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Wakeboard & Wakesurf Essentials

If you’re following the boat or hanging by the lake, these tips and top picks are for you.

The only thing better than getting the boat back in the water? Riding behind it. Explore our Gearhead® recs and expert insight for wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and more ways to enjoy life at the lake.

What You'll Need To Wakeboard & Wakesurf

Summer wouldn’t be the same without perpetually water-logged ears, days spent in the same boardshorts, and the rumbling of boats waking us up in the morning. It’s those signs of the season that mean it’s time to get back in the water and dragged around the lake until our hands are worn and arms are sore.


Whether it’s wakeboarding, wakesurfing, or well-earned lakeside chilling, this is the gear that our whole Herd agrees will make those golden days on our favorite blue surface even sweeter. Keep reading for our tips on how to pick the best gear for your goals, or jump right into our top picks of the season.


How To Choose A Wakeboard

With all the options out there, landing the perfect board isn’t always straightforward. But there are few key things to consider that’ll help ensure you’re on the right wavelength.


Consider your weight (or the average weight of the riders who will be using the wakeboard) to determine which length will work best.

  • 100lb or lighter riders should look for a board that’s 130cm long or less.
  • 90lb to 150lb riders should look for a board that’s 130cm to 134cm long.
  • 130lb to 180lb riders should look for a board that’s 135cm to 139cm long.
  • 170lb to 250lb riders should look for a board that’s 140cm to 144cm long.
  • 200lb or heavier riders should look for a board that’s 144cm or longer.


Think about your ride style and experience level.

  • You may want to opt for a shorter wakeboard if you’re eager to learn tricks or aerial maneuvers. Shorter boards are generally easier to maneuver in the air, but harder to land on and maneuver in the water due to their decreased surface area.
  • You may want to opt for a longer wakeboard if
    you’re relatively new to the sport. The added surface area lets longer boards sit on the water nicely and allows for more control on the water and on landings.


Consider different rocker types or shapes. Each type of rocker, or shape of the board’s bottom surface, will cater to different riding styles.

  • A continuous rocker has one fluid curve (like a less dramatic curve of a banana). This shape is best for linking up turns and carving on glassy mornings. It also fosters predictable speed and consistent pop off the wake.
  • 3-stage rocker boards have a distinct flat spot in the center of the board with exaggerated curves or "kicks" near the tip and tail—similar to the shape of a trapezoid. This design generates more pop off the wake, allowing riders to achieve higher jumps and perform aerial tricks with greater ease. They’re harder to control though, and they’re favored by advanced riders looking for maximum performance.
  • Hybrid Rockers exist somewhere in between these two styles, and every brand will have different variations leaning toward 3-stage or hybrid rockers.


Compare wakeboard base shapes and materials. You’ll see or hear the following terms being tossed around, and it’s a good idea to get familiar with how they influence the feel of the ride.

  • Contours on a board’s underside create lift and reduce suction, allowing the board to ride higher on the water's surface.
  • Channels
    are elongated fins on a wakeboard's underside, breaking surface tension before the rest of the board makes contact, making the board’s initial contact with the water more graceful.
  • V-shape spines soften impacts on landings, make edge-to-edge transitions more seamless, and are especially common on 3-stage rocker boards.
  • Featureless
    boards have none of the added flare or shape variation on the bottom of the board. The shape, rocker, and fin type will greatly influence performance on featureless boards.
  • Base material has become another key factor for those riding at wake parks where they’ll be grinding on rails, and brands will likely describe if a board has a base that’s designed for grinds.


Think about the wakeboard edges or rails. The edges of a board are made on a spectrum of sharp and round.

  • Sharp edges will track through the water with greater speed and acceleration, but they’re more likely to catch the water and send you into a faceplant. They’re best for riders who like to lay into carves.
  • Soft edges are more forgiving. They’re ideal for shifty surface tricks and riders who prefer a “buttery” feel.
  • Variable-edged boards offer a blend of sharpness and performance, with thicker, rounder edges in the middle gradually transitioning to thinner, sharper edges towards the tip and tail. This design provides excellent tracking and grip when turning, while offering a forgiving edge for surface tricks. The "soft to sharp" edge pattern creates lift and pop at the board's center and enhances speed and carving ability toward the ends.


Consider wakeboard fin size and placement. Some fins are longer and run deeper, while some are shorter or placed toward the edges of the board.

  • Larger or deeper fins foster a more stable ride that won’t slip out from beneath you, making them ideal for beginner riders.
  • Short fins or no fins at all foster a more less restricted, playful ride, so it's easier to let loose on the board.
  • A greater number of fins or having fins placed toward the outside of the board will be more effective at holding the board in the water.


How To Choose Wakeboard Boots/Bindings

Gone are the days of tough rubber boots that dig into and chop up your feet. Wakeboard boots/bindings have made huge strides on the comfort and performance front over the past few years. Here are a few tips for getting the best fit and function out of your wakeboard boots.


Flex is one aspect riders tend to have stiff opinions on. Boots can be very flexible, stiff, or somewhere in the middle. Boot flex is a matter of personal preference. Some riders prefer stiff boots for ankle support, while others opt for softer flex for a looser feel.

  • Stiff boots are better for carving and speed generation.
  • Soft boots are more maneuverable, and better for beginners or learning tricks.


Boot/binding styles come in a few variations, each with their own advantages. Ideally, wakeboard boots will fit snug but not so tight that they hurt. Refer to each brands’ size charts when possible. Wakeboard boots are attached to bindings, and they’re easily interchangeable between wakeboard decks.

  • Open-toe boots offer some extra wiggle room, and accommodate a wider size range. They’re a good option for growing riders or for those purchasing a single board for your boat.
  • Closed-toe boots provide precise fit for enhanced control, leverage, and rapid heel-to-toe response. Typically, they're higher-end and pricier than open-toe options.


Closure types are another preference-based factor to consider. Wakeboard bindings utilize various closure systems, including hook and loop, Boa®, and laces, allowing for a customizable fit. Typically, the outer shell features straps, while laces secure the inner liner.

  • Laces with fasteners are a trusty, simple, and efficient system.
  • Velcro straps are another popular system on wake boots, featuring quick and secure fit customization, eliminating the need for laces.
  • Boa® lacing systems offer a rapid, robust closure using stainless steel laces and a dial ratchet system, eliminating the need to tie laces.


Board Compatibility: Most modern wakeboards feature standard M6 mounting hardware and 6in binding plates, universally compatible across brands, except for Liquid Force 4D bindings. These are only compatible with wakeboards equipped with Flextrack, found on many modern Liquid Force boards. Liquid Force boards with Flextrack can use all wakeboard bindings.


Best Complete Wakeboard Setup

Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard + Index Combo

If wakeboarding feels like a trip to you, this is a perfect all-around board to jump into. The Trip's rocker profile is stable for beginners and dynamic enough to satisfy top riders alike. The binding has Liquid Force’s rock-solid 6R™ Chassis and rider-approved Comfort Liner, ensuring our feet are locked in with an ideal union of performance and pleasure.


Get The Trip Board + Index Bindings

Gearhead® Top Picks

More complete setups we’re keen on riding.

Best Wakeboard Deck

Slingshot Sports Coalition Wakeboard

The Coalition is definitely a freestyle board geared for cable parks. Its hybrid rocker, chined rails, and finless construction have it primed for railslides and buttery smears, while a freestyle-friendly base ensures there’s room for creative expression and growth across every feature at a wake park. We also love that we can mount it both skinny and wide. Inside and out, it’s a freedom fostering ride designed to let loose.


Gearhead® Top Picks

Not building a freestyle ride? Here are more boards to keep in mind.

Boot/Binding Top Picks

Our ideal bindings that balance fit and function.

Life Jackets

U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) approval ratings categorize life jackets into types I–V, each indicating the vest’s flotation efficacy in specific water conditions.

  • Type III Personal floatation devices (PFDs) are required for watersports and boating. They look like vests and they’re the kind of vest you almost always see wakeboarders, wakesurfers, or waterskiers wearing.


High-performance watersports like wakeboarding warrant life jackets that pair with our movements. We look for snug-fitting vests that don’t fit overly tight or limit our range of motion. We’ve found zip-up life jackets best for locking in a secure, safe, but hardly noticeable fit. And non-irritating materials that feel soft against our bodies are ideal, too.


Best Life Jacket

Liquid Force Squad Comp Life Vest

The Squad Comp vest comes into play with zero compromises. It’s made from the same material as wetsuits, and that construction fosters a flexible but snug fit ideal for landing that not-even-there feeling. We’ve found its tapered waist stays in place no matter what style of riding we’re doing, and its extra-wide arm openings ensure it’s never in the way, too.


Gearhead® Top Picks

More options that deliver essential levels of safety and comfort.

How To Choose A Wakesurf Board

Wakesurfing developed in tune with new-wave boats designed to generate surfable waves. The sport quickly went from catching kooky looks from fellow boaters to sparking stoke from groms and the generations of riders above them alike—opening a way for inland folks to experience surfing, too. Here are the key things to keep in mind when you’re seeking out that stoke and buying your own wakesurf board.


Find the right size for the rider(s). Boards that are too small will sink, and boards that are too large will make the ride feel clumsy.

  • Riders under 100lbs should look for a board that’s between 3ft 6in and 4ft 2in long.
  • Riders 100lbs to 150lbs should look for a board that’s between 4ft 2in and 4ft 10in.
  • Riders 150lbs to 200lbs should look for a board that’s between 4ft 10in and 5ft 4in.
  • Riders 200lbs to 250lbs should look for a board that’s between 5ft 4in and 5ft 10in.
  • Riders over 250lbs should look for a board that’s 5ft 10in or larger.


Find the right volume for the rider(s). Volume and buoyancy go hand-in-hand.

  • Higher-volume boards will float higher on the water and make speed maintenance and finding the wave’s pocket easier, especially in choppy conditions.
  • Low-volume boards place more emphasis on control, performance, and maneuverability in steeper, more powerful waves.


Think about the rails of the board. The shape of the edges or sides of the board play a key role in a board’s maneuverability and ride feel. Rail types live on a spectrum of hard and soft rails.

  • Soft rails
    are rounder, and more beginner-friendly. They offer more volume, and are more forgiving in smaller, gutless surf.
  • Hard rails are sharper, and more performance-oriented. They offer more hold that’s suitable for bigger, barreling waves.


Think about the fin setup you’d like. A small but mighty piece of a wakesurf board’s performance and feel, fins come in a variety of setups with different advantages.

  • Single fins, commonly found on beginner boards, offer stability and control, aiding in balancing and enabling straight-line charges and large turns. However, they limit sharp, quick movements.
  • Twin fin setups, offer excellent maneuverability and speed, particularly in small waves.
  • Thruster setups feature an additional fin in the middle of the tail compared to a twin fin setup, offering increased stability and maneuverability.
  • Quad-fin setups offer speed without the drag of a center fin and provide increased hold, especially in larger surf. When positioned closer to the rails, they enhance speed generation and enable quick turns, making them suitable for small waves as well.
  • Finless setups provide the least amount ot hold and carve power, but offer a loose, smeary, shifty feel.


Best Wakesurf Board

Lib Technologies Air’N Board

A quiver killer of wakesurf boards, the Air’N is everything one could ask for in a single ride. Its four-fin design is extremely versatile, allowing newer riders to hone their form and rip and carve on a stable platform. Without the fins attached, it’s skatey and shifty on rails but still offers effortless carves and snappy spins. Its flat rocker is shaped perfectly for speed and consistency, with adequate volume for everyone on the lake to get up with ease and get cheers from everyone on the boat.


Gearhead® Top Picks

More boards for every wave of summer.

More Lake Essentials

Life at the lake isn’t all about boats and waves. And especially after a long day of exhausting ourselves behind the boat, it’s nice to kick back and just enjoy nature’s company with those we cherish. Here are the floatation stations, coolers, and more odds and ends that take lakeside hangs to an even chiller level.

Lake Day Must-Have

Bote Hangout 240

Take living room energy to the water with the Hangout 240 inflatable... sofa? It’s not hard to imagine ourselves soaking up sun rays with a beverage in hand after exhausting our energy in the water. It has all the perks you'd expect in a relaxation station: magnetic cupholders, plenty of space for the whole gang, and opportunity to integrate with more of BOTE’s bright designs.


Gearhead® Top Picks

For lakeside unwinds.

Men’s Swimwear

Gearhead® Top Picks

Women’s Swimwear

Gearhead® Top Picks

Accessory Top Picks

Coolers, water bottles, plus more essentials for the dock and beyond.