Suggestions for youth kayak

I am looking for suggestions for an inflatable kayak for my 8 yo granddaughter. She has kayaked several times and loves it. Use will be on small lakes in Colorado. She is very athletic so I’m hesitant to get her something to small.

If you can find a Wilderness Systems Piccolo, that’s a great boat for kids. I have 2 of them.

My 6 year old grandson

And my 7 year old granddaughter

If you are determined to get an inflatable, you should look for one that is as narrow as possible. One problem for smaller kids in inflatables is that the width makes it hard to reach the paddle into the water without hitting the side tubes, especially in boats where they are sitting deep in the hull. Most of the solo inflatables are 32 to 38 inches wide which is quite a reach for anyone under 5’ tall. And the wider raft-like boats push a lot of water and can be slow. The Piccolo that’s been recommended was designed for kids and very small adults (under 100 pounds) and is only 20.5" wide for this reason.

Among inflatables, the Advanced Elements AE1041 model is 28" which is a little better. And being a bit longer and more tapered than some of the other inflatables means it will propel straighter and with less bow resistance. It’s also a model she could continue to use as she grows. There’s a little video in this product listing at Airkayaks showing assembly and how it paddles.

I notice that Outdoorplay has the AE1041 on sale right not for $556.

Why an inflatable? Maybe consider buying her a kid’s whitewater kayak instead. It will be sized for a kid, fit in almost any vehicle, and allow her to develop her skills instead of being blown around. Jackson makes several for kids, and Liquid Logic makes one. You can also buy WW paddles sized for kids.

If you (the buyer) are in CO, it will be tough to find a Piccolo for sale. Not only are there few sea kayak dealers in the state, the Piccolo was discontinued many years ago. I wanted to buy one for myself after renting one, back in 2003, when it had already been discontinued.

About 15 years ago i bought a Perception Carolina 12 for my kids. It was the perfect size for them to use and grow into. However, in hindsight, a sit-on-top would have been better. Fact is, kids want to go out and chase frogs and turtles, and swim. A sit-on-top allows a lot more freedom to do those things.

Is a 10’ kayak too long for a child?

Width is more the issue than length. When my daughter was 8 we built a Pygmy Osprey 13’ kayak. Relatively narrow with low sides. She was fine until she didn’t fit in it anymore.

As Rival explains, it is narrower width and shallower depth of the cockpit that is most important in a good fit for a child or smaller adult. The longer length just makes it faster and gives enough volume buoyancy to provide a higher upper weight range as the child grows.

Tom Yost’s skin on frame folding Sea Pup was designed for kids (free instructions for building one here) and it is 14’ long (aluminum frame and PVC skin):

If you have basic shop skills and tools you might consider building one. He also has the Sea Flea which is a traditional fixed frame wood-and-skin kayak that can be built in 11 or 12’ versions for children under 100 lbs.

My two granddaughters aged 9 and 13 love my Tetra 12.![] It’s light, easy to handle, easy to get in and out and comes in a 10’ version if wanted. You really can’t go wrong with an Ocean Kayak. ( “”)