Beginner Kayak Selection

I have been kayaking a few times and took a class. I am looking for suggestions on purchasing a very inexpensive (under $450) kayak, I would like to occasionally take my 7 year old 55 pound child along. It will be mostly all quite river and lake use. Possibly a rare trip to the Gulf of Mexico but that use is not essential.

Any suggestions such as sit-on vs. sit-in, single vs. tandem, length. I don’t expect to go out more than once or twice a month.

Have you considered a canoe?
You can’t take a kid out in a single kayak. And you won’t be comfortable in a tandem alone. Have you considered a canoe for lake/river use? You can bring the kid along easily then.

Look on Craigslist for used boats

– Last Updated: Apr-07-12 5:58 PM EST –

In your price range you might find something like a Ocean Kayak Malibu 2, that would be fine for kayaking with your child as they grow. Heavy to move by your self, you can make yourself an inexpensive set of wheels. Another good boat is the Hobie Odysey but might be too expensive even used. Canoes for kids are good ideas too, you can buy them fairly cheaply used because they are not as popular as they used to be. I've done both with small kids. A sit on top kayak is much easier to deal with when paddling with kids, and much probably safer. Save up for a decent paddle.

tandem SOT
our friends in TX who also have a 7-year old use a tandem SOT, I think around 13-14’ long. don’t recall the model but it’s similar to the Perception Tribe 13.5. they got it used at a steal of a price on Craigslist, since there’s not much demand for tandems.

SOTs are very child friendly – easy to hop on/off to go for a swim, no fear of swamping it and easy to recover if you flip it (good thing to practice with the child), and you can bring along a small cooler with lunch and some fishing gear.

Cheap costs more in the long run
I started out with a “cheap” double a Pelican 140t. As it got more use (3 or 4 trips a month) we decided that upgrades were in order. Long story shortened after 3 years I have upgraded 3 times to a Liquid Logic Deuce coup for a “loaner” or kids play boat. Necky Manatou 14 for my wife, Native Inuit 14.5 for me and a pair of Dagger Zydeco 9s for the kids.

I would suggest going to as many try out events as possible, or even renting boats to try out. As my family got happier with their rides we are going out more than ever.

With hind sight I wish I would have tried out more boats, and looked for used boats that would have allowed me to get a higher quality boats a lot cheaper than where I am at now. My daggers are the only boats purchased new.

jackson daytripper
The daytripper is the only solo kayak I think makes a tolerable tandem. A 10 or 12 would work. However you would have to go used to get under 450. The other option would be to get a kayak for yourself and one for her. I have seen kids boats for as little as 99 bucks.

While the 99 dollar kayak is probably not the best thing around it should last till you can get her a better boat and then it can go to another learner.

My Mad River Freedom Solo canoe
can be paddled very effectively with a double blade, and it is easy to set it up so that a 7 year old is securely seated and can participate in paddling.

Long cockpit kayaks don’t provide a secure place for a child, and if he has a paddle, it will be in your way.

I was lucky to have purchased my MR F-Solo for only $400 fully equipped.

Another thing, though. If you buy a canoe for mostly solo, in the 14 foot range, don’t get a river pig with a 36 inch beam. My MR and my other solo canoes have only 30 inch beam, easy to work a single or double blade.