2015 Water Sports Gear Guide: Wakeboards

Choose the right wakeboard based on features and riding environment.

Wakeboards

Behind the Boat
If you plan to ride behind the boat exclusively, keep an eye out for stiffer flex patterns and fins. Boat-oriented shapes are designed to perform well while riding through the transition of the wake. These boards tend to have stiffer flex patterns in order to keep your rocker from changing as you ride through the wake's transition. They also tend to have bottom features and fins to keep you tracking as you edge through the face of the wake. Both the flex pattern and rocker are left up to the rider's preference. At the Park
Be on the lookout for softer flex patterns and fins that are removable or nonexistent. Flex is ideal in the park for pressing on rails, absorbing transitionless landings, and creating an overall more-playful feel underfoot. Boards that have no fins, or fins that are removable, will allow you to hit obstacles without getting hung up. Likewise, fewer bottom features make for a smoother ride but sacrifice traction when finless. Hybrid
If you are looking for a board that excels at both the cable park and behind the boat, then you're in luck, because most wakeboards are well suited for both environments these days. There are very few boards that will not work for both. Generally, any cable board can still be ridden behind the boat if you don't mind looser traction and softer flex patterns. However most boat-exclusive boards don't translate over to park riding as well due to less-durable base materials and complex bottom features. The ideal hybrid board has removable fins and moderate flex. Outside those parameters, it's left completely up to personal preference.
Boating Magazine
Flex:
Every board has some amount of flex to it given enough pressure. Some flex a lot, and some are incredibly stiff. Manufacturers design each of their boards to be flexible or stiff in strategic areas underfoot. There is no right or wrong answer here. It all boils down to your own personal preference. Rocker:
Rocker is the arc or bend in the board that keeps the tips up and the belly down. More rocker favors abrupt pop and softer landings, while boards with less rocker have less drag, which makes the board glide across the water more easily. Fins:
Fins can be bolted on or molded into the shape of the board. Channels may also run along the base of the board. These bottom features direct the flow of water and help stabilize the board by adding traction. Boards with fewer bottom features track looser with less drag, while boards with deep channels and large fins will track much tighter, creating a more locked-in feel on the water.
Byerly Buck
Things We Like: Wide tip and tail design provides for more pop off the wake. + The Fiberglass Rope Construction adds strength and rigidity to the perimeter, allowing for a thinner overall profile with less swing weight. + The continuous rocker and subtle bottom features keeps this board fast with a smooth feel on the water. Size: 54.5, 56.5 in. MSRP: $375
byerlywakeboards.com
Humanoid Huxtable
Things We Like: Deep belly channels that fade out to nothing at the tips keep the board catch-free on rails and grippy when finless at the park. + The slight concave in the tip and tail keeps you locked in when pressing those round pipe rails. + The all-wood core and durable sidewall material keep the board lively all season long, and protected from abuse on rails. Size: 126, 132, 138, 142 cm MSRP: $480
humanoidwake.com
Humanoid O'Shea Pro
Things We Like: The stiff, all-wood core is thick in the middle and thinned out in the tips to keep the board strong yet lively underfoot. + A healthy dose of continuous rocker provides a great blend of speed and pop at the wake. + Its six 0.7-inch fin configuration allows you to choose between tight, responsive tracking, or remove the two center fins for a looser, more playful feel. Size: 135, 139, 144 cm MSRP: $500
humanoidwake.com
Hyperlite Kruz Bio
Things We Like: New carbon torsion zones help keep this board stiff and strong to accommodate Rusty Malinsoki's aggressive riding style. + The strata mounting system allows for infinite stance adjustment. + Defined base channels, thin rails, angled fins, and a continuous rocker keep this board feeling fast and locked in on edge. Size: 134, 139, 144 cm MSRP: $555
hyperlite.com
Hyperlite Socialite
Things We Like: A softer core gives this board a park-friendly flex pattern that's moderate in the belly, and accentuated in the tip and tail. + The thinned-out tip and tail reduces the overall swing weight, making the board light and lively underfoot. + Designed to withstand a heavy beating at the park, the sidewalls and base material are incredibly durable. Size: 135, 139 cm MSRP: $610
hyperlite.com
Liquid Force Remedy
Things We Like: The Remedy maintains with a healthy amount of rocker for an abrupt, pro-level pop at the wake that is Harley Clifford approved. + Strategic bottom channels and tip and tail shape keep it feeling fast on the water. + Thinner low-volume rails give the board a better bite on edge and a lighter feel underfoot. Size: 134, 138, 142 cm MSRP: $450
liquidforce.com