I started my son kayaking in a 6 foot Lifetime last year when he was 5. He has fallen in love with it, so I have decided this year to get him a larger one. For reference my son is 6 now and weighs 80 lbs. and is 4 foot 2.
While the Lifetime will hold his weight right now, he will out grow it. I am reaching out to see if anyone has a recommendation for the following questions.
First, what brand would you recommend? I have only ever tried my kayak (OK BGP2) as I am still new myself. When we go out it is for fishing so something with a rod holder would be needed as he has almost lost his rod several times. Also an area big enough for his personal cooler for drinks and storage for his emergency supplies (dry bag with clothing etc.). This way if something were to happen and we became separated he would have his own supplies. I want to get him something that he can grow with, but not bust the bank wide open as being a kid he may grow out of it. I was looking at another Lifetime like the Tamarack or Angler. Just worried about the weight and if he could paddle it without getting to tired.
The Second question is about his paddle. Right now he is using the small one that came with his. With a bigger Kayak I figured he needed a longer one. But, the weight of the paddle might wear him out. With the one he has and a small kayak he can paddle almost all day. With a heaver kayak and bigger paddle I am just not sure.
Any guidance would be helpful. For total cost I am looking at no more than $600 all together.
Can’t help with the boat, that category is not what I know.
Even if you go for a longer paddle, keep his paddle blade on the smaller size. A bigger blade creates more drag through the water and you are correct, for a small person it gets tiring fast. For average sized women let alone a child.
You might find that his boat doesn’t have to be any wider, since he has seat time and basic balance in this one.
I have become a proponent of Sit On Top kayaks for kids and beginners (or anyone) who aren’t necessarily going to go out (or be taken out) in challenging conditions. SOTs come in all lengths, widths and hull configurations. Most are appropriate for beginning to intermediate paddlers, while some are definitely more for intermediate to advanced paddlers.
Of all the kayaks I have bought and sold, three are SOTs that I’ve hung onto include two Ocean Kayak Scupper Pros and a RTM Disco. These are such adaptable kayaks that are rigged for kayak fishing but can actually handle challenging conditions for more advanced paddlers. I use them as loaners for beginning Paddlers and even more advanced paddlers who are visiting (e.g. TsunamiChuck).
SOTs don’t sink (easily) and can be remounted, unlike with cavernous sit-in-side that often lack adequete flotation. Because an SOT leaves the paddler exposed to water and air, it encourages the paddler to be dressed for exposure (to water and air) or, better yet, to not go out at all if the conditions aren’t right.
For a 6 year, I would be looking for something in the 10 foot length and no more than 26" wide. Plenty of stability but not too wide that a young person would have trouble reaching out with an appropriate length paddle with smaller blades, like a Werner lil dipper.
I definitely would start by looking in the used market before buying new. Your kid will out grow the kayak fast. For fishing, you’ll need to in hull fishing holders, or some version of RAM or Scott mounting hardware.
The Perception Tribe 9.5 would be great boat now and till his teens. Sit on tops are great fun for kids, particularly if they use it as a swim platform to easily climb back on after a swim. ps A Tribe is a REAL kayak!
Take a look at the Perception Prodigy XS. Designed for smaller paddlers (under 5’2, under 100 lbs are ideal) and is scaled for a smaller person while having a real kayak shape.