Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding: Which One Is Right for You?

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Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding: which is better?

If you’re a newcomer to the water sports world, you must have been asking yourself that question for quite some time now.

Taking advantage of your trip to the beach or a lake to practice a water sport can truly elevate your aquatic trips to a whole new level. But you’ll have to know what you’ll be getting yourself into before you commit to any kind of sport so that you end up having the best experience you can.

To know which sport fits your activity level and interests best, we’ve got this extensive “wakeboarding vs kneeboarding” analysis just for you. You’ll get to know the similarities, the differences, and what makes one of them more suitable for your preferences.

Need to know more? Here we go!

What is Kneeboarding?

Kneeboarding can be practiced in two distinct ways: You can be pulled by a boat with a rope as you stand on the board, or you can just ride the surf all on your own. Ultimately, it won’t matter much what you choose to go with as the mechanics don’t differ much from one method to the other. Beyond that, you’ll have to know how to pick the necessary equipment for safety measures.

Kneeboard surfing is done by riding into the ocean through paddling to do tricks on the waves. Kneeboarding boards are wider than other surfboards and are 5 to 6 ft. long. Swim fins and leashes are usually worn by kneeboarders to keep them safe in the water and to keep their board from getting out of reach if they ever fall off of it.

For the towing type of kneeboarding, using a boat gives the rider the freedom to perform even more tricks on the waves. The boards used for boat-assisted kneeboarding are way smaller than their other counterparts. They would usually be around 3 to 5 ft. in size having a strap across the top used over the knees for safety purposes. When compared to other towed water sports, towed kneeboarding isn’t as popular. Additionally, due to safety risks, it won’t be a sport that you’d likely see performed or that you’d participate in on the beach. On the other hand, towed kneeboarding is very common in lakes.

Types of Boats Used for Kneeboarding

One of the cool things about kneeboarding is that if you’re going to do it with a boat, you can use almost any kind of boat available to you. From deck boats to bowriders, wake boats and ski, cruisers, you name it, it’ll work just fine. For experienced folks, wake boats are good for the tricks they allow them to pull off. But going with pontoon boats is also a good choice for kids. However, you’ll need a boat with at least 25 horsepower to make sure that the rider can pull off a deep-water start. Keep in mind though, that as a young kneeboarder grows and matures, pontoon boats may not be able to cut it anymore.

Boat Speed for Kneeboarding

There is no right or wrong answer here. The most fitting speed for kneeboarding is that which the rider is most comfortable with. But that’s not the only variable to take into consideration. You have to keep in mind the kind of boat you’re using. When it comes to wakeboard boats, the wakes’ size decreases as you go at higher speeds. This means, despite what most of us would believe, that faster doesn’t always mean better. If you’re dealing with kids, it’s recommended that you don’t exceed 10 MPH. Just find the safest, slowest speed at which a staying on plane and doing a deep-water start are possible.

  • 5-10 years: around 10 mph
  • 10-13 years: 10 – 15 MPH
  • 14-17 years: 15 to 20 MPH
  • 18 and up: Personal Preference

Types of Kneeboards

It all depends on the rider that’s going to use them. The designs of kneeboards revolve around the use. This means that shape and the materiel will differ.

  • Beginner boards: usually roto-molded plastic. The bottom area is designed to make it easier to use by beginners.
  • Middle-of-the-road boards: usually made with stiffer compression molded construction.
  • Expert / professional boards: A CNC-machined foam core, wood stringers, and sandwich construction to hold energy that’s released during a launch from a wake.

What is Wakeboarding?

Don’t forget, this is an article on “wakeboarding vs kneeboarding,” so we still have the second part to address. If you were to enquire about the origins of wakeboarding, you wouldn’t get a 100% certain answer from anybody. That being said, it is a highly popular competitive sport that has a huge fanbase. The board used for this sport is thin and small with shoe-like bindings that help the surfer stay with their board during the execution of their aerial tricks. A wakeboarder can also be pulled by a boat to make all kinds of different tricks and jumps.

What’s attractive to people about this sport is that it’s fairly easy for beginners to learn. This always brings new fans to wakeboarding every year.

Wakeboarding Boats

This is where wakeboarding differs from kneeboarding. While you can use virtually any boat for kneeboarding, wakeboarding always works best with a special wakeboard boat. Sure, you can use a pontoon boat, a deck boat, runabouts. But wakeboard boats take the experience of wakeboarding to another level. Here’s the reason for it: other types of boats would usually not stay on plane when you’re going at high wakeboarding velocity. In addition, their wakes aren’t enough to get launched in the air.

What makes the wakeboard boat so special, you ask?

Well, you’ve got the ballast systems, the wakeboard tower and a V-drive powertrain. The traditional ski boats use a system that distributes weight evenly. The direct drive which they have uses a forward-facing V8 engine, a transmission, propeller setup, output shaft, inventoried from bow to stern. This even distribution of weight generates small wakes that are easily cut across by even a slalom ski.

On the other hand, the wakeboard boat, with it’s V-drive, has a V8 engine at the stern that faces the rear side, and a V-drive transmission. This causes more weight to be focused on the aft end, making a deeper imprint in the water, thus the larger wakes. Of course, if you’re going wakeboarding, isn’t that what you ultimately want, especially when you improve with time?

What Equipment Do You Need to Wakeboard?

Besides the specific kind of boat that you’ll require for wakeboarding, you’ll also need a significant amount of gear to ride the waves, including:

  • Wakeboard helmet (optional)
  • A lifejacket
  • Wakeboard rope
  • Wakeboard

For the younger practitioners of this sport, you’ll have to provide a kids’ wakeboard, which would be shorter than the usual one, with a less aggressive rocker (the curvature of the board from front to rear). It will also have channels that make turning and maintaining control easier for children. For a beginner, the type of board that you choose is critical, so do some homework and figure out the right choice, especially if you’re getting it for young riders.

Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding: Which Is Right for You?

So, wakeboarding vs kneeboarding, remember? If you’re on vacation and you have the time to learn only one of these water sports, then you need to figure this part out so that you don’t waste your time and money for nothing. What’s great about kneeboarding is the proximity of the rider to water. So, if you fall while on the board during kneeboarding, you won’t be easily injured. We can’t really say the same for wakeboarding.

Besides that, most people like to try out kneeboarding first as they feel they are more ready to ride a board in a crouched position instead of having to stand up. If you have any doubts or fears about trying water sports, then kneeboarding would feel safer for you. The tricks that you’ll be able to perform are limited, and many riders will feel the urge to just stand up on their kneeboards from getting bored. Nonetheless, it’s a great choice for getting more comfortable with water sports.

If you suffer from pain in your joints or arthritis in the knees, then you should go with wakeboarding. You obviously don’t want to add more pressure and pain to your knees. But you won’t have to bend them on a wakeboard. Kneeboards can cause leg exhaustion quickly because of the position that you have to maintain on the board.

The excitement and speed that you get from wakeboarding isn’t something that you’ll get from kneeboarding. So, if you’re used to water sports or snowboarding and skiing, then you’ll most likely prefer wakeboarding to kneeboarding. It will even allow you to do more and more tricks as you familiarize yourself with it.

Kneeboarding vs Wakeboarding: Conclusion

What you have to keep in mind when choosing between the two are comfort and safety. If you’re not much of a water sports guy, then you’ll feel more comfortable with kneeboarding. If you have some history with surfing waves, then wakeboarding will give you the excitement you’ll want.

You’ll ultimately never know for sure until you try them both. If you have a friend or relative with a boat, and you’re lucky enough to spend a lot of time with them on it, then investing in both a kneeboard and wakeboard will answer the question for you.


  • My own knowledge and experience!
  • https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/what-is-kneeboarding
  • https://waterskis.com/how-to-section/how-to-kneeboard/
  • https://www.discoverboating.com/buying/boat/ski-boat-wake-boat

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