What is a good kid's kayak

Can anyone recommend a good kayak for a an 11 year old boy. He’s pretty athletic, and has been kayaking a couple of times. He wants a boat that he can grow into, develop some good skills in, and possibly learn to roll in. Most of the shorter kayaks seem to be more of the recreational variety, and are pretty wide. One possible option would be the Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP, and I know that Pygmy sells kayak kits that would be good for smaller paddlers like himself. I would appreciate hearing from anyone that has experience/knowledge in this area. He lives on a small lake, so most of his paddling would be on that lake, or slow moving rivers. He’s very excited about getting his first kayak.

Current Designs Rave

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I like
your idea of trying a Tsunami SP. we spent a year and half fine tuning that boat so kids and small folks would have an effecient paddling sea boat capable of anything the paddler wants/is trained to do. and for a pretty good price.


Recent thread

You’re right to avoid the wide rec boats. An athletic kid who’s comfortable in the water doesn’t care about stable – they want to go fast in a boat that they can maneuver.

Kid’s kayak
The WS Tsunami SP is a fine place to start and a very good boat. Here are three other possibilities: CD Raven, Perception Acadia Scout and, a wonderful old Wilderness Systems design from the mid 90s that you might get lucky and find used, called the Piccolo. If you find one of these, buy it right away as it long ago developed a strong cult following. Congrats to you and your boy; I began paddling at that same age and here it is 47 years later and it still gives me great pleasure.

Last year we bought a
necky Manitou 13 for my 13 y.o. daughter and another for my 11 y.o. son. Great boats for the kids. The kids will probably outgrow them in a short time but the boats are perfect for getting them out on the water and learning how to paddle.

I thought NC Kayaks made one
for kids, but when I look on their website I can’t find it. Maybe it was discontinued. Where’s sing when you need him. He knew of a really cool FG kid’s boat.

Another vote for Tsunami SP
My son, starting at 8, rented nothing but WS Piccolo because he hated other wide rec boats. Bought him a WS Tsunami SP when it came out - he says it tracks so much better than Piccolo. He also likes the hatches, and brought his lunch in it on the maiden voyage. I got it for him due to hatches (buoyancy).

Piccolo doesn’t have any hatch. I was looking for a used Piccolo, but was going to buy float bags just in case.

Now he’s 10, and has a long way to go before growing out of the Tsunami SP. It’s good for small adults as well.

Umiak, Piccolo, Raven etc
The first two you’ll find as used rotomould so if you think he may not stick with it (yes I know, deciphering the mind of a teenager) or if he likes to bang them around, they could be good choices.

The composite hybrid Raven is a beauty of a small seakayak fully equipped at 12 feet and 20" beam. The most costly of the bunch but you get exquisite design and build from Current Designs.

Teenage boys grow fast so maybe try out the brand new CD Vision 130 (composite) if you can find it, or the Necky Manitou 14 (in roto or composite) which has been out a few years and getting great paddler reviews.

Last but not least, my river kayak is a Hurricane AquaSports Tampico 135S (S model is for Small People). It’s not for big ocean excursions but is light and handles extremely well in other waters. Thermoformed plastic, 41 lbs. Two bulkheads, deck lining, proper thighbraces and a low seat back. I’m 5’3" and 115 lbs if that helps. Neat little boat & forgiving for learners.

Tsunami SP-Bulkheads make the difference
(previously posted) For reference purposes, we have 2 kids (that paddle), 13 & 7, (boy & girl respectively) and they paddle the bays and harbors of Long Island with my wife and myself. I have bought and sold a variety of boats for them trying to get the perfect fit. The ultimate solution for us was the Tsunami SP. My 44 pounder can swing it (and the slidelock footbraces are actually adjustable to her short legs) and although it’s stated top weight is 120lbs, it easily supports 150.

Two bulkheads/hatches, thigh braces, perimeter lines and deck rigging plus a comfy seat make this the ultimate kids kayak.

Stopped looking at the Piccolo and sold my Carolina XS (formerly Umiak) promptly after I discovered this bouyant boat. I bought 2 brand new from friendly Mountainman Outdoors for a little over 1G and they shipped them for $75 apiece. This is considered a “transitional” touring kayak and as such, it will be the last kayak I will need to buy my children. When they grow up they can buy QCC’s like mama and papa…

Although some here would say two bulkheads are not necessary with proper floatation, I prefer them. The Manitou 14 and all the Hurricane Tampico series (incl. the 135S) have dual bulkheads as well. The main thing is to have enough buoyancy to get back in without sinking the coaming below the waterline.

As far as materials, thermoformed plastic does not deform in the heat while remaining very light and buoyant. Some of the newer plastics, while lighter to save weight, are also thinner and deform more easily.

Had a good chuckle when you mentioned your kids growing up and buying their own QCCs. I remember when I was that age that whatever my mom/dad liked was so uncool, the last thing I wanted. Don’t be surprised if they go for surfskis, WW boats or even a British or Greenland style kayak :wink:

Or even a PWC LOL.

bulkheads are a must
You do not want it to sink. And some training on staying with boat.

Bulkheads or Airbags
Something to keep as much water out as possible after a wet exit.

Poly boats won’t sink but draining a couple hundred lbs of water can be a problem. Bulkheads front and back are nice but my kids Picolo came with airbags front and back. Just as good ina dayboat IMO.