Written by 2:57 pm Kayaking, Kayaking Basics

How To Kayak With Kids: Things You Should Know

Kayaking with kids can be one of the best family outings you have ever had in years. It is fun, enjoyable and can help bond you more as a family. However, unlike when you are doing it with adult friends or colleagues from work, kayaking with kids is going to be a little bit different. You will have to change a few things if you want your young ones to enjoy every single bit of it and most importantly stay safe all through the journey. For parents, here is how to kayak with kids; things you should know before you set out on that kayak


Obviously, this is the very first thing you need to consider before any other thing. Where should you go out kayaking with kids? For kids, you may want to be very careful with the choice you make here. Normally, if your kids are not experienced and you are not equipped with the right boat for those technical situations, you might want to find a place with calm water and with very less or even no currents at all.

For kids, if you can start with protected lakes or slow rivers that will make a lot of sense. These are some of the best spots for your kids to develop great skills before venturing far into big rivers. It also helps them reduce their stress levels. It does not even stop there, you if you can get a place with lots of varieties, that would also come with plenty of benefits for your kids

When it comes to the destination you wish to go with your kids, you may also want to learn a few things about that particular spot upfront. Together with your kids, take some time and study tide, boat traffic and also current well ahead of time. In short, it is paramount you prepare your kids from the whole journey before.


When kayaking with kids, the length of your trip is important and must also be factored in as well. We all know kids; they can get really excited about something, but also they can get tired and bored quickly. So when it comes to kayaking with children, always keep the journey as short as possible. You can discuss this with your kids and once they have developed their necessary skills and experiences, you can then move to those expeditions that can last for hours or even days.


Your kids don’t really have to know all of them, but you might want to teach them a few skills before you set out on your kayak. There is no worse feeling as getting into the water and not having an idea of what to do. So before you go out with your kids, familiarize them with the kayak and the gears. Take time and take them through how the boat works and how to maintain its parts and accessories properly. Also, teach them how to paddle and turn the kayak in the right way.


When it comes to kayaking with kids, as we mentioned earlier in this article, you need to do things a bit differently. First, you are not going to use any kayak, but one that is suitable for your kids. Second, those kayaking gear also need to be changed. Here is what you need to keep in mind before you go out with your kids


There is a pretty good number of kayaks in the market, and you can choose one depending on what you really need, but based on your kids’ needs.

  • Sit on Kayaks: When it comes to those journeys you would be taking with your kids, a sit-on-top kayak is the most suitable choice. They are completely safe as they cannot be filled with water. Plus, should if it flip or even hit by a wave, water can drain real quickly. So in the end, it is the best option for kids for it is incredibly safe
  • Single or Tandem: For children below the age of 10, going for a tandem kayak is the best decision you could make today as a parent. With a tandem kayak, you can have the child or children sitting in the front seat as you take your seat right at the back seat. With that, you will not only be able to keep a close eye on your child, but a back seat is where you are responsible for steering. Another best thing about sit on top kayaks is that they can easily accommodate two adults and a child right at the center.

In other cases, if at all you decide to go for a single kayak for your child, you need to be sure about their capabilities. The child must be able to paddle the length of your trip. After all, who would want their child to tire off when they are in the middle of the journey?

So before you can have your child taking a single kayak, you might want to teach them a few techniques through a number of lessons. You can start with a small lake, where you have to kayak for a shorter distance.


Kids have very small arms and don’t have as much strength as an adult. For this very reason, the choice you make when it comes to paddle size is crucial. A paddle, ideally, is what connects your child to the water and it should actually be chosen very carefully. The paddles come in different styles and a wide variety of sizes. Here you might need to go for a small-sized paddle with a narrow shaft. In short, you need a paddle your child can hold with so much ease.

PFDs (Personal Floatation Device)

The safety of your child is paramount and must come first before any other thing. Just like adults, before you set out, you need to get a decent PFD for your child. In the past, we have seen most parents have their children wear those adult-sized PFDs. Well, this is not safe for a child. They are just too big and in case of an accident there is no way that is going to protect your child from sinking. So when buying this very useful device, ensure you go with the kid to a retail store. It wouldn’t hurt if the child tries a number of them before. It is as simple as that.


Practicing the best safety measures before your departure with kids is also important. This will ensure everyone remains safe all through and return home at the end of the day. Here, you can do a number of things. First, you can teach them about water safety, safety rules and also safety devices. It is at this pointing time that you might want to ensure they know how to wear PFDs. Other things you need to emphasize to your kids is not to jump out of the kayak, how to hold the paddle and also teach them not to lean on a kayak. Insist of staying safe all through. In short, you need to make it very clear to them;  the dos and don’ts of kayaking.


If you want your child to have an action-packed outing full of fun and enjoyment, you might actually want to tailor the whole expedition as much as you can. Here you want to make it more delightful and interesting for your child or children. There are a couple of things you could actually do about this. First, you have the child decide what to pack and or even what to do while you are in the water. You can allow them to bring some of their best friends along. If your kid love coming along with their pets, try and see how you can fit that into the whole outing.


When it comes to kayaking with kids, you actually need to go slow. Ideally, you can go with roughly a third of your normal speed. You might also want to be very attentive to what they say when you are in water. Normally, if the ride is a bit rough, you need to keep them as close as possible. Word of caution though; don’t overcrowd them when there are high currents and waves. That can be really dangerous for it increase the chances of the kayak capsizing. It is also when you are on water, when you might want to teach them the right skills.


As when you are going kayaking, if you are doing it with your kids this time, you also have to pack appropriately. If you often do your own packing, obviously, you would also know how to pack for the kids. For the best experience, you can split this responsibility into two. You need to have the kids involves as much as possible. When packing, here are quite a number of essential you need to ensure they are always included.

  • Food and hydration: Kayaking is just like any other outdoor activity and since you will be away from home for some time, you need to ensure you pack the right food and hydration as well. Here, if you can go with easy to bring items like apples, smoked salmon or even boiled eggs, that will make a lot of sense. As for hydration, you need to keep plenty of water bottles. And during those rides, you might want to ensure your kids drink enough water throughout the day. Paddling and long exposure to sunlight can lead to dehydration and those bottles of water will ensure you are well hydrated
  • First Aid Kits: It is for a fact, most kayaking outings are always full of fun and happiness, but the need for a first aid kit may arise at times. You may be hit by those minor scraps, insect bite or even minor cuts and that first aid kit will truly come in handy.
  • Sun protection: If you know the weather is going to be really hot, you need to protect your kids from those harmful sun rays. There is no other better way you can protect them than with the right gear and sunscreen. Here you need to ensure you get long sleeves shirts, sunglasses or even fishing hats for your kids.
  • CLOTHING : The kind of clothing your kids wear when kayaking is crucial. You need to spend your time and find appropriate clothing for them. Normally, if you can get the best water resistant and breathable fiber clothing like polyester, merino wool among others that would be great. They will provide the much needed comfort for your kids.


Last but not least, before you go out kayaking with kids, have a proper emergency plan in place.  It is a must for any trip as it can come truly in handy. When talking about that emergency, plan with them before setting out, you might want to involve the oldest kid in the group; one that can grasp the plan’s details with ease and also one that can act in case of an emergency.

Some of the things you might want to talk about here are what to do in case the boat capsizes, if the boats are separated from the rest and also if someone gets hurt. Procedures to be taken must be well laid out and well understood by each adult and also kids for each situation.

Final Thoughts

In the end, if you have always wanted to go out kayaking with kids, but you have always had that second thought because you really didn’t know what to do, we are sure our tips are going to help you out. There is no reason why shouldn’t enjoy those great kayak riders with your kids.

Updated on January 23, 2021 by Ben

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