What To Bring On Kayaking Trips With Children

What To Bring On Kayaking Trips With Children

A fun family activity that lets you spend time outdoors is kayaking with children. You have the opportunity to impart confidence and important life lessons to young people as they enjoy an unforgettable experience. Although kayaking is a low-intensity sport that children can handle, success is dependent on your level of preparation. You should bring everything you’ll need for a comfortable and enjoyable trip. So, if you’re planning a kayaking trip with kids, here’s what to bring.

1. Ideal Kayak and Paddles

To go kayaking with your children, you need a kayak and paddle. The best kayaks for kids have a tandem design. This means that two people can sit on the same kayak—one in the front and one in the back. Tandem kayaks are ideal for kids aged eight or younger. As your children get older, they can switch to a single-child-sized kayak, which is also called a solo kayak. Sit-on-top kayaks are also good options for kids because they are less restrictive than other types of kayaks. 

Sit-on-top kayaks are easier to enter and exit, more stable, and difficult to sink; thus safe for your children. Bring along child-specific paddles as they are shorter and lighter, making them comfortable for children. 

2. Kayak Clothing

When packing clothing for your children, consider the weather. When the weather is cold, include layers of quick-drying clothing made of polyester and wool. Avoid linen and cotton clothing because they tend to be cold when wet but dry slowly. On warmer days, pack light and breathable clothing. Long-sleeved clothes are a good option on sunny days because they protect from UV rays.

When it comes to kayaking shoes, wear a pair of wet suit shoes during cooler weather and sandals when warm. If you are launching on sharp rocks or corals, wear waterproof boots to protect your feet. It is also wise to bring a wind-resistant and waterproof jacket, as well as extra clothes for a change if they get wet.

3. Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

When you take your children kayaking, make sure you bring along PFDs. Even if they’re paddling in calm waters, they should wear their life jackets at all times. Show them how to put it on properly and how to swim with it on, too. Give them some experience floating in a life jacket in a controlled environment first — like a swimming pool or a peaceful lake — so that they know what it’s like before you hit the open water. Then, everyone can be safe out there!

The most important thing to remember when purchasing a PFD for your child is to buy one that’s the right size and fits well. Be sure it has an adjustable strap so it will continue to fit your child as he or she grows. Choose a PFD with head support, grab handle, and leg strap for maximum safety.

4. Food and Water

Your kayaking trip can be ruined by hunger because grumpy kids are a common occurrence. Bring some quick-reviving snacks for the kids as well as nutritious foods to ensure good nutrition. Think about packing easy-to-transport snacks like granola bars, nuts, and fresh fruit that have wholesome calories. Always bring enough food with you on your trip to last you the entire time.

Always carry more water than you need, especially on a hot day, as staying hydrated is more important than eating. By doing this, you can avoid drinking lake or river water that has been contaminated. Use reusable water bottles instead of glass ones, which can break easily and present unnecessary risks while paddling or on land.  

5. First Aid Kit

It is a good idea to carry a first aid kit when going kayaking, as you may end up with minor cuts or bug bites and your young ones may get stung by insects. Your kit should contain waterproof bandages, antiseptic wipes, and cream for plant and insect stings. Completing a first aid course, which often comes with a first aid certificate, would come in handy in times of emergencies.

6. Tow Lines 

How long your child will paddle alone may not be something you can accurately predict. Carry tow lines so you can tow your child’s kayak if they get tired paddling. When you want to take a break, you can also use it to secure your boat to the shore. If one of you falls into the water, think about bringing lines with floats to help a person get to safety.

7. Sunscreen

Sunburns are common when you spend long hours in the sun, especially on a warm day. To prevent your children from getting sunburned while they kayak with you, make sure they wear sunscreen.

8. Dry Bags

Bring dry bags to store all of your valuables that you don’t want to get wet, including watches, money, and cell phones. Although the kayak has dry storage hatches, if you capsize, water may leak out. The dry bags are also useful for packing extra clothing in case someone gets wet.

9. Waterproof Camera

While kayaking with your kids, don’t forget to bring along a waterproof camera for picturesque snapshots. You can also get your kids involved in taking photos by having them use the camera or asking them to pose for pictures. 

10. Other Packing Suggestions

The list may go on forever, but there are some items you might want to think about bringing with you, like those listed below:

  • flashlights for kayaking in low light or in foggy conditions
  • Whistles that can be used to alert people to danger
  • Binoculars can keep children interested
  • fishing equipment if you plan to fish
  • Books or cards for scavenger hunts or bird watching
  • In case you capsize, the paddle floats and throws bags to assist


Always strive to create the most amazing and memorable experience possible when kayaking with children. This is only possible if you plan ahead and bring everything you’ll need. You shouldn’t skip any of the items on our list because they will make sure your family kayaks safely and enjoyably.