Kayak for 7 y/o

Can someone give me a little advice on what kayak would be good for a 7 year old boy, we will just be doing smaller inland lakes, and slow rivers while camping, I was thinking of a swifty’s for both of us, but have heard that would be to wide for young kids. Thanks for any help in advance.

There are a few good choices

– Last Updated: Dec-21-06 3:30 PM EST –

The Swifty would be too wide for a child.

The Perception Acadia Scout is a really fun boat – my 9 year old daughter loved this kayak and had a great deal of enjoyment in it. It’s not a particularly fast kids boat but it’s good for splashing around:


Another choice would be the Perception Carolina 12 – a little bit bigger allowing more room to grow, and a bit faster:


Wilderness Systems has a new boat for kids this year called the Tsunami 12 SP – much more of a “serious” kayak than the Perception kayaks in that it has hatches and bulkheads. It’s not yet on the WS website.

Current Designs has also come out with a new boat this year specifically designed for kids called the Raven. It’s a fiberglass/kevlar kayak that is like a full-sized touring kayak in every detail except size and weight – which is proportionately designed for kids and small paddlers up to 120 lbs. It’s 12 feet long and is the narrowest of the bunch I’ve listed above at only 20" – it weights a svelt 26 lbs. I’ve got one to go under the tree for my youngest daughter for Christmas next week. It’s not on the CD website but I’ve posted pictures of it on my website at:


It’s awesome that you’re getting your son into paddling his own boat – all three of my kids paddle and it’s brought immense pleasure and fun to the whole family – and it’s something that hopefully, they’ll continue to do for the rest of their lives.

Hope this helps,



7 year old boat
My daughter started paddling at 7. Adult boats were too wide to really get into a serious development of paddling strokes then so the smaller boats are better. Consider that in a few years he’s be shooting up in height, probably in several spurts, each requiring a big (longer) boat as his legs develop longer. With that in mind, consider a boat for its resale or re-use value to someone else when its time to upgrade. Keep that boat in good shape and you can probably get about 50-60% of your money back in a couple of years.

Perception Acadia scout
Yup, my 9 year old daughter started in an Acadia Scout when she was 7. It is a very rudimentary kayak, no bulkheads, hatches etc. but it is a good boat to start in to see if paddling is something your child is interested in. I know on this board it is almost inconceivable that someone (especially one of OUR kids) could NOT love paddling, but it’s a possibility! I’m not sure what a kevlar kayak for a kid costs, but it’s damn sure got to be more than the $500 a Scout will set you back. And just like clothes, they’re gonna out grow the thing in 3-4 years MAX, so I would question the wisdom of going that route anyway.

A couple of points
If you decide to go with the Acadia Scout (which is not a bad choice at all), it would be wise to invest in some floatation bags for the bow and stern – we tried doing a T-rescue with the boat and it was impossible. With the boat full of water, you cannot lift it high enough to evacuate water from the interior. In fact, even after towing the boat to the beach and standing on the shore, it took a lot of effort to tip the boat enough to drain the water. It’s my opinion that float bags in a non-bulkhead kids boat are an absolute must.

Regarding the cost of a Kevlar kids boat – yes, it is much more than the cost of the poly Acadia Scout – a bit over twice the cost. But I decided to go this route with my daughter because the Raven is a lot more boat than the Scout – as I mention above, it’s a fully capable, scaled-down version of a full blown touring sea kayak that can actually be used on trips (I’m not so sure longer trips would be easy with the Scout). And I’m confident when my daughter outgrows this boat (I suspect in about 3-4 years) that I’ll be able to get a pretty fair price for it.



You are correct
Bow and stern flotation bags are a necessity in the scout. And for someone who is doing lots of trips, more specifically camping type trips where storage area is a must, the Raven may be a better choice of boat. But to just go paddling, and for a seven year old who I doubt will be placed in conditions where a “true” sea kayak is needed (at least in my case, my wife would never allow it, nor would I want to put her in such a situation at 7 y.o.), and is probably not capable of going more than 3-4 miles in an outing, a plastic Acadia Scout should fit the bill for MOST folks. IMHO.

Another idea…
In Chris Cunningham’s book–“Building the Greenland Kayak: A Manual for Its Contruction and Use”–he includes instructions for building a child-size SOF boat…complete with an optional “training outrigger” setup.

Link to the book at amazon.com:


If you have the time, space, and just a few simple tools, it could be a fun project to work on this Winter, and your boy could enjoy seeing his beautiful little custom built boat–and paddle!–take shape.

Whatever you decide, I’m happy to know that you’re getting him started so early. I wish I had discovered the joys of paddling a kayak at that age! :slight_smile:


Or a Yost
A fair number of people are building non-folding kids boats according to Tom Yost’s designs because they are inexpensive and a fast-build. www.yostwerks.com

No argument from me
I agree completely, the Scout will fit the bill quite well for most people.

I can’t imagine any kid not being absolutely thrilled to have a Scout but in our case, my kids and I do a LOT of paddling together and the Scout just doesn’t get us close enough to some very cool camping spots within my daughters daily paddling range. But the Raven will. For me, the extra expense is very much worth it as it allows us to explore a lot of new places together while allowing my daughter to paddle her own boat.

And you’re absolutely correct about the distance that a kid will paddle in the Scout. I also agree that 7 yrs old is a bit young to be in a solo boat in moderate conditions. Until recently, my youngest daughter travelled mostly in our double with me if we were going somewhere that I felt was too far for her to paddle solo or in conditions beyond her capabilities.

In our current situation, my daughter is capable of paddling much further on her own now and the Scout is just not nearly as efficient a boat as the Raven – especially for camping. And she’s frustrated that she can’t paddle the Scout faster. I’m estimating that my daughter will be able to paddle at least 5-6 miles in the Raven with the same amount of effort that it would take her to paddle 3-4 miles in the Scout – which puts us in range of several more good camping spots in our area. I should point out here that I rarely push my kids to paddle faster or further – we take our time and do a lot of playing and poking around along the way.

As far as allowing my kids to paddle in places best suited for sea kayaks – why not? If they’re skills are at a level to safely paddle in those conditions, I see no reason not to let them. My kids are becoming quite capable solo paddlers and understand and know how to perform safety procedures. We also paddle very close together, should something go awry.

Oh, I should mention one last thing about getting a kid in their own boat (beside the fact that they’re going to love it), get them into lessons with a good instructor. Don’t try to teach them paddling and rescue techniques on your own – they’ll learn better from someone else. But after the lessons, practice with them often. Both of my daughters are enrolled for more lessons in January – and my 12 year old is determined that she’ll be rolling by the summer.

Oh yeah, if you’re a kid who wants a kevlar kayak, it really helps to have a Dad who’s a gear junkie. :wink:



Check out Ocean Kayak Kea

Umiaks, Piccolos
Just came in from selling my kids’ 2 Umiaks, and a boat of my wife’s, tonight to a fellow who has 4 kids, the oldest, 10y, in a WS Piccolo, which he also paddles. And, of course, talking kayak for hours. My kids had outgrown these boats and it was nice to make someone’s Christmas. The Umiak, now Carolina 12, should be relatively easy to find used for those on a budget.

Will you take a picture of your daughter when she finds it? I’d love to see her reaction. Post it here on a thread.

It’s nice to be able to set money aside for special things such as this for a child.

You are one special Dad! Glad to see your children are a very high priority in your life. Though doing so doesn’t always have to cost anything.

Here Is A Picture
of my 8 year old son getting ready to start an eleven mile creek paddle. Peter is two years older now but had just turned eight when this picture was taken. http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2434384400067611032wPBkPB

Happy Paddling,


kayak for 7 y/o
our grandson has been paddling a Umiak since he was five. We did move the foot braces and put in floatation, but he loves it. He has been able to easily keep up. We do mostly lakes and salt ponds.

This boat tracks well and is quite fast for a boat its size. Don’t know anything about the CD or others. Will probably have to move foot pegs back, but may fit for another year or so. Good luck , it is wonderful to be able to paddle with them. Enjoy!

Piccolo 4 sale in MI on pnet
Not mine but I know the seller, they are from a real kayaking family - check it out.

Prijon Flipper
See if you can find a local Prijon Dealer. The Flipper is 19lbs., 9.5’ long, 22" wide, little person seat and works great for up to 85lbs of kid. Fun little boat. Add a float bag in the stern and perhaps one up front of the ladder style foot pegs.

For what you are looking for I think and EPIsea would be a bit overkill, and the tyke would be way faster than you in the Swifty.

See you on the water,



that’s a great idea

Another option is an umiak. But nothing like building one together to really stoke that interest.

a decent number of boats really
There really are a nice progression of boats out there for kids boats. Having a daughter and several nieces I’ve been keeping track.

Pretty much it goes like this

Arcadia Scout: probably the simplest, shortest and lowest weight range one. Also the cheapest retailing for about $400. You’d want to add flotation, and its probably not good for much distance for the child, but a great “will they like it?” kinda boat.

Caronlina 12: Next step up as I see it. Longer, narrower, holds more weight, but still lacking flotation, and still comes in for about $600. Not a bad option at all. Probably able to do more distance and speed before the kid tires.

Tsunami 120 SP: Next step up again. Same length, but narrower yet again. Now with flotation, hatches, thigh pads, deck rigging. A bargin at about $700 in my book. A light duty touring boat comparable to the other Tsunamis.

Current Designs Raven: The narrowest of the batch, composit, basically a sea version of the Tsunami. Cant find pricing information or any details besides westcoasts pictures, but same length and narrowest of them all. Also I would expect its the most expensive by a considerable margin, but hey. If you want your kid to have the best, I doubt you can beat it.

For my money, I think I am going to do a Scout then transition to Tsunami 120 SP for my daughter once she gets to that point. Unless she can handle a larger boat then it might be an adult touring boat. Right now shes 2.5, so I have a few years :slight_smile:

I second that

Sit-on-tops are fun and easy self-rescue.

The Raven retails for…
$1279 in Canadian dollars – that’s somewhere around $1100 US.

Not a bad price when you consider there’s about the same amount of work involved as making a full size kayak.