Kneeboard Buyers Guide
Kneeboards are short water ski-like boards that allow you to kneel on the board and ski along the water without having to stand on individual water skis.
Boards for beginners have wide, soft edges that allow new kneeboarders to maintain control while they are in the water. Because of the thickness of a kneeboard, it is highly buoyant, meaning that it floats well. If you take a spill in the water, you’ll be able to rely on your kneeboard to help you float while the boat comes back for you.
Beginner kneeboards are rotomolded. Meaning, they are made with a hollow center from a strong plastic. This manufacturing process is less expensive, which means customers pay less when they buy their own kneeboards. Your kneeboard has been designed to help you make smooth turns in the water, so you can control it and keep from falling over in the water. Your kneeboard may have been made with fins, which help you to turn more easily while you’re skiing in the water.
Rather than being rotomolded, these kneeboards are compression molded. What this means for you is that you’re going to be able to pull more performance out of your board as you race and compete. A compression molded kneeboard is also more durable. You’ll notice that a competitive kneeboard has sharper edges, allowing you to turn more quickly during competition. These sharp edges also make performing competitive tricks easier. These kneeboards may also be lighter and thinner. Because your kneeboard doesn’t have a hollow core, it won’t be quite as buoyant, but as a competitive kneeboarder, this shouldn’t matter as much for you; you’ll be able to make deep-water starts.
You’ll find two styles of kneeboards as you’re shopping for your own board.
A slalom board is used just for slalom-skiing. Look for sharper edges on this board. These sharp edges enable you to turn more easily. As you move through your turn, you’ll also be able to hold your edge better.
Trick boards have two features different from slalom boards. First, the edges are rounded. Second, the bottom of a trick board is rounded. Both of these features make performing stunts in the water easier.
Your kneeboard is made using the same materials as a pair of modern water skis. The core is made of foam or polyurethane which is then wrapped with fiberglass or a fiberglass/graphite composite exterior. The composite is used on kneeboards for advanced kneeboarders.
The rocker is the degree of curve on the bottom of your board. Numbers on either end affect its performance: lower rocker numbers mean you’ll be able to ski faster; higher rocker numbers mean you’ll be able to turn it more easily.
A slalom kneeboard has fins, found on the bottom. These allow you to steer your kneeboard more easily. The fins are normally made of a hard plastic and fiberglass composite.
All kneeboards come with a soft kneepad. As much time as you’ll spend on your board in the water, you’ll be glad to have this pad protecting your knees and shins from the hard plastic surface.
You’ll notice Velcro safety straps on each side of your kneeboard, about halfway back from the front edge. It is important that before you take off in the water you secure the straps around your upper thighs. It should be fairly snug so it won’t come apart if you fall into the water. At the same time, you want to be able to get your legs out of the straps if you need to do so. Because you’re kneeling on your knees and shins, your center of balance is lower, but the safety strap still provides a level of protection that you otherwise would not have.
Wear a Life Vest
Every time you go out on the water with your kneeboard, put on your life vest. Because of the chance of spills and falling into deep water, your life vest means the difference between safely getting out of the water and needing to be rescued. You’ll see experienced kneeboarders putting on their life vests before they strap themselves onto their kneeboards. Because you are strapped onto your kneeboard and holding onto a rope that’s tethered to a towboat, your ability to stay out of the water after your kneeboard flips isn’t good. Buy a well-fitted life flotation device. It should fit snugly around your torso and cover your back, abdomen and chest.
Choosing Your Kneeboard
Decide if you’re going to ride your kneeboard like water skis. Are you going to slalom – cut and jump – or will you be performing tricks, such as flipping, jumping and spinning? What you plan to do on your board affects the kind of board you’ll eventually buy.
A kneeboard with a high degree of rocker is a trick riding board. The rocker is the degree of curvature on the bottom from the tip to the back of the board. A higher rocker degree also means that your kneeboard will recover more easily when you make mistakes in positioning or movement. The rails on your kneeboard should be well-rounded and thick. These mean your kneeboard floats better, giving you better lift when you jump wakes. They also won’t catch as easily in the wake.
Trick kneeboards shouldn’t have fins. While they make steering easier and are a good tool for beginning kneeboarders, as you gain experience in kneeboarding, you should learn how to rely on your rails for turning. If you feel you really need to have fins on your board as you learn, look for a kneeboard with retractable fins. As you get more experienced and learn more tricks, use the board with the fins fully retracted.
If you plan on using your kneeboard for slalom riding, it should be almost flat on the bottom with rails that are narrow and hard. The qualities of this kind of rail mean that you’ll be able to cut in and out more easily than you can with a trick kneeboard. Your slalom kneeboard responds well to the smallest movements of your body. This quality also means that your board will not be as easy to adjust in the water if you make mistakes.
Still got questions? We have the answers. Contact a Marine Products sales team member for all of your binding questions today by dialing, (801) 973-4017 now.
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