For some people, kayaking is the only time they get to be alone and enjoy quiet and solitude. For others, it’s always important to have a special someone with which you can share your memorable experience on the water.
As you grow, passing your love for kayaking along to your children often becomes more and more important.
Teaching your kids how to paddle can be a great bonding experience for you both. But, as a parent, it’s also important for you to have complete control over your kayak when your kids are first learning how to paddle.
Take a look at this video:
That’s why some of the larger tandem kayaks aren’t ideally suited for kayaking with children. And it’s also why we’ve canvassed the market to bring you better kayak selections for parent and kid paddling tandems.
So, without further ado, let’s hop in and get those paddles in the water!
- Buying Guide
- 1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- 2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
- 3. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- 4. Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak
- 5. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK181 Tandem Kayak
- 6. Ocean Tandem Kayak
- 7. Point 65 Tequila! GTX Angler Tandem Kayak
- 8. Perception Kayaks Zip 9.5 Kayak
- 9. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK219K Tandem Fishing Kayak
- 10. Lifetime Kokanee Kayak
- Our Pick – Lifetime Kokanee Kayak
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Before we reveal our selection for the best kayak for parent and kid paddlers, let’s dive into some important things to consider before you buy a new kayak. These categories will help you choose a kayak that will be safe and comfortable for you and your children!
Sit on Top Versus Sit Inside
There are various reasons why you should choose a sit on top kayak over a sit-inside kayak for kayaking with a child. For starters, sit on tops tend to be much more stable if your child gets a little squirmy while you’re trying to navigate your kayak.
Additionally, sit on top kayaks include scupper holes that naturally allow any water that enters the cockpit to drain out.
If you happen to capsize and your kayak flips over, these scupper holes prevent the cockpit from sealing with the water, which makes it harder to flip sit inside kayaks back over.
So, the scupper holes on sit on top kayaks will help you flip your kayak back over with less effort as you’re also trying to make sure you keep your child and your paddle close by.
And the open-cockpit design of sit on tops also makes them easier to climb back into in deep water.
Also Read: Canoe vs Tandem Kayak
When you’re choosing a kayak for paddling with your child, you’ll need to find a balance between enough size for you both to fit comfortably and too much size that it makes the kayak difficult for you to maneuver by yourself.
Especially when you’re just starting to paddle with your kids, you should expect that they might not actually be active paddlers for much more than a few minutes here and there.
So, if you choose a really long kayak, your life is going to be much harder getting you both back to shore.
In addition, you should consider the width of the kayaks you’re looking into when your paddling with your kids.
We’d recommend choosing a wider kayak whenever possible because it’ll increase your kayak’s stability and make you less likely to go for an unexpected swim that might scare your kids from wanting to paddle with you again in the future.
The seat design is also an important feature to take notice of before you buy a new kayak. If you’re an avid kayak angler, for example, you already know how nice it can be to have an elevated seat when you’re looking for fish activity in the water below you.
But, when you’re paddling with a parent and kid, you should pay the closest attention to whether or not the seats in your kayak are adjustable and/or removable.
Kayaks with removable seats can be great choices for these applications because you might find that you prefer to remove the front seat instead of having your child sit there.
This can give you extra room for storage towards the front of your kayak while allowing your kid to move back and sit in between your legs.
This is also a great way to have your kids put their hands on your kayak paddle as you teach them the basic paddle strokes you use to control the kayak.
The last thing you should consider is how much storage space a given kayak offers. When you’re first starting out to teach your kids how to kayak, you probably want to keep things as light and minimal as possible.
But, as your kids grow, you can probably start to spend more and more time out on the water exploring new waterways.
As you spend more time on the water, the amount of storage space that you’ll need for snacks, drinks, and all of your essential kayaking safety equipment is also going to increase.
So, before you choose any one kayak, consider how you and your children will grow along with your kayak. Even if you don’t use it right away, getting a kayak with at least one sealed storage hatch and a large stern storage compartment with bungee rigging is always recommended.
Plus, the seats in the cockpit are removable and adjustable depending on whether you want to set it up for a single paddler or tandem paddlers.
The fact that the seats are removable also allows you to have a very small child sit directly in your lap and then give you more legroom and/or storage space towards the front of your kayak.
You’ll also be able to adjust the back of your seat for comfort depending on whether you like to lean back or sit straighter up while paddling.
This inflatable kayak measures 10’3” long and 36 inches wide when fully inflated. It also offers a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds and it features a removable skeg on the stern of the hull to increase its ability to track straight.
In addition, this inflatable kayak comes with a lot of the other kayaking accessories that you’ll need to get on the water.
It comes with a high-output pump, two collapsible four-piece kayak paddles, and a compact, zippered carry bag for easy and convenient storage.
If you’re looking for a super high-performing inflatable kayak for longer paddling expeditions, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak will help you and your kids stretch the limits of what a “comfortable” kayaking trip looks like for you.
This kayak measures 14 feet long when fully inflated and it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 550 pounds. Despite that high weight capacity, it weighs only 52 pounds before you load it down with all of your kayaking essentials.
It’s also adaptable to your paddling preferences because both seats in the cockpit are removable and adjustable. That means you can set this up for a single paddler if you aren’t able to convince your kids to come along on all of your paddling adventures.
Finally, this Advanced Elements kayak is constructed with three layers of material that make it more puncture resistant than many other inflatable kayaks.
It also features a unique set of built-in aluminum ribs in the bow and stern to increase its ability to track straight when you’re paddling long distances.
Because this kayak deflates and stores in a compact carry bag, you won’t need to have a large truck or SUV with a rooftop kayak rack in order to transport it.
When fully inflated, the dimensions of this kayak are 11’6” long, 30 inches wide, and 15 inches deep. That deeper cockpit than some other kayak models helps to keep you warmer and drier when kayaking on particularly windy or wavy days.
This inflatable kayak also includes a large mesh net in the bow area. This net is the perfect location for securing a kayak deck bag or another container with your snacks, safety gear, or personal belongings.
The Challenger K2 also comes with a high output pump and two four-piece collapsible kayak paddles. Plus, it offers a 400-pound weight capacity and it’s made of a super-tough vinyl material that’s resistant to punctures, tears, and UV degradation.
This kayak fully inflates in less than ten minutes and it can inflate to higher pressures than the other inflatables we’ve mentioned so far. In fact, the side tubes inflate to up to three PSI and the floor inflates to six PSI.
These added pressures (those other two Intex kayaks don’t inflate to much more than one PSI) make this kayak perform much better on the water.
It will track straighter and also be more responsive to your gentler paddle strokes when you need it to be.
When fully inflated, the dimensions of this kayak measure 12’6” long, 38” wide, and 13” tall. This kayak also weighs only 28 pounds when fully inflated, which makes it one of the lightest and easiest to transport kayaks for parent and kid paddle tandems.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company TK181 Tandem Kayak is another high-performing fishing kayak that’s ideal for parents with older kids or even teenagers.
If you’re both already into fishing from shore, why not take your gear out on a kayak and explore spots that you can’t reach from shore (or even a motorized watercraft)?
This tandem kayak measures 12’8” long, 34 inches wide, and it boasts a maximum weight capacity of 595 pounds.
This weight capacity gives you plenty of extra room to load your fishing gear, lunch, drinks, and safety equipment on your kayak without compromising its performance.
There are a total of six flush-mounted fishing rod holders in various locations along the gunwales of this kayak. There’s also an additional deck-mounted swivel rod holder in front of the kayak’s forward seat.
Both kayakers can also enjoy easy access to bungee paddle parks on the gunwales of this kayak.
These paddle parks give you a convenient place to keep your paddles secure and free your hands up to operating your fishing rods.
The Ocean Tandem Kayak is a hardshell kayak with two sealed storage hatches and a total of four built-in fishing rod holders. So, if you’re into fishing and you want to bring a few poles along while paddling with your kids, this is a great kayak for doing so.
This kayak is a bit on the longer side at 12 feet in length and it measures 34 inches wide. It also boasts a maximum weight capacity of 425 pounds and the kayak itself weighs a total of 88 pounds.
The seating inside the cockpit of this kayak can be adjusted to accommodate one parent and one kid, two parents and a kid, one parent alone, one parent and a furry companion, two parents by themselves, or two parents and a furry companion (and we probably forgot at least one other option).
This provides exceptional versatility and multiple molded-in footrest positions also make this kayak suitable for paddlers of many different heights.
Plus, this kayak includes a removable skid plate on the stern hull to help protect the actual body of the kayak from being damaged while you’re dragging it down to the water’s edge.
This is one of the most unique tandem kayaks for parent and kid paddling teams because it’s actually a modular kayak. That means that it breaks down into three distinct pieces when you’re not actively using it to paddle.
Of course, you don’t have to break this kayak down into its modules if you have a proper kayak rack for transporting it on your car or truck.
But if you have a smaller SUV without a roof rack, you can take this kayak apart to fit it neatly in the trunk of your vehicle to get to and from your favorite paddling locations.
That flexibility puts this kayak in a sort of middle ground between inflatable kayaks and hardshell kayaks.
In many ways, it can provide the best of both worlds because it will track straighter than most cheap inflatable kayaks but you won’t need as much space to store it at your house when you’re not paddling.
This kayak measures 14 feet long when it’s fully assembled and it’s equipped with several features that you’ll love if you ever get into kayak fishing with your kids.
It boasts several flush-mounted fishing rod holders and the pneumatically-adjustable seatbacks are designed with Swedish engineering for superior comfort.
The Zip 9.5 is just 9’6” long, but it boasts a very open cockpit design that makes it really easy to sit a small child in your lap or in the cockpit directly in front of the kayak seat.
Because it’s a smaller kayak, this can also be a great option for moms and kids or smaller paddlers that don’t want to have to maneuver a long kayak about on the water.
And because this kayak weighs just 45 pounds, it’s much easier to transport than many of the larger tandem kayaks on our list above.
This single kayak does boast a relatively low weight capacity of just 250 pounds and its width measures 32 inches across.
But you will be able to take advantage of the large stern storage area for securing your personal belongings or extra layers in an appropriately-sized dry bag for your kayaking adventures.
The Zip 9.5 is also an intriguing choice because the molded-in seat removes the step of having to worry about installing a separate foam seat before each paddle trip.
It also means less to worry about when you place this kayak in storage for any non-paddling seasons that you may experience in your specific location.
If you and your children are really into fishing from shore, getting a kayak like the TK219K Tandem Fishing Kayak from Brooklyn Kayak Company can give you the perfect excuse to get off the shore and explore fishing holes that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach.
The length of this kayak measures 12’6”, it’s 34 inches wide, and it boasts a whopping maximum weight capacity of 595 pounds.
This kayak also includes a total of six fishing rod holders for you to bring multiple rod and reel combinations along with you so that you’re prepared for variable fishing conditions.
Four of those fishing rod holders are molded directly into the plastic body of the kayak.
But, the other two are mounted on swivel heads so that you can adjust their position and maximize your trolling capability as you paddle.
The TK219K also includes two sealed storage hatches in front of both seats for snacks, wallets, or any other items you want to keep secured.
This kayak also boasts a large open storage compartment at the stern that’s perfect for securing your kayak fishing tackle box!
The Lifetime Kokanee Kayak is a 10’6” tandem kayak with fold-up seats that make it super easy to set up and break down. It also boasts a large number of molded-in footrests to accommodate paddlers of varying heights.
The 36-inch width of this kayak makes it super stable for kayaking tandems and it offers a maximum weight capacity of up to 425 pounds.
The kayak itself does weigh 77 pounds, so smaller paddlers may benefit from getting a kayak rolling cart to move it around when it’s not in the water.
However, this kayak’s high-density polyethylene construction makes it highly durable and paddle cradles in front of both seats provide convenient places to rest your paddles when you want to free your hands up to take a sip of water or snack on that PB&J sandwich you packed in your kayak cooler.
The Lifetime Kokanee is also equipped with two small storage areas in the bow and stern with bungee rigging for securing your belongings.
It also features one small storage hatch towards the bow for belongings that you’d like to keep dry and secure while paddling.
Our Pick – Lifetime Kokanee Kayak
The Lifetime Kokanee Kayak is our pick for the best kayak for parent and kid kayaking tandems because it’s super affordable and highly functional for recreational paddling.
It’s a no-nonsense kayak that won’t put anything in your way when you’re teaching your kids how to kayak.
This kayak’s extra-wide design will make it super stable if your kid gets a wild hair and decides to put most of his or her weight over one gunwale and the flip-up seats mean less downtime just setting up and breaking down the kayak before and after your paddle.
The fact that this kayak includes multiple molded-in footrest positions also makes it usable for a wider variety of paddlers, regardless of height and the UV-resistant polyethylene material it’s made from won’t break down if you happen to leave this kayak sitting in the sun while enjoying long days at the beach.
Finally, the Lifetime Kokanee kayak includes an optional third seat in the center of the kayak. This allows you to bring along a furry companion or even kayak with both parents and a kid if you all want to enjoy time on the water together.