Establishing a love of the outdoors from an early age is undeniably important.
Many of the most enthusiastic athletes, nature lovers, and conservationists fell in love with their sport of choice as young kids.
Kayaking is no exception to this phenomenon. It also has the advantage of being one of the easiest water sports to teach your kids and it’s a pretty low maintenance family activity, all things considered.
The longer paddles that we, as adults, can operate with ease aren’t so convenient for kids.
That’s why there are a variety of shorter paddles out there designed to make kayaking much easier for young folks with shorter arms and torsos.
In this article, we’re going to highlight ten of the best kids kayak paddles and select our top pick for the best kids kayak paddle overall.
We’ll also provide brief definitions of some important kayak jargon and outline the most important factors to consider when comparing kayak paddles.
- Jargon Buster
- Buying Guide
- Best Kids Kayak Paddle Reviews
- Our Pick – Carlisle Magic Plus
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Fortunately, most kayak paddles for kids feature a very basic design. However, it’s still important to familiarize yourself with the different elements of a quality kayak paddle.
The paddle shaft is where you place your hands to use the paddle. It connects the two blades on either end and usually comes in one-piece, two-piece, or four-piece variations.
You’ll find the blades of a kayak paddle located at either end of the paddle shaft. The size and shape of a paddle’s blades play a large role in determining the paddle’s performance, as well as how easy (or difficult) it is for kids to utilize the paddle.
The blades on a kayak paddle have two faces. The side of the blade that should be facing you at all times while you’re sitting in your kayak is called the power face.
As you might imagine, it gets this name because it’s responsible for generating the power that will propel your kayak forward.
The power face is the concave side of the paddle’s blades, which means the side that is curved inward.
The other side of a kayak paddle’s blades is the back face. This is the convex side of the blade, or the side that is curved outward.
Many novice paddlers get confused by these terms, as they feel that the power face should be rotated depending on the direction in which you’re trying to power your kayak.
In other words, they feel they should rotate the blades around when they need to go backward.
This is unnecessary and a waste of energy. The only real reason for turning the blades over if you need to go backwards would be if you intended to go backward over a long distance, and this would be going against the basic design of a kayak anyway.
Drip guards are little rubber rings that go around the shaft of a kayak paddle. They serve to reduce the amount of water that drips down the shaft and into the cockpit of your kayak as you’re paddling.
Before we start telling you all about the specific paddles we’ve chosen for this article, let’s take some time to explore the various elements you need to weigh when comparing kids kayak paddles against one another.
Sizing is an important element for selecting a kids kayak paddle because it’s not as cut-and-dry as it is for adults.
Kids are still growing, so not only do you want to pick a paddle that fits them now, but you also would probably prefer to select something that they can grow into.
The two main factors you can use to determine the appropriate paddle length for your child are height and kayak width.
Here’s a useful chart that will provide recommendations on the correct size paddle for your child:
For a simpler approach, you can also make a determination based on your child’s age. Most kids under four can use a paddle between 152 and 182 centimeters long.
Kids between the ages of four and 10 should be most comfortable with a paddle between 182 and 190 centimeters in length.
Older children between the ages of eight and 13 will be best suited with a paddle that’s at least 190 centimeters long.
When we talk about a paddle’s shape, we’re referring specifically to the shape of the blades at either end of the paddle shaft.
For kids, look for a longer, narrower blade shape as opposed to a shorter, fatter shape.
A longer, narrower blade will be easier for kids to use because it will offer less resistance.
While a larger blade allows you extra purchase on the water, many kids will find a paddle with a large blade difficult to use when starting out.
You’ll see a host of different materials highlighted in the various paddles below. Among those are plastic, plastic blends, anodized aluminum, polypropylene, polyethylene, fiberglass, and glass.
Plastic, plastic blends, and aluminum are the most common materials used in the most affordable, cost-effective kayak paddles.
They do the job admirably, especially in a paddle that isn’t expected to last for the user’s entire lifetime.
Taking the next step up, you’ll find paddles that use fiberglass in their entire construction.
Some that would fall in this middle class use a plastic base with fiberglass reinforcement for added durability and weight reduction.
Finally, you’ll find some higher-end kayak paddles that utilize carbon or a carbon blended material in their construction.
These are typically the most lightweight paddles available, but they also tend to be a bit more expensive because of the nature of the materials used.
Best Kids Kayak Paddle Reviews
The notch in the blades on this paddle is useful to help your kids hook onto another kayak to pull their boat closer.
This provides great opportunities to teach them the importance of this technique versus trying to lean over to grab onto another kayak.
As your kids gain experience and learn new kayaking techniques, they’ll be able to feather the angles of the blades to experiment with different maneuvers.
When you’re done for the day, this paddle breaks down into two compact pieces for convenient storage.
This is a two-piece paddle that breaks down and snaps together easily. The paddle is seven feet long and can be feathered to a couple of different angles as your kids learn fancy new paddle strokes, such as the sculling draw.
A total of two drip guards work to reduce the amount of water that drips into the cockpit of your kayak.
The blades of this paddle are asymmetrical and designed to reduce flutter and make it easier for kids to use.
The total length of this paddle is 220 centimeters and it breaks down into two pieces for compact storage and easy transportation.
The shaft of this paddle is made of wrapped fiberglass, which provides extra strength without adding a bunch of weight to the design.
Overall, this paddle weighs just two pounds.
The bright colored blades on this paddle will make it easy to spot your kids from a distance as you allow them a little more freedom on the water.
The shaft of this paddle is also ovalized to help remind novice paddlers of the appropriate places to grip their paddle.
This 87-inch kayak paddle from Leader Accessories uses aluminum construction to provide a durable solution for kid kayakers.
It can break down into two pieces when not in use so that you can transport and store it in smaller spaces.
The blades on this paddle are made of polypropylene and measure 18.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches tall.
With a total of three positions that can be adjusted with the central snap button, this paddle will allow your kids to explore feathering their blades to different angles.
While the components of this kayak paddle are designed to reinforce strength durability, the paddle as a whole still weighs less than three pounds.
It’s also available in a variety of bright colors (not just white!) so you can increase your child’s visibility on the water.
The Naviskin paddle comes with a total length of 87 inches and breaks down into two pieces when not in use.
The surface of the paddle shaft is slip-resistant to minimize the likelihood of your child losing grip on the entire paddle.
The two-piece design of this paddle allows the blades to be set inline or feathered as your child experiments with his or her preference.
The blades themselves feature a “duck palm arc” design that minimizes resistance as the blades slip back into the water prior to the next paddle stroke.
The shaft features corrosion-resistant aluminum construction and the blades, which measure 18.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches tall, are made of durable polypropylene. In total, this kid’s kayak paddle weighs less than three pounds.
The 190-centimeter length of this kayak paddle makes it a better selection for kids between the ages of 8 and 13.
As your kids grow, however, they’ll still be able to utilize this paddle, depending on how tall they become (many shorter paddlers use a paddle of this length).
The Werner Sprite kids kayak paddle features a small-diameter, carbon blend shaft that reduces the paddle’s overall weight without compromising strength or durability.
The blades are fiberglass-reinforced for added protection against dings and breaks.
Speaking of those blades, this Werner paddle has blades that feature a dihedral design, which provides greater efficiency with every paddle stroke.
The low angle design of these blades also means your kids won’t have to work too hard using this paddle.
The blades on this paddle can be set inline or feathered to various angles according to preference.
This paddle can also adapt to left or right-hand control via the use of the spring-loaded push-button ferrule in the middle of the paddle shaft.
Featuring a two-piece design that makes it easy to collapse and store, this paddle is also one of the lightest options on our list. It weighs in at a total weight of just 1.875 pounds.
The blades themselves are manufactured with polyethylene, which actually raises this paddle’s resistance when compared against polypropylene.
If you don’t have a lot of storage space at home or in your car, you’ll be able to collapse this paddle into two compact pieces when not in use.
The bright orange color of the blades increases visibility both on the water and when you’re trying to locate the paddle in your home’s underneath crawl space.
As your kids grow older and more experienced, they’ll be able to experiment with a total of three locking positions on this paddle.
They’ll be able to feather to various angles up to 45 degrees to dial in their preferred paddle technique.
It’s a great paddle choice for getting your youngest kids into kayaking when they might not necessarily utilize the paddle for the whole day (assuming they’re in a kayak with you, of course!).
The shaft is made of durable PVC material and collapses into two parts for easy storage when you’re done for the day.
Because of its size and the materials it’s made of, this paddle is extremely lightweight, weighing in at less than one pound.
Despite being an intro model for young paddlers, this paddle features drip guards to keep your hands dry. The blades also boast a curved shape that will help young kids get used to a more efficient paddle.
The SeaSense kayak paddle is an 84-inch paddle that features a two-piece design for compact storage.
This is a great choice for kids approaching their teen years, as it’s a longer paddle.
It also has support ridges on the blades for added strength and durability as your older kids really put it to the test.
The design of the blades on this paddle makes it extremely efficient. With a total of three locking positions, the blades can be set inline or feathered to varying angles for different paddle techniques.
The shaft construction is lightweight anodized aluminum and the blades are made of fiberglass-reinforced polypropylene.
The blades are symmetrical and boast a curved design that’s much more efficient than a flat blade.
This is a one-piece kayak paddle, which has the benefit of less moving parts to potentially break or malfunction.
The 6.75-inch wide blades are durable enough to handle any bumps or hits that happen accidentally as your child gets used to how to paddle a kayak.
Our Pick – Carlisle Magic Plus
Aside from Werner, Carlisle is arguably the most trusted brand name on our list of the best kids kayak paddles.
We like the Magic Plus because, although it’s a perfect starter paddle for older kids, it’s also large enough to grow with them into their teen years.
At 220 centimeters, this paddle is a typical length used by many shorter paddlers, even in adulthood.
A key feature for a kids kayak paddle is durability. That’s why our top pick is a paddle that has polypropylene blades with fiberglass reinforcement.
Not only does this design choice make the blades stronger and more durable, but it also keeps the overall weight of the paddle down.
This is important for kids because they need to be able to use the paddle easily so they don’t get overtired too quickly.
Finally, we love the option to be able to feather this paddle at 60 degrees or to set the blades inline.
Combine that with the paddle’s ability to adapt to left or right-hand control, and you’ve got a paddle that’s going suit your kids as they continue to grow, both in size and skill.