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Buyer's Guide: Kneeboards

Kneeboarding is an intense water sport that is similar to waterskiing in that a rider is towed behind a boat at high speeds while balancing on a board. As the name implies, kneeboarders ride on their knees as they fly through the water behind a boat.

Kneeboarding requires the use of a specialized piece of equipment aptly named a kneeboard. There are many different brands and types of kneeboard available, and choosing the right board is essential for having a good time on the water. For safety purposes, kneeboarders should always wear a life vest. Choosing a lightweight life vest that allows for plenty of movement is a great choice for the high-intensity water sport.

Kneeboards can be broken down into several different categories. Understanding the components of kneeboards will help you choose the right piece of equipment for your needs. When buying a kneeboard, take the type, style and design into account to narrow down the selection process and help you make an informed decision.

Types of Kneeboards

When picking a kneeboard, you should know that there are essentially two different types of boards to choose from. Each type of kneeboard is designed for a different type of rider.

Recreational Kneeboards: Recreational kneeboards are the best choice for beginners. As the name implies, recreational kneeboards are used for enjoyment purposes and provide a smooth, fun ride. These boards are known for their soft, wide edges that allow for easy turning and starting. Recreational kneeboards tend to cost less than their competition-level counterparts.

For a slightly more advanced board, you can choose a rotomolded board. Rotomolded kneeboards are the preferred board for intermediate and advanced level kneeboarders. The smooth, rotomolded body turns quickly in the water and performs extremely well. They offer smooth turning and additional control. Rotomolded boards are also very buoyant due to their slightly thicker base, and can act as a flotation device for riders if they fall off their board.

Competition Kneeboards: Competition kneeboards are the most expensive type of boards. They are designed for use by advanced and competition level boarders, and feature several improvements over less expensive models. Competition boards are lighter and thinner, providing quicker turning and sharper tricks. The design of the boards makes them less buoyant than recreational boards, making deep-water takeoffs easier for advanced riders.

Board Styles

In addition to the type of board, there are also two separate board styles. The board style determines the type of use. Regardless of your skill level, you should choose a board style based on what you plan to do in the water.

Slalom Boards: Slalom boards are designed for use when slalom boarding. They have sharp edges that provide for better turning and a flatter bottom designed for a smoother ride rather than advanced tricks.

Trick Boards: As you can probably guess, trick boards are designed for doing tricks. They have a highly curved bottom that makes it easier to get air for flips, spins and other types of kneeboarding tricks. The edges are rounded, making for smoother turns and better performance.

Kneeboard Design

In addition to the two basic categories of kneeboards, the equipment can be broken into further subcategories of kneeboard design. The material used, fins and rocker all play important roles in determining how a kneeboard will perform.

  • Materials: Strong, lightweight materials are favored amongst competition level boarders, while beginner and intermediate users prefer more traditional materials that cost less. Most recreational boards are made of a foam or polyurethane core encased in a fiberglass shell. Competition level boards have the same type of core, but the shell is made of a fiberglass/graphite composite.

  • Fins: Boards may or may not have fins. Kneeboards with rounded edges and a rounded bottom will perform better when doing tricks. In addition to the rounded bottoms, recreational boards may also be equipped with fins on the bottom of the board. The fins make steering and turning easier for the rider. Fins are made of the same material as the exterior of the board. While competition boards do not typically have fins, many are highly curved for performing more advanced stunts.

  • Rockers: The rocker number refers to the curvature of the bottom of the board. The rocker determines the speed of the kneeboard and the ease in which it turns. A higher rocker number leads to easier turns, while a lower rocker number promises a faster ride at greater speeds. Recreation boards usually have a rocker number of five or six centimeters.

  • In addition to all of these factors, it is important to note that there are several brands of kneeboards on the market. We carry O'Brien Kneeboards in a variety of styles that are suitable for all skill levels. O’Brien is the leading brand in kneeboards, and their equipment is preferred amongst beginners and competition level kneeboarders alike.

    The boards range in price from less than $100 to upwards of $250, making them affordable for kneeboards of all skill levels. Whether you enjoy speeding through windy courses or performing tricks for onlookers, our selection of kneeboards will help you make the most of your time on the water.