Wakeboarding 101: Gear Guide For Beginners

Wakeboarding is absolutely one of the most fun water sports that you can do. But, it can be daunting to take on a new sport. In order to have the best, and the safest, time out on the water, you will first want to make sure that you have all of the appropriate gear to get going. This gear includes a board, bindings, and impact vest, helmet, and a wetsuit. 

Board

The board is the most important piece of gear that you will need for wakeboarding. Having the right kind of wakeboard can make or break your entire wakeboarding experience.

Beginning wakeboards should opt for a board that is more conservative, because your riding style will not have been completely fleshed out yet, so you will not know exactly what kind of board you should be buying.

To start with, it would be a good idea to opt for a board that is more budget friendly since you are just developing your skills and might want to change your mind. It would be a good idea to consult with a wakeboarding center or locale pro shop to help you work out which board would be the most appropriate for you.

In some cases, novice riders will start with a kneeboard to help them learn proper form before advancing. Depending on whom you are learning with, this might be a good option for you, but it is a completely personal kind of situation. 

Longer wakeboards are the best approach for learning riders, however, because they have a solid feel about them. They are also typically heavier than shorter boards, making it harder to catch air, but also easier to hang onto.

What To Consider When Choosing A Wakeboard

Wakeboard Gear

Wakeboard Length & Size

The first factor is the size and length of the wakeboard. For example, a rider between 130 and 180 pounds would want a wakeboard between 135 and 139 centimetres in length, but a rider between 170 and 250 pounds might want something longer. The general rule is that the heavier the rider, the longer you will want the wakeboard to be.

Fins

Some wakeboards will come with fins, which are used on wakeboards to help give you better grip and stability. Longer fins help give you more contact with the water, but will also make it harder to catch any air, making them a natural choice for beginners.  Molded fins are usually more durable and will hold up better, but if they are damaged, they cannot be replaced.

Wakeboard Rocker

There are four types of wakeboard rockers: continuous, 3-stage, camber, and hybrid rockers. Generally, beginning riders will want to stay with a 3-stage rocker, because they are more forgiving.

The continuous rockers have a fast and smooth ride, and are better suited for advanced riders. A camber rocker might also work for beginners as it is more about stability than tricks, but there are also hybrid rockers that take different elements from different types.

Wakeboard Base Shapes

Wakeboards offer a lot of variety when it comes to their base shapes. There are several varieties, including concave, channels, grind base, featureless, as well as others. For a beginner, the v-shape might be a good choice since it offers a soft padding.

Bindings

The second piece of gear to think about is the binding. Whoever is selling you your wakeboard should be handling this piece of gear for you, but it is still a good idea to know what you should be looking for.

There are various flexes with the best wakeboard bindings, and as a beginner, you will want to opt for something with more forgiveness, because your balance and skills will not be perfected yet.

There are a few different binding styles, including the open toe, closed toe, and system bindings.

  • Open Toe: The first style is an open toe style that will provide you with more flexibility in shoe size, which is great for children or when more than one person will be using the same wakeboard. There is less responsiveness with an open toe, because of the more flexible construction.
  • Closed Toe: Generally, closed toe bindings are better for control and are more comfortable to wear. These are sized to your feet so they would just be yours.
  • System: System bindings strap around your ankles and toes. Only specific boots will work with these and they are customized. This is not a good choice for beginners

Closure Systems

You will get some choice in closure system with your bindings as well. We suggest anything that is going to be simple and fast. The primary types of closures as laces with fasteners, Velcro, or the BOA system. This is how they break down:

  • Laces with Fasteners: These are a common choice and are simple and efficient. You lace the bindings and then cinch them with a strap.
  • Velcro: Velcro straps are a no-tie fastening system that is quick to secure and will let you adjust the tightness of the fit.
  • BOA System: The BOA system is made for efficiency. They use steel laces that are ratcheted closed with a dial and are entirely laceless.

Impact Vest

The truth of the matter is that as a beginning wakeboard rider, you are going to fall down. You are going to fall down often. You might also get hurt or beat up in the process, making the purpose of an impact vest all the more important. An impact vest works to absorb the impact of contact when you hit the water, protecting your body.

While some vests are made for competition and lack the floatation component, as a beginner, you will absolutely want a vest that has buoyancy to keep you afloat when you inevitably fall in the water.

Helmet

Helmets are not widely used in wakeboarding. But, they also were not commonly worn in skiing and now are the norm.

Wakeboarding helmets are made out of a special material that is protective and water resistant, helping to prevent brain injuries if you do happen to crash roughly. If you do opt for a helmet, make sure it is for wakeboarding especially to get the right protection.

Wetsuit

As with helmets, not all wakeboard riders wear a wetsuit. A wetsuit will help keep you warm in the water. Even if you are in a warmer climate, if you are in the water for prolonged periods of time, you are going to want a wetsuit to help you maintain your body temperature.

If you go for a wetsuit, remember that the colder the water, the heavier the wetsuit you want. As we said, not all beginners would go for one, but you will be far more comfortable wearing one than going without one.

The best thing that you can do is to talk to a pro at a shop who will be able to walk you through each piece of gear to ensure that you are getting what you need to keep you as safe as possible in the water. Pay attention to the gear as well and while it might be tempting to opt for something cheaper as a beginner, remember that you will get what you pay for.

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