What to Know Buyer’s Guide SUP for Kids and Youth
Nothing can beat the kind of fun you experience when you’re out on the water with your kids. Standup paddle boarding can be a great exercise, and to top it all off, it gets your kids out of the house so that you can spend some quality time together.
As good as it might sound, getting to it can be a pretty daunting task. First off, shopping for the best SUP board for your kid is no easy undertaking. And once you’ve got that out of the way, you’re still not sure whether your kid will still be interested in a SUP a few years down the line.
So, what can you do about it? To get the most out of your purchase, you need to get a SUP board for adults that also works for kids. This way, if your kids lose interest, you can still use the board yourself, and if they still want to go standup paddle boarding when they get older, you don't have to buy them a new board.
What SUP Works best for Kids?
Just because smaller SUP boards are specifically designed for kids doesn’t mean that they can’t paddle an adult-size board.
When you’re out shopping for a SUP board for your kid, you should consider getting them a board that is on the smaller end of adult-size boards. For example, a 9-10 inches board can be paddled comfortably by a kid and still be enjoyed by an experienced adult under 200 lbs.
Similarly, 7-foot boards, which are designed for river surfing, work perfectly for kids.
In terms of thickness, it is advisable that you get a 5-inch thick board, rather than a 6-inch board, since the thinner the board is, the lower it rides on the water, and the easier it is for your kid to climb back on when they fall in the water. Thinner boards also weigh less, making them easier to carry.
What is the best SUP fin setup for Kids?
If you've been standup paddle boarding for a while, then I don't need to tell you how breakable fins can be. And, kids, being kids, will always find ways to break the fins, we all do. It just happens. For this reason, you need to buy a board with permanently attached fins since they are much harder to break than removable fins.
Another way to go is by buying an adult board with a configurable fin system. These types of boards allow you to replace any broken or lost fins.
What is the Best SUP Deck Pad Best for Kids?
Apart from fins, deck pads are the second most damageable SUP board parts. So, since you’re buying a board for your kid, you should consider getting a board with a deck pad made of highly-resistant materials. These kinds of boards might cost you slightly more than your standard budget models, but in the long run, you’ll see the cost-saving benefits.
Inflatable SUP or Hardboard, which one is better for Kids?
Inflatable SUP boards are arguably the best option when it comes to kids.
For starters, kids play around a lot and may potentially mistreat the board. You need a durable board that won’t get dinged or damaged when it is not appropriately handled.
Also, inflatable boards are pretty soft, so you don't have to worry about your kids getting hurt when they mistakenly hit themselves on the head, or as it happens quite a lot, hit you with it!
Similarly, unlike hardboards with fins that cut like razors, inflatable SUP boards use flexible fins that are far less hazardous.
What is the Most Appropriate Age to get your Kid a SUP Board?
I'd say the best age to start your kids off on paddle boarding is eight years. Eight-year-olds are pretty small, so you might need to buy a kids board for them.
This is because adult-sized boards are pretty heavy, and since standup paddle boarding is pretty much a whole-body exercise, they might not be able to handle a giant board.
Which is the Best Type of SUP for Kids and Teens?
Before you go out shopping for a new SUP board for your kid, you should know the different types of boards to make the right decision. There are three common types of SUP board constructions out there. They include:
- Epoxy hard boards
- Inflatable SUP boards
- Soft top boards
All these types are unique since they are all made of different materials. The difference in construction materials means that they perform differently in certain conditions.
1. Epoxy Hard Boards
It doesn't matter how long you've been paddle boarding; you've definitely seen one of these. Epoxy rigid boards are constructed from EPS foam and several layers of epoxy resin and fiberglass to prevent the formation of dings.
The effect of an EPS construction is a lightweight, more durable SUP that offers both flexibility and maneuverability for the rider.
Epoxy hard boards are incredibly agile in water, and their shape allows for an additional glide. This makes them a perfect choice for long-distance paddle boarding adventures.
That being said, I wouldn't recommend buying an epoxy hardboard SUP for your young kid. Their 'hard' nature makes them quite dangerous to kids. Buy, as far as teens are concerned. I’d say it’s an excellent fit for them, provided they have a level of experience.
2. Inflatable Paddleboards
Over the last few years, the popularity of inflatable paddleboards has grown tremendously. This is partly due to their portability, not to mention that they are considerably safer than hard boards.
If your favorite water body is far from where you live, inflatable paddle boards are the best way to go. You can transport them while deflated and when you get to your destination, all you have to do is pump them up to the suggested PSI, and you're ready to go.
The most common question asked when it comes to inflatable SUPs is how rigid they are. Well, the answer here is pretty straightforward. iSUPs are just as rigid as hard boards epoxy SUPs.
They are constructed using the latest drop stitch technology, and they are made from multiple high-density PVC layers. The effect is a solid SUP that is perfect for kids and beginners alike.
3. Soft Top Paddleboards
Soft top paddle boards are constructed using the same principle as soft top surfboards. Typically, the front deck is made of a soft foam material.
However, soft top paddle boards are still rigid since their core is constructed from solid and sturdy materials. Their core is made of a high-density EPS foam with a supporting piece across the center of the board.
This centerpiece is known as a stringer, and its primary purpose is to improve the board's rigidity.
Some soft top paddleboards come equipped with an additional layer laminated with epoxy resin and fiberglass for added stability and rigidity.
What is the Best paddleboard Size for my Kid?
The one size fits all policy does not apply when it comes to standup paddleboards. The general rule applied when determining the right paddleboard size for your kid is adding 9-10 inches to your kid’s height.
In addition to their height, you should also consider their weight. Taller and heavier kids are best suited for smaller-sized adult SUPs, but when it comes to short, lightweight kids, you should get them a smaller board like those designed specifically for kids.
Can you take your Kids Paddle boarding if they don’t know how to swim?
You don’t need to know how to swim to ride a SUP. But, since we’re talking about kids, you should err on the right side and teach them basic swimming skills before taking them out into the water.
That being said, whenever you go paddle boarding with your kids, no matter how good their swimming skills are, you should always ensure that they wear a lifejacket. After all, you can’t tell when an accident is about to happen. Right?
The Bottom Line
Kids are adaptable, so in a way, they can ride almost any board you throw their way. That being said, kids have an easier time riding on shorter boards.
However, since you can’t tell how long your kids will be interested in paddle boarding, you can take advantage of their interest to buy yourself that short river or surfing board you've always wanted. The significant advantage to doing this is that even if your kids lose interest, you or any other member of your family can make use of the board instead of letting your investment go to waste.
I hope this makes your purchase a little easier and better educated. Either way you're going to enjoy your new SUP.