Kayak for a 4 year old? Build one?

So, my daughter has taken wonderfully to riding around in my kayak with me, and I would like to pursue a kayak for her for next season.

Any thoughts on a suitable boat for a 4 year old? I cant find anything that looks like it would fit her, an I am considering a simple stitch and glue for her.

Any thoughts or plans for one? Any commercial kayaks that would be reasonable for putzing around for a 4 year old on ponds and lakes? Thanks

Small child

– Last Updated: Sep-29-08 12:15 PM EST –

Perception Acadia Scout?

Jackson Mini Tripper?

A small stitch & glue could be a fun project -- maybe something like a Shearwater Rising Star or Goldeneye 10.

Or a simple skin-on-frame?

A couple of options…
I have a 4 1/2 year old and wanted to find the same thing for my daughter, for next year. No matter what I do- I’ll definately be putting outrigger/sponsons on it.

Here’s the list that I came up with…

Current Designs - Raven

Wilderness Systems - Piccolo

Wilderness Systems - Tsunami SP

Ocean Kayak - Kea

Perception - Acadia Scout

Perception - Umiak

Some are still made, others aren’t. I’ve been watching Craigslist and local paddling boards.

I’ve seen the CD Raven in person - it’s a BEAUTIFUL boat. A bit pricey for what I wanted, but it was fantastic.

Here’s a likely suspect:


My grandkids started around that age and still kayak.


One of the guys on the folding kayak site built a Sea Flea for his child. You can review that thread here:


More options

Umiak was renamed(twice)
It’s now the Carolina 12 XS. It was the Carolina 12.0 for a year or so but that caused too much confusion with the adult-sized Carolina 12.


At 4 years old
For that age range I use Prijon Flippers in our instructional fleet. Works great for up to 90lbs of child and it is not a scaled down adult kayak. It’s quite kid specific.

See you on the water,


The River Connection, Inc.

Hyde Park, NY


what do you have now?
I just had the immense pleasure of taking my 3 year old granddaughter out for her first kayak excursion.

I think as much as she loved it, my daughter hated it(her baby).

She did wonerful, wanted to paddle the entire time. We did two trips, first about 1/2 mile, maybe out for 40 minutes including stopping time along the shore so mom could see her. Second trip was over 45 minutes and about 1 mile.

It was a little cramped, she sat directly in front of me between my legs. As you can imagine there was not “proper” stroking, especially since she held onto the paddle and helped grandpa the entire time.

I was also thinking about getting her one of her one, since she took the paddle and sat in my seat while we were launched, and gave me the look that said I’m in my boat, where’s yours?

Booyah, what type of yak do you have, and where does your daughter sit? Are both of you fairly comfortable.

I really doubt my daughter will let her out in her own, until she turns 21 :-), so I’m looking for an alternative solution.

Dirigo 140
The Dirigo 140 has a 4’ long cockpit - my daughter (4) and I fit comfortably in it. It’s still not quite a proper stroke because of drip from the paddle. But, it’s enough to move us around the lake. She can stand in it and really moves it around as she plays.

I also paddled yesterday for a short time with my daughter in the cockpit of a Perception Carolina 14. It was more cramped - but, definately doable.

We found that with Grandpa paddling the Dirigo and Dad paddling the Carolina - she could switch between boats (including the foam padded seat) while out on the lake.

Another option . . .

– Last Updated: Sep-30-08 1:38 AM EST –

I met a nice family that was paddling down part of the French Broad several weeks ago. They had two small daughters, one of them being four. The parents' solution was to buy a couple small, used ww play boats off of Craig's List for a song.

The girls love their boats and not much was invested in something that requires time to know if the child will really take to paddling. Dad said he and mom often wind up towing their daughters for much of the trip, but they all have fun. This may be the approach I will take for my grand daughter - once she's old enough.

If you want to build a boat (a great relationship builder also!), Pygmy makes a nice kid's boat. For information and advice on breaking a child into paddling, go to http://www.pygmyboats.com/mall/GE10SPEC.asp

Perception Swifty, big cockpit, she sits in front on the floor between my legs. I am actually also getting an eclipse, but I highly doubt it will have room for both of us.

Yeah same paddling issue and she wants to be the one to paddle, well daddys 240cm euro paddle is a little big for her. Hence thinking a new yak for her.

We are fairly comfortable, I do really have to watch the stroke though. The real downside is the extrra weight makes it quite unstable.

My other yak is the Swifty 9.5 My niece was using that one and we used an RTM Tango 12 foot SOT. I thought the Tango would be better suited because of the size, but looking back you may be on the right track. The swifty does have a large cockpit, and I could throw a cushion on the bottom for her to sit on.

I’m kicking myself… the other day there were some small single paddles out in the trash in my neighborhood. The kind you get with pool sized life rafts. Now I wished I had grabbed them for my granddaughter to use.

I rented the Tsunami SP and 2 of my
3 grandsons did fine in it. One 5 and one 8.They can’t paddle far with those little arms.

Not sure where in Michigan you are,
but there’s a guy who runs a kayak/canoe club down in the Kalamazoo area that built his grandkids one out of a sassafras tree from his property. Cut, milled, and planed the wood all himself. He even had outriggers as I recall. Drop me a line if you’re interested and I’ll hook you up.


My five year old
paddles a canoe solo with a double blade that is quite specific for a child about 40-48 inches tall.

Shaw and Tenney used to make it and now I cant find it on their website.

He is doing well and is up to trips of a mile and a half long. He is paddling all by himself.

His canoe is 11 feet long and 22 inches wide.

Kids boats
After sitting quite comfortably with my daughters in America 13’5’s for a few seasons, they expressed a lot of interest in taking the reins. We’ve got our kids, now 8 and 6, in a Perception Umiak and a Perception Acadia Scout. We got them each a Werner Sprite paddle to fit them too. They each started in our Swifty and really appreciate the better fit these kid-sized boats offer. I’ve never used outriggers or anything like that, as both of their boats have good initial and secondary stability. Teach a lot of safety and spend a lot of time at swim lessons though. I’d also recommend putting in some additional floatation in the bow and stern. My 8 year old and I have been practicing her exit this summer, and she has gotten better at what we call her rodeo re-entry. We regularly take 7 mile river trips with a few riffles and strainers, and they understand why we practice skills so much. We may start some overnight trips next year. Lots of fun!

Well, it looks like
We got a chance to go by the local kayak store and found a few interesting things out.

  1. The carolina XS actually requires a larger paddler than the Tsunami SP.
  2. A 160cm bending branches minnow is just the right size for her.

    So, it looks like I am saving some pennies until hopefully around spring time I can pickup a Tsunami SP and a new paddle for the little one

    thanks all

Its a pricey kids kayak, but its well built, and is a fully-outfitted touring kayak that will actually perform well.

Its only
its only about 750, or 700 if you find a deal.

the carolina xs was 500, has next to zero outfitting, no back band, no sealed flotation or storage, and is just in a different class.

spend 500 on a boat that she will want to replace in a year or two, or 700 for a boat she can use until shes a teenager

pretty easy decision for me.