I used to ride bendy buses in my college days without holding poles, pretending I was in Point Break (an action thriller consisting of a gang of extreme athletes). It was pathetic.
Yet, the fantasy returned recently after I decided to stop taking life for granted and decided to try a new water sport to keep me busy on my weekends.
I was torn between surfing and wakeboarding.
Unfortunately, I don’t live in a beach town, where hopping a wave simply means grabbing your board and heading down the ocean. So surfing was definitely out of my list.
But Lake Tahoe is close by, and I often saw guys getting tugged behind a boat on wakeboards, so I knew it would be easy for me to get into wakeboarding.
It made more sense because I didn’t even need to get to the lake. After all, there were numerous cable parks with qualified instructors.
And honestly, I’m glad I made that decision because I fell in love with the sport on my first few attempts. Man, it felt like I was marrying the thrills of waterskiing, snowboarding, and jet skiing into one sport on some flat water.
Simply put, it was a great feeling and a great summertime activity if you can’t hit the ocean with your surfboard or the mountains with your snowboard.
Of course, getting the hang of this sport wasn’t the easiest task.
In fact, wakeboarding is one of the few extreme sports, if you ask me.
The body stretches mid-air felt like I was ripping my body, while the body slams, especially the face plants, were horrible.
I remember wishing I had only stuck to buses😊
But that was part of the fun!
With time, I grew better, and as we speak, I can effortlessly manage to pull off some rodeo moves on the water.
Sure, I’m not anywhere close to Raph Derome or Harley Clifford, but I know a thing or two about wakeboarding.
And today, I’ll share with you some of the critical tips you need to know about getting into this sport. In particular, I’ll share how your gear influences your progress and the choice of wakeboard you should consider for every skill level, riding style, and water condition.
Table of Contents
The Best Wakeboards For The Money
#1 RONIX Vault - EDITOR'S CHOICE
One of the big challenges with most wakeboards is that not many of them blend features that will allow a first-timer to enjoy wakeboarding as much as an expert wakeboarder.
But not the Ronix Vault wakeboard; performance versatility is one of the fortes of this board.
It’s one of the few wakeboards in production today that will suit both beginners and enthusiasts alike.
For beginners, it really helps them grow into and progress into sports. It also comes with features that any advanced ride would appreciate as much.
But that’s just a tip of what this board offers.
The Vault utilizes the same proven three-stage rocker for enhanced versatility to cater to wakeboarders trying to catch the small waves and those catching the big wakes.
For me, at least, the rocker is probably the reason behind Vault’s popularity, as it allows riders to achieve straight-up, explosive pops.
For instance, on the smaller wakes, this beginner wakeboard really puts you on edge and it pops you nice and smooth. On the other hand, on the really big waves, you simply have to stand up against the wake, and you’ll appreciate how it pops you.
When it comes to the user experience, I simply love the user-friendliness of the Vault.
Vault wakeboard features a next-level grip and release channel that offers greater traction without creating unnecessary drag.
On the water, this board rides fast and doesn’t compromise stability- a plus for beginners.
What’s more? Vault’s thin profile increases the surface area contact between the wakeboard and water, enhancing overall stability.
Adrenaline riders like me can’t get enough of the sintered base that doesn’t lose speed on the water. This bad boy flies and will always keep you on edge. Trust me.
Yet, the base doesn’t sacrifice durability, as it can take on the regular hits by the wakes without breaking. It also boasts of a proprietary Blackout Technology, a “secret sauce” that delivers better performance, soft flex, and responsiveness from the board.
Plus, it sports an elliptical concave, so transitions from edge to edge are ultra-smooth.
Also, beginners shouldn’t struggle with the hold, thanks to the deeper toe-side mellow edge with thinned-out rails and a longer and deeper fin.
Lastly, the Ronix Vault board features six fins (four removable fins) for better control and a stable ride.
#2 Hyperlite State 2.0 Wakeboard - Value Wakeboard
Second, on our list of the best wakeboards is a package deal. Unlike other wakeboards on our bundle, this option comes complete with a wakeboard and a free set of lace-up bindings.
It’s one of the reasons it’s high up on the list.
Secondly, the name says it all.
As with all Hyperlite products, the Hyperlite State 2.0 is ultra-lightweight.
What’s the benefit?
It makes it effortless to learn to edge, surf the wake and do tricks.
And make no mistake, the State 2.0 isn’t simply an all-rounder, but a technical all-rounder. By this, I mean it’s a board that will serve you for long and is good enough to keep you going for at least your first couple of years boarding.
The State 2.0 is created on the concept of a board with a toe side edge that is different from the heelside edge to assist with edging.
At first glance, the subtle edge design isn’t noticeable, but once you look keenly, it’s easy to notice.
Hyperlite took off the curve on the toe side edge. This results in a straighter edge, which helps create more grip on the water when landing and edging.
The toe side edge also has larger molded-in fins, while there’re added tabs in specific locations to help water flow through the bottom of the board to help the board generate more pop without losing its grip.
I’m a big fan of the channel near the top of the heel side that allows more water to flow through the bottom of the board. It helps riders edge up and through the wake.
The other crucial addition is the 5” molded fin that isn’t as sharp as the toe side fin. So, it keeps the grip better but equally has better release.
The State 2.0 is a real monster on the water, and the edge on this bad boy does work.
The subtle addition of the State 2.0 made noticeable improvements to my toe side and heel side, especially on the jump.
Plus, the overall feel of riding this wakeboard model is comfortable, and it makes you feel like you’re doing less work on the water rather than fighting to stay crossed up on my toe side edge.
The Hyperlite State 2.0 may not be the best wakeboard for performing surface tricks. For me, at least, it didn’t impress when landing a 720 or Pete Rose, but I was generally pleased with the performance.
For example, the pop was incredible and probably what you can expect from a continuous rocker profile wakeboard.
It doesn’t have an abrupt bucking pop, so many riders find it easier to stay in control. Plus, the pop of the wake is consistent and predictable, so you shouldn’t have any problem riding.
Of course, State’s pop isn’t as pronounced as on the Vault, or rather any full three-stage rocker wakeboard.
It’s not the board for those who prefer a loose feeling. State 2.0 is ultra-edgy and might feel a challenge to slide with on the surface of the water.
Nevertheless, the Hyperlite State 2.o is an awesome wakeboard, and whether you’re at a cable park, boat riding trying to catch big air, or doing tricks, it’s a good option to wakeboard with.
#3 Hyperlite Franchise Men's Wakeboard - Best Wakeboard for Advanced Riders
The Franchise Men’s Wakeboard by Hyperlite is one of the rare boat boards with an adaptable design, making it a good choice for both beginner riders and pro riders.
It’s not only easy but fun to ride. For beginners, it’s highly foreseeable and contains no new surprises.
Here, you get a continuous and exaggerated rocker line with exclusive tapered channels. Now, as with other continuous rockers, the Hyperlite Franchise Wakeboard can achieve incredible speeds while maintaining fluidity.
For me, at least, it creates the perfect alignment with the removable fins, so it’s easy to head out to the wake effortlessly.
Also, because of the continuous rocker, you get a longer trajectory all the time.
There’s also a variable edge design with sharp edges over the tip and tail. This helps maintain a strong edge on the board. It’s a critical design feature, especially when making turns. I can make the tight turns even on the fly without losing balance or taking face plants in the water.
Performance on the water is also incredible.
For example, when you go from the flats to the wake, you’ll experience a smooth speed with just the right weight. The low swing weight is a result of its special light structure with narrow tips.
Meanwhile, a BioLite 3 Core gives you the lightness and durability you desire. It’ll take on the abuses of wakeboarding without breaking while allowing you to fly off the wake at speed.
Plus, the board utilizes a monocoque construction, so the bottom and top are one. It gives you the ability to lower delamination.
But the biggest benefit of the construction for me is that even after years and years of use, it still looks and performs as new, giving you the same pop as when you bought it, thanks to the layered top and bottom glass.
The board is also easier to handle, thanks to the four p-wing tapering fins. Coming only at 0.8 inches, they provide more control with minimal resistance.
Overall, the Hyperlite Franchise is a great men’s board, which is also among the durable boards in the market.
It’s also quite versatile and will accommodate different users, regardless of their skill level.
#4 RAVE Sports Impact Wakeboard - Best Beginners Wakeboard
For a beginner’s wakeboard, I can’t find anything wrong with the Rave Sports Impact Wakeboard.
I’ve had this option for several seasons now, and it was the first board my daughter fell in love with and managed to ride with.
She nailed it on her first try and has never looked back.
It has also been solid from the beginning and has been holding up just fine. For example, the bindings are fine for what they are and appear to be new even after some solid ride time.
The Rave Sports Impact Wakeboard’s continuous rocker profile keeps the board stable, allows ease of control while offering softer flat landings.
It’s also a lightweight and flexible board, yet strong enough to last. The deck is built from high-quality molded PU and laminate core. The core also includes a foam core, which helps with extra buoyancy.
Thanks to the two removable fins, my daughter found it easy to learn on this board and better use of the rail for rail to edge control.
The removable fins are also convenient, so it’s easy to transport and store. It also gives riders the option to wakeboard without them.
#5 Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard - Best All-Around Wakeboard
The Liquid Force Trip fits the description of an all-around wakeboard, perfect for riders of all skill levels and conditions.
Whether you’re a beginner or the most advanced rider, you’ll get true value from the trip.
Beginners like me find it easy to learn on the Force Trip Wakeboard because it starts steadily and lets you gradually develop your skills.
It comes with a smooth and predictable shape, making learning and exploring what you can do on the water.
For the advanced riders, the Force Trip easily adapts and evolves along with you. It doesn’t have any trouble keeping up with you right from the beginning, making it the perfect option, regardless of your experience level.
And the good thing is as you progress in your skill, you’ll experience even more complex board features.
For example, the variable edge profile rail, sharpened near the tail and rounded near the center, gives riders complete awareness of the board’s movements.
Simply put, the Force is a great intermediate wakeboard that will allow you to learn new tricks, regardless of your skill level.
Liquid’s performance on the water is also amazing, thanks to the edge channels on both sides. I love how they promote better tracking with minimal drag, thus keeping your surfing and afloat rather than under the surface.
Meanwhile, the continuous, smooth, yet fluid rocker generates predictable carve, a plus for beginners. On the other hand, the high arching launch-off offers a thrilling ride, allowing you to experiment with new trade tricks.
While still on the performance, this board gives you the option of riding with or without the removable center fin, so either way, it’s hard not to be satisfied with the board’s performance.
Finally, Liquid Force is built with performance in mind. The core utilizes high-quality materials. The wood is made to last for long. It can handle the waves and all the wakeboarding abuses.
Overall, the Force Trip is a great all-around wakeboard and incorporates some really awesome features that riders of all skill levels will appreciate.
Beginners will love how easy it is to learn and use the wakeboard, and as an advanced rider, it not only keeps up with you and teaches new things, it’ll become the only wakeboard for you.
In my opinion, the Liquid Force is the optimal combination of aggression and novice riding, which makes it among the best and most versatile wakeboards in the market.
Best Wakeboards Buying Guide
In the section below, I’ll share everything you need to know about the best wakeboards.
I’ll pay special attention to what you should consider when choosing the best wakeboards for your riding style.
But before that, let’s look at the major classification of wakeboards based on terrain.
Boat Board vs. Cable Park Boards
Gone are the days when you needed a boat to go wakeboarding.
As cable parks become increasingly popular, wakeboard brands are adapting their boards to suit different terrains.
Today, you’ll come across boards either built for cable parks, boats, or, in some cases, both.
Boat boards tend to be stiffer and have molded-in fins that help intermediate riders track behind a wake.
Boat wakeboards are also more adapted to a moderate chop in general.
On the other hand, cable park boards have a special base, mostly of flexible atomic wood core and reinforced grind base because of the obstacles.
The cable wakeboards tend to come with a softer flex, often with a continuous rocker and sometimes a channels-free base, ideal for pressing hammers on the rails.
If you’re into obstacles but also air tricks at the park, you may also want to consider a board with channels. It helps with predictable pop.
But if you only perform obstacles, then a board with a flat base is ideal.
What to Consider When Selecting a Wakeboard
Wakeboards may look similar, but they’ve an elaborate design. For this reason, it’s important to determine the essential features to consider when buying the best wakeboard.
Length: Long or Short Wakeboards
The board length of a wakeboard is important as it determines how comfortable you feel when riding.
If your wakeboard is shared, choose the one that suits the tallest person in the group.
But generally, shorter wakeboards are slow and require you to exert more effort in the water.
They also tend to dig into the water more often at the front end and aren’t stable.
On the plus side, the shorter wakeboards are easier to pull off tricks.
On the other hand, if you’re learning wakeboarding, I suggest you choose the longer wakeboards.
They have more surface area. They’re also faster and more buoyant, thus easier to ride and learn how to use.
The longer boards also give surfers a softer landing and complete control.
However, because of their size, they’re bulky and require practice to use and perform some tricks in the air.
Rocker refers to the shape and profile of a wakeboard from the tip and tail.
Four of the common rocker types on the best wakeboards are:
1) Continuous rocker
2) 3-Stage Rocker
3) Hybrid rocker
As its name suggests, this rocker has a continuous curve from the tip to the tail- the shape doesn’t change.
The continuous shape gives the board a fast and smoother ride with easy turns when you need to.
Wakeboards with continuous rockers are also generally easier to handle.
It’s among the most common types of rocker in the market.
It consists of two bend points and a distinct plane at the bottom. Simply put, the tail, tip, and middle sections are on different planes.
The three-stage rocker is great for gaining more height when you hit the wave. It’s perfect for the vertical, explosive, and bucking pop.
However, it’s a bit slower than the continuous rocker and slippery on the water’s surface.
The hybrid boards combine the best continuous and three-stage rocker for handling, speed, and comfort.
It can be quite complex getting used to, especially if you’re not an expert on the waves.
Camber rocker is a new type of rocker, and it draws inspiration from snowboards and skis.
It’s an appropriate rocker for riders who want a more centered and ergonomic park riding experience.
It places the body in an appropriate position to allow for predictable pops that won’t tire you.
There’re different aspects to consider when it comes to selecting the base of your wakeboard:
Common materials used on wakeboards core include wood, foam wrapped in fiberglass, or graphite.
The foam wrapped in graphite variant is the most preferred as it’s light, durable, and responsive.
These are special dents added to the bottom of the wakeboard. They help in creating lift while reducing suction to ensure the board sits high on the water.
It’s the bottom of the wakeboard, which breaks the surface tension for easier starts.
These are spikes added to the three-stage rocker wakeboard for softer landings.
Best Wakeboards Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What size of wakeboard do I need?
A: Generally, size depends on the swing weight and height.
Kids need the smallest board (less than 130 cm), while riders over 200 pounds should go with the much bigger boards (140 to 144+ cm). Those in the 130-180 range should stick to the medium ground between 135-140 cm.
Q: Does the weight of my wakeboard matter?
A: Yes, it does, in terms of maneuver.
For example, heavier boards are generally slower and sturdier, while lighter boards are easier for jumps and tricks, air time, and speed.
Usually, beginners start with heavier boards and eventually get a lighter one once they work on their balance.
Q: How do I maintain my wakeboard?
A: Maintaining a wakeboard is easy.
First, avoid exposing the board to the sun for extended periods.
Also, if you use your board on saltwater, ensure you rinse it with fresh water.
Also, store your wakeboard properly. If it’s inside your garage, consider placing it inside a wakeboard cover or bag to protect it against accidental scratches, bumps, and sun exposure.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
We’re through with our review of the best wakeboards 2021, and our winner for the list is the Ronix Vault.
It’s a versatile and highly adaptable wakeboard that will work well across a range of users and conditions.
The Vault is forgiving enough for beginners to learn and has an awesome performance to keep the expert riders on their toes.
It also comes with all the features you need for a fun time in the water.