Need Gift Ideas for Your Kayaking Kids? Here are 13

 kayaking with kids

Kids and kayaking are a super combo! (photo courtesy of Osprey Bay)

Do you have kids on your gift list who love to kayak, canoe or paddle board? Here are 13 fun gift ideas for them to enjoy on all their paddling adventures.

You can find most of these items at many different types of retailers from big box stores to sporting goods stores to marine shops. Whatever your budget, you’ll be able to find something your kid(s) will love!

1. Kid-Size PFD

Don’t leave home without a properly-fitting PFD (personal flotation device, commonly known as a life jacket) for each of your kids. For very young children, you’ll find them with straps that go between their legs for extra protection. There are dozens of brands available. As long as it’s Coast Guard approved (which it’ll say on the label) you’re good to go.

Choose their favorite color(s) and they’ll be excited about wearing theirs in the boat. For kids who are really into their paddling, you can spend a little more to get one with some extras like zip pockets and D-rings.

Size and Fit: Just like adults, PFDs for kids need to fit them snugly in order for them to work properly and safely. Generally, Infant PFDs fit up to 30 pounds, Child PFDs 30-50 pounds and Youth PFDs 50-90 pounds.

For more read and watch: Kayaking with Kids: Life Jacket Safety [Video]

2. Water Shoes

While most kids love to go barefoot when around the water, there are too many unknowns along the shoreline and when loading up. Get your kids some shoes made for the water with some kind of durable sole to help prevent sharp rocks and sticks or glass from penetrating.

If your older kids will paddle in chilly weather, there are waterproof booties made for kayaking that are both supportive on-shore and warm on the water.

little girl kayaking

Quick-dry clothing made for water sports are perfect for kayaking kids (photo courtesy of Daniel Arbuckle)

3. Swim Goggles

Most families who kayak with their children know they have to make it fun for them if their trips are going to be successful. Swimming is an obvious option for those hot days when you’re on the water.

Get your kids some swim goggles for those mid-trip breaks or lunch stops on your paddle trips. They’ll enjoy getting out of the boat to swim for awhile and be able to see what there is to see underwater.

4. Quick-Dry Clothing

Shorts, pants, tees and long-sleeves made of quick-dry material like nylon or polyester are a must for kayaking and other paddle sports. Pants and long-sleeved shirts made of these lightweight materials are a good way to keep the sun off their arms and legs, too, especially if you’ll be on the water for several hours.

toddler in a kayak

This tot is ready with sunglasses, PFD and bucket hat (photo courtesy of Tahoe Adventure Blog)

5. Polarized Sunglasses

Protect your kids’ eyes with decent sunglasses while they kayak. This is especially important in the mornings and evenings when the sun is low and its glare on the water is especially intense.

Polarized sunglasses really help cut down on glare. They also make colors more vibrant and will help your kids see into the water better, which is always fun.

6. Bucket Hat

A quick-dry wide-brimmed bucket hat is the best sun protection for your kids’ face, scalp, ears and neck. That said, they’ll still get some sun reflection from the water, so a good hat doesn’t eliminate the need for sunscreen, necessarily. It sure helps, though!

7. Wet Suit

If you plan to kayak on waters that are always cold (say Lake Superior), or you live in the north and know you’ll be out spring through fall, a wet suit is a wonderful investment for your kids.

It’s not only a safety investment in case of capsize, it can be a fun way for them to extend their swimming season.

A couple wet suit retailers we recommend are NRS and Level 6.

young boy ready to kayak

A kid-size wetsuit and water shoes are perfect for a day on the water (photo courtesy of Evolution Expeditions)

8. Kid-Size Paddle

Giving a kid an adult-size paddle can discourage them! For your budding kayaker, why not gift them with a paddle their size so they can experience better success? A durable paddle like our Sharkie can be handed down from older kids to their younger siblings.

Not sure what size your kid(s) need? Take a look at this sizing chart:

sharkie kayak paddle sizing chart

9. Paddle Jacket and Pants

For serious kayaking kids, their own paddle jacket and pants will do a lot to extend their paddling season by several months. These are waterproof and watertight to protect against splash and rain, and windproof, too. For these you’ll need to find a specialty kayak shop like NRS.

10. Kid-Size Portable Seat

For young children who might just be along for the ride, invest in a comfortable child-size portable seat like this one from The TopKayaker Shop. You can bring it into any of your boats easily, and even use on-shore as a low-profile camp chair for them.

children using sharkie kayak paddle
Aqua Bound’s “Sharkie” kids kayak paddle is the perfect size for junior paddlers (photo courtesy of @hawaiirish.juanita)

11. “Kayaking Log Book for Kids”

This Kayaking Log Book for Kids is a fun way to keep track of all your kids paddling trips. Get one for each of your kayaking kids who are old enough to fill it out themselves, or start off your tots yourself so they can see where they’ve been when they get older.

12. Binoculars

Kayak trips are super times to see plenty of local birds and other wildlife. Give your animal-loving kids a pair of their own binoculars they can keep around their neck, handy for instant use.

Here’s a compilation of great picks for kids' binoculars.

13. Dry Bag in Their Favorite Color

Speaking of waterproof, dry bags are a kayaker’s best friend, besides their paddle! Get each of your kids their own dry bag in their favorite color. They can keep their own snacks, drinks, extra clothes, swim goggles and other loose items in it and with them in the boat. Just make sure each kid has a different color!

Pretty much every camping or paddle sports retailer sells dry bags of various sizes and colors. 5-10 liter sizes are perfect for day trip essentials. Roll-down, lightweight dry bags will work fine for day trips. If you and your kids are hardcore kayak campers and trippers, invest in ones that are more heavy-duty to handle more rigorous conditions.

young boy on a paddle board

A properly-fitted PFD is your child’s #1 pick (photo courtesy of Lauren B.)

That’s a wrap for this 2021 list. Happy shopping!

Do you have paddle questions our friendly Customer Service Team can help you with today? Content them: 715-755-3405 • [email protected]

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