Q:

Which kayak is best for a child?

Do you think Perception’s Acadia Scout is a good kayak for an eight-year-old child? Also, what’s your take on purchasing a pre-owned kayak? Angela Saratoga Springs, New York

Aug 9, 2006
Outside
Outside Magazine
Perception’s Acadia Scout kayak

Acadia Scout kayak

A:

I think it’s great that your son has taken to kayaking. It’s a great sport, and one that he can enjoy for many, many years.

Still, I’d personally be a little bit reluctant to let a youngster kayak solo. Things can happen—a wave could roll the boat, for instance—and he might not have the skill or strength to right himself. But maybe I’m being a little paranoid. You know your son and know what he can handle, and I assume you set firm guidelines about wearing a personal flotation device and staying within sight of adults. Heck, here in Port Townsend, where I live, a 12-year-old out motoring around by himself in a small powered skiff saved three adult kayakers who all swamped their boats out in near-ocean waters.

As far as a boat, you may have found just what you need with Perception’s Acadia Scout ($299; www.kayaker.com). It’s a ten-foot boat specifically designed for youngsters, yet big enough that your son will get several years of use from it before he needs a larger boat. The Scout is stable and sized so that a child doesn’t have to sit on a cushion to see out. And an optional rudder helps with tracking. Dagger’s Zydeco ($389; www.dagger.com) is a similar-size boat—a little shorter, in fact, than the Scout—and is also designed for younger and smaller boaters.

As far as buying a used kayak—sure, why not? Rotomolded boats such as the Scout and Zydeco are extremely tough. Moreover, the odds are that you’d be purchasing a boat that was used by a child who has outgrown it, so it hasn’t seen severe or lengthy use. The main thing, of course, is to give the hull a thorough inspection. Chips, cracks, or excessive fading from sun exposure all are to be avoided.

You’ve seen our picks for 2006 Gear of the Year, and now the entire 2006 Outside Buyer’s Guide is online. Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including whitewater, touring, and sea kayaks.

Filed To: Whitewater Kayaks

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