Get kid kayak or just a kid sized paddle

My (small) 8 year old nephew loves going kayaking…usually with me since I’m the relative with kayaks. He does OK in my Old Town Otter and in my Walden Experience, but he “bashes” the paddles on the sides of both (he’s using the shorter of my two paddles).

I’ve found an Old Town Loon 86 locally on Craigslist, with paddle, but I wonder if getting a “kid sized” kayak is the right route for the occasional adventure. Would he have better luck in my adult kayaks with a child sized paddle?

If I got the Loon 86, it would be one more boat to store. We already own 3 kayaks (the third is a Walden Spirit tandem with child seat) and a canoe. On the upside, in another few years my 2 year old can use the Loon…


longer paddle
he might do better with a longer paddle and possibly something that would boost him higher in the seat. A smaller and shorter paddle will only make it harder for him to reach the water from such a wide and deep boat and make it more likely he would bash his fingers.

Get the Loon if the price is right
It’s a kids boat, narrow and shallow enough to minimize knuckle banging, and they won’t feel like they’re paddling a brick.

Good advice
From Willowleaf on getting him something to sit on as well. I have been letting my 10 year old who is smaller use different length paddles to try to get a good stroke. Even using 10cm adjustment with my Onno he’s still bumping the sides regularly. He paddles a 21" wide Tsunami SP which is still pretty wide for him at 4’1. Seeing Tahe selling a booster seat type adapter for their Lifestyle Solo got me thinking. Yesterday I went to the sports store and bought a couple of soft gel/foam seat pads and glued them together to get about 2" inches thickness. It will squish some but hopefully it will be the ticket to a decent stroke…

Loon isn’t narrow
At 27" beam I would not characterize the Loon as “narrow”. I would find that an uncomfortably wide kayak to paddle myself as an average sized adult. The Tsunami SP, scaled to children and small adults, is 21".

Loon 86 is 22 inches wide.
The Loon 86, according to the specs I read, is 22 inches wide. Definitely a kids boat.

I stand corrected
You’re right, I was looking at the 138 specs (got confused between this post and another on the Loon 138). Thanks for checking on that.

ONNO makes a kids paddle
I picked one up from him, 2 piece and adjustable length, CF shaft and small plastic blades. It’s very light and my 5 year old grand daughter has no problems with it. I put her into the Piccolo I bought a couple of years ago. If you can find one, it’s a great kids boat and works for small adults.

Follow up
Just a note regarding the 2" foam pad. Huge improvement, my son now has a great stroke. He just needed the extra height provided by the foam pad to get the angle right. I also tested it with my daughter. She said it made it much easier for her to paddle the Scorpio LV rather than the Tsunami SP she normally paddles.

don’t underestimate him
My 10 year old son paddles my wife’s Necky Eliza with no problem at all. Using a 220 paddle, he is all over it, and can keep up with me no problem. He has a “kid’s kayak”, a SOT of some make that Andre the Giant coudn’t capsize. And he also paddles an older WS Pungo that we’ve had forever. But the boy is totally fine in a 15 foot, 23 inch, “sea kayak”, and prefers it over all other options.

I say, get something he a can grow into. That will cause him to develop. Not the opposite.

I went to get my daughter a kayak when she was about 10 or 11 - broke my heart that I was losing my bow paddler, but we have to let them go don’t we.

Anyway, I went to a local shop that I knew well, and they recommended a much bigger boat that I would have thought (13’ long, 24” wide) and full size paddle. She did fine then, and still uses the boat and paddle today (she is now 22). Width is much more important than length when getting a boat – you don’t want them in a bathtub. The longer paddle allowed her the reach the water without banging the boat. I did get her the lightest full size paddle I could find. In a paddle, weight is probably as big an issue as length.