Everything you need to know to get your kid started in kayaking
Can a ten-year-old kayak?
Kayaking is the perfect sport for ten year olds. Kids age ten can paddle a child-sized kayak for half a mile up to a mile on calm water. They are big enough and strong enough to paddle their own child-sized kayak casually around calm water, or they can paddle a tandem kayak further distances with an experienced paddler.
What size of kayak should I get for a ten-year-old?
Ten-year-olds need a kayak that is between 6 and 10 feet in length, with 6.5 to 9.5 feet being most appropriate.
What is the best kayak for a ten-year-old?
The 3 best kayaks for ten-year-olds:
When my oldest was ten he and his friends would kayak up and down our pond looking for turtles, dragonflies, lily pads and anything else they could find. They also raced, had picnics, and took pictures. It was pure joy.
I was amazed at how easily all three of my boys, and also all the little friends that would come and try kayaking in our backyard all picked up paddling within just a few minutes on the water. Even the ones that were scared had no problem once the paddle was in their hands.
The key was that it was a no-pressure situation. The water was calm, the kayak was kid-sized, and because it was sit-on-top and not a sit-inside their was no intimidation factor or fear of taking on water if they flipped.
When kids are brand to new kayaking it's easiest to start with a sit-on-top child-sized kayak.
Best and most popular child-sized sit-on-top kayak for ten-year-olds who are brand new to paddling
The Lifetime Dash is essentially the same kayak as the ever popular Lifetime Wave but is 6 inches longer. That extra 6 inches is really nice for kids age ten and up.
This is the first kayak my kids started with (Dash). Actually, we have two of them. The price is really affordable, the kayak is worth every penny.
The weight limit is 150 lbs. This kayak is easy to carry and loads of fun for young kids. It is very tough material, light enough for my 9-year-old to drag across the yard himself (it has a nice little built-in carrying handle). My kids love the bright colors they come in. You can get one in hot pink, lime green, bright orange, yellow or blue. Each kid gets their own color, and they think that is awesome.
I have not met one parent who has regretted this purchase. Many of our neighbors and friends have bought the Lifetime Wave or Dash kid kayak for their child after kayaking in our backyard with our family. They are cheap, durable, fun and easy to use.
The dash has a little swim deck on the back that make it easy to climb on and off the kayak to play in the water. There is room on the back to tow a younger sibling.
Best sit-on-top kayak for larger stature 10-year-olds who will be sharing with older siblings
Perception Tribe in 9 1/2 feet
(this is a small kayak but it is not child-sized)
Perception Tribe in a small 9.5 foot length is the best entry-level sit-on-top kayak for kids starting about age 10. It is lightweight and perfect for teens but works for kids from age 10 and up.
This is the biggest sit-on-top kayak I would get for 10-year-olds and it would be my top choice for families whose YOUNGEST child is 10.
If your oldest child is ten and you have other little kids I would suggest you instead start with the Lifetime Dash if they will all be sharing kayaks. This kayak is great for kids age 10 and up to young adults to share.
The perception tribe in 9.5 length are versatile kayaks. They are generally the next size up from a 6 or 6.5 ft kids kayak.
They are easy to navigate, but also fits larger paddlers as well (up to 300 lbs).
It has an adjustable seat back and cushy padded seat. While smaller kayaks come with kids paddles, at this size you will need to order your own paddle.
For this width of kayak (31 1/4"), choose a 230 cm paddle for kids under 6 feet tall and 240 cm paddle for 6 feet and taller. Read my Paddle Guide and Reviews for more information about a paddle to go with this or any other kids kayak.
Best sit-inside kayak for ten-year-olds
Perception Prodigy XS 10 feet
The Perception Prodigy 10 feet long, 23" wide with a weight limit of 150 lbs.
These are FAST boats because they weigh only 26 lbs.
Quick and easily maneuverable, they are also very stable. At 26 lbs they are light enough 10-year-olds to move around and to help load.
They are narrow enough that the kids can use appropriately kid-sized paddles without banging their fingers on the sides.
They have real, adjustable foot pegs, which is a huge plus.
Petite women also enjoy using this kayak. It comes in a few different colors.
For this size of kayak (23" wide) consider a paddle between 190 and 210 cm. (see our paddle guide for kids paddle sizing.)
What paddle does a ten-year-old need?
Ten-year-olds need a paddle with sized-down blades and a narrow shaft for easy paddling in lengths between 182 cm up to 210 cm.
What life jacket does a ten-year-old need?
Ten-year-olds paddling on calm water need a Type 3 neoprene or nylon life jacket.
For more information on what paddle size is right for 10-year-olds see my Kids Kayaking Paddle Guide.
For more information on what life jacket is best for your 10-year-old see my Kayaking Kids Life Jacket Guide.
Kayaking exposes kids to the wonders of the outdoors and new sensations.
Yes! Your 10 year old can paddle a kayak!
Almost six years ago we moved into a little New England house with a river in the backyard and quickly discovered the joy of kayaking kids.