Kayak choice for kid

Hello, stumbled across this forum and read a lot of informative threads, so I figured this was the place for the question.

I’m much more experienced in canoes than kayaks. My 10 year old (85lb, 4’10") daughter caught the bug during a couple recent kayak trips, so we’re looking at some kayaks to get her started. I’m sticking to a pretty tight budget for this first one- $250 at most, unless the perfect kayak made by angels descends.

She liked paddling a Swifty 9.5, and there are a couple here locally. I was also considering a couple older whitewater boats, Perception Dancer and the like, with the thought that it’s plenty maneuverable, probably quicker, and likely not too unstable with someone that light. Plus, I’ve got access to a plastic welder at work, so if worst comes to worst I could stick a small skeg on it.

We’d mostly be paddling in the inland waterways around Virginia Beach, or taking them to regional lake/river campgrounds. Probably no fishing, no ocean, very few excursions far from shore even in the bays around here. If we go to a river, it’d be class 1 tops, or just ‘hey, there’s kind of a current and a couple rocks.’

Any thoughts?

Short, wide, and stable, maybe hard to develop good technique and maybe frustratingly slow, or

Longer, narrower, easier to paddle correctly, harder to keep going straight, or

Something totally different?

I really appreciate any insight!


any stretch in that budget?
I ask because I happened to see two very good models for sale used in the classified section here:



(MD) Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP for petite paddlers. $750 for Kayak & cockpit cover, Werner Tybee fiberglass paddle, foam & straps for car rack – Submitted by:eguarinello



(NJ) 12’ Aquaterra Umiak Kayak - Comes with cockpit cover. Great for paddlers up to 120lbs. Lightweight - 40 lbs. $450 – Submitted by: vjfnj

These are skinnier boats but plenty stable if she has any experience. The learning curve is longer and higher so she may not lose interest as easily and she can work on expanding her skills. Either one can be rolled.

Another used boat to look for is the WS piccolo. The Umiak and Piccolo are hard to come by.

$750 is way too much. I saw that Umiak, the price and the drive together probably make it a no-go- if it was close, I’d probably go and see how flexible the price was.

But great ideas, thanks!

Don’t worry about stability for someone that size. Anything around 20" will be more than stable enough for her.

in any case
I’d go skinnier, as Nate says width won’t matter. If you’re paddling in a current an older style used ww boat may be easier to find than a small touring style kayak.


– Last Updated: May-05-14 3:00 PM EST –

The Umiak has been sold under other names, including the Perception Carolina 12.0 XS, so keep watching the used listings. The Perception Acadia Scout would be another possibility.

The least expensive building option is probably one of the Yost designs:

More DIY options in this thread:

Kids usually do fine in narrow boats -- they're light, agile, and not afraid of getting wet. They enjoy having something fast and that's their size.

Old whitewater boats -- a Dancer XS would fit, or a Dagger Blast, but any one you find will probably be very used.

Wilderness Systems Piccolo is another one that might show up used.

Ocean Kayak Poco, Or
Any plastic Olympic style K-1 kayak. At 10, I’d look for an old used size 1 Fenn Mill surfski to fool around with. But before anything else, make sure she can really swim and keep up with the 7 & 8 year old competitive swimmers for 1500 meters?

Kid boat
At her size on that budget, go with a Umiak. The Scout is good, but won’t fit her much longer. You’ll get a few years out of a Umiak. I’ve never met a kid who wanted to paddle that didn’t like one. Keep in mind she’s going to want an appropriately sized paddle too. Try a Werner Sprite in her length. Tired arms make cranky kids.

Used Wilderness Systems Piccolo
It’s big enough for her to enjoy for a few years, at least. Yet narrow enough not to feel like a bathtub.

If you can find one, snag it and buy some float bags for the ends, since it does not have bulkheads.

Ditto Piccilo

– Last Updated: May-08-14 11:24 PM EST –

Shame that they're not made anymore. I got one and it's a great boat for kids and small adults.

My 15 year old niece from Germany in a kayak (Piccolo) for the first time.


She loved it!