kayak and kids?

Newbe here. My Wife, Children and I have alway enjoyed canoeing the local rivers here in western PA. We are thinking about getting 4 solo yaks for the two children and ourselves so we can access some of the smaller/shallower streams. My question is this: I have a very timid 5 year old boy who is a good swimmer. Should He have his own yak and be tied off to me? At what age do most children get let loose. Whould he be better off sitting with me?

Tied off?
I’m not sure what you mean by that. If it is a matter of tying him to you for safety, I would not recommend it. Safety will come from his pfd, skills on the water and your being close by to rescue him if needed.

If you want to tie him to you so that you can tow him when he gets tired, I don’t recommend that either. that’s not going to be any fun for you.

Before buying a kayak for him, I’d recommend seeing how well he does with a rented or demo’d one in a pond somewhere. I have trouble seeing a 5 year old having the arm strength or coordination to wield a double blade for more than a few minutes.

What you may have to do is get a tandem, with you doing most if not all of the paddling while he rides(that’s how it worked for me and my stepson, who was 6 when we started doing that).

if you are ok
If you do not mind that the 4 of you won’t be getting anywhere then by all means get him a kayak.

I would recommend a double or sticking with canoes.

Please do not tie anyone to anything on the river. The risks are not worth the reward.

How much shallower are the streams
you want to explore? There is not a lot of difference in draw between a solo canoe and a kayak, a little but not a lot. If all four of you are in one canoe then get two kayaks for your wife and older child and you and the youngster can stay in the canoe. Then your 5 year old can experiment with one of your yaks and when you both think he’s ready get two more.

Or get a pirogue which can be paddled in a puddle of duck pee.

Second that

if the water is warm
toss him in the water then pull him out as you all drift down stream. One of the best canoe trips I had was in a Wenona Fisherman 14 with three little girls all under 5. It really depends on the water but most kids really don’t like sitting on their butts for a long time. If they like to swim, let him swim. I got two kayaks for my girls when they were 4-9yrs old. They tolerated my enthusiasm but they liked their own boats as swimming platforms or I towed them. “oh yeah, I remember daddy, that was the time you almost drowned us”

I’d get a mix of both
There is no magic here to canoe vs. kayak. But maybe consider a mix of doubles and singles, or a double that you can also paddle as a single. A five year old may tire quickly paddling by himself at first.

OTOH if your otherwise timid child isn’t afraid of the water, this may be just the thing to bring him out of his shell.

Perhaps try renting first, see how it goes and make your decision from there.

I echo the sentiments of everyone else regarding tying. You’re asking for trouble.

you might consider
a Liquidlogic Deuce Coupe SOT or similar. you can paddle it solo or duo and take him along, easy to climb back on after taking a dip.

not necessarily
An active 5 year-old in a PROPERLY SIZED solo kayak can certainly paddle for more than a few minutes. My daughter easily paddled for 30 minutes at a time when 5, and actually keeps up quite well.

That’s impossible if she can’t reach the water though, as is the case in a wide and deep adult kayak, especially a rec kayak.

If you want to go far, then by all means get a tandem instead, but if you want to paddle around with only the kids’ agenda in mind, then they’ll learn more and have more fun in their own boats.

(Towing is definitely a part of my routine with my daughter, but that’s not a danger in the areas we paddle. It’s also not at all a drag because a small boat with a small person is effortless to tow. I can’t say whether that’s safe for your water though. If towing isn’t safe because of current or obstructions, then you might need to reconsider the single. It is always necessary at some point to tow my daughter to give her a break, or at the end of the session.)

raed the post about paddling w/a 3 yr.
old , that’ll answer your question

PLEASE be safe

and all ya’ll will have fun .

At that age if he is a good swimmer,

– Last Updated: Feb-11-11 6:16 AM EST –

why not just ask him if he would like his own and let him be the deciding factor.
If he doesn't want one you can easily get a rec kayak that you can outfit with a child seat that is in front of you.
My little nine foot Keowee came with one that I removed
All of our zillion grand children were paddling rec kayaks at that age and loving it.
I am assuming that the rivers are not white water

jack L

30 minutes is a few minutes
when you get the family for an outing on a river. The time and effort it takes to get all the gear together, out to the launch site, get everything set up and everyone on the water isn’t going to be worth it if Junior poops out after paddling for 30 minutes.

A properly sized kid’s kayak is definitely key to the kid’s enjoyment, but a properly sized kayak for a kid means it’s going to be shorter, therefore slower, than dad’s kayak, and he’s already at a power deficit. Even if dad handicaps himself, the kid is still going to be struggling to keep up, and at the same time dad is likely to find the pace excruciatingly slow. That’s what I experienced trying to paddle with my stepson in separate boats when he was 6.

As for towing, I don’t know what kind of waters you tow on, but I have found it to really suck, especially when you are a faster yak towing a slower yak. Especially if you’re going into any wind or current, or changing direction.

A 5 year old being able to paddle a kids’ kayak for 30 minutes is best suited to a day at the beach or a day at the lakehouse, where the kid can hop in, tool around for 10, 15, 30 minutes at a time, beach the boat and get out and do something else when he gets bored or tired, and then hop back in for another paddle a little later when he wants to. It’s also going to be more effective at getting him to really enjoy paddling his own boat initially than expecting him to do longer trips on the river with the family, keeping up in his own boat. That’s what worked for my stepson. He got really frustrated trying to keep up with me on longer paddles out in the bay and through the saltmarsh sloughs, but loved it when we took the boats to the beach and he had the freedom to hop in and out of the boats at will, or when he could just jump in for a few minutes at a time off our dock in our canal.

MAYBE his son is different than mine was, but giving him a chance to take a spin on a lake or pond with a demo or rental to make sure before making a final decision, which is what I suggested before, is sound advice.

Curious as to where you paddle
or plan to paddle in western pa?

I need to add to my post above
after getting chewed out by my wife: the biggest problem the little ones will have is with the weight of the paddle.

She reminded me that they tired out quickly from the length and weight of those big old cheap paddles.

If you can afford a ultra light paddle like a ONNO, it would help, but then again that costs about the same as a rec yak.

Jack L

jack L

You should have posted this …
as a reply to the OP.

I am not critisizing you.- just trying to help

Jack L

We will be mostly on
the Clarion, Redbank, and Mahoning.

No problem
Thank you for the help.

basically we’re saying the same thing.

– Last Updated: Feb-11-11 9:58 AM EST –

Certainly a kid can't keep up with an adult. If the adult isn't feeling extremely patient and flexible, then getting the kid his/her own boat isn't a good idea. If the parent expects to go far, and has ambitious goals for the day, then, again, putting the kid in her own boat won't work well.

It's more about the parent's goals and mindset than it is about the kid, IMO. So be honest about what you need to get out of the day, and get the appropriate boats for your outing. The worst thing is to be impatient with the kid because you were hoping to cover lots of miles, and they are more interested in dawdling around, or exploring, or going at a slower pace. (In many ways this advice applies to kids in tandems as well as in their own boats.)

As far as towing, I've towed many miles on the ocean. In wind, waves, and also calm conditions. I've towed enormous double kayaks down to my daughter's 15 pound single. I won't say towing adults isn't work, and I certainly get tired out if I have to tow a double for an hour into a headwind. But I can honestly say that towing a 40 pound kid in her 15 pound kayak is nothing to really worry about. I think it's less work to tow her boat with my single, than to have to paddle her around in a double (which is just harder for me to paddle). So we almost always take 2 singles when we go out, rather than our double. We alternate paddling and towing, and keep our goals modest and flexible.

carve it
I’m usually not the one who answers every paddle question with “Carve a GP!”, but this is one place where I’ll say just that. Paddle size and weight is a huge problem for a young kid, as is boat depth and width. Both issues will make it impossible for a kid to actually paddle, and they’ll get frustrated and worn out.

However, nobody is going to spend $300 on a light paddle for their 5, 6, 7 year old. In about an hour, I made my daughter a western red cedar greenland paddle that is just her size, and weighs 13 1/2 ounces!

Even the kid-sized paddles on the market (like the are Werner Sprite) are wicked heavy, and they’re still $100.

For me, I use a $400 euro paddle much more often than I use my GP, but for my kids, I think there is no better paddle for them than a custom carved stick.