Little kids Kayak.

Discussion in 'Gear Talk' started by newfie in Alberta, Oct 27, 2013.

  1. newfie in Alberta

    newfie in Alberta Paddler

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    Hi All, looking for some input regarding what would be a suitable starter kayak for a 4 year old girl. I don't want a toy, but that may be all it is used as until she gets a little bigger.
    My daughter wants a "kayak and paddle of my very own" I have a Greenland paddle so thats easy just order a kids sized build from Randy at VIPaddles, a boat may be a little more interesting.
    I will be adding outriggers to what ever we buy/build so it can be a boat she grows into over time. At first it will be me standing next to her near shore towing her around until she gets the hang of it. I know she may not get far or do much paddling for a while yet but you have to start some where.

    Any and all input is welcome.
     
  2. dr_penner

    dr_penner Paddler

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    This doesn't directly answer your question, but it may prove useful later on. My son used a Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP (small person) between the ages of 9-13 and it served us very well. Real bulkheads and proper decklines make it a small version of a "real" kayak instead of a toy boat lacking these safety features. It is rated for 60-120 lbs of weight. He even passed his Paddle Canada Level 1 Sea Kayak course with it. Only downside is that the thigh braces needed modifying as they were too low.

    So when your daughter gets to this size, I would highly recommend it.
     
  3. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Newfie,

    Pygmy has a couple of their kit models at 13 feet, IIRC, and it would be easy to build in solid attachments for an outrigger system, if building is an option. The light weight of wood composite boats also makes these an easier carry for a youngster. I think Lockwood got his daughter into her own boat at age 5 or so, with close supervision.

    With a mini cell seat tailored for a good fit now, you can keep carving away as she gets bigger and maintain a good fit. Redfish kayaks sells seats blanks to fit the hull, and you can hollow one out pretty easily.

    http://www.redfishkayak.com/seats.htm

    http://www.pygmyboats.com/boat-kits.html
     
  4. newfie in Alberta

    newfie in Alberta Paddler

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    reat sugestions so far, looking forward to seeing what else is out there. I will post links to the kid kayaks that i find as well.
     
  5. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

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  6. newfie in Alberta

    newfie in Alberta Paddler

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  7. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    I have admired Yost's designs for a long time. He has a very solid track record with his aluminum frame/HDPE boats, and has shown that vinyl hull material is not difficult to use ... and has the durability a kid's kayak would demand. Likely less costly than a Pygmy kit, by quite a bit.

    (Edit) Both the Flipper and the Raven look like boats which would last her quite a while. The widths, at 20 inches, are well suited for turning and plenty stable, likely, for a person of her weight. It would be a drag for her to start out in a 25 inch wide boat, I think.

    Prijon' s HTP hulls are very durable, and much stiffer than the usual PE hulls. The Raven looks like an investment which might be good for quite a while, with bulkheaded compartments fore and aft. I am unfamiliar with CD's Composite Hybrid laminate. You might separately post and ask what people think of its durability. Sounds good, anyway. Off the CD web site:

    Our composite Kestrel and Vision families are made from a fiberglass and polyaramid (a generic for of Kevlar®) laminate for ultimate stiffness. This Hybrid layup makes these boats more cost efficient yet still light weight.
     
  8. Dan_Millsip

    Dan_Millsip Paddler & Admin

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    I purchased a CD Raven for my daughter a few years back. It's a fabulous kids boat that is essentially a smaller version of a full-sized sea kayak -- right down to rigging and hatches.

    There is however, one small possible caveat with this boat that may or may not be an issue -- if you plan to take your daughter on overnight camping trips, you'll most likely need to carry the bulk of the gear in your boat as the Raven's storage capacity is very limited.

    Here's a past discussion about the boat:

    viewtopic.php?f=3&t=779
     
  9. AM

    AM Paddler

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    I might get flamed for saying this, but you should think again about those kids' "toys". The emphasis with kids is fun, so having a pint-sized SOT that your daughter can boogie around in under her own steam is worth considering. I watched a couple of kids this summer playing on one such tupperware toy and, man, you could see the skills building.

    Even a cheap little SUP would work. In fact, single-blading with a SUP might be a better skills foundation for a small kid than a 'real' kayak.

    With my own kids, camping was the focus of the fun, so I had a double kayak and a canoe. My son (15 years old) still loves both, preferring canoeing to kayaking, though he's quite decent with a Greenland stick and rolls pretty well. Actually, he now prefers sailing to paddling, but I blame Sea Cadets for that.

    My daughter (8) wants to kayak, but I'm sticking with the canoe for now, since I think kids learn a lot from a single blade.

    Just my $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  10. Jon Wescott

    Jon Wescott Paddler

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    I agree w/Andrew's $0.02. The emphasis is on fun at your daughter's age. I started bringing out my kids when they were 3 in Perception Umiaks (now discontinued - I had picked them up used). We paddled on ponds, along the shore in very controlled settings, w/a towline attached. My almost 8 y.o. son liked dragging his hands in the water the most when he was younger - now he charges about in the Umiak w/some well-earned confidence. We went for a "downwind" paddle a few weeks back in some light-ish conditions which he thoroughly enjoyed.

    The crappy little sit-on-tops do have a place as they're a blast for kids. I got to watch a bunch of kids have a great time using them this past summer at my town's local beach. If what you want is for you child to have some fun being on the water and begin to gain some elementary skills, these would be suitable, in my opinion.

    Perception makes the Prodigy XS which is 10' long and 23" wide - quite stable and moves fine. This happens to be the same dimensions as the now-discontinued Perception Acadia Scout. If you can find these boats (or an old Perception Umiak), these would be my suggestions for starter boats.

    I'd love to eventually have a Current Designs Raven-type boat, but price-wise and need-wise, we're not there yet. I'm thinking the Umiaks w/dry bags will suffice for some of the modest trips I feel are safe for children my kids' ages.

    I think we're up to 4 cents ; )

    Jon
     
  11. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Last two guys make a lot of sense. If you can find a sit on top that works for her, that removes the entrapment concerns of a sit inside boat, as well.

    We're up to $0.06 ... Canadian, I suppose. :lol:
     
  12. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Of course I have to chime in.
    I built a 11' Yost Sea Flea with my daughters. It served them very well, and cost me about $120 to build. It would have cost less had I used spruce lumber for the frame rather than cedar. I would guess that is was about 40 hours to build, spread over about 6 weeks of occasional evenings and Saturday afternoons. Certainly much easier, cheaper & faster to build than my wife's cedar-strip.

    [​IMG]

    You can browse through my build journal and related posts using the label "kid kayak" or click here http://pawistik.blogspot.ca/search/label/kid%20kayak

    http://yostwerks.com/SeaFlea1.html

    Using PVC-coated fabric, bought from one of the local tarp/awning manufacturers here in Saskatoon, the skinning was fairly easy using staples and glue - no sewing required.

    I also created a simple removable outrigger. Next time I'd place that a foot or so farther back where it is more out of the way of the paddle stroke.
    [​IMG]

    Float bags using the same PVC-coated fabric fore and aft provide floatation. We towed the kids more than they actually paddled; thankfully, it tows very easily. It fit the girls from about age 5 - 8. When my oldest was about 8, I moved her into the Tsunami SP, which I can also highly recommend. Now that the younger daughter is outgrowing the Sea Flea, I have ordered a WS Focus 145 (new model for next year) 14'6" x 22.5" kayak for the older daughter to paddle (she'll be nearly 12 by the time she gets to paddle it). She would have fit the Tsunami SP for another year or two, but the younger sister (currently 8 ) is outgrowing the Sea Flea the younger girl is bumping her older sister up to the next kayak and inheriting the Tsunami SP.

    For those that build a Sea Flea, I would encourage you to make the opening in the station that the legs pass through as large as possible. That will make getting in and out easier. In fact, that is the only reason my daughters outgrew the kayak. In fact, I think I'd raise the deck height about an inch at that station, and replace the top of the station with a horizontal piece of plywood. (Thinking through the text here, a station in this location in the form of a plywood box would likely work well, reinforced with fiberglass.) You can see the stations and structure of the kayak in the photo below, taken before the deck was installed. The bow is to the top of the photo and the minicell foam is the foot rest.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And, if you want to have a look at a Sea Flea in person, or even borrow one, I know where you can do so.

    Cheers,
    Bryan

    (After all that you may wonder why I didn't build the larger kayak - e.g. Sea Pup - for my growing daughters. Time, space and time. Even a quick build like these takes some time and I just don't have much of that, it seems.)
     
  13. BigandSmall

    BigandSmall Paddler

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    I agree with the group. It was one of those toy SOT's that got my family started. We bought a couple at crappy tire to take along on a houseboat vacation for the kids. Those two toys wound up being the highlight of the trip for all the kids along. My wife took one out came back and said she wanted a kayak, now we are running out of places to store them all. They are great for poking around shore and stand up paddleboarding. Keep in mind they are a beach toy basically. We have since bought two Tsunami SP's now that the kids are a little older and can go a few kms. The SOT's are dead weight on a tow line though compared to a SP. This winter my daughter and I are going to tackle a SOF. Best family sport ever.
     

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  14. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Glad to hear it BigandSmall - that these toys have gotten your family hooked on paddling, and that you are keen to build a SOF for the kids.
    As mentioned above, I can attest to how easily the kid's kayaks tow - really you hardly notice them. And, every outing the kids do paddle a little farther, just don't expect a lot of paddling out of them.

    Of course the conditions that we go out in is in line with the skill of the paddlers, and the difficulty I would have to manage multiple kids in multiple boats when things go awry (e.g. the wind comes up) - this is mainly warm water, warm weather, calm conditions paddling. For this reason, sometimes we'll have all four of us in kayaks, and other times we only want one kid in their own kayak to manage so will have kid + parent in a canoe (and the dog), plus another parent in a kayak, and one of the girls in theirs; or, two parents plus one kid in a canoe and just the one daughter kayaking; or, everyone in one canoe.

    Cheers,
    Bryan
     
  15. BigandSmall

    BigandSmall Paddler

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    A warning for building greenland paddles for kids. Anthropometric measurements only work if you are average size. I have 2 nice looking useless kids sized GP's sitting here... I wouldn't go much shorter than 200cm. They will most likely get used to dig rocks out of the shore line anyway. In the pics I posted the kids are using those $10 inflatable boat oar kits screwed together. They worked great for the first year until we upgraded.
     
  16. newfie in Alberta

    newfie in Alberta Paddler

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    Thanks every one for all the replies and great advice. I may go with a "toy" kayak this spring and upgrade to something like a raven in the future.till thinking about SOT sit in, Rigid or inflatable. lol buying new gear is great fun

    another yak here

    http://www.oldtowncanoe.com/kayaks/recreation/heron_jr/
     
  17. Pawistik

    Pawistik Paddler

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    Here is what I don't like about Old Town's Heron Jr:
    • 25" beam - that's very wide for a kid's kayak making it hard for them to reach the water properly.
    • 16.25" depth - again, that's very deep for a kid's kayak, that deck height will have their arms reaching up quite high to hold the paddle. A high deck is also more susceptible to wind, though in this case that's likely offset by the short length.

    Those two points would put it out of consideration for me for anything but playing at the beach in calm conditions and a couple of feet of water.
    • Very short and very wide = something that could be very hard to control the direction of, and paddle very inefficiently.
    • No bulkheads = minimal floatation, so again not heading out beyond a depth where the child can stand up.

    As you already know, a kayak that fits you enhances your paddling experience and I feel it's no different for the kids. Beam and deck height are my primary concerns when assessing a kayak's suitability for a kid.

    As a pool or beach toy, it may suffice. But, I want the kids to start learning how to control a real kayak because down the road, I want to be able to do trips with them. I also want them to enjoy paddling the kayak and so something that paddles like a barge and doesn't want to go where they want it to may not be my preference. Finally, I want to be able to do short trips with the kids, even if it means that they paddle for 15 minutes and I tow for 90 minutes. If I'm towing them away from shore, I want a kayak that has bulkheads &/or floatation and that I can easily empty of water if needed (though I have never needed with the kids).

    Anything that gets people out on the water is a good thing as long as people use them as intended. Sorry to say, but that kayak is not designed to go more than a few feet from shore.

    Cheers,
    Bryan

    Again, all of my comments assume protected inland waters in fair conditions; we're not rounding Cape Scott with the kids.
     
  18. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    The Old Town Heron Jr., does it come with flotation fore and aft? Could not find a mention of that. Can not tell whether the seat can be shifted to put flotation on the rear. Otherwise, looks good for a smaller child. That handy tow system is nice.

    BTW, Becky's daughter at age 12 paddled a Keowee, another recreational kayak, on an overnighter many years ago, maybe 5 miles each way, her first outing in a kayak. She loved being able to wheel it around quickly. We gave her a shot at one of our boats, trad. 17 ft high volume type, and she did not like it, mainly because it was good at going straight, and she wanted to fruit around. Five miles was about her limit. Eight would have been too much.

    Gotta think like a kid for choices like this.

    I see Bryan's points, but disagree on the safety concern, provided there is a way to get flotation fore and aft on the Heron Jr. That is a deal breaker for me.
     
  19. newfie in Alberta

    newfie in Alberta Paddler

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    Lots of great replies please keep them coming.

    Regarding flotation what ever kayak i get for my daughter i plan to add flotation. If its a cheaper toy type i will simply pour in expanding foam to fill as much air pockets as i can, even if it means drilling a hole or two to gain access. When i go higher end it will be float bags inside the storage areas at the least. Storage / camping wont be an issue for a while at least. I love the out doors but after working out side most of my life, and living in small camper trailers on the job i like day trips that end in a house or cabin. That might all change once my little one discovers tenting this summer. Even then my Delta 17 will take enough for us both.
     
  20. tinman

    tinman Paddler

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    I'm a little late to the party but theres probably still time for another opinion. I got my daughter a Tsunami 135 with rudder. She got it just before turning 8. This after being out in my old river kayak a dozen times on her own and really enjoying it. She took too her new kayak right away and likes to rub it in that she has a rudder and I don't. We stay on small ponds or near shore on small lakes.



    I don't know why you need outriggers. I've had my kids in my old Necky since they were about 5. Originally they sat in front of me until they learned to paddle. Then by 6 they were in it by themselves (on a small pond) which I could have swam to them if needed but never had to. Point is they never had a problem with balance or paddling in calm conditions.

    Important to keep it fun. One day we went on a 6 hour expedition around McMillan Island in Fort Langley. Stopping every 15 minutes to collect rocks and such. Other days we are on the water for 20 minutes and she's had enough. No point in pushing them when they've had enough. My daughter also learned of the assisted "towing" technique where daddy does all the work and she kicks back and steers with her rudder. Oh well she's having fun and becoming a kayaker.
     

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