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When we are talking water sports, kneeboarding is a great introduction for kids to the specific arena of tow sports. Kneeboarding is an ideal starting point in the progression of water tow sports and will naturally allow kids to learn how to water ski, advance to slalom (single ski), and eventually become a wakeboarder.
Kids are often fearless and pick up the skills necessary to be successful, almost effortlessly. Kneeboarding is a great foundation for learning the skills for tow sports. It is fairly easy, requiring only that you kneel on the board, tuck your knees under the strap, extend your arms and hold on to the ropes handle. If you have a soft, gradual sand launch point, you can actually do a beach start.
With all of this said, it’s important to find the best kneeboard for kids, when starting out. Not all kneeboards are created equal and there are specific features and details you will want to consider when purchasing a kneeboard designed specifically for kids. The Buyers Guide below will provide more specific details but as a general guide, the following points should be part of your considerations in purchasing a kneeboard for kids:
- Kneeboard Category or Type: When you start looking for a kneeboard there are two types of boards for you to consider. Each type is designed for the riders intended uses and are in one of two categories: recreational kneeboards and competitive kneeboards.
Recreational kneeboards are best suited for kids and beginners. They are designed to provide a smooth and enjoyable ride. The edges of these boards are softer and wider, allowing for ease in turning and for taking off.
Competitive kneeboards are a more expensive board and are designed for advanced riders and boarders who are looking to participate in competitions. They are lighter and thinner boards and thus less bouyant, which allows for more tricks and sharper turns.
- Kneeboard Style: Besides the two types of kneeboards there are two styles of boards, based on the intended use. The two styles of kneeboards are slalom boards and trick boards. Slalom boards have sharp edges that allow for more control turning and have a flatter bottom, which provides a smoother ride. Trick boards have a much more curved bottom, which allows you to get more air for flips or spins or other tricks. The boards edges are more rounded, which makes for better performance.
- Manufacturing Materials: Recreational boards are are made of a foam or polyurethane core that is covered with fiberglass. A competition board are stronger and more lightweight. The core is also made from foam or polyurethane but is covered with a fiberglass/graphite composite.
- Kneeboard Features: The two features you will want to consider in your purchase of a board are the rockers and fins. The rocker is the curvature of the bottom of the board and determines the speed of the board. The fins are on the bottom of the board and make steering and turning easier for the rider.
So, with these factors in mind, let's review the five top kneeboards for kids:
Best Kneeboard for Kids Reviews
1. SereneLife Water Sport Kneeboard with Hook
The SereneLife Kneeboard is a great all around board for beginners. This kneeboard is lightweight (under 9 pounds), making it easy to carry and transport and measures 20 inches wide by 50 inches long and 4.5 inches thick. It is constructed using marine grade, corrosion proof materials, ensuring it will look good and be durable for a long time.
The SereneLife features an adjustable strap for added safety, cushioned knee slots for comfort and stability, and a hook for holding the tow rope handle, which supports kids learning how to kneeboard.
2. ZUP Kneeboard
The ZUP kneeboard is an extremely versatile board that allows individuals to kneeboard, wakesurf board, kneeboard, or even boogie board. The board is easy to use and comes with an Integrated side handles system, covered with a soft rubber, providing excellent grip that allows riders to take control of the board. This kneeboard was designed using ABS molded construction and EVA foam that will keep the board looking great and very durable.
The ZUP features an integrated tow hook, which is great for kids to learn how to gain balance and stability while not having to worry about holding on to the tow rope. The board weighs 18 pounds and measures 57 inches long by 25 inches wide and 5 inches thick.
3. O'Brien Voodoo Kneeboard with Hook
The O’Brien Voodoo Kneeboard provides and easy ride and great control making it ideal for kids. The molded design of the board makes it easy for riders to quickly get positioned and stable on the water.
The O’Brien Voodoo features an integrated hook to make learning easier, performance edges and a low profile for ease in controlling the board and a thick knee pad and a padded adjustable strap, which ensures your knees are comfortable and secure. The board weighs 14 pounds and measures 51.25 inches long by 22 inches wide.
4. Leader Accessories Kneeboard
The Leader Accessories kneeboard provides a quality designed and constructed board that suits kids, beginners, adults and more skilled kneeboarders. The boards come in four colors (Blue, Golden, Yellow and Red) and graffiti styling for those who want a nice looking board.
The Leader features an extremely durable EVA foam padding for comfort, an integrated tow hook system, ideal for kids and beginners, a padded adjustable strap for comfort and stability and beveled edges for fast turns and cuts. The board weighs 13 pounds and measures 50 inches long by 20 inches wide and 4.5 inches thick.
5. Driftsun Crush Kneeboard with Hook
The Driftsun Crush Kneeboard not only is a great board for kids but the entire family and also is a board that can stick with you as you progress to the intermediate and/or advanced levels of boarding. The board is lightweight at 12 pounds and measures 22 inches wide by 52 inches long.
Driftsun also offers a similar board, the Charger, which is narrower, longer and has a rounded V-shaped hull rather than the rounded square nose of the Crush. Both are outstanding kneeboards, but if pressed to make a choice the Crush is better suited for kids to learn and gain confidence in their kneeboarding skills.
What distinguishes this an excellent choice for kids is the integrated tow hook, which makes having success for kids or inexperienced riders much easier. Additionally, the single locking padded knee strap provides a secure, stable and comfortable fit. The board has an EVA soft foam knee pad, providing a comfortable ride. The rounded square nose design and continuous rocker provide stability for kids and beginning kneeboarders.
Kneeboarding can be an amazing and exhilarating water sport. However, when we are looking specifically at kids we need to take several factors into account. For an inexperienced young person, gaining confidence, feeling safe and maximizing their chance to acquire skills should be the primary considerations in choosing a kneeboard.
There are a large variety of kneeboards to choose from, they are not all designed specifically for kids. Failing to consider this in your search will likely result in frustration, difficulties and ultimately failure. The following information is provided with kids specifically in mind, to help guide you in your efforts in selecting the best board for your young person:
Type of Kneeboard
As we mentioned in the introduction there are two types of kneeboards: recreational boards and competitive boards. These boards are made for entirely different purposes and are thus significantly different in design. We strongly recommend that when purchasing a kneeboard for kids that you direct your search towards the recreational boards.
Recreational boards are constructed and designed with the inexperienced kneeboarder in mind. The designs are lightweight, simplify use in and out of the water and provide a smooth, soft surface for comfort. Additionally, quality recreational boards incorporate features that provide stability, buoyancy and support the inexperienced rider in acquiring skills, maintaining balance and gaining confidence.
Kneeboard Tow Hook
All of the kneeboards we have reviewed have an integrated tow hook. We strongly recommend the integrated tow hook for young people and inexperienced riders. This feature allow the rider to focus on maintaining their balance and getting comfortable riding the board.
The tow hook makes taking off significantly easier, providing a level of control and the ability to make adjustments, rather than having to focus on holding on to the tow rope handle. Once the rider gains confidence, control and skills the tow rope handle can be removed from the hook.
Kneeboard Construction and Design
How a kneeboard is constructed and designed plays a major role in how it will perform and the success a rider will experience. The following features should be considered in your search:
- Board Materials: Most recreational boards have a fiberglass shell covering a solid polyurethane core. For a beginner board this is ideal both for inexperienced rider having success and for making the expense of an initial board less costly.
- Fins: Not all kneeboards come with either built-in or removable fins. Most but not all recreational boards are equipped with fins, which make the board easier to control and steer. The reason for not having fins is to allow greater ease in performing tricks.
- Rockers: The term rockers refers to the curvature of the bottom of the board and determines the speed of the board. The higher the rocker number, the more ease the rider has in steering and making turns. On the other hand, the lower the number, the faster the board will go. Typically, it is recommended that a rocker number of 5-6 is best for kids and inexperienced riders.
- Tow Rope: A 60 to 70 foot tow rope is a good length for kneeboarding. A low or no stretch rope with a wide handle is desired for inexperienced riders. No stretch ropes are made from Spectra, which is durable and does not stretch. They have low moisture absorption, making a more consistent rope weight.
- Tow Rope Handle: Just as with the rope there are a variety of types of handles to consider. Handles for kneeboarding have specific designs, offering features that allow the rider to do tricks. The kneeboard handle is typically wider, around 12-15 inches, again to support doing tricks. Additionally, the kneeboard handle should be constructed with a neoprene foam, ensuring it floats.
- Kneeboard Edge Width: The width of the edge on a kneeboard significantly impacts how the board handles. For young people having confidence and feeling safe should be paramount. Softer, wider edge designs are most commonly found on recreational boards designed for the inexperienced rider. The wider edge supports making turns much easier. We recommend avoiding boards with sharper edges for inexperienced riders as they are usually more challenging to control and maintain stability. Leave the sharp edges to the advanced riders.
- Buoyancy: Recreational boards typically have a foam core, making them very buoyant. Buoyancy makes it easier for inexperienced riders to control and gain confidence riding a kneeboard.
- Safety Strap: Most kneeboards come with a safety strap that allows the rider to secure the board. If the board does not come with a strap, there should be another means (board handles) that will provide the inexperienced rider with stability and control.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a difference between kneeboards for kids and the ones for adults?
There are a few manufacturers that make kneeboards designed specifically with young people in mind. With these few exceptions, typically there are not different kneeboards designed for kids and others for adults. You should consult the weight capacity of the board, if you are planning to have adults or heavier individuals use the board in addition to the young person it is intended. Factors that will impact the stability, speed and control of the board are the width, thickness and length, as well as the material the board is made of and the rocker and fins. Consult your dealer or a local expert when purchasing your kneeboard regarding these factors.
Is kneeboarding the best way to introduce my child to water tow sports?
Kneeboarding is often considered a great introductory water tow sport and the initial step in the natural progression towards water skiing and wakeboarding. Kneeboarding allows the inexperienced rider to gain the skills, balance, stability and confidence to progress towards more advanced kneeboarding or the other water tow sports.
Are there any maintenance requirements for a kneeboard?
You’ve made an investment in your kneeboard, so making the effort to maintain your board is important. The good news is that it requires relatively minimal effort. The board should be rinsed using fresh water and a mild detergent, to remove any sand, dirt or debris, as well as salt that could corrode the surface of the board. The board should be allowed to dry completely, preferably air dried. It’s also recommended that you acquire a kneeboard case for storing to prevent scratching or damage. Storing in a temperature controlled environment is wise. Do not store the kneeboard in direct sunlight.
When a young person first experiences kneeboarding, you want to them have success and gain confidence, which makes selecting the right board a priority. We have provided you with our top 5 kneeboards for kids, to review and consider. Additionally, the Buyers Guide hopefully provides some additional considerations in your search and selection.
Once you’ve selected a board for your young person, get them out on the water. You will be amazed how quickly they pick it up and become skilled boarders. There is nothing better than being out on the water and seeing that confidence and enjoyment of a kid enjoying a tow sport for the first time.
Please let us know in the comments section how your search goes and what selection you make.
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.