How To Buy Your First Wakeboard
Tips On Rocker Type, Fins, And How To Size A Wakeboard
Just like snowboarding, surfing, and even skateboarding, the board you use directly impacts your experience. So, choosing the right board can make the difference between a good and great time on the water. So, if you’re nervous about getting the right equipment, don’t be! We’re here to help you get the best board under your feet, so it’ll be one less thing to worry about once you’re in the water.
Just as in the other sports, knowing your stance is vital for picking the perfect sidekick. Whether you’re goofy or regular footed in those other sports, carry it over to wakeboarding. If you don’t know the difference, it’s simply which foot you naturally put forward. If your left foot goes forward, you’re regular. Right foot? Well, you’re goofy.
Still not sure? Imagine you’re going to punt a football. Whichever foot you naturally want to kick with will most likely be the foot you want at the top of the board.
Stance is important because some boards, are one-directional, meaning you face one way the entire time. Most boards these days are built symmetrically, like Slingshot’s Solo Wakeboard, meaning both sides are shaped the same, but it’s still important to determine your dominant foot.
There are two primary methods when it comes to wakeboard construction—foam or wooden cores. Foam boards can take a beating, but typically don’t allow the type of natural flex a wooden core gives. If you want a board to learn and grow with, we recommend starting with wood.
Each manufacturer has size suggestions that go along with the board, but they’re just that—suggestions. We recommend starting with a slightly larger board that will give you a more stable platform to stand on. That said, going bigger may make things like swimming to the rope a little more challenging.
If you’re boarding with kids, you might want to consider going with something slightly shorter. Kids tend to get stuck on their stomachs when moving into their get-up position. Using a slightly shorter board may give them a little more control in getting up and moving around in the water.
If you’re still stuck on size, you can get pretty close to the right size board just using your weight. Here’s a chart to help you get started.
Wakeboard Size Guidelines By Weight
>100 pounds: Slightly less than 50 inches
100-150 pounds: 50-53 inches
150-180 pounds: 53-55 inches
180+ pounds: 55-57 inches
That said, we suggest that beginners use a slightly bigger and heavier board. A little extra weight will give you a softer landing when you’re coming down from the air, but you’ll move a little slower on the water.
Unless you’re really brave, beginners should rarely size down. But, if you’re looking to pull off some rad tricks, a lighter board will typically have less swing weight which will help you spin faster. A lighter, wooden board will also rebound and flex back into shape faster. This means your pop off the wake will be bigger because the board wants to bounce.
Wide or narrow? That’s always an important question when it comes to board sports. To answer this, you have to ask yourself what kind of rider you want to be. If you’re looking to get some air, go wider—being wider adds to the surface area, allowing you to glide over the water rather than cut through it. If you want to carve like you’re on a snowboard, consider going with something a little narrower.
Just like with a snowboard or skis, rocker refers to the curvature of the board. The two most common types of rocker are the continuous rocker and the 3-stage rocker. Continuous design features one smooth curve throughout, giving a nice consistent, rider-friendly line that is easy to predict and get used to.
For more advanced riders, a more aggressive rocker line, like a subtle or full 3-stage rocker, may give you the extra pop needed to land big jumps in the flats.
So far, a wakeboard and all of its designs are similar to a snowboard. The bottom is where we really start to have fun. Channels and fins determine the flow of water under the board. As you can see, each board comes with fins of slightly different lengths and styles of channels.
If you’re choosing your first board, we recommend a board with removable fins. Here’s why: More fins give you stability, but they also limit your learning. Like a snowboard, it’s really important to learn how to use your edges, and medium or large fins tend to get in the way. Another great use of removable fins is that it’s good for families using the same board but wanting slightly different experiences. Removable fins give you a touch of customization, letting you pick and choose the amount of extra stability you’ll have.
Whether you’re hopping from wake to wake, nailing 360s, hitting big air, or carving the water like a slalom skier, the board under your feet will help you become the type of rider you want to be. Finding a good board isn’t too tricky, but finding the perfect board is. Next time you’re on the water, borrow a friend’s board, experiment with styles, and see what works best for you. We’ll see you on the water!
Alex Moliski is a writer at Backcountry. When he’s not typing, he’s exploring the country, climbing, skiing, or backpacking somewhere remote. See more of his stories on Instagram @alexmoliski