It’s no secret that kids go crazy-happy as soon as you put them on a paddleboard. The joy and excitement seems to just pour off of some kids and getting them to settle down and listen can be a task. But once you get on them the board and show them the basics of where to stand and how to paddle, they seem to pick it up incredibly fast. Kids are, of course, lower to ground than adults. They also weigh a lot less and many tend to be relatively fearless. All this plays into their hand when combining the balance skills and responsiveness needed for the learning process. Finding the right SUP for kids can be a challenge, but there are many benefits paddleboarding has to offers kids that makes the sacrafice well worthwhile.
Kids’ stand up paddleboarding is growing fast because it is so much fun for them, it’s easy to get started on, and they can mess around, play games and explore all at the same time. Because they usually get the hang of it right on the first day out, they are more apt to stick with it. There’s also no special gear or equipment that they need, and the boards are relatively light, so all but the littlest ones can usually haul them down to the water on their own.
There a lot of different things kids can do on paddleboards. They can race each other, go fishing, or take out the dog (or other agreeable family pet). There are also games they can play while paddleboarding like with this new product that has come out on the market recently, XSUP Sac. Kids are naturally creative and love to explore, and paddleboarding is the perfect platform for them to get outdoors and blow off steam. And when the summer vacation days of scorching heat arrive the kids can jump into the water, cool off, and chill out on the board, which is a much better alternatively then staying inside playing video games all day.
When choosing a board for your child to get started on, the first thing to consider is the size and weight of your child.
- Width: You want a paddleboard that is narrow enough that the child can reach around to paddle without constantly hitting the rails. A taller child will be able to comfortably paddle on a wider board because they will normally have longer arms. Stand up paddleboards with a waist width of 30” or less will be fine for most kids.
- Length: The second thing we want is a board that is short enough for the child to carry and that he or she can more easily maneuver. Boards starting around 7 feet long will normally be good for very young children (5-7 years old/ 30-100 lbs). Boards that are longer and up to 12 feet long will accommodate just about every other kid out there and adults.
Durability: Kids usually do not have a very good sense of value and as a consequence they tend to be a little rough on their toys. For this reason you may want to consider a board that has reinforced sides and durable bottoms. They tend to weigh a little more but can be worth it in the long run. Some types of durable stand up paddleboards to consider are soft tops, plastics and inflatables. Keep in mind, these will not be as performance-oriented as traditional epoxy boards, but they will take a beating much better. Surf-style stand up paddleboards, which are on average between 7 and 10 feet long, are not always the best option for kids. They usually are made with low weight, high performance materials and designs that might not stand up to multiple thrashings and can cost a bit more than your other options. The designs are also oriented toward surfing instead of flatwater and often don’t make good “all around” boards.
Some manufacturers are now producing kid-specific boards. These boards are usually smaller than your average touring paddleboard and are reinforced with durable materials designed to stand up to the rough housing ways of youngsters. They are also thinner, by comparison to normal paddleboards. Kids do not need thick boards that have a high volume rating for someone 200+ lbs. The thinner board saves a ton of weight while still being a good board for the kid to ride.
These are some things to keep in mind when looking for a paddleboard for your child. Paddleboarding will make your kids happy, but since it is an investment, take your time finding the right one.