In my opinion, wakeboarding at its best is a raw expression of speed, agility, and grace on the water.
So, you might be tempted to start thinking in stereotypes like:
Wakeboarders must be slim and athletic to perform at their best.
Does that leave room for bigger guys in this high octane sport?
Fortunately, wakeboarding is open to people of all shapes and sizes—from tall to heavy, skinny and small, I’ve seen masterful displays on the water from all body types.
There are some challenges to take into account including finding suitable boards, but the world of wakeboarding is welcoming to big guys with a passion.
I’ll run you through the main things big guys should look for in a board, what these boards do well, a few extra considerations, and some riding tips.
I’m confident that by the time you’re ready to buy, you’ll be an expert in finding the perfect board for your figure.
Board Length and Width can Help You Succeed as a Bigger Rider
When it comes to looking for a board, big guys should keep two key factors in mind.
Pay attention to:
This is the key thing to be aware of when you shop for a wakeboard. Longer boards support heavier riders. Generally, many people find 140-centimeter boards to be comfortable, but if you have a higher than average weight, you could use something larger. As you go up from 140 centimeters, more and more weight is supported. At 144 centimeters, weights in the mid to upper 200s can be carried. Keep in mind that there can be differences in how much weight is held by what sized board based on brand, style, shape, and a few other characteristics. If it’s available for the board you are looking at, be sure to check out the model’s size chart for accurate numbers.
Board Width and Surface Area
You might also want to think about the width and/or general surface area of any board you may buy. While board length has a direct link to how much weight a board can hold, wider boards can make riding easier. Wider boards add to the overall space on the board and are said to be more comfortable for bigger riders. Again, board width is not the major factor to consider, but it’s something else that might just make your ride even smoother.
By limiting your search to boards that are long enough to support your weight (and maybe wide enough for increased comfort), there will be no surprises when you take your purchase out on the water.
You’ll have no issues getting and staying on your board if you follow the guidelines in size charts.
What are the Characteristics of Longer Wakeboards
Now that we’ve determined that you’ll need a long wakeboard, let’s get into what they do well and not so well.
Longer boards have a quick learning curve when it comes to riding. Generally, they are heavier than short wakeboards, which gives you more control but may make you work a little harder when you take to the air for tricks.
Indeed, short wakeboards are easier to maneuver in the air for spins, flips, and other advanced techniques, which is why some riders prefer them.
Long wakeboards, however, will make it a little easier when first learning those new tricks. Because of their size, you have more control over longer boards as you learn.
You’ll also get plenty of speed on a longer board due to increased surface area, and good pop from the wake on jumps.
Another nice benefit, and one that has spared my knees when I’ve used long wakeboards, is how much softer you land after jumps. A bigger board spreads the force of your landings much better than short wakeboards.
This is especially important for bigger guys, as it’s important to take any extra impact off of your body when riding.
Other Points of Focus for Bigger Riders
There are a few other things you may need to be aware of when wakeboarding as a bigger guy.
For example, if you have large feet you’ll need a properly sized boot binding (perhaps a size 12-15).
You may want to consider different board shapes for your comfort.
While there are many different shapes and a lot of it comes down to personal preference, there are a few that might be of help to you, like the V-shape spine which offers even softer landings.
Finally, a longer wakeboard is great if you want to use it as your primary board but also want your family to be able to share.
While you may not be able to ride certain boards that are too short, a longer board can be safely used by even smaller members among your friends and family.
How to Make it Easier to Get on Your Board and Ride
When it comes to riding, heavier wakeboarders who are just starting may have a tough time getting the process going.
In particular, pulling yourself up can be demanding if you are new or not in shape.
Here’s some advice:
- Let the boat get some speed before pulling your weight up. Squat behind the board while being pulled as the board planes off.
- Begin to stand up and gain your balance. If it helps, you might consider leading with your dominant foot when you go to stand up rather than keeping both feet squared off.
- It may take a few tries and you may need to work with the boat to find the right speeds, but once you are up and riding you’ll be enjoying the thrill of zipping along the water.
Reviews of the Best Wakeboards for Big Guys
1. Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard 2018
Starting off, the Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard 2018 covers everything you’ll need as a big rider. It’s reliable, smooth, and has more than enough room for bigger guys. Specifically, the largest model, at 146 centimeters, should hold rider weights of up to and over 260+ pounds and is also wide and comfortable. Further, the Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard 2018 has a Double Inside Single Concave hull, which makes your landings even softer and saves some stress off your body.
Digging deeper into the specs, the Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard has a continuous rocker for a faster ride with consistent pop off the wake, variable edge rail for good action and control, and a sturdy polyurethane core that is built to last. Overall, the Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard 2018 is a great value for big guys who are just beginning to get into wakeboarding, though clearly there’s some strong performance you can wring out of this thing as well.
- Large size and build quality is able to handle heavier weight
- DISC hull makes for softer landings while maintaining speed
- Continuous rocker will give you more dependable pop
- Reliable, value board that is great for learning
- Many of the features are a bit basic
- Rocker style focused on consistency over pure performance
2. Slingshot Nomad Wakeboard 2018
Straddling the line between comfort, smooth riding, and tricking, the Slingshot Nomad Wakeboard 2018 stands out as a big ride for big guys. Coming in at a huge 155 cm, the Slingshot can carry up to 280 pounds of weight in its speedy layout. It’s also plenty wide for added stability.
In terms of performance, you get a lot from this trusty board. The medium flex provides strong pop with good control, and the continuous rocker leads to a faster, smoother ride where you’ll be hooking turns with ease. On the board’s hull are unique, precision laser cuts that add hydrodynamic advantages in grip, speed, and pop. The single shot fusion sidewalls add durability and the wood core brings a feeling to the flex that you have to experience to fully appreciate. The Slingshot is one board that big guys can rely on for power and poise on every trip out to sea.
- Fast, lengthy board at 155 centimeters is a performing workhorse for big guys
- Medium flex for pop balanced by smooth continuous rocker
- Hydrodynamic laser cuts for more performance
- 4 fins may limit the ability to perform some tricks
3. Never Summer Mind Bender Wakeboard 2018
Featuring bold, black-and-white animal artwork to match its slick performance, the Never Summer Mind Bender Wakeboard 2018 is a beast of a board. The largest model comes in at 146 centimeters, more than enough to handle a big guy. The large surface area makes it fast and comfortable to ride.
On top of that, there is some solid flex in the design, and the 7-stage rocker might be the most interesting feature we’ve seen in a while. The flex and rocker should let you tear it up with huge pop off the wake. While you’re grabbing big air, you’ll also have a smooth ride through the water with the micro-channel hull and solid vert-lam wood core. Long, high-flying, and pretty, the Never Summer Mind Bender Wakeboard 2018 is a dream ride for a big guy.
- 146 inches long to carry heavyweight
- Tons of aerial performance, with the flex and 7-stage rocker
- Durable core
- Though the length will soften landings, there are no additional absorbing features
- No fins included, which may make it more difficult to use for beginners
4. Slingshot Coalition Wakeboard 2018
With the Slingshot Coalition Wakeboard 2018, you’ll be bursting and cutting through the water whenever you want. This is a 149-centimeter hulk of a board that supports weights up to 238 pounds. Despite the size, it’s a board with pop and speed so you won’t lag behind the pack, and it’s specially designed to tackle cable riding.
The subtle 3-stage rocker combines with the medium-soft flex to help you reach new heights when you take to the air. The laminated all wood core supports the poppy flex and reduces landing forces. Carbon bedrock inserts are used to draw out strong, bouncy performance every time. Finally, you can leave any worries about durability behind, because the ballistic park base can take any pain you inflict on it no matter how often you ride. The Slingshot Coalition has all the ingredients for years of fast, fun wakeboarding.
- 149 centimeters long, but still quick and poppy
- Subtle 3-stage rocker, laminated all wood core, and carbon bedrock inserts combine to add plenty of pop
- Ballistic park base contains highly durable materials
- You’ll need more support offered by other boards if you weigh over 238 pounds
- 3-stage rocker might be a little slower than other rockers
5. Liquid Force Dose Watson Wakeboard 2018
With the namesake of professional wakeboarder Shawn Watson, the 144-centimeter Liquid Force Dose Watson Wakeboard 2018 is a great board for big guys who want to excel at both cable and boat wakeboarding. This high-performance wakeboard supports weights up to 230 pounds, but it’s the tricked out set of features that make this board really shine.
The 3-stage rocker promotes consistency and power in your ride, and the many different fin options let you customize things the way you want. Small molded side fins stay at all times, but there are removable quad fins which you can use for added edge hold on the wake. This is a stiffer board than some of the others we’ve listed, but there’s a natural feel to the board when you pop and land which is accented by the FlexTrack Mounting System. The D.I.S.C hull gives you softer landings, which is always appreciated by riders. Finally, the board has a wood core, laminates, and grind base that gives it strength and durability in each piece. The Dose Watson Wakeboard really stands out for its attention to detail in all areas of the board.
- Small molded fins and extra quad fins let you cut right through
- FlexTrack Mounting system feels more natural
- Durability at every stage of design, from the hull to the base
- Stiffer board means potentially less pop height
- Not for riders who are too heavy (holds up to 230 pounds)
Our Top Pick for the Best Wakeboard for Big Guys
While all of our picks deserve a place in someone’s wakeboard collection (I’d take them all for sure!), one stands apart as the best for handling everything a big guy needs in a board.
Overall, the Slingshot Nomad Wakeboard 2018 checks off every box for big guys—it’s huge in length and width, holds the most weight of any of the boards we’ve recommended at up to 280 pounds, and there’s a ton of performance packed into all of it.
In addition to the speedy, agile ride provided by the continuous rocker, we particularly liked the precise laser cuts that bring advantages to every area of board performance.
Keep in mind, there’s plenty of variety in the products we’ve selected to choose what you need. You have a value board for beginners in the Liquid Force Trip Wakeboard 2018, boards for advanced users, boards for cable and boat riding, and boards for big guys of differing weights.
So, while the Slingshot Nomad reigns supreme, there’s much to like in our other choices as well.
Whatever the case, wakeboarding is a sport that big guys can and do perform with skill and pride, and it all starts by choosing a board that can best bring that out of you!