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At What Age Can You Take a Child Kayaking? (What You Need to Know)

Kayaking is fun, exciting, and ideal for most people looking for adventure. Of course, this sport does have its risks, which has you wondering, what’s the right age for a child to go kayaking?

The age limit for kayaking is six years old but if the paddling is done by an experienced paddler or the waters are calm, younger ones can enjoy the trip if both parents feel comfortable with it.

In today’s in-depth post, I will discuss the age limit for kayaking and everything you need to know about it. You won’t want to miss it, so keep reading!

Which Age Is Right For Kayaking?

Several factors determine whether a child can go kayaking or not. Here are some handy age guidelines to help you gauge whether your child is ready.

  • Two-Year-Old Child: A child at this age can go kayaking provided they can float in the water by themselves and remain calm while doing so. While kayaking, ensure your two-year-old has a life jacket and that it stays on the whole time. Children between two and five years old can safely and independently paddle a kayak as long as an adult accompanies them.
  • Four-Year-Old Child: With an adult and using a tandem kayak, a four-year-old child can paddle the boat. While sitting on a bow, their paddling duties are to look for obstructions and ensure their oars are out of the water.
  • Five-Year-Old Child: This age is the most suitable to introduce a child to kayaking. A five-year-old can paddle a small kayak by themselves, although you’ll probably still want to ride with them at such a young age.
  • 10-Year-Old Child: The ripe age of 10 is an ideal time for a child to kayak without a parent. Your child can learn the basics of coordination and movement at this age.

Factors to Consider When Kayaking

Are you still wondering when the right time is to let your child sit in a kayak and paddle? Your child should have the following abilities.

Swimming Skills

Kayaking is a dangerous sport, and one should have sufficient swimming experience before taking it up.

How well does your child know how to swim? Before allowing them to kayak, ensure they can comfortably remain afloat and keep a strong core when paddling.

Knowledge of Tides and Currents

Some paddling areas have strong currents or tides; therefore, it is crucial to know their direction and strength.

If one doesn’t know much about the tides, it would be advisable to research the area they intend to kayak from the locals or online sources before hitting the water.

Paddling in the current for over an hour only to turn around and paddle back from where you are coming from can be frustrating and a huge waste of energy. You don’t want your child to end up in a situation like that!

Physical Abilities

Before allowing your child to set out on a boat, you must consider their physical abilities.

Can they paddle comfortably? Kayaking demands lots of strength from the upper body, and if your child is not strong enough or has some health issues, the kayaking experience may not be doable for them.

Mental Stability

Kayaking requires one to be mentally stable and focused. They must also not be forgetful because the activity involves lots of instructions.

If your child lacks mental acuity, then kayaking may not be suitable because they may not follow the instructions, risking their safety.

Additionally, they should have a long attention span and easily avoid distractions.

Weather Conditions

You must know the weather conditions and water temperature before kayaking. This will help you prepare in case of weather changes.

Important Terms Used In Kayaking

Like any other sport, kayaking has its own special vocabulary. Understanding the terms is helpful, especially for beginners.

You and your child should take time to familiarize yourselves with these terms so you can communicate with other kayakers.

  • Blade: The wide part of a paddle that’s pulled through the water to move the boat forward.
  • Back stroke: The technique of moving forward by pushing the paddle through the water instead of pulling it.
  • Boof: A whitewater technique in which the boat jumps over obstacles in a river.
  • Bearing: The direction a kayaker is going.
  • Class 1 rapids: The easiest and least risky category of kayaking.
  • Class 2 rapids: Slightly challenging waves and turbulence but easily navigable with almost no risk.
  • Class 3 rapids: Challenging turbulence and more waves than in Classes 1 and 2. The rapids require an experienced kayaker to navigate through.
  • Footpegs: Adjustable structures around a kayak cockpit that offer increased paddler leverage and support.
  • The heading: The direction in which your boat is pointing.
  • Hull: The bottom part of a kayak that sits on the water.

Types of Kayaks

Let’s now look at the different types of kayaks so you can choose the right one for you!

1. Flatwater Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks

Recreational kayaks boast a wide opening, although their cockpit is closed.

This type of kayak is stable, easy to paddle, and can accommodate a small child with an adult.

Unlike touring kayaks, which I’ll talk about in a moment, recreational kayaks are shorter in length and lower cost.

If you’re kayaking during the summer, you can leave the kayak cockpit open and enjoy the breeze as you ride. However, this kayak doesn’t track well and may not head in the direction you want it to.

Sit-on-Top Kayaks

The sit-on-top kayak is open and has increased stability thanks to the wider beam.

Due to the design, a sit-on kayak exposes you to paddle splashes, riffles, and wave spray, so you will undoubtedly get wet as you kayak.

Inflatable Kayaks

An inflatable kayak uses an electric pump and is ready to go fast.

They have wide and stable hulls and are suitable for calm waters. You can fold an inflatable kayak to your preferred size, which makes them very portable. This type of kayak is suitable for small children.

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are characterized by smaller cockpits and are narrower and longer than other kayaks. They’re also faster.

These kayaks also have a fixed rudder that compensates for tidal movement and wind. The rudder also helps with steering. Touring kayaks are suitable for long kayaking trips and large bodies of water.

Pedaling Kayaks

Pedaling kayaks don’t require much effort; therefore, they are the best for kayakers with shoulder or back problems. You propel them using the force of your feet.

This means you can go for a longer trip since you won’t use much energy. A pedaling kayak is also faster compared to inflatable and sit-on-top kayaks.

2. Whitewater Kayaks

Here are the main types of whitewater kayaks.

River Runners

These kayaks are designed to pass through waterways with a high flow. River runner kayaks have longer lengths, making them ideal for large bodies of water.

You’ll also find it easier to paddle in Class 3 rapids in one of these kayaks.


Longboats are designed for racing fast thanks to the planed hull. That said, these kayaks are usually reserved for competitive kayaking.

Important Kayaking Tips For Beginners You Need To Know

The following tips will help you have an easy, enjoyable, and safe time on the water whenever you go kayaking as a family.

Bring Safety Gear

This is the most important thing to do when going kayaking. Most accidents that happen on the water are preventable if everyone wore the appropriate gear.

Personal flotation devices are crucial anytime you’re in the water. You may also need to bring a rope in case you or someone in your boat needs to get back to the shore.

A whistle is also necessary because it’s an audible way to call for help.

Pick a Beginner-Friendly Launch Location

When kayaking for the first time, choose an easy launch location such as a calm river.

Avoid rocky shorelines because you won’t be able to keep your footing when getting in and out of your boat. Rocky shorelines may also damage your kayak.

Choose the Right Kayak

You should consider several factors when choosing a kayak for your kids.

First, check the weight and durability. A good kayak for kids should not be too heavy for them to pull through the waters.

The other factors that will help you pick a suitable kids’ kayak are its shape and size and shape because they determine the stability of a kayak.

Remain Vigilant

There are many views to enjoy when kayaking, including calm rivers, lakes, and sea cliffs.

If you’re not careful, the views can take your focus away, and you risk potential kayaking hazards.

Always remember to remain vigilant when on a kayaking trip.

Additionally, you should maintain constant communication with the other kayakers in your boat and regularly check in with them. This will help you spot signs of sunstroke and dehydration and handle them promptly.


Before you take your child kayaking, ensure they are skilled in swimming and handling the boat. Practice with them and don’t let them kayak unsupervised at a young age.

I hope the information in this guide will help your child become great at kayaking!