Top 7 Best Kayaks for Kids | 2023 Reviews (Perception Kayaks)

Last Updated March 24, 2023

Kayaking can be fun and engaging activities your kids can do during the day. Your kids will love to pour their energy paddling and having fun on the water. Kayaking involves endurance and strength, which are beneficial for kids. Plus, it is a good alternative if you want to wear their energy off.

Picking the best kayaks for kids may seem a difficult task. Safety should be prioritized, but that should not spoil the fun. There are many kayaks out there that offer safe and fun kayaks.

With all the choices to choose from, a narrowed-down option will ease your burden! Here are the seven best kayaks for kids:

Top 7 Best Kayaks for Kids Reviewed

  1. Hi-Five Sit on Top Kids by Perception Kayaks – Best Overall
  2. Heron Junior Recreational Kayak by Old Town Kayaks – Best Value
  3. Youth Wave Kayak by Lifetime – Editor’s Choice
  4. Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex
  5. Aruba SS 10-Foot Sit-In by Sun Dolphin
  6. /b bQuikpak K1 by Sevylor
  7. Prodigy XS by Perception Kayaks

#1. Hi-Five Sit on Top Kids by Perception Kayaks – Best Overall

Perception Hi Five | Sit on Top Kids Kayak for Kids up to 120 Lbs. | Youth Kayak with Paddle | 6' 6"

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  • Weight: 21 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 120 pounds
  • Equipped with Kid Hitch and Tether System

Inspired by the award-winning Hi-Life, Hi-Five Sit on Top by Perception is a fun and versatile kayak that can act as a stand-up paddleboard at the same time. Its wide dimension makes it very stable; children can paddle while standing or sitting. It wins as the best kayaks for kids because it performs well as a kayak, but it is designed for kids in mind.

This kayak has catchy bright color shades and sleek design. Your kid will be easy to see from a distance. Your kid will love the different colors, and it will be cool for him to kayak with friends.

This kayak comes with a two-piece paddle that features small blades and a handle diameter for smaller hands. The seat is elevated to make sure paddling is easy for kids. You can also attach the kayak to your kayak if they get tired from paddling or simply want to follow you around.

This kayak deserves the top position for being a good all-rounder for kids. Its large front deck area is suitable for kids to paddle while standing up. The rear swim deck makes climbing on board convenient, specifically designed for kids. It can also act as storage, but things will get wet easily when you are with your energetic child.

A small deck at the back for easy ingress after falling or jumping offThe plastic feels cheap but durable
Can fit at the back of your SUV with easeDifficult to keep the kayak dry
Can hook on another kayakNot suitable for tall people
Very stable on the waterNo drain plugs included
Made for children

#2. Heron Junior Recreational Kayak by Old Town Canoes & Kayaks – Best Value

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Heron Junior Recreational Kayak (Photic, 7 Feet 5 Inches)

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  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 115 pounds
  • Hull construction: Single layer polyethylene

Specifically designed for kids, Heron Junior by Old Town Canoes & Kayaks is an ultra-lightweight kayak suited for small paddlers. This kayak is elegant and easy to maneuver, making it a handy kayak for kids. The seating arrangement is molded to fit a child’s body. Contoured seats are padded, providing comfort and added control for kids who are starting to learn kayak.

Heron Junior is categorized as a recreational kayak, making it stable and easy to handle when the going gets tough. The lightweight foam billet helps the kayak to be stable and comfortable for cruising. Bow and stern handles make transporting the kayak easier, from your car to the water and vice versa.

This kayak can accommodate up to 115 pounds of weight. There is a Tag Along Tow System to easily tow your kids back to the shore when they get tired from the activity. It is a convenient feature when you want your kids to have a feel for kayaking.  

The oldest and largest manufacturer of canoes and kayaks brand, this kayak will guarantee that it will last for a long time. If you are not sold on its brand, it comes with a limited lifetime warranty for your peace of mind.

Lightweight, compact designLacks modern features like water bottle holder
Tag along with tow systemDoes not come with a paddle
Padded and contoured seatOld traditional design
Budget-friendly kayakNo storage space
Perfect for young beginners

#3. Youth Wave Kayak by Lifetime – Editor’s Choice

Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak with Paddle, 6 Feet, Green

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  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 130 pounds
  • Hull construction: high density polyethylene

Youth Wave Kayak by Lifetime is one of the most affordable, best kayaks for kids. It is easy to use and has bright color options to choose from. 

This lightweight kayak includes one double-sided paddle and molded finger handles on each side for convenient transportation to and from the water. Twin fin design assists in tracking and surf riding activities. Stability is ensured with its wide base, making it difficult to capsize.

This kayak is equipped with reverse chine for enhanced stability and swim-up step. Comfort and convenience are set with its multiple footrest positions and molded paddle cradles. Your kids may also turn it into a diving board. The kayak has easy ingress and egress due to its sloped back and swim-up step. Your kids will love the kayak for that.

Youth Wave Kayak by Lifetime is made with durable high-density polyethylene construction, keeping it afloat during harsh conditions.  It is a tough vessel that is UV-protected, built to last for a “lifetime.” A 5-year limited warranty is included to ensure the high quality of the product.

Small enough to fit at the back of your minivan or SUVTracking may be challenging for some kids
Stable and difficult to capsizeNo room to secure your storage
Nice maneuverabilityDoes not come with handles
Perfect starter kayakScupper plugs not included
Ideal for small kidsA bit pricey

#4. Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex

Intex Challenger Kayak Inflatable Set with Aluminum Oars

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  • Weight: 27.2 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 220 pounds
  •   Construction: heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl

If you are looking for an elegant and durable kayak for your child, Challenger K1 Kayak by Intex is up for its task. This kayak ensures safety for any passenger with its durable welded material and inflatable l-beam floor. You would not have to worry about your kids kayaking with their friends because it is designed with bright, eye-catching colors. You can easily look out for them when they are far from you.

Compared to other kayaks, Challenger K1 offers a cargo net at the front for extra storage. Collapsible oars are easy to assemble. It performs well even for an adult to use. It does not clip your hands or feel loose like some oars do.

Inflating the kayak is quick and easy. Your kids can even do it by themselves. It will only take five to ten minutes or so to inflate it. The small hand pump can do huge wonders you would not expect from its size.

This inflatable kayak is best suited for calm, narrow lakes or slow-moving bodies of water. Inflatable seat with backrest provides comfort, grab lines on both ends provide security for your young children. The low-profile deck and high-buoyancy side chambers help the kayak become more stable during tricky situations.

Tracking for this kayak is excellent and stable, especially for cruising speeds. Maneuvers are done effortlessly, which will make it easy for your kids to operate. This compact kayak is perfect for kids who want to cruise around the lake.

Great for cruising speedThe sidewall is thick, rubs your skin when paddling
Kid-friendly hand pumpNot suitable for two passengers
Lightweight, compactCarrying bag has poor quality
Bargain for its priceLittle back support
Fairly wide = stableNo footholds

#5.  Aruba SS 10-Foot Sit-In by Sun Dolphin

SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS Sit-in Kayak (Tangerine, 8-Feet)

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  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 260 pounds
  • Hull construction: UV-stabilized Fortiflex high density polyethylene

Aruba S.S. 8-Foot Sit-In by Sun Dolphin shines the most on lakes and rivers. The body construction of the kayak is made with rugged UV-stabilized Fortiflex High-Density Polyethylene. It would last for years of kid’s abuse. Its lightweight and easy to carry design will make traveling convenient for you and your family. 

Carrying handles and paddle holders are lightweight and retractable, giving you flexibility when transporting it. An adequate seat covered with protective thigh pads and adjustable foot braces allows comfort. Its open tank well storage and shock cord deck rigging make it one of the most versatile kayaks on the list. You may also use it, depending on your size and weight.

The kayak also includes a limited lifetime warranty from the company to have your peace of mind. Consumers are surprised about how this little kayak turned out to be a good one, no matter what age you are in.

Lightweight, easy to carryUncomfortable seating position
Great for beginnersNot suitable for rough waves
Easy to maneuverSides are positioned high
Can fit in your carOn the tippy side
Bang for the buckA bit narrow

#6. /b bQuikpak K1 by Sevylor

Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak Blue, 8'7" x 3'

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  • Weight: 18 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 400 pounds
  • 21-gauge PVC construction

Quick to set up and pack, Quikpak K1 by Sevylor is a viable option for the best kayaks for kids. You will be able to set the kayak for five minutes, more or less. Thanks to its double lock valves. 

The awesome backpack system carries everything you need to set up and pack the kayak. The backpack has a padded shoulder system to avoid blisters when carrying it on your shoulder.  It also folds out into your kayak’s seat, very innovative. This innovation makes it more convenient and portable to carry during your family trip.

The rugged tarpaulin bottom and 21-gauge PVC construction handle choppy waters of the lake easily. It will take some hard beatings before it gives up on you. If ever that happens, this kayak will not leave you sinking in the middle of the lake; it has multiple air chambers to help you move back to the shore. Nonetheless, the airtight system has guaranteed you that it would not leak.

An adjustable footrest makes your kid’s kayaking trip comfortable. Drink holder and bungee storage area are present to make kayaking more convenient. Quikpak K1 by Sevylor offers a backrest on the seat so your kids may lean back and appreciate nature. 

This kayak includes a collapsible paddle for compact storage and a high-pressure hand pump.

The seat turns into a backpackSplash drips from the paddle
Comfortable seating positionHard to paddle straight
Great for leisure kayakingOn the heavy side
Fast and easy to inflatePaddle is flimsy
Best for tall peopleSmall skegs

#7. Prodigy XS by Perception Kayaks

Perception Kayaks Prodigy XS | Sit Inside Kayak For Kids and Petite Paddlers | Recreational Kayak for All Day Fun | 10' | Salsa

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  • NMMA certified
  • Weight: 26 pounds
  • Weight Limit: 150 pounds

Prodigy X.S. by Perception Kayaks is perfectly designed for young paddlers who want to take their skills to the next level. Perfect for cruising along flat or slow-moving waters, this kayak is efficiently fast and stable. It will grow on your child as time goes by.

This kayak is practical for you to invest for your kid because it also caters to intermediate-skilled people. Its light and compact design allow you to carry and store the kayak conveniently. 

Comfort and stability will not be the last word for this kayak. The sit-in design provides a low center for gravity to enhance stability, and it also protects your child from foreign elements. 

Integral floatation is a standard feature, making it one of the safest kayaks for kids. Your child is secured on this kayak with its re-engineered seat and cockpit.

The Prodigy X.S. kayak is backed by a 5-year warranty to ensure quality and after-sales support is top-notch.

Comfortable for long excursionsChallenging to go in and out of the vessel
Fast and stable on the waterNo storage for dry belongings
Lightweight and easy to carryMight be small for your kid
Perfect size for kidsPaddle not included
AffordableA bit narrow

Getting the Best Kayak for Kids – Buyers Guide

Your kid’s kayak will be used for years; this is crucial to develop your child’s motor and kayaking skills. This kayak may make or break your kid’s perception about kayaking, so investing in the right gears suited for your kid is a must. What are the things you need to consider in getting the best kayaks for kids?

Style of Kayak

The best kayaks for kids are the sit on top kayaks. It is easier for kids to ingress and egress the kayak since they are made to be stable. Tipping or flipping is hard for the kayak to do. 

Sit on top kayaks have self-draining holes feature, so even if your kids flip over, all you need to do is place it back, and you are good to go. There is no need for you to drain the water out. 

Sit on top kayaks are common because of their durability and simple yet functional design. Its modern design versus the traditional kayaks provides convenience and is more pleasing to the eye.

Weight Capacity

Your child might be lighter than the recommended weight rating from the manufacturer. If that is the case, they may need to grow a bit for the kayak to perform well. If they are heavier, you have to look for a larger kids’ kayak. Once your kid outgrows the kayak, a full-size kayak is suitable for your kid.


The best kayaks for kids are short ones. Short kayaks are easier for kids to maneuver. They are lightweight, making it easier to carry and transport. The size depends on how tall or big your child is. Make sure that they fit well inside the kayak before making the final purchase. Best for you to look at the kayak’s weight and height ratings.

Tow Feature and Rope

Most kayaks for kids have this towing feature that you never knew you needed. It is best to imagine your kids shouting and laughing at how fun your trip turned out to be. But what if they suddenly threw a tantrum and stopped paddling? Maybe your kid is exhausted, not willing to paddle anymore. What are you going to do? 

This feature is very convenient when things turn sour. Having your tow rope when your kids are still trying to learn kayaking comes in handy.


Stability is needed when your kid is still learning the basics. A wider kayak tends to be more stable, less prone to tip and flip. It is ideal for kids, providing safety and comfort while having fun at the same time. Pontoon or double-hull is the stable hull designs available in the market.

Top Pick – Overall Best Kayaks for Kids

In getting the best kayaks for kids, you would want to invest in a kayak that ensures safety, stability, maneuverability, and practicality of use. Hi-Fi Sit-on-Top by Perception Kayaks deserves as your top option on the list for ticking these boxes.

Considering that your kid is a beginner, this kayak will serve its purpose well. No matter how energetic your kids are, this kayak will not flip easily due to its wide hull construction. The materials used for this vessel ensures durability and longevity, no matter how your kids treat them.

Your children will pick this kayak, too, with its cutting edge design and technology it offers. Another advantage of this kayak is it does not look like the other kayaks, making it easy for you to spot your kids.

This kayak pooled a lot of happy and satisfied parents in retail stores. You would not see almost any fault it has because it is avalanched by positive reviews from kids and parents alike. Hi-Fi Sit on Top Kayak by Perception Kayaks is specifically designed for kids. That factor alone is one of the reasons why it deserves the top pick.


Water sport adventures like kayaking can be a fun and fulfilling activity you and your kids will happily do together. Now that you finally discovered the best kayaks for kids, it would not be hard for you to choose your kid’s kayak. The different fortes these kayaks offer will narrow your options and priorities in getting the best kayaks for kids. 

Having a clear idea of what you need in the best kayak for your kid eases the burden of choosing what you should buy. A simple, affordable, and durable kayak is best suited for young beginners. A towing system is also welcome for your convenience if your child begins to get tired or such.

Your child will continue to grow and level up their kayaking skill. It is best to purchase your kid’s kayak to take a beginner’s mistakes well on the water. An inflatable one is alright, as long as you take good extra care of it.

The Hi-Fi Sit-on-Top Kayak by Perception Kayaks will ace your kids’ excitement and your money’s worth. You will never go wrong purchasing this kayak.

There are many options to choose from, but it all ends with what you need and want for your kid. You would not want to spoil your kids’ fun, right? It is better to pick a kayak that suits your child’s needs and comfort. After all, you have to make the most out of your borrowed time with kids.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the minimum age required before your kids can kayak?

According to U.S. Coast Guards, the minimum age required for your kid to enjoy kayaking activity with you is two years old. The required weight is at least 18 pounds and if they can float on the water. If the infant cannot properly wear a floatation device, they should not be out on the water. Other state parks require your kid to be at least three years old before your kid can join you. You also have to consider the weather before going on a kayak as they are more prone to get sick when exposed to natural elements.

What should your kids wear?

Your kids should wear comfortable, water-resistant, or waterproof clothing. Choose bright-colored clothing that will make them warm and dry quickly. Aqua shoes and aqua socks provide grip for your child. Depending on the season, wearing sunscreen, bug spray, and a hat should be worn to prevent your child from getting sick.

The law also requires a personal floatation device to ensure safety for your child. Make sure that your child’s floatation device has a snug and secure fit. Wearing one is crucial; you will never know when accidents happen. It is better if you buy one for them.

How do you kayak with your kid?

During your kid’s first kayaking experience, you should be with the first in a kayak. Let your kid observe and experience how to operate the vessel while enjoying the scenery. Your kid will appreciate kayaking more, rather than seeing it as a chore. Kayaking on a single or tandem kayak roomy enough for the both of you is recommended. Bringing water, food, and extra clothes are essential for your child to be comfortable during long kayaking hours. 

Practicing kayaking on a calm lake or river is more manageable for a young beginner, building your kid’s confidence and skill.

Where should you do kayak with your kid?

Where to kayak with your kid depends on their skill and motivation. Young beginners will be more comfortable kayaking on a calm body of water like lakes or rivers. It is the best location for your kid to practice their maneuvers, balances, paddles, and so on. 

Once your kid is confident and has better kayaking skills, you may want to venture to bigger and more open bodies of water. Still, you should consider your child’s safety. It is best to avoid water with strong currents and waves. Your child must be more alert when riding on choppy waters.

What kayak features do you recommend?

Chines and skegs are features to gain more stability and tracking for the vessel. Paddle holders come in handy for long excursions. You never know you need a hitch and tow feature on your kid’s kayak until you encounter your kid being tired from the activity.

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