Kayak for Kids

I need help picking out a kayak for my 9 year old daughter. We’ll mostly be floating Class 1 slow rivers, but could graduate to Class 2 and possibly Class 3. She doesn’t want to be in the canoe with her younger brothers anymore, but would like to float along behind us in her own kayak. Any suggestions?

OT Otter
Got it for 200 dollars at Dicks and my 8 year old son and wife love it. Added skirt and footpegs for another 70 dollars. I would think it would be good for up to class II.

Do a search here.
This topic is brought up all the time here. If you do a search for “kids kayak”, you’ll get a lot of hits. Most of it will be the same handful of boats suggested over and over, but sometimes you get a new nugget of info. I think this was the last time kids’ boats came up:


I actually found the kid sized surf yaks and the kid-perspective reviews very informative and refreshing.


Kid’s kayaks
I put my grandson, age 8, in an Ocean Kayak Yak Board this summer. Great sit-on-top, very stable, 8 feet long, handles very well in the ocean. He has even surfed it in 2 foot waves and did great.

Perception Carolina

Class 2/3
If she wants to learn to play in it, Jackson Kayak makes kid-sized whitewater boats.

For flatwater, the Perception Carolina 12.0 is a popular choice. For moving water a small sit-on-top might be safer until she can roll.

Prijon Capri
My son is 10 yo, weighs about 79 lbs, and I love the Prijon Capri (see my review). He loves it too! This is the lightest plastic boat, more comfortable thank a sit-on top, and most key: glides very very well. This is integral when your dtr poops out, like my son, and you throw her a line and pull her. No need a tandem, the pull tow works wonders. BUt I would hate to do it with a wide or heavy boat. The Prijon Capri (and I swear I do not work for Prijon)is a full size vessel so a) she can grow into it, and b) any adult paddlers that wish to go with you can use also. Check it out on-line www.wildnet.com Steve

Perception Carolina 12 not Capri
I too highly recommend Prijon kayaks but the Capri is too big for most kids. As a result of the other recent thread about kids kayaks we just went through a refitting for my 10 year old son. He is 59” tall (according to the chart at the County Fair) and weighs almost 100 pounds- all muscle. His siblings thought it was time he graduated from the Carolina into a boat that could hold part of the gear on multi-day trips. We tested him in the Carolina 12 against the Prijon Capri, Riot Stealth, Perception Dancer, and Prijon Combi 359. The winners were still the Carolina 12 and the Perception Dancer (an old whitewater boat). We had as much time as we want since we own all the boats.

The deciding factor was the deck height and somewhat the beam. He uses a Werner 191 carbon whitewater paddle and although it is the smaller blade it still is a big bite. He can keep up at our modest cruising speed for 1.5 hours. The Capri and even more so the Stealth decks are to high for him to effectively use the paddle. The larger cockpits and seats just too big for kids.

His favorite boat of the bunch is the Perception Dancer (it is in showroom condition) but until he proves he has the same straight line speed in it as the Carolina he will still be using the Carolina 12 for trips.

I also disagree with the towing idea- he is 4 of 4 – I have tried everything from tandems to towing. What worked for all my kids is what works for adults, get them the proper fitting gear and they can be just as efficient and enjoy doing for themselves. Unfortunately kids kayaks are few and far between, and if you get the Carolina 12 you will find that you need to add basic things (like the backband) yourself. Other tips for the Carolina use a very small whitewater backband so that it doesn’t hit the bottom of the PFD and use a deck bag and half skirt (bimini ???) to break waves washing over the deck.

Prijon Capri
The prior respondant had great success with the made for kids, $400 Perception kids 12 footer. If you are willing to spend the money, buy a cheaper boat (rotomolded plastic rather than stiffer and firmer blow molded HTP), lose dry hatch, and get a kid friendly only boat that a) your friends and other family members will not appeciate paddling and b) your own daughter will outgrown in a few short years, then the previously recommended boat will be just right for you. My son, at size I mentioned, has zero problem fitting in the Prijon Capri, his torso fits the seat very well, it is faster than Perception kayaks secondary to trimmer profile, and I strongly suggest that you do not use a whitewater paddle for flatwater kid’s paddling, but rather a 220 cm or 230 cm paddle that is very light (eg) carbon fiber). He has no issue reaching over the hull to paddle, and the higher stroke inevitable with a short paddle is more fatiguing than anything you could possibly imagine with a lightweight flatwater paddle. As for the towing, trust me, your daughter will tire, and you will be throwing her a line regardless of boat type, and it works well to tow… I can tow my son in the Capri for 1-1.5 hours, he eating Pringles in his boat, and I do not tire. That says something about efficiency through the water of the Capri. (Tip: bring a tow line with caribiners on each end, and just clamp on when she needs a lift). I have kayaked successfully at least 10 times this year alone with my son in this fashion. Although a tandem boat could be considered and is reasonable, it is usually a very “one trick pony” in that, when your duaghter does not wish to paddle, you cannot use the tandem alone. I suggest this, bring your daughtr, see the Prijon Capri next to the Perception 12, have her sit in both–you will see a fine fit in each (paddle both if you can), and then study the workmanship of each boat. The Perception is basically a Dick’s Sports/ MC Sports soft plastic shell, and the German made Capri for $200 more is a real kayak that will last you the remainder of your (and your daughter’s) life. Thanks for your great posting and question.

Prijon Capri info!


OT Loon 8.6
I saw this OT Loon 8.6 “youth” model on ebay the other day, might be a good choice.


Cooldoctor Steve, what length paddle do you use with your capri?