2017 Water Sports Gear Guide: Wakeboards

Use these tips to select the perfect wakeboard for your skills and riding location.

2017 Water Sports Gear Guide: Wakeboards
2017 Water Sports Gear Guide: WakeboardsBryan Soderlind

Picking the perfect wakeboard is challenging for even the most experienced riders, so it can be downright daunting if you’re new to the sport.

Don’t fret: We’re here to help. We’ll assist you in a little self-discovery, walk you through the core concepts of board buying, and share this year’s latest and greatest boards. Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be able to narrow your search to a few select models. From there, head to your local wake shop and ask for some demos, because no amount of reading is an adequate substitute for actually feeling how a board performs beneath your feet.

Ask Yourself
Where will you ride most — behind the boat, in the park, or a combination of the two?

What’s your preferred riding style?

Do you like a more locked-in feel, or do you prefer more maneuverability?

Need to Know
Wakeboards these days are typically designed to ride behind the boat, at the park, or a little of both.

Boat Boards
If you're buying a board to ride exclusively behind the boat, you'll want a wakeboard that is designed specifically for wake riding. Boat boards typically have stiffer flex patterns, which help them hold their shape as you ride through the transition of a wake. These boards also tend to have fins and bottom features, like channels and center spines, that help you track through the face of the wake and soften landings in the flats or when you case the wake.

Wake-Park Boards
Boards designed for wake-park environments typically have softer flex patterns and feature-free bases with removable fins. More flex allows riders to press and otherwise play on park features like rails and kickers, while clean bottoms and removable fins keep you from getting hung up on obstacles. Most park boards also feature extradurable bases and sidewalls to help them hold up to the repeated abuse of the park.

Hybrid Boards
While some boards are designed to ride exclusively behind the boat or in the park, hybrid boards are designed to get the job done in both riding environments. If you value crossover compliance over specialized performance, look for a board that blends characteristics of park and boat boards. Hybrid boards typically feature softer flex in the tip and tail for pressing in the park and a stiffer flex between your boots for boost off the wake. Removable fins, which provide traction behind the boat but come off for hang-up-free park riding, are a must.