10 Best Kneeboards | March 2017

We spent 27 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. Whether you are a beginner, a kid or an advanced stunt performer, our comprehensive selection of kneeboards will let you enjoy the most fun you can have on the water. We've taken care to include models designed for comfort and ease of use that are ideal for families, along with some better suited to advanced riders who want an intense riding experience and to perform stunts. Skip to the best kneeboard on Amazon.
10 Best Kneeboards | March 2017

Overall Rank: 5
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 4
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 2
Best Inexpensive
The Connelly Scarab makes a great all-around family board. It is fun and easy for young riders, and capable of jumps and stunts for the more advanced riders in the group. Its camouflage design isn't that attractive, though. Good thing it comes in other colors, too.
The O'Brien Voodoo has an integrated hook for towing and a beveled edge for increased cutting power. It also has a lot of padding for aggressive riding, but is suitable for new riders, too. It's great at cutting, but cannot be used for other tricks.
The Hydroslide Respect is a performance level board with a high price point, but it's worth every penny. It has a thin profile design, allowing you to carve corners with ease and a fiberglass wrapping for added strength and maneuverability.
The O'Brien Rush 5150 is designed to be gentle on beginners, while allowing advanced users to catch some serious air. It's able to go forwards and backwards, for some of the smoothest transitioning and wake popping you've experienced on the water.
  • aggressive rocker style
  • design reduces water drag
  • hand-shaped edge bevels
Brand O'Brien
Model 2141224
Weight 15.5 pounds
With a stylish design on the top and bottom of the board, and engineered for pro-level performance, the O'Brien Ricochet will have you not just riding well, but looking good, too. The wide 3" strap doesn't dig into your legs either, but can be small for some.
  • twin tip design and soft v-hull
  • compression molded deck
  • extremely lightweight and thin
Brand O'Brien
Model 2151204
Weight 16.8 pounds
The Jobe Streak has an ergonomic seat pad with contoured grooves for your knees, while extra traction offers stability, making it more comfortable for long days of riding. Molded fins create some drag, making it most suitable for new riders.
  • swallow tail design promotes spins
  • holds edges well when carving
  • handle hook automatically retracts flush
Brand Jobe
Model 252516004PCS.
Weight 15.2 pounds
With a diamond tip and tail shaped end, the HO Sports Agent gets a clean lift off the wake, making it a great stunt board for advanced users. An underside spine breaks the water's surface upon landing, for smooth transitions between tricks.
  • 3-stage rocker design for high jumps
  • pannolock double locking strap
  • dual density kneepad for comfort
Brand HO Sports
Model pending
Weight pending
The Connelly Thing is a great multipurpose board that can be used standing, kneeling, or even lying flat as you get pulled behind a boat, thanks to its thicker body design. As an added bonus, it can be attached directly to the tow rope for hands-free fun.
  • has removable surf fins
  • good for kids and adults
  • strong roto-molded board material
Brand CWB
Model pending
Weight 75 pounds
The Hydroslide Havoc has a thin profile with a grooved bottom to glide through water with ease. Its EVA foam padded deep knee wells absorb vibrations, increasing user stability for better control, making it an ideal choice for the family.
  • has a hydra hook tow point
  • three-inch padded knee strap
  • has round edges for 360-degree movement
Brand Hydro Slide
Model 2114
Weight 15 pounds
The O'Brien Ion has an aggressive rocker line, giving you a high pop off the waves, and making it perfect for tricks, stunts and intense riding, all while being easy to maneuver. Plus an adjustable padded strap helps keep your knees firmly on the board.
  • hand turned bevels
  • shock absorbing knee wells
  • flexible board for softer landings
Brand O'Brien
Model 2161226
Weight 15.1 pounds

History Of Kneeboarding

Unlike modern day surfing, which has its origins in the late 1700s, kneeboarding can be considered a newcomer to the sporting world. The first commercially produced kneeboards weren't available until the 1950s. These first models were designed for wave riding, as opposed to towing behind a speed boat as is often associated with the sport today.

Over time as water skiing gained in popularity, riders started to experiment with different riding positions, which led to the birth of the water ski kneeboard in 1972. It was co-invented by Bud Holst and Mike Murphy, who named it the Knee Ski. Hulst was a surfer who manufactured wave riding kneeboards under the name El Paipo, which was a tribute to the original paipo boards the Polynesians had been riding for centuries. Murphy was a professional show skier.

Similar to a boat hull, the original Knee Ski was manufactured from molded fiberglass, giving it a neutral buoyancy. A neoprene pad was used to cover the deck and provide cushioning for the rider. There was also a Velcro strap designed to go over the knee and keep the rider firmly on the board.

In 1973, just one year after the commercial release of the Knee Ski, a former employee named John Taylor decided to leave the company and produce his own boards under the name Glide Slide. Instead of copying the fiberglass construction of the Knee Ski, he tried a new approach and manufactured his boards out of a plastic shell with a foam filling. The Glide Slide was molded into a tear drop shape, which unfortunately produced an unstable ride. The unstable ride coupled with the 1973 oil crisis' affect on the water sports industry spelled disaster for the Glide Slide and the company soon faltered.

In what could be considered karmic justice, a former employee of Glide Slide named Danny Churchill, bought the failing company and turned it around. He redesigned the Glide Slide, making it more stable, and renamed it the Hydroslide in 1976. Under his leadership, the company prospered and is credited with popularizing the sport over the following decade. Hydroslide is still in business manufacturing top-quality kneeboards today.

Professional Kneeboarding

Competition kneeboarding started to develop in the early 1980s when Rolan Hillier, a Masters Overall Water Ski and National Slalom and Trick Champion, formed the International Kneeboard Association (IKA). He created rules and regulations for both boat towing and cableway towing kneeboarding. For boat towing, he created three competition events, wake crossing, slalom, and trick. There was also a special event called the Flip-off, in which a rider tried to complete as many flips as possible in twenty seconds. This actually proved to be one of the most popular events with spectators. For cableway towing, Hillier only created the trick event and included the use of ramps for flips and spins. This is due to the fact that cableway towing does not create wake for competitors to utilize when performing tricks as boat towing does.

In addition to founding the first competitive kneeboarding association, Hillier also wrote and published the first kneeboarding book, entitled "Kneeboarding A - Z". He then went on to broadcast the National Kneeboarding Championship on ABC and PBS, which was the very first broadcast of its kind. The following year, in 1973, Orlando's Sea World approched Hillier to hold the National Championships at their park, but under one condition, the IKA's original sponsors could not participate. Hillier declined the invitation as he felt strongly that the IKA's original supporters should be included.

Hillier's refusal to Sea World paved the way for the creation of the American Kneeboarding Association by a group of water skiers from the lower Midwest region. They came together to charter its founding in 1973 and produced trick and slalom events modeled after the USA Water Ski events of the same names. They tried including two other events, wake crossing and turns, but these did not catch on at the pro level and have since become novice only events.

Recreational Versus Competitive Kneeboards

Recreational boards and competitive boards are designed with different riders in mind and are manufactured to different specifications. The average recreational board is roto-molded, which is a readily available and low cost manufacturing method. They also have soft, wide edges to offer beginner riders more control and easier turning. A recreational board is generally thick and extremely buoyant. This allows them to double as a flotation device for riders who fallen off. Depending on the type of recreational board you purchase, it may or may not have bottom fins to aid in turning.

Competitive kneeboards are more expensive as they are compression-molded, making them more durable and better suited to the high speed runs of professional riders. They will also be thin and lightweight with sharp edges designed for tight cornering and radical tricks. Since they are thinner, they are less buoyant than recreational boards. This allows high level riders to dig deeper into the water for better starts and trick launches.

Both recreational and competitive boards can be found in slalom and trick board styles. A trick board will have a rounded bottom and edges. Slalom boards need to be capable of tighter turns and have sharper edges allowing them to cut deeper into the water and hold better around curves.

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Last updated: 03/23/2017 | Authorship Information