Family Kayak

We have a family of 4 (including 2 seven year old boys). I’m looking for suggestions on a brand/model of kayak that would be fun for my family to use. Would I be better to get two solos or a tandem? We are beginners but would like something versatile that we can grow into as our skills improve. Something easy to maneuver but stable would be nice. Thanks for your help!

Two singles, and your best bet
is to get to a lake or some place where they rent them and try a few different models.

If you posted where you live, someone might be able to tell you places where you can rent them.

I would also recommend fairly short recreation kayaks that would be large enough for the adults, but small enough for the kids.

We had some neighbors in our two nine foot long Keowees yesterday, and they had a lot of fun. A Mom and her eight year old son.

Neither had been in kayaks before, and they immediately took to it

I believe the Keowee is now called a Swifty or Sparky and it is made by Perception.

Old Town had one called the Otter, and there are lots of others

Jack L

What kind of skills?

– Last Updated: Jun-02-11 10:35 AM EST –

and where would you be paddling? While a tandem kayak can officially do all the things that a solo can, it can be a lot easier to learn some of them in a solo because you don't need to coordinate two paddlers. Also, who do you want to learn this stuff, you and your spouse and the kids just along for the ride? At that age, any boat that fits you guys well will probably be too big for your kids to handle.

The other consideration is whether all of you will likely be equally interested in being stuck in a boat for a while. Hard to say starting out whether everyone will have the same level of interest, which might drive choices between tandem etc. If it is one person alone a lot of the time, the extra weight of a tandem could get unpleasant quickly.

It might be a plan for you to try some guided tours if there is a place around you - it'd give you a chance to get everyone in a boat and see where the comfort level was, as well as having a chance to see if tandems are a plan for you. They work wonderfully for some people, not at all well for others.

Where are you located, so that some here may be able to suggest reliable outfitters and shops?

I just caught Jack's idea of a couple of basic rec boats. They have limited use in terms of where to go (not on open ocean bays etc) but can be gotten cheaply used even, and you can just beat then up. They have started a lot of people on quiet water until they figured out what they wanted in a more serious boat that would support skills well.

One for each

– Last Updated: Jun-02-11 1:13 PM EST –

four total. Put bow lines on them so you can tow the boys when they get tired.

Check out the pics in my personal profile (the head after Cliffjrs) my boys at 8 standing up paddling. They started paddling by themselves at six but what do I know ?

We had swiftys originally
but they were outgrown quickly as they are wide and sit insides. I still liked them but we never used them so we sold them.

My kids are teens now and they (including friends)all really like sit on tops - the ones we have are like a glorified surf board which they can relax on/paddle/jump off easily and climb back on easily all without having to be concerned with water entering the boat!

We have 2 Ocean Kayak Frenzys and 1 Riot Escape - all very short wide boats but the kids choose them over long narrow sea kayaks. There are other choices out there but these were reasonably priced for their usage which is paddling a bit and swimming included !!

Perception swifty
I’ve got two of them. They were our kid’s (older teenagers) beginner boats. Lot of fun and I put my 70 year old dad in one first time he kayaked. Maybe a little big (wide and deep) for a small seven year old to paddle but maybe not. Not much to grow into- you’ll never eskimo roll it or paddle to the islands. My wife likes to use one for a creek boat. No secondary flotation.

two safer than one
I always suggest families assure there are at least two adults in separate boats. I have encountered and assisted more than one couple struggling to empty and re-enter a capsized tandem out on the water. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, unless you plan to ALWAYS paddle with a group including other adults. I agree with the two adult sized solos and perhaps two childsized kayaks that mom and dad can tow when the kids’ energy wanes. Child sized kayaks are easily re-sold on the used market when they are outgrown. And I know my twin nephews greatly prefer to bash around in their own boats. Some adult sized “rec” boats are so wide that children struggle to paddle them with their short arms and sitting so low in the wide cockpits.

If dad and mom are handy with tools, they might consider building Yost boats for the children – your boys are old enough to help with that and it would be a fun family project.

Are you sure there is no secondary
floatation ?

Our Keowees which were the original Swifties have foam in the bow and in the stern.

Jack l


– Last Updated: Jun-02-11 1:00 PM EST –

Islander Swifty 9.5's are sold at Dicks Sporting Goods.

They are short, wide but stable, and a lot of fun. Plus easy to carry and transport. Yes they aren't the fastest boats, but their pluses outweigh their minus's. I still take mine out when I don't have a lot of time to load up my bigger yaks. I can go out for 2 or 3 hours easily in them, and I'm no athlete.

Wave kayaks for kids. Inexpensive sit ons, $99 at Dicks and Sports Authoity. Dicks throws in a paddle. My 5 year old graddaughter can fly in hers, and it's easy to tow when she tires.

My main boat is an Old Town Dirigo 140. The come with an L shaped jump seay facing you. Good for taking the kids, my gd used to go with me until she go her own. Now getting ready to put it back in for the 2 year old gd.

These are just suggestions. Look over different yaks, try them out if you can. Don't wait for the perfect boat to come along, you'll grow old before you find it.

The best yak on the market is the one that gets you out on the water.

You don't need to invest a fortune, get something inexpensive, see how you all enjoy it, then work your way up. Keep the originals to get friends going out with you, or sell them on Craigslist.

Remember $$ for PFD's, but again you can get some in the $20 range at Wally World. Unless you are going to be going in rough surf, the cheapies are ok.

7 years old
At 7 the kids won’t have the focus/strength/endurance to paddle very far. If you want to paddle more than circling around a dock a few times, I think you’d find a tandem more rewarding. A child can sit in front, paddle as much as they want, and not paddle when they want.

You may need to add weight in the front hatch for the boat to balance.

My recommendation for a tandem would be a Delta20T

My bad
Yes they have the foam inserts. What I should have said was no bulkheads.

Cutting back on my caffeine- brain no work good.

18 year old
daughter. same same.

Mine is `17 years old, and has
been used in the ocean surf, in WW rivers up to class II-III, and on dozens of lakes and has been at least five miles out in the ocean on many, many occasions.

My bailer is a orange juice jug with the cover on and the bottom cut off.

We just did a I-II, 12 mile river section two weeks ago with them while my carbon kevlar QCC-700 sat forlornly in the boat house.

Jack L

How I got started …

– Last Updated: Jun-03-11 11:52 AM EST – I would rate it as an excellent starter kayak fro a family.

We purchased a Hobbie Oddysey tandem for the family - It can be configured as a solo sitting in the middle and you can do this with one youngster in the bow and one in the stern - if they like kayaking you might purchase a solo SOT or higher performance boat so you can all paddle together. My oldest son got very involved in kayaking wife and other son, was not their thing.

I would look for a used Hobie, or Ocean Kayak Malibu II (also great for families) or possibly a Cobra Tandem. If you get hooked you will likely progress and these boats are easy to sell. I got about 6 years of use out my used hobie for a final cost of $300 after I sold it.