Wakeboarding Beginners: What Essential Wakeboarding Gear Do I Need?
What wakeboarding gear do I need as a wakeboarding beginner?
Buying wakeboarding gear is one of the most exciting parts about picking up a new sport. As a wakeboarding beginner, you will want to have the coolest new kit, right?
First of all, it is always best to rent wakeboarding gear to start with, especially if you aren’t sure you are going to be at the lake every weekend. Your local wakeboarding centre will hire you out all the gear you need for your first lesson.
However, you might be interested in what wakeboarding gear consists of. These are just a few of the essentials you will use while wakeboarding. It might look like a lot of gear to get to grips with but no worries, you’ll be well-versed and ripping around the wakeboarding lake before you know it.
British waters are cold. Even when wakeboarding in the summer, you will need to wear a wetsuit. There are tonnes of different brands of wetsuits out there to try. Generally you will wear a thicker wetsuit (4 to 5mm) in the winter and a thinner wetsuit in the summer (2 to 3mm). These thickness measurements refer to the thickness of the neoprene covering the body.
Neoprene works by trapping a layer of water between the material and your skin. Your body will heat this thin layer of water and it will act as an insulator, keeping you warm even in the coldest of conditions. Winter wakeboarders may also wear neoprene gloves to keep their hands warm.
Sometimes in the summer, wakeboarders will wear shortie wetsuits. These are wetsuits with cropped legs and arms for warmer waters. For your first wakeboarding beginners session, the instructor will advise you on which wetsuit to wear.
Like windsurfing and kayaking, all wakeboarders wear buoyancy aids. Buoyancy aids keep you floating in the water while you are waiting for the boat to pick you up, so you don’t have to swim to stay afloat. Buoyancy aids are also useful in an emergency. If you were knocked unconscious, a buoyancy aid would keep you on the surface of the water. Always make sure your buoyancy aid is done up properly when you head onto the pontoon or into the water.
Wakeboarding buoyancy aids are different to say kayaking buoyancy aids. Wakeboarding beginners tend to wear a standard buoyancy aid. Advanced wakeboarders are more likely to wear an impact vest. They aren’t as buoyant as regular buoyancy aids but they do provide more protection if you are riding at high speeds and could crash into the water or an obstacle.
Just like buoyancy aids, helmets are a key piece of safety equipment. Everyone from wakeboarding beginners to advanced pros wear a helmet. This is because on a wakeboard you are travelling at high speeds and there are often obstacles around you which could pose a danger - whether you are riding through a wakeboarding park or just launching next to the pontoon. Get used to wearing a helmet when you first start and it’ll become second nature.
Wakeboard helmets are designed specifically for watersports, so it’s best to buy an actual wakeboarding helmet rather than trying to use your cycling helmet on the water. They are lightweight, water resistant and ventilated to allow water to flow out easily. Often wakeboarding helmets will be lined with neoprene to prevent them from becoming waterlogged.
Choosing your first wakeboard can be tricky. Which size do you go for? Do you want single or twin tipped? And what about the graphics? It can be a total minefield. As a wakeboarding beginner, we would recommend getting down to your local wakeboarding shop and asking a sales assistant for help. These guys spend their days testing all of the new wakeboarding gear on the market, so will be able to help you find the right board for you.
Read our full guide to choosing your first wakeboard here.
Wakeboard bindings or wakeboard boots are the part of the wakeboard that attaches your feet to the board. There are many different types of wakeboard bindings - from simple open toe boots to system bindings with a detachable boot.
The main thing about choosing wakeboard bindings is checking they are comfortable and fit your feet, plus they need to have the correct fittings to attach to your brand new wakeboard. Again the guys at your local wakeboarding shop will be able to help you figure all of this out.
For more in depth information, take a look at our guide to choosing wakeboard bindings here.