Best Kneeboards

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
104 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for the best kneeboards

Last Updated August 2019

Kneeboarding is a growing water sport that offers some of the best aspects of surfing, wakeboarding, and water-skiing. Sitting on the knees instead of standing up, a person kneeboarding is closer to the water for better stability. Using a kneeboard, you can perform unique tricks or participate in other board-sport activities like racing and slalom riding.

Like other water boards, kneeboards differ in size, shape, and material. Some are designed to handle general riding, while others are more specialized for tricks or competition. The right board for you depends on how you want to use it and your experience level.

This shopping guide can help ease the job of finding your perfect kneeboard. We’ve included some of our top picks and the important features and considerations you need to know to find the right one.

Most kneeboarding ropes are between 60 and 70 feet long. This is a good range for recreational riding and beginners learning to control a kneeboard.

Key considerations

Type

Like most watercraft and equipment, manufacturers make different types of kneeboards for different uses and users. The type will affect how well the kneeboard performs in the water and its overall durability. You should choose the best type for your intended use and experience level.

Recreational: These kneeboards are budget- and user-friendly, especially if you’re new to the sport. Rotationally molded, these boards have a wide platform that offers a good amount of stability on the water. The larger profile makes it easier to balance and stay upright in more challenging weather with waves.

Competitive: These kneeboards are compression-molded for better performance and durability. The construction process results in a thinner exterior, so the board can glide through the water more efficiently with less drag. These are better suited for seasoned kneeboarders since they take some extra experience and skill to use effectively.

Style

Kneeboards vary in style as well as type. The style influences the overall design and shape of the board to enhance performance in certain ways. Once again, your intended use and experience level will largely determine which board style is right for you.

Slalom: These kneeboards are commonly used for general kneeboarding and certain competition events like slalom riding. The design tends to be more angular so there’s more surface area in contact with the water, which provides better stability and control.

Trick: These kneeboards use a rounder design with a flat, curvy bottom to help the board skim across the surface of the water. As the name suggests, these boards are better suited for performing tricks out in open water or during competitions.

Materials

Many kneeboard manufacturers use the same materials for kneeboards as for water skis and paddleboards. In most cases, the selection of materials is small, but there are a couple of different options that change the overall performance and final price.

Core: All kneeboards have a core surrounded by a hard shell. The core gives the board some buoyancy and stability. Foams like polyurethane are common core materials since they’re easy to shape around the unique design of the board.

Shell: For the outer shell, durability and shape are two important characteristics of a kneeboard’s design. As a result, fiberglass is a popular material for the hard shell since it is lightweight and inexpensive. Some higher-end boards use a combination of fiberglass and graphite for better durability.

DID YOU KNOW?

You don’t need a special rope to go kneeboarding. Any water-skiing rope will do if it’s 45 feet or longer.

DID YOU KNOW?

A proper riding posture involves keeping your center of gravity behind you and your back straight.

Kneeboard features

Fins

Fins help stabilize a kneeboard in the water, offering better control and traction in different riding conditions. These benefits are important in some kneeboarding styles but can hinder performance in other styles. Therefore, some kneeboards come with fins while others don’t.

Using the same materials as the board itself, such as fiberglass or hard plastics, fins are common on some recreational and most competitive kneeboards. For slalom or general riding, the fins offer better turning capabilities and help to keep the rider upright.

For trick riding, fins can make it more difficult to get the board out of the water. This is why they are less common on trick kneeboards. A trick board has to be able to move in different directions, and fins can inhibit this movement.

Rocker

The rocker is the amount of curvature on the underside of the kneeboard. Like a ship’s hull, any amount of curve helps the board glide through the water more efficiently than a flat-bottomed shape. Some styles have a larger rocker for better turning; others have a smaller rocker for more speed. A single number usually indicates the amount of curvature of the rocker. A range between 4.0 and 6.0 centimeters (1.56 to 2.34 inches) is common for a recreational board that has to balance speed and maneuverability.

Shallow rocker: If a kneeboard is designed to go fast, especially in competitive events, it will likely have a shallow rocker. This design allows water to slide underneath more efficiently. Smaller numbers close to zero indicate a kneeboard with more speed.

Deep rocker: Kneeboards that need more maneuverability use larger rockers, with a deeper curve, so the board can tip left and right more quickly. Larger numbers indicate the boards are better for turning.

Rope and handle

Like water-skiing, kneeboarding uses a long rope pulled behind a boat to maintain speed and to perform tricks or maneuvers. The rope material affects the feel of the ride since some ropes are stiffer and shorter than others.

No-stretch rope: For kneeboarding, a no-stretch rope made of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) spectra fiber is the best choice. Kneeboarding generally needs a stiffer rope than water-skiing due to the different riding characteristics of the boards. The lack of “give” in the rope makes it easier to control the kneeboard for slalom or trick riding where precision is required.

Low-stretch rope: Some ropes are designed for general use, so you can use one for kneeboarding and water-skiing. These low-stretch ropes are less stiff and try to balance the stretch between kneeboarding and water-skiing. If you’re a beginner or want to save money on a rope for recreational riding, this type of rope is the better choice.

Handle: You can attach different handle styles to the end of the rope. Some are similar to water-skiing handles for recreational use. Wider handles have more space to grab for trick or slalom riding when different hand positions are necessary to change the rider’s center of gravity.

EXPERT TIP

You can use an inflatable seat in between your rear and legs to act as a shock absorber. This will protect your back and legs from harder impacts.


Staff  | BestReviews

Kneeboard prices

The cost of a kneeboard depends mainly on its design and materials. Most recreational and beginner-friendly kneeboards with fiberglass shells and rounded edges for better maneuverability are in the $100 to $200 range. Higher-end kneeboards meant for trick or competitive slalom riding, with higher-quality padding, fiberglass/graphite construction, and performance-specific features, can cost up to $400.

Tips

  • Don’t use the board strap until you have some experience using the kneeboard. This will help you stay safe in case you fall in the water.

  • Lean forward to brace yourself when starting off. In the beginning, lean forward to the point of touching your elbows to the board when starting off.

  • Keep your body low and forward as the kneeboard gets up to speed. Once you can feel the board finding some grip in the water, you can raise yourself into a more upright position for better control.

  • Avoid any obstacles in the water. While slalom courses have obstacles to avoid, open water is better for first-time riders who lack the advanced control necessary for slalom riding.

  • Stay safe! Watch out for other boats and riders. If you fall into the water, get up to the surface as quickly as possible so the person in the boat can spot you.

Other products we considered

There are plenty of affordable kneeboards that didn’t make our top picks but still have something to offer new and experienced riders alike. The Hydroslide 2103 Revolution is a user-friendly board with the company’s Hydrohook feature that helps beginners get up onto the board. The Leader Accessories Kneeboard is a great option for beginning slalom riders thanks to its beveled edges that cut into the water more easily than other designs. For recreational use, the Driftsun Charger has a spoon-shaped design that smooths out the ride in rough waters.

A boat normally travels around 17 knots (20 miles per hour) when pulling a kneeboarder. This creates a wake about a foot high.

FAQ

Q. Is kneeboarding difficult to learn?
A.
It isn’t too difficult to get started, but if you want to progress to the point of trick riding, expect a learning curve. The biggest beginner challenge is getting upright on the board with your knees. Since it can be an awkward feeling at first, you may need a couple of tries before things start to feel normal.

Q. How safe is kneeboarding?
A.
Like all water sports, there is some danger with kneeboarding if you aren’t prepared or you ride in poor conditions. Basic safety gear such as a flotation vest is a smart idea and may even be required depending on where you ride. For beginners, it’s important to start slowly so you aren’t pushing yourself beyond your skill level. Keep speeds low and don’t try any tricks or tight maneuvers until you develop some basic skills.

Q. Can children kneeboard safely?
A.
Children as young as seven can learn to use a recreational kneeboard without too much effort, but the board needs to be the right shape to fit the child’s size and weight. Most recreational kneeboards are good enough if they’re on the smaller side. Life vests, helmets, and basic swimming skills are also important to keep kids safe.

The team that worked on this review
  • Austin
    Austin
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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