With scarce information on which wakeboards are optimal for the entry-level rider, we have done our research and come up with what we think are the best choices for beginner men’s wakeboards (women’s coming soon, don’t worry!). There are several factors and board features that went into our research and results. But before getting into all the detailed features that we considered when making our choices, in summary, we were looking for the best boards that a beginner rider could grow into and progress with, that had the optimal combination of stability, speed, durability, edge-to-edge responsiveness, affordability, and trick ability for down the line.
Our process for narrowing down our choices began first with only considering top end brand boards, as we wanted to keep as up to date as possible.
The next step was to narrow down the boards that had the favorable features in relation to the following attributes:
- 0.1 Affordable price
- 0.2 A continuous or very mellow 3 stage rocker
- 0.3 Quality edges
- 0.4 Quality fins
- 0.5 Durability
- 0.6 Any other unique features that a beginner could benefit from
- 0.7 Decision
- 1 Our Pick: The Ronix Vault
- 2 Runner Up: The Slingshot Choice
- 3 Another Runner Up: The Hyperlite State 2.0
- 4 A Third Runner Up: The Liquid Force Trip
- 5 Value Pick: The O’Brien System
When we say affordable price, our target pricing was between the $200-$300 range, although we did look at boards all the way up to over $400. The majority of boards over $300 ended up primarily being made for the intermediate to advanced rider anyways, so there wasn’t much of a hard decision to be made when considering pricing, and our top choices based on performance fell into our target range anyways.
A continuous or very mellow 3 stage rocker
A continuous rocker gives the rider a fast, smooth, and easier to handle ride than a 3 or 5 stage rocker. Additionally when attempting to clear the wake, it shoots the rider out further making it easier to do so for a beginner, as opposed to straight up, which is primarily what the 3 or 5 stage rockers are made for. Boards with mellow 3 stage rockers that weren’t significant enough to feel too loose on the water were considered although, the majority were continuous rockers.
We were looking for edge technology that increased holds, especially on the toe-side (beginners typically aren’t at toe-side let’s face it), while not going overboard and overdoing on the sharpness so the rider could still have versatility when getting ready to spin, butter, etc., later on.
The deeper the fins the more stable and speedy in the water the board will be, although if they are too deep, the rider will experience drag. Therefore, we considered everything from low-profile built in fins to deep removable center fins.
This included type of laminate, edge fibers, etc.
Any other unique features that a beginner could benefit from
This included things like easy stance adjustment systems.
After considering all options that were qualified, our favorite picks were the Ronix Vault, Slingshot Choice, Hyperlite State 2.0, Liquid Force Trip, and the O’Brien System, with our personal top choice being the Ronix Vault with a close runner-up by the Slingshot Choice. Here’s why these are our top 5:
Our Pick: The Ronix Vault
The Ronix Vault is a real special and exciting board that a beginner can really grow into and progress, and has features that any advanced rider can would appreciate just as much. The Vault has a mellow and continuous rocker for speed and an extra shoot out, especially when clearing smaller and more mellow wakes. The toe-side edge has an extra hold due to the thinned out rails and a longer and deeper fin on that side, which is something we have seen beginners struggle with probably more than any other factor (besides initially getting up). Although the toe-side has a deeper and sharper edge, the heel-side has a slightly smoother and more shallow fin for a more forgiving turn if a rider wanted to gear up and pre-spin earlier off their heel side as they progress.
The bottom of the board is made of a sintered base that doesn’t lose speed on the water, yet sacrifices no durability and is easy to maintain. It is also has an elliptical concave, making the transition from edge to edge as smooth as can be. Lastly, the bottom has four low-profile molded in fins, with an additional 1.7 inch fiberglass fins that really give the rider a stable hold into the water while not producing drag that would sacrifice speed in any noticeable way.
With a near perfect combination of durability, turning, speed, stability, trick potential, and affordability we feel the price range of $220 – $280 retail price is awesome for the quality of a board as this one that will last a long-time and not prevent a rider from advancing themselves.
Runner Up: The Slingshot Choice
A very close runner-up to the Ronix Vault was the 2014 Slingshot Choice. The Slingshot Choice, much like the Vault has a continuous rocker and awesome edge control with its Taperwall™ technology that can plow through any water condition and gives the rider an excellent hold. It has an elliptical concave bottom, that provides a great edge to edge transition, with four fins as opposed to 6, making it have a little less drag but a little less stability than the Vault. The Choice’s core is made of a bio sensor core, and what that is, is a modified wooden core that has a flexible and light feeling, yet durable and strong.
A feature that makes the Slingshot Choice especially cool though is the Fastrack proprietary mounting system that makes it super easy to adjust the stance, so multiple people can share the board and position their bindings exactly how they want to in minutes, or a rider can simply figure out the best stance for themselves with some trial and error.
The Slingshot Choice, is a value pick and an excellent choice for any beginner rider.
Another Runner Up: The Hyperlite State 2.0
The Hyperlite State has always been an awesome entry board for beginners looking to advance over the years, and the State 2.0 does not let down. The State 2.0 has an abrupt continuous smooth rocker for a smooth ride. The toe-side optimized edges as well as mellow toe-side risers make toe-side riding as easy as possible for a beginner by providing a stable hold. The board is constructed out of a layered glass laminate which makes it ultra durable and long-lasting. Lastly, it is more affordable board than the two choices above at a retail price range of $200 – $300.
A Third Runner Up: The Liquid Force Trip
The Liquid Force Trip is an awesome choice for a beginner rider looking to get their tricks in down the line. Like the other the bottom is a continuous rocker with an inside out base for breaking up the landings, while having a variable edge rail that is smoother in the middle, while sharper towards the ends, making harder for a beginner to catch an edge, but forgiving for a more advanced rider to butter or start their spins earlier. It has molded in fins that really separate the water out and provide for extra stability when cruising across the water.
It really is an all around great board for any beginner to intermediate rider and at a retail price range of of $199 – $269.
Value Pick: The O’Brien System
The O’Brien System has everything a beginner needs to ride: stability, edge hold, durability, 4 molded-in side fins, and most of all comes at a very affordable price of usually around $200 or less. The only down side is, is once a rider starts getting into spins or tricks, they will likely grow out of this board, as the other four choices a more advanced rider would appreciate due to their additional features, flex, lightness, and versatility advantages. But if you’re a recreational rider that wants everything you need up to doing advanced tricks across the wake and at an awesome price, this might be the board for you.
Good luck with your choice, and feel free to drop a comment below with any questions or input.