Everything you need to know to get your kid started in kayaking
Child/youth/Kid kayaks make THE BEST GIFTS for holidays and birthdays because they are an inexpensive yet life changing gateway to adventure, and also make an impressive gift for such a reasonable price!
2020 - the year of Covid and kids being endlessly cooped up indoors has only made it more important than ever to help them discover the outdoors, and kayaking is such an awesome way to get them there.
Black Friday, and the holidays in general, are one of the best times to get an inexpensive youth or child-sized kayak even though there are not usually any specific "2020 BLACK FRIDAY KID KAYAK BLOWOUTS" type holiday sales (for some reason it tends to be only adult sized kayaks on advertised Black Friday kayak deals), but because it's THE OFF-SEASON for water sports and all the kayaks are priced low this time of year it's a great time price-wise to get a kid kayak at an all-time low price.
If you look at this list of kayaks trending now on amazon for kids, EVERY kayak is selling for an average of $25 to $50 less than they sell for in summertime, and some are even $60 to $100 off of the regular price. The trick is whether you can find one in stock, since kayaks are hot-selling gifts (because they are big and impressive on Christmas or birthday mornings) and the companies, thinking it's the off-season, are notoriously terrible at keeping kid kayaks in stock during the off-season.
So if you can find a child-sized kayak IN STOCK during the holiday season online it's a great time to snatch one up because they tend to be marked down from top-selling spring and summer prices.
My Suggestion and Reviews of the HOTTEST SELLING KID KAYAKS FOR GIFTS this year for Black Friday, Christmas or even a Winter Birthday:
Specifically the hottest selling items as far as kid kayaking goes during the holidays, no surprise and for good reason, are the easy to use sit-on-top Lifetime Dash (6 feet 6 inches - great for all kids up to 150 lbs) and Lifetime Wave (6 feet great for the littlest kids 4 and up to 130 lbs). I recommend the Dash if your child is over 8 right now because it's going to last a few years longer. We own multiple and it's our go-to for all young kids visiting our house regardless of ago. However, the Wave is also fantastic and is the #1 most popular selling kayak for young kids because it's so easy for the tiniest kids down to age 4 or 5. They are exactly the same kayak besides the fact that the Dash is 6 inches longer so pick the size you think is best for your family. They are so cheap for the ridiculous amount of joy they bring I can almost guarantee you'll be back for more in the future. We collect them like like baseball cards.
For a child who is getting close to maxing out the Dash, or for a larger stature kid around ten or any teens, I would suggest the Perception Tribe as a gift. My twelve-year-old is still comfortably using a 6'6 kayaks for probably another year but if I was buying for him now I'd probably go bigger and get him something like the the Perception Tribe (9.5 feet long sit-inside).
Hybrid sit-on-top kid kayak/paddleboard...very cool gift this year!
So this is awesome. It's the Perception Hi Five. It's a hybrid kayak/paddleboard.
It can be paddled standing up or sitting down. Everything about it is kid-specific with little handles and lightweight everything. It's the coolest gift right now for kids who might want to try kayaking or paddle boarding and is right for kids up to 120 lbs and at 6 feet 6 inches long it will work until they are 12 - 14 years old (depending on their stature).
For inflatable youth kayaks the two top selling kayaks are the entry-level Intex Challenger (great value and user experience), and the more expensive but long lasting high-quality Advanced Elements Framed Inflatable, which can be customized with add-ons as your family grows into the sport over time. The Intex is $60 off right now as I'm writing this because it's the off-season and the Advanced Elements is $100 off! You would never see a discount like that in the spring or summer.
The best-selling gift kayak for a traditional sit-inside kayak for young kids age 7+ would be the Perception Prodigy XS. You can check here to see if it's back in stock, but it was sold out as I'm writing this. Maybe it will be back in stock soon, but like I said, the trick is finding the great kid kayaks in stock during the holidays. If they are in stock, no doubt they are marked down and are the best deals of the year.
The other sit-inside kayaks I would recommend as gifts would be:
Entry Level, low price - the Perception Flash. It's 9.5 feet long and is a good entry-level kayak that even has rod-holders for your child's fishing poles. It's good for kids 9 and up.
Comfortable, mid-range - The Perception Joy Ride is an awesome 10-foot kayak that is a more comfortable to use and is mid-level priced. It is a great kayak for young teens all the way up to young adults.
(If you think you may take your teens kayak out for a spin ever go for this one rather than the Flash...).
What is the best gift for my 5-year-old? A kid kayak! (Yes -they can kayak at five!)
What is the best is the best gift for your 7- year-old? -- A kids kayak
What is the best gift for a 10-year-old girl? Yes, yes, it's a kids kayak
What is the best gift for a 12-year-old boy? ...Kids Kayak
What is the best gift for a 15-year-old son or daughter? Kayak! Kayak! Kayak!
Here are the 10 Reasons Why a Kid Kayak is the Coolest Gift Your Kid Will Every Receive:
IT IS LARGE AND IMPRESSIVE ON A BIRTHDAY OR CHRISTMAS MORNING
Just imagine your kids coming down the stairs on Christmas morning and seeing a 6,8, or even 10-foot wrapped present leaning against the wall with a bow on it. It is an impressive start to Christmas morning! You know that they will always remember what they got for Christmas that year! If a kid had never owned a bicycle, then that is the most impressive gift they could get on Christmas morning, but most kids have a bike. A kayak is the next coolest thing a kid can possibly get from their parents or grandparents on Christmas morning.
IT IS A PERSONAL BOAT FOR A KID . . . ONLY A PERSONAL AIRPLANE CAN BEAT THAT!
Yes, you are giving your kid their own boat, and yet it is super-easy to store because it is only 6 or 8 feet long (thank you to whoever make a kid-sized version. You are my hero!). The same way bikes come in sizes for adults, teenagers, tweens, and even little tiny children, so do kayaks. I never knew this until a few years ago. Seeing a 5-year-old paddle around the water all by themselves is so amazing, much like watching your little one learn to ride a tricycle or use their training wheels or take off on two wheels for the first time. I will say that learning to use a kayak is MUCH EASIER than learning to ride a bike, and there are no skinned knees involved! Joy! But it also gives them the same type of ability to explore and discover things in the world around them as a bicycle does.
IT WON'T GET THROWN AWAY IN JANUARY
This present will stick around and bless your kid and probably his or her friends and younger siblings for years to come. You will get your money's worth after the first time or two you use it, yet it will serve your family for years. After all the junky Christmas presents have been donated or thrown out, this one will be treasured. My goal each year is to eliminate as much as possible the nonsense gifts and get fewer gifts that are better quality and more useful to our family in the year to come.
IT GIVES EVERYONE IN THE FAMILY SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Some presents get the family excited for spring. One year we bought our kids a basketball hoop for Christmas morning, and everyone was so anxious to use it together (even a few times in the snow!). A kid kayak is like that. It sets an excitement in the air for adventures ahead and gives everyone something to look forward to in the coming new year.
IT IS GIVING YOUR KIDS A PORTAL TO THE OUTDOORS AND TO THEIR OWN JOURNEY OF SELF-DISCOVERY (Few gifts can do that!)
A kid kayak is so easy to use, and when they are equipped with a life jacket, and they are on calm water, you will see them figure it out in a few minutes and then go off exploring on their own. It is the most incredible feeling they will get as they navigate the challenge on their own. Kids don't get as many opportunities for self-discovery in the outdoors as they used to, and a kayak changes all of that.
IT CAN SET A COOL THEME FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS PRESENTS THAT YEAR
Sometimes it can be so hard to figure out what gifts to buy your kids for Christmas. Getting your kid a kayak can set a cool theme for the year. Even though all you need to get started in kayaking is a kayak and life jacket, you now have a whole list of fun extras you can buy as gifts that relate to having a kayak, camping or the outdoors. Kayak, life jacket, paddle, a stylish stainless-steel water bottle, binoculars, possibly a fishing pole, a dry bag for their cell phone, water shoes or sandals, a hat...the list goes on and on. Now it's easy to think of presents for this year, and all of them are useful! Now you don't have to buy anymore toys or video games. Kayak-centric gifts get your kids outside.
IT DOESN'T HAVE ANY COMPLICATED PACKAGING TO DEAL WITH
Oh, the joy of not having to fold up cardboard and try to smash it into the recycling bin the day after Christmas, or pry toys out of plastic or spend an hour untwisting those horrible twisty ties they use to hold toys into the packaging. Our kayak came from Amazon with free shipping in a plastic bag and was leaning against the door a few days later. You may need to be careful that your kids don't see it when they come home from school. Watch the delivery day and have your kids out of the house or call your UPS person to see what time it is going to arrive.
IT CAN WORK AS A PRESENT FOR MULTIPLE KIDS
If you have any two kids under the age of twelve, they can both use the same best selling sit-on-top child-sized kayak, though it would probably be more fun to get them each one in a different color (click to see a pink kid kayak and to see a yellow kid kayak or for all available 6 foot kayak colors.), but yes, one kayak could work for multiple kids!
IT COMES RIGHT TO YOUR FRONT DOOR
No need to strap anything to the roof of your car, it shows up on your front door a few days after you click a few buttons online. It is small and light and easy to manage. Thank you, Amazon for letting me do all of my shopping online!
I just am so grateful for delivery to my front door and free shipping! Thank you thank you thank you. Christmas list, check! Done! No crowded stores! Holiday bliss!
IT IS AFFORDABLE
For around $100 you can get a kid age 5 to 12 a kayak, and for any kids over 12 you can get one for between $100 and $300, or even as low as $70 for an inflatable kayak (which are very high-quality and fun to use).
After their first bicycle, a kayak is the next coolest thing you can get for the price.
The great thing is that you as the parent don't need to be a kayaker. You can let your kids play with the kayaks on the edge of a calm lake or even in a swimming pool.
When I bought my kids their first kayaks, I would use my stand-up paddleboard for myself while my little ones paddled themselves around a lazy river on their tiny kayaks, searching for turtles and frogs. As we've taken friends and neighbor kids out on these adorable child-sized boats, I've realized they are good for all kids and families, whether they are the outdoorsy type or not. They are safe, easy to use, and so much fun and the best memory-making gift I have ever bought for my kids!
Merry Christmas to Your Family From Ours! And Happy Paddling!
HOW TO MAKE YOUR KAYAKING TRIP WITH THE KIDS UNFORGETTABLE
You are counting on the fact that your kids will like kayaking.
They will like it, right? They are going to have fun, aren't they?
You have bought a kayak, paddle, and a life jacket that you are sure they are going to love.
You've invested your money and time into researching and shopping, and you are so excited to take them to the lake.
You know it's going to be a blast, and it's part of your plan for an epic summer with the family.
There are a lot of things you can do to make a day on the water something to look back and smile about.
Here are five tips to make sure you get off to a good start.
How old do kids need to be to learn to kayak?
Kids age 5 and up can start paddling a child-sized kayak. From age 5 to 11 kids easily paddle a kayak short distances on their own with an appropriately sized kayak, paddle, and the right water conditions for their age.
How far can young kids paddle a kayak?
Kids younger than 5 practice paddling a child-sized kayak in a swimming pool or non-moving water for a few minutes at a time.
Kids age 5 to 7 practice paddling a child-sized kayak in short intervals and for short distances of less than a quarter a mile.
Kids age 7 to 9 paddle a child-sized kayak up to half a mile at a time.
Kids age 9 to 11 learning to kayak can paddle half a mile or more on a child-sized kayak, and by age 12 can paddle a mile or more and transition to larger kayaks.
Learning to kayak is easy and fun. It is an accessible and affordable sport for families with young children.
Most people don't realize that young children can kayak and that not all kayaking is done in rapids or on the ocean.
Most families paddle on calm lakes, ponds and in marshes where the water is slow moving, and the setting is peaceful.
The experience is richly rewarding.
Paddling comes naturally to kids and gives them a new way to explore nature.
There are many types of water and types of kayaking. Many people think only of ocean and whitewater kayaking when they think of kayaking and may only think of sit-inside kayaks.
What type of kayak is easiest for kids to learn on?
Kids should start on calm water, and sit-on-top kayaks are generally easier to learn on than sit-inside kayaks.
Kids can begin paddling very young on calm water with the right type of kayak, and the right size of kayak for their age.
Whether they are riding with you on a tandem kayak, or paddling their own sit-on-top or sit-inside vessel, read on for suggestions of when kids are ready to try different paddling experiences.
If you are very new to paddling sports and are not sure what a sit-inside or sit-on-top kayak is, you may also want to read Kayak Options For Kids, Sit-inside, Sit-on-top, or Inflatable.
Age Guidelines and Kayaking Options:
These guidelines are for kayaking on calm inland water.
For whitewater and ocean kayaking, read my suggestions below thoroughly.
Continue reading for more in-depth age-by-age tips, as there are so many types of kayaks and kayaking experiences.
It seems the most prevalent questions about kayaking for parents looking into the sport revolve around what age kid can do specific things with a kayak.
Let's get into it and cover all the ages, variable and questions regarding kids and kayaking.
Child-sized kayaks: little kids can easily kayak on special kayaks made for tiny kids!
5-11 years old is the best age to teach kids to kayak on calm water on child-sized kayaks
Scroll down to read specific tips for the age you are looking for:
Here is what's coming below:
Babies in kayaks
2 and 3-year old guidelines
4 to 7-year-old guidelines
9 to 12-year olds
12 to 16-year-olds
age 14 and up
Let's begin with the most controversial age topic: Babies and Toddlers in Kayaks.
4 to 7-year-old Kayaking Options
9 to 12-year-old
12 to 16-year-old
14-years-old and up
Tips for Beginners
Duffer is a non-paddling guest sitting somewhere in the boat, usually the middle.
The bow paddler is the person in the front seat of a tandem kayak or canoe, while the stern paddler is the one sitting in the back.
There needs to always to be someone who is capable of paddling in the stern (back) if you have a child as the bow paddler (someone needs to be able to paddle, right?).
Kids and beginners need to always be in the front of the kayak so the more experienced paddler in the back can give directions and steer the boat.
Kids who grow up in the water with parents who kayak and who brought them on their kayaks from a young age are not going to match these guidelines. The above guidelines are for beginners on flat water (lake, pond, marsh, etc.).
These suggestions are not for whitewater kayaking. For river kayaking or whitewater, remember, too much too soon can scare very young kids and turn them away forever, and if you are not at all experienced as the parent, you need a guide or teacher to work with your group before you can take yourself or your kids down a river safely.
You CAN, however, take your kids and yourself with NO experience to a calm lake with life jackets and recreational kayaks and play around while you get the hang of it.
This is especially easy with sit-on-top kayaks, as there is no risk of capsizing or taking on water. Start slow and have fun and be safe. Soon you will be ready for more but take it one step at a time, especially when kids are involved and if you are new to all paddling and water sports.
The above are only general guidelines meant as a starting place. There are MANY FACTORS, such as the development of the child, SKILL and EXPERIENCE of parents, TYPE OF WATER KAYAKING ON, CHILD'S INDIVIDUAL NATURE, TYPE of kayak, and WEATHER.
These are the most common questions about age and kayaks I hear and a quick answer:
What age should I buy my kid a kayak?
Can a 10-year-old kayak in whitewater?
Can you take babies and toddlers kayaking?
How old does my baby need to be to take with me in my solo kayak (for those who ignored the above question and answer)?
Can I tandem kayak with a baby or toddler?
How old do you have to be to paddle a kayak?
*Safety Legal Disclaimer: Everything on this site is a matter of opinion, gathered from experience and many hundreds of other's opinions, and should not be taken as professional advice. Please use the suggestions as a starting place to conduct your own research and make decisions based on what is safe for you and your family. Above all, I urge you to make smart choices and keep your kids and yourself safe. Kayaking is loads of fun, but you need to use your common sense and always err on the side of safety when there is any question of skill level, weather, etc.
(...and also, to Tandem or Not to Tandem)
What kayak is best for my kid?
You have decided kayaking is something you want to look into for your son or daughter, but where do you start?
What kind of kayak should you choose?
Should you get a sit-on-top or sit-inside?
A hard shell or inflatable?
A solo kayak or tandem?
What style of kayak is the safest, most comfortable, easiest to use,
We have three boys and a river in our backyard.
We can tell you that kayaking is an enjoyable and affordable adventure sport.
Getting started is very simple.
With the right kayak for their age, kids can learn to maneuver a kayak in just a few minutes. It is ridiculously easy for them to figure it out. The new sit-on-top kayaks are even easy enough for a five-year-old to use. You don't have to be an experienced kayaker yourself to get your kids into kayaking either.
With the confidence of the right life jacket, choosing appropriate calm water, a day with good weather (including no wind) and the right beginner kayak, your kid will be paddling away faster than you can keep up.
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.
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Legal Information: This site is meant as a log of our family's opinions and experiences, but is in no way a comprehensive safety guide for kayaking. Kayak at your own risk and research well anything pertaining to your family's safety. This site shares our experiences and products we have tried and researched. There are affiliate links used to reference the products being reviewed.