so it didn't concern me too much.

The Youth Wave Kayak is available in a variety of colors that include blue, pink, green, orange, and yellow.

I found this to be quite nice because you can have your kid choose what color they like instead of it being restricted to just one.

Size6 ft6 ft6 ft6 ft6 ft
Weight Capacity130 lbs130 lbs130 lbs130 lbs140 lbs
Kayak Weight
18 lbs18 lbs18 lbs18 lbs22 lbs
Warranty5-year limited5-year limited5-year limited5-year limited5-year limited

An interesting note is that the yellow model is slightly larger in terms of weight and weight capacity, although I'm not sure why that is (might have to reach out to Darwin again!).

I would recommend checking the prices on the various kayak colors frequently because prices change often and different colors will have different prices.

This kayak does a lot of things well for it being so cheap. The hull is flip-resistant, and the kayak has reverse chine for enhanced stability.

Another important note is that this kayak has a twin fin design to help with tracking.

The hull is made from High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE), which means it's both impact-resistant and light-weight.

Polyethylene is known for having a large strength to density ratio, which is why it's often used for things such as kids toys. Kids drop toys all the time, and polyethylene ensures those toys won't break.

Another benefit is that polyethylene is UV-resistant, which means the kayak won't fade or crack, at least not very easily.

The kayak includes a paddle, which is nice because often times manufacturers don't do that. The paddle has a button located in the middle of it that separates it into two pieces. This makes it convenient to store pretty much anywhere.

So to put it into perspective, you get a kayak AND a paddle, all for roughly less than $150. Not too shabby for those trying to save a bit of money.

As I mentioned before, the kayak weighs less than 20 pounds. This means you and/or your child won't have any issues moving it around.

On top of that, the molded finger handles on each side of the kayak makes it even easier to transport. They also won't have an issue rowing as this kayak is very easy to use.

For more comfort, the Youth Wave has various footrest positions to make sure kids of all different sizes are comfortable. There are self-bailing scupper holes, which allows the kayak to drain any water that gets inside.

The kayak also has a "swim-up step", so if your kid falls in the water, they won't have a tough time climbing back onto the kayak.

This kayak does have its flaws. For one, the seat on the kayak is unfortunately not padded. This becomes an issue if you are looking to do long trips at the lake because your child might be uncomfortable after a while.

Overall, this kayak is the best at it's price point. I'd say if you had a kid that was less than 5 feet and between the ages of 4 and 10, this kayak would work perfectly.

If your child is older than this, I would suggest getting a slightly larger kayak so they won't be cramped.

The Best Kids Sit In Kayak

Heron Junior Kids Kayak

A top-notch sit in kayak that performs well and is built well

See the Heron Junior Kids Kayak

Reasons To Buy:

  • Sleek design
  • Durable
  • Contoured seat
  • Will last you a long time

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Pricey


The Heron Junior Kids Kayak is our top choice for the best kids sit-in kayak. Although it's on the pricier side, it's well worth the investment. Especially if your kids will be kayaking often.

The kayak weighs about 26 pounds, and is 7 1/2 feet long. The carrying capacity is 115 pounds.

Similar to the Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak, this kayak is made from Polyethylene (Single Layer Polyethylene), giving it its durability.

The kayak has a convenient built-in "tow-system" in the front of the kayak.


That means if your kid get tired, you can easily bring them back to shore. Just use the hook to connect their kayak to yours, and you're good to go.

As you can see from the image above, the tether rope has three screws that create a sort of pocket to keep the rope in.

A difference between Heron's kayak and Lifetime's kayak is the design. The Heron is much sleeker than the Youth Wave, which means it's even easier to maneuver in the water.

The kayak has a contoured seat specifically designed for smaller bodies to be comfortable. Anyone 5 feet or shorter should be pretty snug inside the kayak.


Included with the kayak is an internal foam billet. If the kayak tips over, the billet ensures it won't sink to the bottom of a lake.

Unfortunately, the kayak does not come with a paddle, so you'll have to buy one separately. If you're looking to do a lot of kayaking with your kids, this kayak is the one to get. It will last long, and be a much more worthy investment than a $100 kayak.

Best Kids Fishing Kayak

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack

A higher-end fishing kayak with lots of storage and maneuverability

See the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack

Reasons To Buy:

  • Great design
  • Cheap
  • Durable

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Tracking issues

You can expect to receive your kayak about 5 days after ordering it online. When purchasing the kayak, you can expect to receive a paddle a deluxe seat, and four flush mount rod holders.

This makes the costs of the kayak a little easier to swallow as mini kayaks don't usually include a paddle available for purchase.

In terms of size, the kayak is 9 ft long and 46 pounds. he width of the kayak is 32in and the weight capacity is 300 lb. This kayak is on the expensive side, but is phenomenal for fishing with.

The kayak is pretty good for oceans and really good for lakes as well as long as the surface is is relatively flat.

There's a a darker blue version, a blue, white and green version, and a camouflage version. Because the kayak is only 9 ft long it makes it easier to bring places and has much better maneuverability in the water.

An important aspect to fishing is having plenty of storage space on the kayak, and this kayak has 2 sealed hatches with bag inserts and a large bungeed rear tank to give you the space you need.

A good fishing kayak has to be stable so that you can stand on it without worrying about falling over. It should also be spacious enough for you to be able to carry your gear comfortably.

The Sun Dolphin journey is a 10ft long sit on top kayak. The kayak has a weight limit of about 250 lb and the kayak itself weighs 44 lb.

It's made from molded polyethylene that is high-density and UV stabilized.

The kayak comes with two flush mounts and one swivel fishing rod holder. Another nice thing about this kayak is that it has a portable accessory carrier to make bringing things along easier.

Different colored kayaks have different prices, so if you're looking to save money find a color that is less expensive. The last time I checked the prices, the olive color was $190 more than the sand color.

What kind of comes with a adjustable padded seat, shock cord deck rigging, and adjustable foot braces. For additional comfort and security, the kayak also has protective thigh pads.

One issue some people had was that the kayak wasn't very good at tracking, so be wary of that.

For the price, I do think this kayak fits in pretty well. It's not perfect but it's a decent fishing kayak to get for your child.

Other Kayaks Worth Mentioning

Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

An inflatable kayak that's convenient to transport

See the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak

Reasons To Buy:

  • Everything you need to get started except for a PFD
  • Cheap
  • Very light

Reasons To Avoid:

  • People have had issues with the skeg coming off


The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak comes in three different sizes: 9 feet, 10 feet 3 inches, and 11 feet 6 inches. This review will focus on the 9 foot kayak.

The kayak weighs about 24 pounds, and has a maximum weight capacity of 220 pounds. Unlike the other kayaks mentioned in this list, the K1 is inflatable and made from heavy duty puncture-resistant vinyl.

What I like most about inflatable kayaks is the fact that it's so convenient to transport.

You can easily throw the deflated kayak into your car, drive to a nearby lake, and inflate it. Once you're done using it, all you have to do is let the air seep out, and then roll it back up and throw it in your car.

You don't have to worry about whether you have space in your car and about struggling to carry (or drag) the kayak from place to place.

If you're looking for convenience, this kayak is the top choice.

Although I personally prefer polyethylene, the kayak does a suprisingly decent job going over rocky areas. I would still avoid using it over really shallow waters with sharp rocks, but aside from that I wouldn't worry too much.

The seat is both adjustable and removable, and has an inflatable back rest.

The kayak comes with aluminum oars as well as an air pump to inflate the kayak. The aluminum oars are a bit flimsy, so you might want to buy new ones if you don't like the ones it comes with.

Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit-in Kayak

An inexpensive sit-in kayak that offers a lot of value for the price

See the Sun Dolphin Aruba

Reasons To Buy:

  • Cheap
  • Great value
  • Well-rounded

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Shipping issues


Next on the list is the Sun Dolphin Aruba Sit -in Kayak. The kayak is 10 feet long and has a maximum weight capacity of 250 pounds.

The kayak is made from a Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene, so it's very durable.

Similar to the Challenger K1, the Aruba has an adjustable padded seat. It also comes with protective thigh pads and adjustable foot braces. It even has a water bottle holder for additional convenience.

Although the kayak can be fairly heavy for some people, the manufacturers try to make it easy to carry by having carrying handles.

The kayak has a drain plug in, but it can be a bit challenging to put back in after taking it out.

The kayak was designed to have a flatter bottom, which means less speed, but more stability to help beginners hone thier paddling ability.

Perception Kayak Tribe

A comfy kayak that's great for a relaxing weekend

See the Perception Kayak Tribe

Reasons To Buy:

  • Comfortable
  • Stable
  • Great tracking

Reasons To Avoid:

  • Only good for slow moving water


The Perception Kayak Tribe comes in 3 sizes: 9 1/2 feet, 11 1/2 feet, and 13 1/2 feet. For this review, we'll focus on the 9 1/2 foot kayak as it only accommodates one person. If you're looking for one with two seats, you can get one of the other two sizes.

The kayak weighs 46 pounds, with a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds. This is ideal for older children and teenagers, as the kayak is a bit heavy to move around.

The kayak is made from high-density polyethylene, making it durable to a variety of elements.

The seat of the kayak is pretty comfy and has ventilated padding. The seatback reclines forward or backward, which is nice as it allows you to adjust yourself in order to maximize comfort.

There are different footrest choices so people of different heights can all be comfortable using the kayak.

In terms of usage, the kayak is great for using on slow-moving rivers, ponds, lakes, and anywhere that doesn't have fast- moving water.

What To Think About When Buying A Kayak For Your Kids

Okay, so when choosing a kayak for your kid, you have to figure out where your child will be using the kayak most often.

Will it be on a lake where the water is still or will it be something like a river where there are waves involved?

I would recommend choosing an area where the water is calm to have your child kayak. you want your child to be as comfortable as possible while learning how to kayak.

Another aspect to consider is whether you want a sit-in kayak or a sit-on top-kayak.

Sit-ins will cover more of your body to give it more protection, whereas sit-on-top gives you more space.

In other words sit-ins, make it less likely for you to be affected by wind, water, sunlight, and rain. This allows your child to remain dry and stay out of the water.

Sit-on-top kayaks are great because they have lots of space for storing any equipment you'd like to carry.

They are also great for people who are larger because they won't be confined to a smaller space.

Important Information

There are some other important pieces of information that you should know before taking your kid kayaking.

One of the most important things is that before your child kayaks, they should wear a personal flotation device. That way if they fall over, they can stay afloat and get back onto the kayak.

Another important tip is to dress your child for the temperature of the water, not the air.

Water is generally colder than the air, you want to avoid the risk of hypothermia.

The Bottom Line

So now we can establish that any of these kayaks would be a great choice depending on what your priorities are.

If you're looking for a kayak that's affordable, then the Lifetime Youth wave kayak is a great choice.

It includes almost everything you need for your kid to get started without burning a hole in your wallet.

If convenience is more of a priority to you, then getting the Intex Challenger would be a better choice because of the fact that it's inflatable.

You can easily move it from place to place without any hassle.

If you just want a kayak that your kids can use all the time and that will last for a long time, then the Heron Junior Kids Kayak would be the best choice.

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