Kayaking with kids - buying advice neede

-- Last Updated: Jun-08-16 11:01 PM EST --

My wife and I have been renting kayaks for some time now and have decided to buy our own. These will be strictly used on lakes and slow rivers.

We have 2 boys. 6 and 9. We have mixed up the rentals trying to figure out what to buy, but the pros and cons are a little overwhelming.

The 6 year old will definitely need to be in the bow of a tandum or duffing between someone's legs. The 9 year old is a little tougher. We have rented his own boat before, both sit on top and sit inside. He handles them fine but tires very quickly. He's also a bear to tow in flat water after that.

The last rental configuration was 2 sit on top tandums. This worked well on the warm waters of the local lake but not so great in the colder rivers near by where the 9 year old is fine in his own sit inside so long as the current is good. Everyone was a little chilly on that ride.

I also forsee me and the boys going out on the lake without the wife some times.

The configuration options have been:

2 Tandums - adult in rear, kid on each bow

1 tandum 1 single - adult in rear w/ 9yo in bow, adult single with 6yo duffing between legs

3 singles - adult w/ 6yo duffing, 9yo in 8ft, adult single

14ft sit on top tandum and 1 single - adult in rear with 6yo duffing and 9yo in bow - adult in single or switch with 9yo periodically

I did start looking into some of the more convertible tandum options like the pamlico and twin heron. I am really just not sure what to do here. These seem like they would not really work well as solo boats.

Also instead of the more expensive options, I could go cheaper. The pelican brand kayaks are cheap enough that I could literally buy a tandum and 2 singles for the price of one convertible.
I am just not sure about the control and tracking and durability of the lowest of the Lowend boats.

as far as sit inside vs sit on top, the wife and I both prefer sit inside, however the kids love jumping into the lake for a swim. They prefer the sit on tops... again, the waters here are very mixed. our lakes are warm but our rivers are freezing.

Any advice is appreciated.

I Go With The Kids Preference: SOTs
However, maybe it’s time for the 9 year old to paddle with peers? Be among paddlers of similar age and also receiving top notch instruction from very experience paddlers and experts. I would do the same for paddling as I would do for wanting my kid to play soccer, basketball and baseball, etc. I’d look around my community for available programs that might be available? If none exist, I’m sure there are SUP or rowing programs available? Good luck! For I’m sure, once your 9 year old has completed such a program, you’ll never tow him again.

Prodigy XS
After renting a few kayaks for my kids we finally settled in two Prodigy XS boats. My son is 6 and daughter is 9. The small boats fit them well and allow them to keep up and have fun.

My 9 year old swims competitively and has a strong upper body as a result. She is good for a 5 mile paddle with maybe a quick break somewhere in the middle. My 6 year old is young, and a bit small for the boat, and is good for a mile or two at the most.

The most important thing is they can get out on the water with my wife and I and have a good time. They should also be able to use their boats for a few years as they continue to grow into an adult size. For us, having them paddle their own beats a tandem which we have tried a few times.

Crossover Effect - Now You Know…
That it exists with swimming and kayaking. The two activities complement each other, for I use to kayak all winter and spring and never swim at all, but I could stay with the 2nd pack on the first open ocean swimming race of the summer, that was 1.2 miles long.

Swimmers make the best kayakers, for I’ve watched burn’t out high school swimmers switch to kayaks and become League champions. Girl kayakers have also received athletic scholarships to crew for college teams too.

I applaud parents who are doing their best to change the current demographic profile of us paddlers. But it is crucial that to keep and maintain kids interest in paddling, their equipment must change and keep up with them as they grow. Like in baseball, we don’t expect a 10 year old to step in the batters box with their old “kiddie” bat they received as a 3 year old.

I sensed this with my daughter, who outgrew her narrow Poco kayak at 10, which we got for her because she refused to paddle tandem with me on the Zuma Two. Rather than lose her forever to soccer and basketball, I bought her a used Olympic K-1 kayak and a used surfski, along with a custom made small Onno wing paddle. After a few capsizes, she figured out the surfski and the wing paddle. Only the k-1 took a little longer to learn, because she had to swim it to shore and bail it before attempting to paddle it again, but eventually, she got the hang of it and stayed with it. The only problems I had were repairs, larger wings and having to buy more competitive surfskis, which I gladly did.

Kayaking with kids - buying advice neede
I found an outfitter 30 minutes east of us that rents kid specific kayaks and they have a convertible pamlico 13.5. I think we are going to call in the morning to see if they are available for a float trip. After reading the replies I think we will indeed invest in some training for the 9 year old. He does use his arms more than his core which is bad practice. He would definitely benefit from some one on one with an instructor.

Thanks for the advice. Keep it coming :slight_smile: