10 Awesome Kayaks for Kids in 2019

With Moana and Pocahontas leading the way, canoes, kayaks, and boats seem pretty shiny to young eyes. And many of these activities are actually good for them, as well. Kayaking especially is a fun, family-friendly activity that requires children to exercise focus, balance, coordination, and muscular endurance, as they paddle their way through the water. Solid kayaks as well as inflatable kayaks can be safe, budget-friendly options, depending on the specific features you’re looking for. We think you’ll find all of the kayaks on our top ten list to be waves and waves of fun, so get out there and start paddling!

Last Updated:
By Angeline Mirenda:

We’ve replaced some of the low performance kayaks with better rated models, and added a brand new product to round out our list at an even top ten! There are both hard-side and inflatable options available with all kinds of different features.

Our Top 3 Picks

Intex Challenger K2
  • Intex Challenger K2
  • 4.1 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Removable seat
  • Price: See Here
Intex Challenger K1
  • Intex Challenger K1
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable Construction
  • Price: See Here
Sun Dolphin Aruba
  • Sun Dolphin Aruba
  • 4.3 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Sturdy & Comfortable
  • Price: See Here

Criteria Used in Evaluation of The Best Kayaks for Kids

Outdoor adventures are a great way to make lifelong memories. Most people will tell you their happiest childhood memories are days spent in the water and sun, time spent camping, moments where they stretched their imaginations and absorbed some rays of the sun. These are irreplaceable moments that not only create a happy life for your child but also provide some fundamental blocks essential to living a healthy and active lifestyle. The sunlight provides essential vitamins and fresh air can help improve circulation and healthy lung function.

It can be hard these days to get your child out of the house and away from the technology available these days. Spending quality time is an important part of helping your child develop of sense of community. In addition, time spent socializing with family will improve social skills for all different ages. Adding water to your outdoor adventure gives your child an extra challenge in physical activity. Not only will outdoor activities create lasting memories but the physical exertion will help your child to release some pent-up energy and give them a better night’s sleep.

This list is compiled with a number of highly rated options designed with safety, function and durability in mind. They have enhanced features to provide your child with a comfortable ride. You love the outdoors and you want to give your little one the same fun opportunities to develop a love of the wilderness also. Kayaking is a great way to get out extra energy as mentioned above, but also to help bring you back to nature. Calmly row down the river birdwatching or paddle through the rapids.

Always keep in mind the importance of safety and knowing your child’s physical abilities. It is not recommended your little one be expected to paddle through wild rapids on their own. The water can be a bit intimidating for some, so encouraging your child to develop self- confidence in the water is important. This feeling will develop and become stronger over time with more exposure to the water. Until that time comes, and even after, you want to know that your child is using a product designed to provide them with the utmost in safety. These vessels are highly rated in several aspects and designed to provide a range of safety features.

In addition to safety, these kayaks are designed for speed and ease. As your child is starting out on the water, understanding how to maneuver a toy this size can be tricky. These are great starter toys ideal for helping your child gain confidence in the water. They are easy to control and have added features making it easy for you to help if they get too tired. The ability to easily control your vessel gives you more mobility and speed, helping you get through more river. With added speed comes the ability to prepare for more challenging adventures in the future.

An activity like this promotes the development of muscles and motor skills. Paddling against the water will help your child build core muscles and arm strength. The movement of the wrist will strengthen forearm and wrist strength. In addition to helping your child strengthen their physical capabilities, they will improve their balance and coordination skills. Let’s be honest, nobody wants the moment in school where all eyes are on them to be the moment they slip walking down the hall. By encouraging your child to get out and and be active, you can save them the embarrassment and provide them a number of benefits. These benefits range from health, development and happiness, giving you the chance to be an inspiration to your little one.

What determined the best kayaks for kids on our list

Kayaks are primarily built for speed. If you have a canoe, then that would be the equivalent of a sport utility vehicle. However, if you’re thinking of an F1 racer in the water, there can only be a kayak. As such, one of the principal considerations for our choice of the best youth kayak is the overall design of the hull. It should be designed in such a way that it can slice through water with relative ease, like a hot knife slicing through butter. Equally important is the stability of the platform. We are particularly aware that some form of stability is ultimately lost with each increment in speed. So, we may be giving you a really high speed water vessel but if it cannot maintain stability even at such speeds, then we’d rather choose one that is not as fast but is stable enough to keep your child safe.

We also considered the weight of the youth kayak. This was a very important consideration since kayaks are especially built for lone riders, adventurers who would rather go it alone. That being said, it is important that these small streamlined boats are lightweight enough to be carried or even dragged from the vehicle and onto the water by an average kiddo. Playing a part in the lightweight design of the small boat is the choice of materials used in its construction. However, these materials should not only be lightweight; they should be extremely durable and sturdy, too. Most kayakers are some of the most adventurous out there. And while we don’t expect your kid to be shooting the Class V rapids of the Grand Canyon anytime soon, it is best to choose one that is as sturdy as the Grand Canyon itself.

Lastly, we had to look at the level of comfort it can provide kids. We had to consistently remind ourselves that what we are looking for products for juveniles and not for competition-grade performance-level kayakers. As such, it was imperative to look for features that would somehow provide some degree of comfort for our young kayakers.

Tips to ensuring kayaking safety for kids

Engaging in a variety of water sports or water-related activities can be so much fun. However, if we are not really careful, we might expose our kids to potential hazards during water-related activities and significantly undermine the benefits of these outdoor recreation activities. As such, it is always critical to understand some of the fundamental tips to ensure safety in kayaks and canoes especially when our kids are the riders.

  • Always supervise your children whenever they go out kayaking. Even the more experienced ones will still require some form of adult supervision.
  • Spend time teaching your kid how to swim or at least to stay afloat. You also may want to enroll your child in a kayaking course so he or she will learn not only the basics but also some of the tricks of the sport from licensed professionals.
  • Get your child appropriately sized safety gear such as a life jacket, helmet, rubber sandals, and others. It is important to choose gear that is of the correct size in relation to your child’s dimensions.
  • Make sure to give your child adequate sunscreen or UV protection especially during the hot summer months. You may need to buy for him or her UV glasses to help protect the eyes against glare.
  • Encourage your child to listen to safety instructions and to follow or obey all rules about kayaking. You may want to go over each of these items individually so they become well-acquainted with these rules.
  • If you have to buy a kayak, make sure it is of the right size for your child and that it is stable enough to allow your kid ample freedom of movement.
The bottom line

Kayaking can be so much fun. If you have a child who happens to be fascinated with the water sport, then you can nurture this fascination by getting him or her one of the 9 awesome kayaks for kids we have listed here. Once you have the best kayak for your kid, don’t forget to observe our tips on kayaking safety.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do they come with a paddle?

A: Some do and others don’t. There are a few with paddles that may not be durable enough to withstand more than a few adventures.

Q: Are they too heavy to paddle?

A: Some of these are incredibly lightweight and designed for children as young as five. This means they are intended to be easily manipulated and controlled in the water.

Q: Are the footrests adjustable?

A: There are several kayaks on this list to do have an adjustable footrest. They have a few levels so they can be used year after year.

Q: What is a skeg? Is a skeg useful for these products?

A: A skeg is used to protect the propeller of the vessel. They are not necessary as these are not motor-controlled. They are also not included.

Q: Do these products come with a warranty?

A: There are some that have a manufacturer warranty, while others may be offered by the company you made the purchase from.

Q: Are they durable enough to be used in the river?

A: Yes most of these toys are designed to be used in the river and some can also be used in the pool. Possibly even the ocean if you feel really adventurous. It should be noted, care and adult supervision as well as assistance from flotation devices are recommended during use, in order to ensure the most in safety.

Q: What is the weight limit?

A: The majority of these support a maximum weight of around 130 pounds. There are a few on this list that are capable of holding up to around 200 pounds for older children. This means you can find something for everyone ages five and up. They are sure to be excited!


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