What’s the Best Kayak for Kids?

Jason Loomis
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If you are looking to purchase a kayak for your kids, you want to choose a new, high-quality kayak that is a pleasure to paddle but still will hold up to some abuse (and maybe some rash moves by your children).

Kids’ kayaks come in many shapes and sizes, various hull materials, and made by different manufacturers. Also, new innovations have emerged that make novices and even experts a little nervous about the safety of paddles when paddling on lakes or other calm waters.

What’s the best kayak for kids in general? What’s the best kayak for kids that will assure they enjoy their experience on the water? What are some of the things to consider?

If you are wondering what kayak is best for your kids, I’ve got them covered for you right here.

Best entry-level kayak for kids: Pelican 100 Aquarium | Kids Kayak

Best kayak for kids for calm lakes: Skwoosh S1 Kayak (which doesn’t mean they will…they will just know to get out if they are running into trouble) | Kids Kayak

Best kayak for kids for white water: Pelican 100 Aquarium | Kids Kayak

NameCategoryProduct
Lifetime Youth Wave KayakBest OverallLifetime Youth Wave Kayak
Intex Challenger Kayak SeriesBudget PickIntex Challenger Kayak Series
Lifetime 10 FootUpgrade PickLifetime 10 Foot

1. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Our rating: 9 / 10

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Total weight – 16.3lbs.
  • Seats two children with weight up to 120lbs.
  • Durable; able to withstand some rough treatment from your kids.
  • The affordability factor.

Cons:

  • The interior is made of thin material and isn’t the most comfortable.
  • The seat can’t be adjusted.
  • Some issues with leakage.
  • It’s a little on the short side. The maximum number of people that can sit in the front and back is two.

The Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle is one of the most budget-friendly kayaks out there. It’s sturdy and can withstand a lot of abuse from kids. It’s built with a high-density polyethylene body, which makes it easy to move around when you’re transporting or storing it. It’s also crafted with four self-bailing drain scuppers for quick drainage.

2. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

Our rating: 9 / 10

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak

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Pros:

  • Extremely durable and stable
  • Made in the USA!
  • Very lightweight
  • Made to be used by kids ages 12 and up
  • Includes an adjustable seat with two settings
  • Has an anchor and paddle – an added bonus for an already great price
  • Non-slip foot pads – prevent sliding
  • Features 4 carry handles to lift into the truck
  • High sides on the bow and stern – keeping kids safe
  • There are plastic nylon handles at the front and back of the kayak for extra stability

Cons:

  • Doesn't have much floatation in the tip of the kayak
  • Seat doesn't fit well – easily slides around
  • Waste strap not easily accessible
  • Seat is not adjustable
  • Doesn't float well

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak is best suited for kids and young adults who are 6 feet tall and over.

It’s built to be used in lakes, ponds, and rivers.

3. Intex Challenger Kayak Series

Our rating: 6 / 10

Intex Challenger Kayak Series

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Heavy-Duty A-Frame Carry Handle

Cons:

  • The carry handles can be a bit tricky for younger kids
  • Some hulls tend to buckle

Despite their flaws, Intex Challenger Kayaks are the leading choice for a starter kayak for children. The design and construction make it a perfect choice for kids ranging in weight from 75 to 125 pounds.

There are several different models available, each with something unique to offer your child:

  • Challenger K1 Kayak
  • Challenger K2 Kayak
  • Challenger K4 Kayak
  • Challenger K5 Kayak

4. Lifetime 10 Foot

Our rating: 5 / 10

Lifetime 10 Foot

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Pros:

  • Very user friendly can easily be paddled for beginners and kids
  • Backrests mean you can paddle for a long time without feeling fatigued
  • The 100% polyester fabric makes it highly resistant to abrasions and UV damage
  • The kayak is very easy to set up and store
  • Provides great exercise

Carry Handles.

The Lifetime 10’2 is a perfect choice for kids and beginners alike. The kayak is big enough to accommodate two paddles without causing any interference with your movement. However, the kayak is not very big. It has a length of 10’2ft and a Width of 25’2ft. This means that the boat has a surface area of 258.04m2.

The height of this kayak is at least a foot more than what most kayaks have. This gives the boat sufficient height to stay afloat.

5. Sun Dolphin Bali 6-Foot Sit-on-top Kayak

Our rating: 5 / 10

Sun Dolphin Bali 6-Foot Sit-on-top Kayak

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Pros:

  • Minimal initial/ongoing maintenance
  • Affordable
  • One of the few entries-level kayaks that hold up to 180 lbs

Cons:

  • May be a bit tippy for small kids
  • Not ideal for rougher waters
  • Needs to be inflated longer than other kayaks

The Sun Dolphin Bali sits atop our list as the overall best kids’ kayak. It’s ultra-affordable and comes with an air pump with gauge to inflate the kayak in about 4-6 minutes.

The Bali is a sit-on-top kayak which means it’s easier to enter and exit than the sit-inside kayaks. That’s well-suited to young kids who may feel more comfortable jumping into the kayak than clambering on board.

The Bali gets great edge-to-edge tracking and is especially stable making it super easy to paddle.

6. Ocean Kayak Banzai Kids' Kayak

Our rating: 3 / 10

Ocean Kayak Banzai Kids' Kayak

Check Price on Amazon

Pros:

  • Good for children aged 5-10
  • Compact when stowed
  • Very durable
  • Easy to use
  • Versatile
  • Two-year warranty
  • High quality for the price tag
  • The design gives the kayak a smooth ride
  • Easily transportable

Cons:

  • Not meant for rough waters
  • Paddling solo can be a chore
  • The rear hatch is hard to open
  • Steered a bit too easily
  • Tends to splash in choppy waters

This kayak from Ocean Kayak is specially designed for kids aged 5-10 and includes a bonus Paddle away Play Kit.

The kayak is a high performer and is a great, economical choice for first-time boaters, as well as older kids who might not be ready for a tandem craft.

The kayak is ideal for a day trip to a nearby lake or pond. It paddles comfortably and offers a great price point.

Conclusion

Of course, one of the most important aspects of choosing the best kayak for your kids is safety. Your kids should feel safe and secure in their kayak at all times. They should also be able to paddle their kayak safely. Avoid using flimsy material since these kayaks can easily crack or break. Opt for kayaks made from high-quality plastic and fiberglass.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
Lifetime Youth Wave KayakBest OverallLifetime Youth Wave Kayak
Intex Challenger Kayak SeriesBudget PickIntex Challenger Kayak Series
Lifetime 10 FootUpgrade PickLifetime 10 Foot