Paddling with children is extremely rewarding be it with your children, grand children, nieces, nephews, or instructing and introducing young newcomers to the outdoors. To ensure that everyone enjoys themselves and that you make the best out of the available time you need to make sure that everyone is warm, comfortable and feels safe. Having a good degree of knowledge and experience yourself is extremely important but also of great importance is providing everyone with the correct clothing and equipment. Up and Under Watersports can give some tips on the former but we know all about the best paddling equipment and childrens clothing for open canoeing, kayaking and sit on top kayaking.
As with any activity outdoors you need to keep yourself and those in your care, particularly children, safe from the elements. The chances of a day on the water with children without them getting wet is slim, infact if they end up dry you are probably missing out on half the fun. So primarily you need to keep everyone warm even when they are wet. The key layer will be a wetsuit; you can choose from longjohns, shorties or one piece suits. For kayaking we suggest a childrens longjohn wetsuit such as the Palm All-Round or the Moby Childs Longjohn as they offer lots of freedom of movment around the arms. Alternatively consider either the CSR Motive Shorty or Motive One-Piece which can also be used for body boarding or dinghy sailing. 
With longjohn wetsuits your arms will be bare so we recommend wearing a base layefor comfort and warmth. The CSR Menace rash vest is available in either long sleeve or short sleeve and is a good summer weight option. Alternatively or in addition you could also look at the thicker and warmer Nookie Thermal range of log and short sleeve tops. 

If your child does get wet and is then sat in a boat for a while or even if you take them out on a windy day they will need an extra layer to stop the wind. A canoe cag will help you here and our favourite kids options are the Yak Quest and the Palm Vector
It is important to remember to protect childrens soft feet against any unpleasant items that may be on the floor around where you are paddling and to keep them warm as well. The CSshoe is ideal but if your children have size 4 feet or larger have a look at the Palm Action Wet boot or the Palm Quartz shoe

Your child is warm and comfy on the river bank, but now its time to get on the water. How do you keep them safe?

Keeping your child afloat if they fall overboard or capsize is vital. We provide a range of buoyancy aids and life jackets for children. Whichever you choose they must fit well and be properly adjusted before use. When considering size and fit think about the amount of space you may want to leave under it for items such as a canoe cag and thermals. For the youngest paddlers we recommend the Crewsaver Spiral childrens life jacket as it comes in 4 different sizes and floats the child on their back away from the water. They are also useful for sailing and on motor boats. The first buoyancy aid that we range for children is the Palm Quest which is available in 2 different sizes and comes with a crutch strap to keep it securely in place. Alternatively the Yak Kallista Legacy Junior has a lot of adjustment in the waist, chest and shoudlers and gives a more advanced fit, it also has a crutch strap to stop the buoyancy aid riding up when jumping into the water. The Palm Universal Youth is highly adjustable and will suit families with a few children who will be taking it in turns to go kayaking The Palm FX is designed for budding whitewater kayaking stars and the smaller sizes will suit such children. Our favourite recommendation for longer coatsal and inland waterway trips is the Peak UK Tourlite Zip
The next important area ithe protection of the head. Our childrens specific kayaking helmet is the WRSI Current Junior. We also carry helmets that adjust to a small child sized fit such as the AP2000 full cut kayaking helmet and the AP4000 side cut helmet. A full cut helmet provides much better allround protection, but many children are unhappy about being put inside them and this is when a half cut comes into play.  
So your child is fully clothed and kitted from head to toe in softwear. So its time to get out on the water, but all they can do is sit there and watch you. What they need is a paddle and maybe even their own boat.

If you are open canoeing then they will probably be in a boat with you so a paddle is all they need and we recommend the Grey Owl Owlet.  

For kayaking they will need a paddle and a boat. Our entry level kayak blade is the TNP Kayak. This is ideal for use on flat water and is available in either a symmetric or an assymetric blade. For white water have a look at the UK Manufactured Streamlyte Kidzstix which is available in a variety of sizes and mounted on a fibreglass shaft to reduce the weight. Our top end kids white water paddle is the very popular Werner Amigo which gives improved sensitivity and performance as well as being lighter. 

The range of children's kayaks that is available gets larger by the year and we are able to get most of them in for you. We keep in stock the most popular models such as the Dagger Dynamo in standard and Pro specs. The Dynamo Pro features thigh braces that will assist in learning to Eskimo roll. The Pyranha Rebel is available in two specs - the Club which is ideal for outdoor centre use and the Rapid which is suited to the individual child as it comes with better outfitting for greater comfort. Other options include the Jackson Shooting Star which is well suited for playboting, the Jackson SidekickJackson Little Hero and Liquid Logic Remix 47 all ideal for more advanced river running.

So you've got all the gear for your children, you've got the knowledge and experience and now you've no excuse so get yourself and your kids out there paddling.

All the best from Up and Under.

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