Kids love the water, and whether you’re at the beach or a lake, there’s a good chance they will want to try their hand at paddle boarding.
In the last decade, paddle boarding has become a great way to have fun outdoors. It’s a healthy activity for all kids and helps to develop balance, muscles, and endurance while allowing them to explore the water. A paddle boarding excursion is usually accompanied by swimming and snorkeling too.
Paddle boards are most commonly offered in large sizes, 10 feet long and above. These are great for adults but can be difficult to control for kids. Larger boards might be easier to balance on for kids, but they will be hard to move. Even the paddles can be too big.
In the sections below, I’ll highlight what you should look for in a kids paddle board. This includes sizing, ages, and types of boards (inflatable vs rigid). Lastly, I’ll share a few of the best stand up paddle boards for kids.
Can Kids Use A Full-Size Paddle Board
The answer depends on the child’s age, strength and willingness to work. It also depends on their athletic ability and endurance.
Kids under 10 years of age will likely have a hard time using a full-size paddle board.
Riding the board isn’t the problem, but making it move will be. As will be carrying it in and out of the water.
Here are a few challenges with kids using a full-size paddle board:
- Takes more effort pumping (if inflatable)
- Harder to carry to and from water (somewhat heavy)
- Larger paddle
- Challenging to move through the water (paddle strength)
Occasionally, a child can be a passenger on someone else’s board. They can sit or kneel while an adult paddles, however, it’s not very fun for the child as they don’t have much to do.
Sizing For A Kids Paddle Board
Junior paddle boards range from 7-8 feet long. This might seem large to someone who has never used a SUP before, but it’s the perfect size for kids under 120 lbs. Adult paddle boards range from 10-13 feet long and are significantly wider and thicker.
A 7-8 foot board is best for kids 13 years old and younger. Once kids become teenagers, many of them will be able to manage a 10-foot board (this is a smaller adult paddle board). On the list below, we mention board between 7 and 8 feet.
4 Best Kids Paddle Boards For A Water Adventure
#1 Airhead Popsicle 730 Inflatable SUP For Kids
Airhead is a solid company based out of Denver, Colorado. They’ve been making paddle boards since 1991, long before the craze began.
This option is made specifically for kids and it’s aptly named the “popsicle”. It’s also one of the smallest boards on our list, at 7 feet long.
- Measurements: 7’ x 30” x 6”
- 19 lbs
- Kids 30-120 lbs
- 4 fixed fins and traction pad
- Mesh carrying bag
- Hand pump
- Steel tow ring, board strap, repair kit
- 1-year warranty
- No paddle
I like the look of this board and the fact it has plenty of extras. What I don’t like is it doesn’t include a paddle. Other than the paddle, the board is excellent. It even includes a tow ring so mom and dad can help pull the kiddos along without them having to lose their independence (check Airhead Popsicle on Amazon).
Because of the size, it’s easy to kids to pump up on their own and carry to and from the water. It weight have the amount of regular size SUPs.
The color is bright and something most kids will be proud of.
#2 Ten Toes Nano Inflatable Stand Up Paddle Board For Kids
Ten Toes is another brand that has sold 1000’s of paddle boards – and for good reason. They offer a variety of paddle boards at a solid price and the Nano is made specifically for kids.
It comes with a few extras and the ever-important paddle so you’ll be in the water in no time at all.
- 3 color options (pink, green, and coral)
- 22 lbs
- Riders up to140 lbs (120 lbs and under preferred)
- Top deck bungee
- Included pump, aluminum paddle, and repair kit
- Nylon fins (removable)
- No bag, but it does roll up (11” x 36”
- 2-year warranty
I like this brand and I like the 2-year warranty. In my opinion it’s the best quality option on the list, however, it’s also more expensive (check Ten Toes Nano on Amazon).
The size (8 feet) is perfect for kids and smaller adults – so if you have petite children they can ride this as they are teenagers too. Ten Toes is the only paddle board for kids that offers various color options as well.
#3 Freein Young Kids Inflatable Paddle Board
Freein makes paddle boards that are sold on Amazon and Ebay. They aren’t as well known as the 2 options above, however, this kids paddle board may be what you’re looking for.
It comes with a few of the extras you’d expect and at a price that’s hard to beat (great as a starter board).
- 7’8” x 28” x 6”
- 17 lbs
- Weight limit (176 lbs)
- Removable fins
- No pump
- Top deck EVA pad and handle
Reviews for this board are positive and state what you’d expect from a decent board at a great price. One comment mentions “average board for a good price”. Other people think it’s perfect for young kids learning to use a paddle board (check Freein SUP on Amazon).
For the price, I think you’re getting a good paddle board. I wish it had a pump and I’d like to see more color options, but all-in-all it’s a good option for kids.
#4 True Wave 8’ Youth Paddle Board (rigid)
True wave offers the only rigid paddle board on our list (all others are inflatable). This board is a soft construction with an EPS core.
It’s definitely a learners board but big enough for petite adults too.
- Weighs only 12 lbs
- EPS core with 3 stringer system
- Max weight 100 lbs
- Deck traction pad
- Molded grip/handle
- Paddle (adjustable)
- Removable fin
Customer mention they bought it for kids 6-12 years old. The few reviews are great and I believe it’s a good board for the price (although a little more expensive than the Freein) (check True Wave youth board on Amazon).
The single color scheme of blue/white/light blue will work for boys and gils. Another good option for kids.
#5 Fun Extra For Paddle Boards
Kids love to have fun on their board and this accessory can add a little flair to their board. Blow up characters include a duck, dolphin, orca, shark, submarine, swan, unicorn, whale (they’re even fun for adults).
You’ll get some attention in the water and you’ll get a few laughs as well. As an added bonus, these blow-ups have a sea to relax on when you get tired of standing (check the blow-up accessories on Amazon).
What To Look For In A Kids Paddle Board
Inflatable or Rigid
One thing you’ll notice quickly is that some boards are inflatable while others are rigid. Amateurs will think that an inflatable paddle board is inferior to a rigid board but this isn’t the case. In fact, most paddle boards in use are inflatable and they have a number of benefits.
They offer better storage and can be kept in a large bag. They don’t require a roof rack when driving to and from the water. They are thick and sturdy, much like a rigid board.
Rigid SUPs are used by racers, lifeguards, surfers, and other serious boarders that live close to the water. Most casual paddle boarders are best suited for an inflatable option.
Check to see if your board comes with a paddle (most important). Some boards include fins for the bottom of the board, a carrying bag, a pump, and bungees on the deck to store items while paddle boarding.
Size of the Board
The size is important, especially for kids. But the size of the paddle also matters. Finding a board that fits them will ensure they have a pleasant experience. Stick them on a SUP that’s too big and they might never want to do it again.
A warranty is important and the better SUPs will include them. One quality brand on the list is Ten Toes. They are well-known in the industry and offer a 2-year warranty. If you want quality, this is the best one.
Maybe your child wants a paddle board as a gift. Maybe you’re rewarding them for learning how to swim. Or maybe you’re trying to encourage them to get outside and exercise.
A paddle board for kids can be a great gift idea and it will help teach balance and develop strength. Even kids that can’t swim can enjoy a paddle board as long as they are wearing a life jacket.
I’ve seen kids dragging their parent’s board on the ground (this will damage it). I’ve also witnessed kids struggling to propel themselves on a large paddle board. In addition to the difficulty, adult paddle boards might discourage kids from trying the activity in the future.
In this article, we discussed the benefits of a kids paddle board. We looked at specifics you should look for, such as inflatable or rigid, extras, paddles, and a warranty.
My choice for the best paddle board is the Airhead Popsicle, but Ten Toes is close behind because they include something that Airhead doesn’t (a paddle).
Do your research and find a paddle board that works best for you. There are plenty of options out there!
Let us know which one you choose.