Kid's Kayaks

I am looking for a kayak for my 11 year old. He weighs about 90lbs. I want something fairly effecient in the water (22" to 25" wide" and under 50lbs)and 12 foot or less. He has paddled bigger boats before and did very well. I would like him to get something more his own size that would fit him for 3 to 4 years, if possible. The price needs to be under $700 but under $500 would be better.

I am familiar with the Perception 12.0(kids kayak), but is says that the maximum paddler weight is 120lbs and I would like something that he can use for more than a few years…Thanks

Wilderness Systems Piccalo
In my opinion it is one of the best kids boats for up to 130 lbs. You will likely have to buy one used but you should be able to find one quickly for around $400. They are on ebay often

The big three for kids:
The Perception Corlina12.0 weight restriction I think is more limited by the seat pan than the weight capacity of the boat. The old Wildy Piccolo as already mentioned is out of production (shame) and Wilderness Systems has not seen fit to create another of its callibre. My last pic would be my first choice if I could find one: the Epi Kayaks Episea is a rare true touring kayak that I’d love to see in person (14’2" by 20.5"). If these don’t appeal to you, have you considered making one (ie: stitch & glue woody, skin on frame, fiberglass layup like trmoraine here has done?


Don’t buy a barge!
Kids have good balance, so you might buy him a training olympic K1 for about $ 700. In glass, it will weight about 30lbs., and it will be very fast and efficient.

If you buy him the “barge” most people used, he will end up hating the sport, and to me, that is a big reason why there are not too many young paddlers.



Don’t Let Your Kid Grow

– Last Updated: Aug-24-04 4:56 AM EST –

that'd let him stay in the kayak for more than several years! :)

Seriously, get a kayak that fits him relatively well and he'll enjoy it more. My younger son paddled the umiak (Carolina 12) for a couple of years and then moved up to a Mystic. He likes it alot more than when he was trying to paddle a adult size kayak.

If your son gets 2 years in the kayak, you can resell afterwards. Buy used yourself, if you can.

WS piccolo if you can find it in the used market. Carolina 12 or EMC Episea are still being made. The Episea is nice kayak and I think a better hull shape (Greenland style with sharper chines for edging/carving). Both the Carolina 12 and the Episea has small seats that get in the way of a growing child before the weight limits do. I actually took cut the molded seat in the Umiak out and put in a foam for me kid. I could fit in it and paddle the Umiak. I'm 5'3" and 140 lbs. The Episea seat is plastic and I believe screwed in. I actually fit in the Episea though it was tight. You can take the seat out and replaced with foam when needed. When you sell, screw the seat back in.


I am considering getting the Carolina 12 or the Episea for my 7 and 9 year old boys. The issue I’m struggling with is the degree they can handle the boat. The Carolina is shorter and I’m wondering if that will be easier for them. I’m sure the Episea flys, but I want them to be able to play in the boat a bit and not just tour. What do you think?

Keep things proportionate.
If the intent is for lakes and longer stretches, stay with longer boats with straighter tracking ability and more efficient hulls. If the intent is for rivers or twisty marshes and backwaters, look for shorter boats with a flatter hull. Now, if a six foot tall adult uses an 18’ sea kayak, a four foot kid should probably be using 12’ boat. In the same manner, if you put a kid with a 9" hip span in a 30" wide, 14" deep boat, it would be like an adult trying to paddle a 50" wide, 23" deep boat. Doesn’t sound too easy, does it? Oh, and one more thing. Try and find a light kids paddle for the same reason.

Episea And Carolina 12 Volumes
are about the same. The Episea has more length but the Carolina has more beam. Carolina has a flatter bottom and rounded chines. Episea has a shallow V bottom and sharper chines. The Episea would seem to have less initial stability but for a smaller child who is not as top heavy, it will be plenty stable. Also I think a smaller child is less likely to bang his fingers into the gunwales wile paddling in an Episea.


Perception Umiak
which is now called the Carolina 12, I see them used occasionally for a few hundred. It is an excellent little boat. It would last for a couple of seasons easily. They re-sell easily as well it seems. Don’t get a boat that the kiddos will be swimming in, it’ll take the fun right out of it for them. Get one that fits them and their proportions. Good on ya for getting them their own boat.

The latest “Paddler” mag
has a nice review of a few boats for kids. There a couple in there that I wouldn’t mind owning!

I would look seriously at the Episea. Our neighbors have an Epi and an Umiak. We have an old glass WS Poquito (the precursor to the Piccolo). These kids are smaller 7-8 years old and 46-60 lbs and do really well in any of the above. Howevwer, having seen all the boats on and off the water I would recommend the Epi. It’s longer than your looking for but will probably fit your son as he grows, provided that his hips aren’t big. (The seat is narrower than in any of the other boats.) It is the only one with a bulkhead (rear,foam) and is actually a bit too big for any of the our kids right now. It tracks well and looks like it would carve turns nicely once a kid learned to edge.