Best Kayak for Kids Reviews

These days kids’ lives revolve around electronics and the internet. If you are looking for a way to get your children off their phones and computers, try taking them out for a day of kayaking. Kayaking is a great way to make your kids disconnect from their gadgets and instead connect with the great outdoors. Whether you plan to kayak on a fast river, a calm lake, or the choppy ocean waters, exploring nature with a kayak is a great way get your kids active. Regardless if you kayak together in a group of single kayaks, or opt for a multi-person kayak, it is a wonderful, fun way to work some family bonding time into your busy schedule.

For those of you would like to take your child with you on your next kayak journey, it is time to invest in a kayak for your child. Though teenagers can usually handle the large size of an adult kayak, younger and smaller children will need a smaller kayak. Usually as kayak ten feet or shorter in length will suffice for children. With the variety of adult and child kayaks on the market, narrowing down your decision to one kayak may seem impossible. If you are unsure what features will accommodate a child, do not worry; we have you covered. We have created a detailed buying guide to help you decide what features are important to have in a child’s kayak. Read through the end of the article to discover which kayaks for kids we think are the best.

Different Types of Kayaks for Kids

Like adult kayaks, there are a variety of kayak types for children. Different factors, such as the body of water your child wants to kayak in and kayak design,will dictate what type of kayak you want to search for. Deciding what type of kayak you want will help you narrow down your decision.

Ocean vs River vs Lake

The body of water you and your child want to kayak on may have an impact on the type of kids kayak you should get. If you have young children, it is likely you will want to stay on calm, slow bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, slow rivers, and mild oceans. In this case, a general kids recreational kayak will suffice. Yet if you have an older, more adventurous child who want to explore fast and choppy rivers and oceans, you will want to consider investing in a kids sea kayak or whitewater kids kayak. Even a kid’s kayak will have special feature to help it maneuver in specific types of water. For example, an ocean kayak may have an upturned bow that helps it cut through the choppy waves. Likewise, a whitewater kids kayak will be designed with durability and agility in mind and will be able to maneuver and turn quickly.

Sit-on-Top vs Sit-Inside

Kid’s kayaks come in both a sit-on-top and sit-inside style. Sit-inside kayaks will keep your child drier, but sit-on-top kayaks are easier to get in and out of on the water. When I was younger, my favorite part of kayaking was going for a swim in the middle of the lake. Having a sit-on-top kayak made it a lot easier for me to get back inside the kayak once I was done swimming.

Tandem or Single?

If your child is old and confident enough to kayak on his/her own, they may enjoy the freedom of a single person kayak. However, if you would prefer to kayak with your kid, or have multiple kids you’d like to kayak with, a tandem kayak would be a sensible option for you.

Inflatable vs Hard Shell

The material of kayak you choose, whether it be an inflatable material or a hard shell plastic or fiberglass, is mostly a matter of preference and price. For the most part, inflatable kayaks are cheaper than hard shell kayaks. Yet because they are not at risk of puncturing like inflatable kayaks, hard shell kayaks usually last longer. Keep in mind that you also want to pick a kayak that has the durability that will hold up against the wear and tear of children.

Type of Activity

If your kid wants to do a specific activity while kayaking, such as fishing, look for kayaks with features that accommodate such activity. For example, many kids fishing kayaks will have fishing-specific features, such as rod holders and tackle box storage, that enhances the fishing experience.

Aspects and Features to Consider in Picking a Kid's Kayak

As with everything, there is even more to consider when you are shopping for a children’s kayak. Here are some aspects and kayak features that will help you decide what to look for when you are shopping for your kid’s kayak.


Size is the biggest difference between kid’s kayaks and adult kayaks. Because kids generally have less strength than adults, maneuvering a large kayak may be difficult. The smaller the kayak, the less awkward it will be for them to propel and steer, and the more agile they will be on the water.

Another aspect of the kayak’s size that is important to consider is its width. Because children have a shorter arm span, they will need a short paddle. You want to make sure that the width of the kayak you choose is short enough to accommodate a kid sized paddle. In addition to measurements, you want to be aware of the weight of the kayak. You want a kayak that is light enough for a child to maneuver easily and move in and out of the water. In general, you want to make sure that your child’s kayak is smaller than one you would consider using. This could mean that it is specifically a child’s kayak, or merely a small adult kayak. Both could work, depending on the size of your child.


Like everything they get their hands on, kids will put a kayak’s durability to the test. Because kids do not have the developed motor skills and carefulness that adults have, they will not be able to control a kayak as well and are likely to bump it around. By keeping that in mind, you want to look for kayaks made of durable material and have extra reinforcements at the kayak base.

For example, if you are on the market for a hard shell kayak, look for one with a skid plate. A skid plate is a plastic covering that protects the keel of the kayak. Since children are not as strong as adults, they are more likely to drag the kayak along the rough, rocky ground on their way to the water. The skid plate will protect the kayak from this extra dragging. Looking for durable materials will ensure your kayak lasts a long time.

Stability and Maneuverability

Kids are likely to have more trouble maneuvering, steering, and balancing a kayak. Hence, you want to look for features that focus on improved stability and maneuverability. If you are considering an inflatable kayak, look for kayaks with a sturdy base and supportive I Beams. Though you do not want the kayak to be too wide as to hinder your child’s paddling, kayaks with a wider base and hull shape are generally more stable. To help your child maneuver and steer, also look for kayaks with a skeg or a fin to improve the kayak’s tracking.

Age of Your Child

The age of your child or children may determine if you need a single person kayak or a tandem kayak. If your kid is mature and independent, then they may be confident enough to paddle solo. If your child is younger, opt for a tandem or multi-person kayak that allows you to go kayaking with kids. Some tandem kayaks have additional space for a small child, which are perfect for small families.

Additional Equipment

You will want to make sure you invest in a child sized personal flotation device or life vest. Every parent wants their kid to be safe; a life vest will make sure they stay afloat if their kayak tips or capsizes. Another piece of equipment you want to purchase is a kids kayak paddle. Because of their shorter arm span, kids need a shorter, lighter kayak paddle as they kayak. A kid sized paddle is easier to use and will help them control and maneuver the kayak better.

The Best Kayaks for Kids: Our Top Five Picks

Now that you have a better idea of what you want in your child’s kayak, it is time to start shopping. If you need a place to start, here are our top five kayaks for kids.

Best Kids Sit on Top Kayak

Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit on Top Kayak

For those of you looking for a kid friendly, sit-on-top kayak, one of your best options is the Sun Dolphin Bali SS 10-Foot Sit-on top Kayak. This recreational kayak is small enough for kids to maneuver easily, while still performing well on the water. It is easy to paddle, track, and balance in this hard shell kayak, making it perfect for kids to kayak in. There is plenty of storage for your kid’s water toys and gear, as it has a storage compartment and shock cord rigging. Your kids will also be comfortable in this kayak; it has a comfortable seat, thigh pads, and adjustable foot braces. If your kids desire to hop out and go for a swim as they kayak, the open, sit-on-top design will make it easy for them to get back in. There is also a paddle park to make sure they do not lose the paddle when they swim or lay back and relax. Coming in a variety of lively colors, your kids are sure to love this kayak.

Best Kids Inflatable Kayak

Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak

If you want a durable, inflatable kayak with an affordable price tag, then the Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak is a kayak you should consider. Though it is not a durable as a hard shell kayak, this inflatable, has 24 gauge reinforced PVC construction to withstand the wear and tear of recreational waters. This single person kayak provides the stability your child needs to balance on the water. At just over two and a half feet wide, it is narrow enough to function well with a kids kayak paddle. Because of its inflatable nature, it is easy to store and transport. If you are looking for an affordable kayak that your kid will enjoy, then the Blue Wave Sports Nomad 1 Person Inflatable Kayak may be just the recreational kayak you are looking for.

Best Kids Fishing Kayak

Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak

Fishing is a classic and great way to bond with your child. If you would like to take your child on a kayaking fishing trip and are looking for a kid friendly kayak to invest in, then the Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak is right up your alley. It is made of a high quality, durable polyethylene material that can withstand the challenges of the outdoors. It has a spacious, open design which gives you enough room to move around and fish. Backrests and foot braces provide you with comfort on your kayak journey. Not only is it a great recreational kayak, but it has special features that make your fishing experience enjoyable, too. It has two paddle holders and three rod holders for hands-free fishing. This is the perfect hard shell fishing kayak that has plenty of space for you, your kid, and all your gear. This is our top recommendation for those of you looking to have some kid friendly fun on the water as you fish with your child.

Best Kids Tandem Kayak

Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak

If you are looking for a tandem kayak for your kids to share, then the Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak is right up your alley. Though inflatable, this kayak is very durable. It is made of a durable plastic and has high frequency welded seams to ensure it holds up to the wear and tear of the outdoors. Its hull material is salt water resistant, perfect for a day kayaking on the ocean waters. This recreational, tandem kayak also has two built in skegs that aid in tracking and maneuverability, which is perfect for kids getting used to paddling.

The Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak is very stable. With five I Beam construction that provides excellent stability on the water, your children will not have trouble balancing on the water. This kayak also provides convenience, due to its inflatable nature. You need not worry about expensive car racks or heaviness. It is easy to carry, transport, and inflate: perfect for kids to help carry and set up. Being inflatable has another perk: it comes with a lower price tag. If you are looking for an affordable, family friendly tandem kayak for you and your kids to enjoy, the Sea Eagle SE370K Inflatable Kayak is a top choice. To read a more in depth review of this inflatable, recreational kayak, click here.

Best Kayak for Family with Kids

Malibu Two Ocean Kayak

The Malibu Two Ocean Kayak is a great kayak for a small family. This kayak is a sit-on-top, hard shell recreational kayak that performs excellently in lake and ocean waters. This hard shell kayak is made of a durable, polyethylene plastic that can withstand bumps and scrapes without cracking. In other words, it can withstand the wear of kids. To make it even more durable, this kayak comes with a skid cover to help protect the bottom of the kayak. In addition to durability, there are two comfortable seats with backrests, and a third seating well. This seating well is the perfect size for a small child to sit in, making the Malibu Two Ocean Kayak great for families. Its open, sit-on-top design makes it easy to get in and out of, even when on the water. If your child want to have a fun swim during your kayaking trip, it will be easy for them to climb back on after their dip. We highly recommend this kayak for any family looking to have some recreational fun on the water. To read more about this great, multi-person kayak, click here.

Kayaking is an amazing way to get your kids active and connected to the outdoors. To accommodate their smaller size and limited kayaking ability, you will want to invest in a kids friendly kayak. Hopefully our guide has given you the tips needed to find the best children’s kayak that will be a perfect fit for you and your family. Now that you have your kids’ kayaks taken care of, it is time to shop for you. To take a look at some of our top picks of recreational kayaks for adults, visit our recreational kayaks buying guide here.

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