New(Ish) Kayaker

Hello from NC. So with weather warming up and myself needing to get back into shape. My family has gotten back into mountain biking and now want’s to get into kayaking. I recently got myself a Seastream Angler 120. Oh boy is it heavy, And only gonna get heavier when i put a crate, rods, fish finder, etc. Here is a pic of her now. I’ll be bothering the fishing section about that stuff in the near future. LOL. Our current debate is do we get the wife a tandam so that the kid can be with her, or do we get the kid (8yo daughter) her own kayak. And if so what should i be looking for in a kayak for the kid. I prefer sit ons because they are marginally safer. What do y’all think? Thanks

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Yes, get a tandem. If you get most 8yo’s their own kayak, they will not be able to keep up and will run out of gas way before the adults do, so somebody will end up towin’ it, probably you. I have see some exceptions to that over the years, but they have been few.

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Depends on personality, IMO. My granddaughter tends to be cautious but also self-confident. Initially, she was fine sitting in front of me in the large cockpit of my Bell Rob Roy. As her comfort level grew (she’s a good swimmer), so did her interest in paddling her own boat. I looked at the cheap 8 and 9-footers aimed at kids from the big box stores, but worried a crappy boat might sour her on the sport entirely. Luckily, a good used Old Town Heron Jr. came up for sale locally for a hundred bucks. She strapped on her pfd, jumped in and took off. Kinda silly looking with a 230 cm paddle :smile: so now we have a more suitable Werner Sprite. I suspect she’ll graduate to a longer boat in a year or two (I’ve been hanging on to an older, rarely used Eddyline Skylark for that eventuality).
She and her mother are also SUP fans, but show little interest in sit-on-top kayaks - not sure why. Also, tandems have never been a thing for us. Maybe we’re all just a little bit too individualistic (aka pig-headed) to be good tandem partners.
“Love many and trust a few, but always paddle your own canoe.”
Good luck!


I think my kid is pretty strong willed. So we are gonna go with her own. We have a couple of small ponds she can get to every day so she will get some practice in before we go into anything with a current. Now i gotta figure out where everyone is getting these cheap/free milk crates. LOL

If your daughter can swim I would not worry about sit in versus on. Honestly at that age and a bit above the first thing a kid will try to do is capsize it on purpose anyway. The story of a lot of demo days if the parents let the kid out of their sight.

The issue you will have is as above, her keeping up. The size boat that will work for her - best bet to find it is whitewater boats - is going to be painfully slow compared to what you or your wife are paddling. You can assume you will be towing her at times.

Hence the suggestion for a tandem. There will be time to get her one for her won once the first season is past and you can better gauge her interest.

I don’t have kids, but I seem to recall being a kid long (longlonglong) ago. I know what I was like back then, and I’m pretty sure a tandem would have bored me (although if Mom paddles really hard, the speed would be fun), and I never would have gotten excited about paddling. But my very own kayak? WAHOO!!! Zipping around on my own, trying to be first all the time, exploring stuff - what could be more fun than that? That feeling of being in control of my own destiny is golden.

Of course, your daughter may be different. Only you know her. If she’s likely to be an intentional straggler, foot-dragger, “I don’t wanna” participant, then the tandem is the way to go. Either way, you potentially end up with a kayak you can’t use (the small solo, because she doesn’t like it, or the tandem, because she craves the independence of her own boat).

Can you rent one first, to see how she takes to it?

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I think this is a great answer. I do feel like she would feel tied down if in a tandem with mom. So going with a smaller kayak to get her on her own and letting her get practice in in our ponds behind the house. Should help once we get out there.


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For me 8yo is kind of the cut off age where for causal easy day tripping type stuff most around here most are looking to get a cheap Pelican for the kids. If not at 8yo you will be buying a tandem now and her a beginners boat within 2 years and needing something else for the wife she won’t want to solo in the tandem. If you get your daughter any of the box-store brand sit inside rec-kayaks spend a few more bucks and buy a couple inflatable play balls or small yoga balls and inflate one in the bow and one in the stern for capsize floatation. Get her a good youth PFD and set a good example of the whole family wearing one regardless of what you see others doing. You are somewhat south so water temp isn’t quite the issue as up north but still be aware of the danger if water is below 65f.

As to your sit on top fishing kayak I’m seeing more and more of them around here. I still like my solo canoe better, but the majority of the folks here with the fishing kayaks when loaded up for fishing end up adding DIY pontoons for stability. All the stuff you add ends up higher above the water line and with fishing you won’t have the paddle stability and be turning side to side. Do a google search and you see many ideas on how to DIY pontoons. Some use 5” pool noodles some use crab pot floats, all use PVC pipe and fittings. If you will be using your SOT for both family paddling and also solo fishing I would suggest making it setup so you can remove most of the fishing stuff for just paddling.

As I mentioned I have a 14’7” canoe and I tried to talk her into a SOT kayak and she didn’t want that open feeling and really wanted a sit inside rec-kayak. We found her a nice 10’ Old Town with a sealed stern hatch and I added a yoga ball to the front. It sits you much lower in the water and in turn is much more stable. With the added flotation it floats like a cork upside down and that makes getting back in after a swim much easier.

Welcome to the forum. Start off slow and enjoy.

My oldest son and I started paddling together in a canoe with he was about 3 years old. When we moved to California next to the ocean, we got a good fast tandem Hobie Oddysey which I don’t think is made anymore. For going distances and being able to maneuver, most kids are not ready for there own kayak until about 11 or 12, and for more aggressive trips probably just a bit older. I own all kinds of kayaks sit-ins, sit -on tops, waveskis, surfkayaks, and a couple of surf SUPs and a canoe. If you are just doing flat water a canoe may be a better option for the family, but I agree a good SOT is much easier and safer for paddling with children than a SINK. You might find that with kayaks simple is better and the heavy gear laden kayaks are not that great. I have many friends who fish in the ocean from a simple SUP board, but they have years of experience on the water.

Get child and wife their own kayak. Stay away from a tandem!

Your kayak will get heavier every year.


@Unaballer I am also in NC, Charlotte to be exact. I have a “Snap-On-Top” sit on top kayak that can be configured as a single or a tandem. Its weight capacity is too small for my family to use. My wife used it for about a year, until we got our sit in kayaks. They show up on Craigslist occasionally in the $200 to $400 range.

There is a listing right now in the New England area (not mine) here: SnapOnTop Convertible - Tandem Double / Single Kayak - boats - by… ( Just so you can see what it looks like.

If you are interested, PM me and I can send you pictures and discuss price.

Ended up getting the girls their own Kayaks. My kid is loving zooming around the pond on hers and wont stop asking if she can do it. Now to see how she handles a current.


I got my daughter her first Kayak just before she turned 10; she’s not the most energetic user, but, improving gear (ie, paddle) has improved her shelf life on the water. now, we need a more kayak friendly PFD for her, now. But, I applaud the kayak for the kiddo approach! Long term, I think it’s the better teachable moment. I’m a little concerned about the weight of your kayak, though…if you get rid of the fishing gear, you won’t have so much weight, nor ruin a perfectly good time kayaking! :slight_smile: Okay, so I’m not exactly a fisherman. I’m not hardly a fisherman. (But, i am an opinionated SOB!) Anyway, glad you kiddo likes it. My older daughter (20yo) also has her own, and she surprises me in her enthusiasm for it. I thought she was as lazy as me; turns out, she’s got some serious kayaking chops, for a newbie. Anyway…I love kayaking, and I think my girls are addicted, now. My wife has yet to try. She’s not an outdoorsy type. But, I’m not an artist…to each his/her own…

I am wondering if my wording has lead to a misunderstanding. The big kayak is for me i am going to use it for leisurely fishing ponds, lakes and maybe some river floats, down stream. We got my daughter a lifetime 180 i think it is. And my wife got a Lifetime Spitfire. Trying to keep their stuff as light as possible while i will go heavy and deal with it. LOL

We went on our true first kayak trip. Paddled 2.2 miles around a local lake. The kid did GREAT in her won kayak. She paddled the whole way minus .2 miles where I offered to pull her so she could have a snack and get caught up on some hydration.