Kids kayaks

i have a 3 year old son that I want to get a kayak for. He has been paddling a Necky Rip 10 around near beach. A friend had a kids sit on top kayak but he had no interest in it. He wants a “real” kayak like mommy. Obviously the rip 10 is too difficult for him to do more then just paddle in circles. I know with a kids kayak/paddle he would probably be able to paddle a bit more. I want something that is easy to tow when he gets tired. He has been going on kayaks with me since he was a year and a half old. We do mainly lakes and slow moving streams.

Does anyone have pros/cons to the perception prodigy xs vs the old town heron jr.? What about kids paddles? What other equipment should I get for him? He will get a new life jacket next summer.

are you handy?

– Last Updated: Sep-22-14 2:40 PM EST –

If you have basic tools and basic hobby skills, you could build him a Sea Flea or Sea Pup from the free instructions and patterns at designer Tom Yost's site:

Could be a great father son project over the winter. Such skin on frame boats are very light and fun to paddle. They are usually skinned with fabric or white ballistic nylon, which means that you can add a custom paint job or design before coating with urethane. I've seen photos of some wonderful children's kayaks, colorfully designed by the parents or the kids themselves.

There are wooden kit boats too, such as those from Pygmy Designs.

You can also carve him a wooden Greenland paddle. Or buy a handmade child's paddle from Patrick Onno:

Building not an option
I wish I had the time, space, and equipment to make one. Not an option unfortunately:(

a couple of thoughts
I’m fairly new here, but not new to the sport. I’ll wade in with a comment, since it seems fairly quiet.

When my son was 4 and my daughter 6, at a resort, the boy jumped on a kayak and grabbed a paddle and started paddling. And was very good at it. And loved it. Everyone watched him with some amazement. Daughter soon tried it, too. Both learned quickly.

We bought them two SOT’s - Emotion Spitfires. Not great kayaks, but stable and fun. They have had a blast with those boats. If your son thinks a SOT is not a “real” kayak, show him some videos of some of the surf skis (Epic etc.). :slight_smile: A SOT is perfect for a young child - you can’t swamp it, it’s never scary, and it’s a stable platform (my son stands up on his and fishes).

The kids are now 10 and 12 and paddle “real” kayaks (ha). But the SOT’s are still in the herd and used now and then.

Of the three you mention, the Prodigy seems most sensible to me. The others are so wide, I can’t picture a small child paddling them. That’s one of the reasons the SOT’s are easier, the paddles don’t have to move “downward” as much over the gunwales of a cockpit.

Of course, what you really should get him is a West Side Baby Otter –


CD Raven
We purchased a Current Designs Raven for my daughter a few years ago (she’s long outgrown it now) and it was a fabulous boat for a child – it’s an actual scaled down version of a full sized sea kayak.

Very light and surprisingly quick for a small boat – might be a bit expensive but it’s a lot of (little) boat.

Some Raven discussion…
Here’s a couple discussions regarding the Raven and smaller boats for kids…

Hope this helps,



the raven and the baby otter look amazing, but are wayyyyy outside my price range.

I’ll try to convince him to try a SOT… He wants everything like mommy so it could be a hard sell. He’s a “big” 3. (46 lbs 43 inches). I never thought to let him paddle before, but when we were hanging out at a beach he climbed in mine and started paddling.

Sea Flea 11

I’m not sure where you are, but I’ve got a kids skin on frame kayak that my kids have outgrown, and I’d love to see it move on to another little kid. It’s in Maine. $100. Fits a kid up to about 50" tall.

keep an eye out

– Last Updated: Sep-23-14 10:39 AM EST –

WS Piccolo
Perception Umiak
WS Tsunami SP

All of these are good kids boats, the first two are out of production so you may be able to score a cheap used one.

Having said that, Nate's offer looks pretty generous...only possible consequence is that your kid will be spoiled for life after paddling that!

Go Get An Old Wind Surfer
And convert it to kayak use. A couple of surfers did this years ago with long shaft canoe paddles and started up the now popular SUP craze. Before the SUP craze, I use to watch kids and grown-ups paddle (sitting down or kneeling) wind surfing boards out to the surf zone and back enjoying the water.