Choosing a kayak for tween - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-25-2018   #1
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 141
Choosing a kayak for tween

My 12 year old daughter has been bugging me to get her a hardshell. Looking at a xs remix or axiom but I have no idea what I'm doing. It has been years since I did a little kayaking. We mostly raft.

if her weight was around 100 lbs right now is she better learning in something where she is close to the max weight range or minimum weight range?

She would really like to learn to roll and she has all the standard the ducky stuff down really solid.


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Old 07-25-2018   #2
MT4Runner's Avatar
Kalispell, Montana
Paddling Since: 1997
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,651
My daughter paddled a Remix 47 until she was 9...probably 90lbs? I think your kid might outgrow the XS Remix, depending on her height.

That said, it's a great hull design and kid-friendly. My daughter was able to handroll hers. It has a semi-flat hull which is pretty friendly on moving water.

Axiom is a somewhat similar hull design.

IMHO better to be in the middle of the weight range--kids do grow.
Near top of the boat's weight range she might be too tight in the boat (and could potentially also outgrow it); near bottom of weight range and she'd be swimming in the boat--she needs to wear it comfortably and have a good connection with the boat.
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Old 07-25-2018   #3
FatmanZ's Avatar
Northern Utah, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 685
Based on your daughter's weight, she is likely too big for all the kid sized kayaks, or at least at the top of the weight range if she can still fit. That includes the Fun1.5, SideKick, Remix 47, Fuse35, Axiom 6.9, etc.

There are LOTS of kayaks to choose from in the next size up - the Small adult size. Finding one in Utah is possible, but selection is limited. Keep in mind that cockpit sizes can vary widely, so try to find one that fits your daughter's size well. Ultimately you want the kayak "ski boot snug" for better control and easier time learning to roll - without being near the top or over the weight limit at MT mentioned.

There are also lots of opinions on what type of kayak (river runner, creeker, playboat, etc) is better to learn in, I think the biggest key is simply having a kayak for your daughter to start using on the rivers, lakes and pools. She likely outgrow it, either in size or skill, so buying used can be a good move.

There isn't much on KSL classifieds (Utah) right now in the way of used kayaks in the small size but they do pop up now and again. There is a WaveSport ZG 48 package that will likely fit her. A neighbor's kid (age 12) picked up a ZG48 this past winter and it has been his learning kayak. Wasatch Touring in Salt Lake will be selling their demos and old stock in late Aug or Sept at good prices. If you don't mind traveling, there are always some used kayaks in the Boise area, as well as the greater Denver, CO area (ie. Craigslist). A kayak shop in Fort Collins, CO has a demo Zen55, a demo 2Fun, and a new old stock 2014 Jackson Star, all for good prices.

Also, the Utah Whitewater Club rents out the Layton Surf & Swim Wave Pool once a month from fall thru spring. It's a great place for kids (and adults) to practice their rolls and paddling skills, as well as try out different kayaks.
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Old 07-25-2018   #4
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 141
Thanks for your replies. She is 90-95 lbs right now. I feel like it is important for her to learn on something that fits her first so if buying a used boat, using for 1 year and then selling it again is an option and it probably would not loose too much value. Kids kayaks are hard to find! of course I expect her to start growing again any time.

Maybe I should be looking for a Zen 55, a remix 59 or a Fun2. Any other current models I should be looking for? Of course I'd buy used if I have a choice!

I saw an ezg48 a week or so ago that maybe I should have bought. I thought maybe it would be a bit too edgy though.
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Old 07-25-2018   #5
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Northern Utah, Utah
Paddling Since: 1990
Join Date: Sep 2004
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My boys all transitioned to Jackson 2Funs when they outgrew their small boats. I checked out a Zen55 last weekend and I think it would be a great learning boat, appears to be forgiving and would give your daughter room to grow into. It may be on the large size initially, but you can always bulk up the padding. There is one in Boise for $350 on Craiglist (no pic, but color is earth - blue/green).

I think the local ZG48 would also work fine for a learning boat, though I think it's a bit overpriced for the package. I assume your daughter would be paddling class I/II water so once she gets used to it I don't think it will be overly edgy.

I came across a 07 Jackson Star (similar in ways to the ZG-48 and a third gen 2Fun) last weekend in Colorado and picked it up for my daughter (5', 100lbs) who is transitioning out of her Jackson Sidekick. She was awfully nervous Monday night thinking it would be too edgy and too aggressive compared to her spud kayak, but she handed it fine and by runs end was convinced it was easier to roll than the Sidekick.
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