Paddleboarding is a recreational activity enjoyed by many people in a variety of different places. You don’t need to live near the beach for you or your family to take up paddleboarding. This provides many kids with the opportunity to learn how to paddleboard, and that comes with the need for a board and some techniques to help you get started.
The best paddleboards for kids will be lighter, thinner, and shorter than adult boards. When kids are learning to paddleboard, it is important to have the right size equipment, start them off kneeling, and help them learn proper techniques.
While knowing what a kid’s paddleboard should look like and how to get a child started, it is helpful to know what some of the best paddleboards that kids can handle are. We have compiled a list of some of the most highly rated paddleboards for kids and made a list of tips to follow when teaching them how to get started with this great activity.
What Makes an Ideal Kid’s Paddle Board?
Kid’s paddleboards differ in weight from adult paddleboards for obvious reasons. Kid boards vary in weight, but they are typically lighter than a board an adult might want to use. This is because it is easier for a kid to carry and control a lighter board as opposed to a heavy one.
The size of any SUP is important to every rider no matter the age, but it is an even more important factor when choosing a board for a child. The length, width, and thickness of a new board play a huge role in how comfortable a new boarder feels on the water.
The length of a kid’s paddleboard should be between 6 and 10 feet, depending on the age of the child. The width is about 30 inches, which is wider and more stable than an adult board. The difference in length and width from an adult board is important because a child has shorter limbs and the different proportions of their board will help them have much greater control.
The thickness of the board greatly contributes to how easy it is to stay balanced, control over the board, and how supportive the board is. When a board is thicker, it is less likely to tip a rider off, but it also makes it harder to control. Thickness can make a board more or less heavy which as discussed, can give more or less control to the rider. It is important to choose a thickness that will not hinder their ability to control their board, but that will also make it easy enough to not fall off too often.
Kid’s paddleboards come in different kinds of material. When smaller kids are learning this sport, it is important to consider an inflatable board for the purpose of lightness. While they are available in hardwood and inflatable, it is important to choose the right board for your child based on how much you think they can carry.
An inflatable board will leave some sizing room as it is going to be pretty light regardless. They also do not require expensive repairs when damaged, unlike a hardboard. A hard-board tends to be heavier, more difficult to control, and more expensive especially for a board your child will eventually grow out of.
Recommended Kids Boards
Thurso Surf Prodigy Junior SUP
The Thurso Surf Prodigy Junior is one of the most common, most highly recommended inflatable SUPs out there for kids. It has so many benefits that outweigh the minimal downfalls.
This paddleboard is 7’6″ long which is a great middle length for many kids. The width is the typical kid’s width of 30″ and it provides the desired level of control. It is 4″ thick, which is a nice middle ground that will not hinder control but will still provide enough stability.
Another advantage to the stability of the board is its durability. The Prodigy Junior is made from triple military-grade PVC coating and has double layer construction, not to mention the extra reinforcement on the sides. The nose and tail are also not pointed, contributing to the aforementioned stability.
One downfall to this board might be its weight as it comes in at 19 pounds which can be a bit heavy for really young children. One reason to reconsider the weight is that this is the kind of board a kid can have for a long time, and as they get older it will become easier to carry. Honestly, most kids will not have a problem with the weight.
An extra benefit is the super-light carbon shaft paddle. Having a light paddle is perfect for kids and it is super durable. It will last a long time even with reckless care and will make paddleboarding all that much more enjoyable for your kids.
Airhead Popsicle 730 ISUP
Another great inflatable paddleboard for kids is the Airhead Popsicle 730. In addition to its fun name, this board is super easy for kids to control and comes with a few cool accessories.
This inflatable SUP is shorter than the Thurso board at 7 feet long. Despite being shorter, the width is the same 30″ as the previous board covered. This board is much thicker than the Thurso at 6″ thick. This increases control by a lot, and because of the shorter length, it does not really become any more difficult for a child to control.
This paddleboard is incredibly stable to any rider within the weight limit of 120 lbs which will be perfect for most, if not all, youth paddleboarders. The Airhead Popsicle also has four fixed fins at the back, which increases stability and control.
The weight of this board is the same as the Thurso, 19 lbs. While it can again be a downfall for really small children, it is not unmanageable for most new paddle boarders. It will prepare your child for heavier, adult boards.
The mesh backpack has received rave reviews as it allows for the folded-up paddleboard to dry, which reduces damage. Unlike the Thurso, this board comes with a pump in addition to all the other miscellaneous accessories.
Bluefin Cruiser Junior SUP
The Bluefin Cruiser Junior is a great inflatable board for your child as it makes a great segue into an adult board. This board has all the benefits of an adult board, with the stability of a kids board.
This kid’s paddleboard is 8 feet long, longer than the previous two boards. The longer board gives the rider more maneuverability. The deck is slimmer than the other boards at 29″. The Bluefin’s 5″ thickness falls into a happy middle compared to the other two boards for maximum stability with the amount of mobility.
The experience from this board is different from the other two as it has been made for kids, more for the older ones, to set off on their own with friends. It has a more adult-oriented design. It is easy to set up, has a more adult performance, and is easy for any mildly experienced paddleboarder to get the hang of.
The weight of this board only adds to the idea of it being for older kids. It weighs 23 pounds, much heavier than the other two boards. Small children will have a difficult time carrying and controlling this board, so it is best to save it for the older kids and teenagers.
An extra benefit is a hefty construction that makes the board more firm and supportive. This SUP also includes side fins and a removable center fin. All of the fins included are very difficult to damage which lowers any repair costs in the future.
Redder Vortex Stand Up Paddle Board
The Redder Vortex SUP is the most versatile of the boards covered as it is a great fit for kids and adults. Its brand is well known, so you can be sure your child will have the quality they need to really enjoy paddle boarding.
This board is the longest one we have covered and is 10 feet long. This length is part of what makes it so versatile, as a child can maneuver it well enough, but it is also a great size for an adult. It has a width of 31″ to compensate for the extra length and make it as stable as the other boards.
One important downfall to this board is that its size makes it quite difficult to carry. Despite this, it is quite stable with thickness at 4.75″. It is easy enough to control and has great rigidity due to the durable PVC material it is made out of.
Like the Thurso, the Redder Vortex comes with that coveted carbon shaft paddle that will make this heavier board easier for a child to control.
YASKA Children’s Stand Up Paddle Board
The YASKA Children’s SUP is the final board we will talk about, but last certainly doesn’t mean least!
This board is on the longer side at 9 feet long. This will give the rider more stability than the Vortex while keeping great maneuverability. It is 30″ wide, the standard width for a kids paddle board. It is 4″ thick which helps with the control while the three fins on the bottom make up some stability.
There are three fins on the bottom of this board that help keep the paddleboard stable even in choppier waters. These special triple fins provide the increased stability and mobility that kids need. The material is firm and tough which will also help with the stability.
This particular paddleboard is a bit heavier and weighs about 21 pounds. This is not an issue because the length makes it more suited to older kids and smaller adults anyway. The extra weight will help keep it more stable in the water.
This board is priced much lower than a lot of other paddle boards, and will last children a long time.
Tips for Youth Paddle Boarders
Not only is having a good SUP for your child important in getting them started, but it is also helpful to know how to teach them how to paddleboard and to help them become better through the proper technique.
Correctly Sized Equipment
When you have a brand new paddleboarder, it is so important that they have the properly sized equipment, most importantly being the board and the paddle.
When buying a paddleboard for your child, keep in mind the size that they can probably handle now, but do not be afraid to go a little bit bigger. Kids grow fast, so you don’t want to start them with a board that they will grow out of too soon. With this, also be careful to not buy a board that is too big that they might struggle to carry and control it.
The paddle should be the proper length as well. Many paddles have a way to adjust the size but making sure its extremes fit your child’s height is important. A common way to determine how long the paddle should be is to add 9-10 inches to the rider’s height. This will also give plenty of height for your child to grow into.
When teaching kids how to paddleboard, it is always best to start easy. Have new paddle boarders start learning how to control the board while on their knees. Everything is pretty much the same when on your knees, and it provides more stability for a child getting used to the board moving underneath them. They will fall off less frequently, and that will help encourage them to continue trying.
The next step to this is showing them how to go from their knees to standing. This is important as they will have better mobility when on their feet. Once they master staying steady on their feet, it is time to move on to showing them how to properly paddleboard.
Having good technique right off the bat is important because that is what will stick with them. They should learn to always start at the front of the board and take big, long strokes to the back. It is helpful and safer for them to also understand how to engage the proper muscles. Teach them to use their core muscles with every stroke so they don’t tire out or strain themselves.
As always, teach your kids to have fun and encourage them to keep trying even if it doesn’t work out right away. Paddleboarding is supposed to enjoyable for everyone!