What do you need to start Wakeboarding?
Start Wakeboarding with the right Equipment
Getting the wakeboard itch is easy after riding with the right people or having success on your own. Seeing someone do inverts and spins is always motivation to get on the water and start riding. If you used someone else's board and gear for the first time you will eventually want to get your own. Borrowing someone's gear all the time gets old.
Let's assume you already have a boat. The boat can be a pontoon, inboard, or outboard. All these are fine to start with and if you use an inboard start with a smaller wake. It's perfectly ok to start out with a smaller wake because you will want to learn good technique first. A larger wake can be really intimidating for a beginner. It's better to have some success on the smaller wake and move to a larger one once your skills improve. Ok, let's get into the gear list and go over what you will need to start wakeboarding.
1. The Wakeboard
You can purchase a wakeboard with or without bindings. We suggest if this is your first set up to look at a wakeboard package that pairs a board and boot together. Make sure you choose the appropriate sized wakeboard and boot. Most wake packages are set up to have a properly sized boot with the board. If this is something you want your kids to grow with make sure you choose open toe bindings. This will have a larger size range, for example, you make be able to get a size 9-11 boot with an open toe. Make sure you also consider what type of board you buy. If you are going to ride equal amounts on the boat and cable park then consider a hybrid wakeboard. These boards have a more durable base and will allow for some of the abuse rails and boxes put on your board. The shape of a hybrid board is typically closer to a boat wakeboard because you will still need the kick from the wake. There are also cable and boat-specific wakeboards if you are doing all your riding behind a boat then go this route. Cable wakeboards will have more flex, no movable fins, and a smooth base. You can usually rent a cable wakeboard at the parks to either try or use for the day.
2. Wakeboard Boots or Bindings
As mentioned this will either come with the board if you buy a package or separate if you want a certain pair. Some things to consider when buying a pair of wakeboard bindings. Who is using them? If it is your kids and they are growing you don't want to replace them every year so look to open toe styles. If you want to share with your friends consider the same thing because the size range will fit multiple foot sizes. The next consideration should be where are you going to use them. Some cable parks will have you walk back to the starting point when you fall. If that's the case then look at a wake binding that has a walkable liner. If you are using for boat only then you might want something stiffer if the beginning. There are lots more options for wakeboard boots these days and you can find something priced $200 up to $600 just for the wake boots. Grow into a better pair and start something that will help you get the basics. Some of the top wake brands that make bindings are Ronix, Hyperlite, Liquid Force, Slingshot, and O'Brien. You can find a great started pair of wakeboard boots from any of these brands.
3. Life Vest or Life Jacket
Life Vests are required by most lakes and riverways so make sure to have enough life vests for the people wakeboarding and the passengers on the boat. There are multiple types of vests and you will want to understand the difference between comp and coast guard approved life vests. Most comp life vests have a thinner profile and come in a zip or pullover style. They are preferred by wakeboarders because of the thin profile making handle passes easier. The comp vests are not coast guard approved and usually have less floatation. If you get into an accident on the water you will want as much floatation as possible. Kid's teen vests are sold by weight ranges like 30-50 pounds and 50-75 pounds. Most to all the kid's vests are coast guard approved. We suggest looking at neoprene life vests for kids because it's more comfortable. The neoprene will have less irritation against the skin and the little ones will appreciate it. You will also need a throw cushion on the boat as well as a life vest for every rider and passenger. Make sure you have a mix of vests for kid's, teens, and adults. If you are stopped by DNR a kid's vest will not count for an adult and adult vests will not count for a smaller kid.
4. Rope and Handle
If you are wakeboarding and not water skiing you will want a no stretch wakeboard rope and paddled handle. Most wakeboarders do not wear gloves because they need as much feeling as possible for handle passes and tricks. The rope should also be non-stretch so you don't get a tug in the air or landing. If you are new to the sport and have a water ski rope and handle this will get you by in the start but once you start wake jumps, spins, and inverts go to a spectra rope.
5. Ballast and Helmes
Last are some of the noncrucial elements for beginners. Ballast bags are what you add the water in to sink the hull of the boat deeper in the water. This will displace more water for a bigger wake. You can see some of our other posts on how to weight your boat for wake surfing and wakeboarding. Once you progress you will want a bigger wake and you should consider adding ballast bags if your boat can handle it. Helmets are usually required at wake parks and most of the time supplied. You can also wear a helmet behind the boat. If you are learning spins, jumps, and inverts you may take some bad falls and having a helmet will reduce some of the impacts.
There is a wide range of wakeboard gear to choose from at multiple price points. Having the proper equipment will help you succeed and progress quickly. Check out 88 Gear and shop new and discounted Wake Gear on Sale today.