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The Best Kids Kayaks

By Dawn Lindy Roberts

Paddling across the water and exploring the environment can be an exhilarating experience for all ages. Modern kayaks provide the opportunity to share the experience with kids. There are various kayak designs to test out, depending on type of water you will be paddling on and your own personal desires.

Considerations for Kids

Most kayaks are designed for adult-sized bodies. A kid’s smaller body size tends to make adult-sized kayaks more difficult to handle. However, there are kayak designs available for kids so that they can efficiently and safely handle kayaks instead of being overwhelmed. The cockpit size needs to be small enough to securely seat the child without discomfort and excessive weight shifting. The width of the kayak needs to be narrow enough for the child to paddle with better control and power. Kayak rentals are an option for experimentation without commitment to buying until you and the kids feel comfortable.

Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Some kayak designs allow the paddler to sit on top of a sealed, hollow hull. If they are capsized, water cannot get inside, making them more easily recovered. They are usually wider than sit-in kayaks of comparable length, allowing them to feel less "tippy." Sit-on-top kayaks are useful for beginners and those who desire to build up confidence on the water. Some hull shapes have a V-shaped keel, allowing them to track in a straight line easier and provide more stability. Other hulls are U-shaped, allowing them to turn easily, but feel less stable. The choice is yours, depending on your desired application.

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are an alternative to a solid hull design. They can be stored and transported in a smaller space. Some models can be carried in a backpack to remote locations. The disadvantage is that they need to be inflated prior to use and deflated afterwards. They are usually harder to control and slower than a comparable-length solid hull. Inflatable kayaks can be a convenient alternative for a family who lacks kayak-transport space in their vehicle.

Special Purpose Kayaks

Kayaks are designed for all skill levels and environmental conditions. Kids who have been trained in kayak rolling and paddling techniques can enjoy whitewater paddling in a variety of designs suitable for that challenging environment. If families want to explore the ocean or take longer trips, kayaks are available for kids. Touring kayaks have heavier construction and extra areas for gear storage. Shop for kayaks that suit your needs and safely explore your chosen watery environment with the kids.

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