Note that the products discussed on our site are independently selected by (obsessive) editors. At no extra cost to you, things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.
Watersports are the perfect way to celebrate summer and simultaneously get in a great workout. Kneeboarding is a great alternative to wakeboarding or surfing, and is one of the watersports recommended for beginners. Having top notch equipment can make or break experiences, and having the best kneeboard is crucial.
If you’re ready to give kneeboarding a try, or if you’re looking to upgrade/replace a kneeboard you already have we have the buying guide laid out for you. Here are a few things you should know before getting on the water — including how to find the best kneeboard for you.
Kneeboard Information Overview
To kneeboard, you need a powerboat, tow line, life vest and kneeboard. In many ways, kneeboarding is a sport for the young. Kneeling for a long time and withstanding the impact of riding waves can be hard on knee cartilage. Tendons around the knees can also get strained. You’ll be using almost every muscle in your legs, back and arms so get ready for a workout! Having flexible leg joints isn’t the only thing that makes kneeboarding a great sport for kids.
It’s more challenging than tubing but isn’t as difficult as water-skiing or surfing. Yet, kneeboarders develop fundamental skills they can use in both those sports when they get older. Of course, adults have a blast kneeboarding too, and it all starts with having the best kneeboard.
How to Find the Best Kneeboard
The first thing to know is that there are recreational and competition kneeboards. If you are doing this purely for entertainment, you don’t need to invest in a more expensive competition board. With a good recreational kneeboard, you can even do tricks! The three factors to look for when searching for the best kneeboard are:
Recreational kneeboards have a polyurethane or solid foam core inside a fiberglass shell. Competition kneeboards have the same kind of core. Yet, the shell is made from graphite or a fiberglass graphite composite to make the board lighter.
Not all kneeboards have fins. Recreational boards usually have fins because they made the kneeboard easier to steer. It’s easier to do tricks on kneeboards without fins, which is why competition boards don’t have them.
The rocker is the curvature of the underside of the kneeboard measured in centimeters. The measurement is called the rocker number. The lower the rocker number, the faster the kneeboard can go. Higher rocker numbers make it easier to turn. Typically, the best kneeboard for a beginner will have a rocker number of 5-6. Competition kneeboards have very low rocker numbers. Just as a Reminder:
- There are slalom and trick boards. Beginners and intermediates should get a slalom kneeboard.
- The longer the board, the more weight it can support.
10 Best Kneeboards for Recreation and Competition
Any of the kneeboards on our list will help you get the most from your water sports experience. We’ve highlighted and reviewed the material, rocker, number of fins, length, and price to make sure it’s the best kneeboard for you.
The Hydroslide Havoc is a thin, lightweight board with no fins designed for intermediates. The deep knee wells and padded shock strap contribute to a forgiving ride and help prevent fatigue. It has a patented hydro-hook that creates a smooth towing experience. The contour of the edges make it a great kneeboard for learning tricks.
This is possibly the best kneeboard for beginners and family use. Four fins (two normal size fins and two smaller fins in line behind) make it easy to maneuver. The 3/4″ pad provides comfort while the 3″ thick shock strap makes staying in control easily. There is an integrated hook (a place to hold while getting onto the board), ideal for teaching deep-water starts.
The SoZo is a popular choice among competitive kneeboarders. It has a unique core made from wood stringers and foam, giving the board a lightness and spring not found in most kneeboards. The pad is customizable, supportive and comfortable even while performing complex tricks. Pad placement can be personalized thanks to its hook-and-loop attachment. On top of all that, it’s fast.
Try this 52″ kneeboard for a fun day on the water. Deep knee wells, thick padding, and wide support strap provide comfort for multiple runs. The low rocker profile gives this kneeboard speed and the bevel edge makes cutting up the wake cleaner.
Another good option for adult comfort is this Hydroslide board. The fins are retractable, giving you maximum flexibility for learning tricks as your skills improve. It has a thin profile and deep knee wells for comfort and control. Reviews of this mid-range (in terms of price) recreational kneeboard show that it can withstand a lot of pounding on the water. Perfect for those wanting to practice, practice, practice to improve skills and learn tricks.
This 50″ board is a good option for users at any level. For beginners, the integrated hook makes taking off easier. For intermediates, the way the board stays low in the water makes maneuvering and cutting easier. And this kneeboard has speed.
If you want a board that will grow with you as your skills improve, this O’Brien could be your best kneeboard. It has fins to help you maintain control and learn maneuvers. But the fins retract so as you develop skills, you can increase speed and learn a few tricks. The thick knee pad helps you stay comfortable in all situations. There is also an aquatic hook that makes starting easy for beginners.
This 43″ kneeboard is ideal for having on hand for visitors and other casual users. Deep knee wells, sturdy padded straps, and thick padding make it comfortable for even novice users. Its high rocker number makes it easy to steer and make smooth turns.
The Hydroslide Magna is another good option for an all-ages kneeboard. It’s super easy on the knees with a full-size pad and deep knee wells. The thin profile (low rocker number) gives it speed that is sure to give any user a thrill.
Try this kneeboard if you’re starting to learn tricks. The quad fins are retractable. So, you can progress from beginner to intermediate with one board. Once you get to the intermediate level, you’ll also appreciate the variable beveled edge because it allows you to do more tricks.