What Size Kayak Paddle For A Child

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The kayak paddle is almost as important as the kayak itself. Both adult and young kayakers depend on their paddles to help them navigate the water safely. 

An incorrectly sized kayak paddle puts your child at risk of having no control over their kayak. It can turn an otherwise fun adventure into an uncomfortable outing. 

In this blog, you will learn why kayak sizing matters and how to choose the perfect paddle for your child.

Choosing the perfect paddle for your kid

By the time kids are about 8 years old, they are usually ready to paddle a kayak. The paddle is your kid’s intimate connection with the water. So, how it works and feels is important. But, what size kayak paddle for a child, is a familar question we hear from many parents.

Kayak paddles come in various sizes for children. Kids have shorter arms and torsos. There are a variety of shorter paddles designed to make kayaking much easier for children.

Parents are concerned about the best paddle length to choose for their kids. An incorrectly sized kayak paddle puts young folks at risk of having no control over their kayak. This can turn an otherwise fun adventure into an uncomfortable expedition.

There are many kid-friendly kayak paddles. The most important aspects to consider when selecting a paddle for your child are weight, paddle length, and ease of holding. 

  • Little kids age 3 to 4 can begin with a 152 cm paddle which is like a practice paddle.
  • Children age 4 to 8 can use a 182 cm paddle on a child-sized kayak.
  • Kids age 8 to 13 use a 190 cm paddle on a child-sized kayak.

How To Size A Kayak Paddle

You should consider a few factors when selecting your kayak paddle for your child. They include the width of your child’s kayak, their body measurements, and whether they are high-angle or low-angle paddlers. 

Kayak measurement 

The first step in paddle sizing for kids is to know their kayak. For the most precise width measurement of their kayak, measure it at its widest point.

Child’s body measurement 

After measuring your kayak, it’s time to record your child’s measurements.

There are two different ways to measure your kid for kayak paddles: 

    • the height of your torso
    • the total height of your body as a whole
  • Kids under 4 feet tall: They should avoid a paddle that is longer than 182 centimeters. 
  • Children between 4 and 4 and 1/2 feet height: They are best off choosing paddles between 182 and 190 centimeters long. 
  • Kids that are closer to 5 feet height: They should choose a paddle between 190 and 210 centimeters. 
  • Children taller than 5 feet: They should follow the same size guidelines as adults.

Shape of Paddle 

For kids who are new to kayaking, select a kayak paddle with the blade to be smaller than the one on an adult paddle. Many kids will find a paddle with a large blade difficult to use when starting out. A short paddle blade lightens the load by reducing the amount of water being moved by the kid.

For experienced children, look for a longer, narrower blade shape as opposed to a shorter, fatter shape. This will make the paddle easier for them to use. A longer and narrower blade will be easier for children to use because it will offer less resistance.

Shaft or handle 

​Shaft for a child’s paddle should be smaller in diameter than an adult paddle. The little hands can hold a small shaft easily.      

If you need further assistance in choosing the right kayak paddle for your kid, many outdoor stores hire employees with experience in paddle sizing.

Why The Size Of Your Kayak Paddle Matters 

If you choose an incorrectly sized paddle for your kayak, you will risk losing comfort, control, and usability. 


Your child’s comfort is important for a successful paddling experience. It mostly depends on the way your kid handle their paddles.

If the kayak paddles are too long, kids might find themselves unable to lift and move them easily. Kayak paddles that are too short for a child can lead to sore hands and knuckles. Short paddles also lead to back pain from having to lean too far over to reach the water.


If your child can’t use his/her kayak paddles correctly, he/she could end up stuck on the water. Navigation, turning and directing your kayak all depend on the correct paddle size and usage.


There are various factors that come into play when sizing kayak paddles for kids. These factors include angling and experience level. If you choose a paddle intended for deep-sea kayaking while you use it for your child’s first casual trip on the lake, you are probably going to run into some problems.

Read more on kayak paddle sizes.

What happens when you use too long a paddle for kayaking?

Kayaking with a paddle longer leads to a whole lot of awful experiences for kids.

  • The child tends to exert extra energy by using a paddle that’s too long.
  • It is really difficult for a child to maintain stability in kayaks when a longer paddle is used.
  • In using a too-long paddle, your child’s hand moves along the shaft. This causes blisters especially if the shaft is made of wood or iron.

Paddling accessories for kids 

Here is a list of other paddling accessories we have found helpful and fun for kids:

  • Paddle Leash: It can be used for your kid’s paddle. A paddle leash can even tow a child-sized kayak carrying a tired kid.
  • Clip-on Kayak Paddle Holder: They are removable clips attached to the kayak to hold your kid’s paddle while they enjoy a sandwich. 
  • Paddle Grips: They allow your child to get a better grip for more efficient paddling. Paddle grips also reduce blisters and calluses.
  • Floating Waterproof Dry Bag: The amazing waterproof floating dry bag keeps your kids’ things dry. These waterproof bags are available in many sizes.
  • Paddle Drip Rings: They keep your kids dry while paddling.

Final thoughts

Establishing a love of the outdoors and sports from an early age is very important. Many of the enthusiastic athletes and nature lovers fell in love with their favorite sport as young kids. 

Kayaking is one of the easiest water sports to teach your kids. All things considered, it’s a fairly low-maintenance family activity.

Having the right size paddle for your child is one of the most important factors in having an enjoyable day out on the water. Choosing the right paddle length for kids depends on many factors that are determined by their size, paddling style, and type of vessel. 

The more your child develops and fine-tunes their paddling, the easier it will be for you to determine what’s the best paddle length for your kid.

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