Youth Kayak Comparison: The Pelican Solo vs. the Lifetime Wave

Kids in kayaks in a pool
George Sayour

Not many parents consider getting their young children kayaks of their own. That's why there really aren't many options out there for kids who want to paddle. Two of the most popular models of youth kayaks are the Solo by Pelican Sport and the Lifetime Wave. Here is a head-to-head comparison of both of these boats if you are looking to buy your child a kayak.

Dimensions and Capacity

  • Both kayaks are 6' long and 2' wide
  • The Solo is 9' thick and the Wave is 8' thick
  • The Wave is 1 pound lighter than the Solo (18 lbs vs. 19 lbs)
  • The Solo can hold 10 pounds more than the Wave (140 lbs vs. 130 lbs)

Features That Both Kayaks Have

  • Priced between $120 to $200
  • Molded-in seat and foot supports
  • Swim-up platform in the stern
  • Drain plugs
  • Hand grooves for carrying
  • Scupper Holes for drainage
  • Both come with paddles

Pelican Solo Distinct Features

  • Safety flag for high visibility
  • Finger grooves for child to pull self up onto swim platform
  • Large clamping style drain plug (instead of small push-in plug)
  • Holes in the bow and stern to attach rope handles to

Lifetime Wave Distinct Features

  • Includes back support (some retailers may not)
  • 3 sets of foot supports (instead of 2)
  • Grab loop and handle in the bow
  • Sturdier paddle with aluminum shaft (instead of all plastic smaller paddle)

Know What's Included

At one time it looked like the Pelican Solo had come with a backrest, but all models online today do not have it. Similarly, the Lifetime Wave used to not come with a paddle, but now it seems it does, while it is unclear if it includes the backrest or not anymore. So be sure to know if the model you are buying comes with a paddle and a backrest, especially if you are comparing prices. 

These boats often come shrink wrapped and whatever is included is wrapped up with the boat.  So, you may have to check the packaging good to know if it's in there or not. Also, notice that neither of these kayaks comes with a PFD (personal flotation device). That is probably the most important thing you can buy your child in this process. So don't cut costs there.

The Lifetime Wave or the Pelican Solo?

It really is a toss-up between these two kayaks. Both are about the same size and weight, and the design features are very similar on both. Prices for the Lifetime Wave and Pelican Solo range vary greatly from about $120 to $200 and are based on sale, retailer, and time of year. 

You can't go wrong with either of these kayaks. Kids enjoy paddling both of these. Some kids like the backrest. Some don't. The flag on the Solo is a matter of personal preference. The paddle that comes with the Wave is nicer, but the one with the Pelican is fine. In the end, it is going to come down to price, availability, color choice, which features you desire if both are available where you are shopping. In the end, it's about buying a kayak for your child that will foster in them a love for the sport at a young age.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.