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This guide is a partial list of companies
that can provide proper gear for your young kayaker. It is now updated
with new helmets and paddles.

Kids fall into various sizes. Once kids get up
to 100 pounds there are plenty of options for dry tops, helmets,
paddles, lifejackets, and clothes. For this reason, I will focus
on less than 100 pounds and less than 5’ tall.


Finding a boat that fits a little kid was impossible until
the Fun 1 since there was none. The Jib, Dynamo, Blast, and Evo were all boats
marketed as kids boats. Certainly kids can paddle them, but they all are outdated
and geared more to the 90-130 pounders and all of them fit up to 5’ 8”
people, not exactly designed for your 5-12 year old. Since I have a 10 year
old that is 4’2” tall and 58 pounds, I designed this first boat,
the Fun 1 for him. The reason to have kid in a little boat like the Fun 1 is
simple. It is lightweight, easy to roll, easy to learn in, is super fun to paddle,
and your kid will feel like a champ in a cool boat.


Finding a paddle that works for your kid is not
easy either. Here are the sizes I have been using for my kids over
the years at different weights and heights:

  • 2 and ½ years old, 24 pounds- 130cm
    wood paddle with small blades
  • 4 years old, 35 pounds- 150 cm wood paddle
    with small blades.
  • 6 years old, 44 pounds- 150 cm wood paddle
    with small blades.
  • 8 years old, 50 pounds- 165 cm Seven2 paddle
    with medium blades. (Seven2 made them special, they are not available
    to the public, go with one of the options below)
  • 10 years old, 58 pounds- 175 cm Seven2 paddle
    with medium blades.

I recommend the follow options.

1. The Werner smallshaft with any blades you
choose. Big blades aren’t bad because it gives a kid extra
surface area for rolling and bracing. If you think that you want
smaller blades, you can buy the standard glass blades and trim them
down with a sander.

2. Mitchell paddles.- Dave Mitchell has been
making top quality paddles for slalom racers forever. He makes special
order paddles that are lightweight, beautiful, and sized perfectly
for your kids. Whether wood, composite, or a wood composite combo,
there is a paddle for every size, price range, and fancy. The small
nature of their business allows for special orders.

3. AT is making a small shaft bentshaft paddle
for 2004 that is based on the AT4. Functional, but not too expensive.

I have seen that some parents have heeded my
advice and are ordering their little kids a paddle from Mitchell.
Another wood paddle company is now in the mix and is very excited
to make paddles for Jackson Kayak customers. It is called Woody’s
Custom Paddles. Here is what he sends me:

Hello Eric, My name is wayne schonell and I have started a new
we met a few years back when I was instructing for summit kayak
school, I have spent the last year developing my product and it
is now ready for the general public, I would really like to make
Dane a bent shaft paddle as being a custom paddle maker we intend
to make paddles for any and everyones specific needs.

Our paddles are made with a wood shaft laminated
in a zero degree oriented knitted fiberglass, the blades are foam,
laminated in kevlar and carbon fiber, using epoxy resins. I believe
I am making the strongest paddle on the market and would of course
reduce the strength factor for Dane and other kids to make the paddles
weight comparable to their weight.I have made surfboards for over
25 years and use those skills in the making of our paddles, if this
is something you would be interested in could you please send me
the length of paddle, the width of his grip measuring between the
outside of his big knuckles of his thumbs, also the diameter of
his grip if possible.

Our website is up and running and should
be 100% ready to except orders by the end of this week for anyone
else interested in our product.

As a reference you could talk to Marty Cronin
as he was able to see our product first hand at the cks paddlefest
this past weekend here in colorado. Good luck with your new line,
the boats look awesome and going by the interest shown this weekend
you look to be having a great start to your new venture, congratulations,
Wayne Schonell.


Lifejackets for kids come from Lotus Designs.
A number of companies have made prototypes for my kids over the
years but in the end, if you want to buy one, it is called the “Half-Pint”
from Lotus. Go to
for information and a dealer near you. I am hoping that more companies
will jump on board and make production lifejackets in the near future.
The Half-Pint is a fully functional jacket based on the popular
“Sherman” adult vest. It looks good, allows for full
range of motion, and kids can get it on and off easily.


There are a variety of helmet companies that
have “small” helmets. Dane’s is super small, very
cool, and I am seriously considering getting it molded by Shred
Ready for next year’s production. Meanwhile the “Vixen”
is a great option from Shred Ready. It is much smaller than the
average helmet and fits most kids’ heads. It was designed as a women’s
helmet, so you may not want to tell your little boy that, but your
little girls will be psyched. The helmet comes in boy colors as

Heads: “Edge”

Dane found that the Greatfull Heads “Edge”
is a great size and easy to outfit for his small 10 year old head.
Several kids from 4 and up have tried it on and it worked nicely.
Dane also likes the look. We bought this helmet at Rock Creek on
the Ocoee during the Spring Splash weekend since our new dog ate
the straps off of his old helmet.

Josh at 13 is also now working with Dane on a
special helmet that will be designed for kids and designed with
the help of Dane. I don’t know when it will be available,
but keep your eyes out for that one too.

Soft Goods:

Lotus Designs:

For years Patagonia was the champion of the kids’
gear arena. Dane has had his “size 8” neoprene shorts
from them for the past four years and they are still fully functional.
The Patagonia brand has merged with Lotus so you will now be buying
Lotus Designs gear that was once Patagonia. The XS drytop is the
smallest they make. When Dane wore his for the first time at Great
Falls of the Potomac, he finished his paddling session, took off
his drytop and found that his polypro was still dry. His exact quote
was, “I am still dry! Thank you Lotus!” This is because
the gaskets are small enough for him. The arms are still too long
for a 5-8 year old, but functional. They claim to be designing a
women’s line in which the XS will be even smaller than the
current one. For Polypro there are many options from many sources,
including Lotus.

Lotus Drytop by Dane

My new Lotus top is awesome. Its gaskets are
nice and tight. The first day I used it I paddled for about 2 hours
and I take my drytop off and from my waist to my wrist of my polypro
was dry, Yeah! That’s never happened to me before. THANK YOU

Mountain Surf:

Mountain Surf provides a variety of fleece options
including farmer johns, shorts, vests, and tops. They also have
nice drytops but aren’t small enough for the 5-10 year olds.

Wet Suits: Most of the wet suit companies
make kids stuff. A farmer john, shorty farmer john, or wet suit
shorts are perfect for keeping kids warm. Remember, a warm kid is
a happy and safe kid. A little kid will get cold much faster than
an adult. Dane is skin and bones, no fat to keep him warm, so he
must dress warmer than me by a lot. I am putting him in a farmer
john wetsuit this winter, along with a drytop.


NRS booties are perfect for kids. Cheap, they
fit, and you can get them in all sizes.


Mountain Surf Creekmits work well, are easy to
get on and off and don’t hinder a kids’ paddling.

Stay tuned for more info. Please email
any other information to us that we are missing. The goal is to
make this section as complete as possible for parents and kids looking
for gear. I will do what I can to get manufacturers of gear to be
proactive in making kids stuff as well as making it more accessible.