I’ve recently decided to give wakeboarding a try and I need to get some gear, but I’m not sure what to get. I know I probably need a wetsuit, but do you wear shoes wakeboarding?
I did a bit of research about beginner’s wakeboarding to figure out what wakeboarding shoes are and if you really need them.
So do you wear shoes wakeboarding? Yes, shoes are an essential part of wakeboarding gear and are often referred to as bindings. Wakeboarding bindings are boots that are anchored to your wakeboard, allowing you to maintain your balance, ride waves and do tricks. You can get wakeboarding boots that detach from your wakeboard, although nondetachable boots are more common.
There are different styles of wakeboarding boots and boot closure systems. These two aspects are the most important features of wakeboarding boots in addition to the flex.
The flex of a boot refers to how much give the boot has – some boots are rigid and inflexible, while others are soft and move with your feet. Picking the right fit is key to your safety when wakeboarding.
Why Should You Wear Shoes When Wakeboarding?
Before I began looking into wakeboarding boots or bindings, I first wanted to understand why you need to wear shoes when wakeboarding.
After all, with most board sports you go barefoot. After a little bit of reading, I learned that bindings are essential to wakeboarding for several reasons, including
To begin with, wakeboarding boots or bindings are the apparatus used to keep you attached to your wakeboard and standing upright. You can get detachable boots that you can slip into the binding anchors that are attached to your wakeboard.
However, many wakeboards come with their own anchors attached and a range of boots you can choose from that fit those anchors.
Wakeboarding boots also help you to maintain your balance on your board. Boots that have a tight, secure fit allow you to maintain more control over your board, even as you move at higher speeds.
A tight fit also helps you to maneuver your board and keep your balance when you hit waves or obstacles in the water.
Of course, if you’re going to go wakeboarding, you should at least try to learn how to do an ollie or jump a wave. The type of boots you pick can help you maneuver your board much better at speed and pull off the perfect trick move.
Overall, soft-sided boots that give you a secure fit but still give your legs room to bend and lift are the best choice for trick boarding.
Wakeboarding Boot Styles
To get the most out of your wakeboarding experience, you need to have the perfect fit when it comes to your bindings. There are two main styles of wakeboarding boots, which are separate from binding systems. Keep in mind that you need to choose boots that will be compatible with your wakeboard.
Wakeboard boots come in sizes that each encompass several shoe sizes, so make sure you try a few on to find the right size for you.
Open Toe Boots
Open toe wakeboarding boots are open at the front, but still, give you a firm fit. The key advantage of these boots is that they give you a comfortable, breathable fit that’s great for people like me who have wide feet.
They’re also a great choice for teenagers who are still growing – the open toe design gives their feet room to grow, so it’s a more economical option.
Open toe boots are also a great choice if you run a wakeboarding class or if you only have one or two wakeboards that you want to share.
Open toe boots cover a greater range of shoe sizes per pair than closed-toe boots do. They’re also easier to get on and off and work well if you plan on wakeboarding in warm water climates.
Closed Toe Boots
Closed toe boots offer a tighter fit than open toe shoes and feel more secure, especially for beginners.
The tighter fit around the ankle and heel gives you a better grip over your wakeboard, allowing you to have far greater control over your board. They’re also ideal for use in cold water environments like the North Pacific coast.
System bindings are essentially anchor bindings into which you can slip your wakeboarding boots. They have straps around the ankles and across the toes, so you can customize the fit of your boots to make them more secure.
High backed system bindings give you a stiffer fit, while the low backed variety offers you more flexibility of movement.
Apart from keeping you firmly attached to your board, your boots are also meant to be comfortable. Remember that it’s important to have a tight, snug fit, but it shouldn’t be so tight that you’re in pain.
Wakeboarding Boot Closure Systems
Once you decide on the boot style you want for your wakeboard, your next step will be to pick a boot closure system. There are three main closure systems and all binding styles use one of these systems.
You need to make sure that the closure system on your boots gives you a firm tie and helps your boots feel more comfortable.
Many wakeboarding boots have the traditional lace-up closure system. The advantage of such boots is that they work well when you have different people sharing wakeboard gear.
They also allow for a broader range of shoe sizes to fit comfortably into the same boots. However, they do take longer to tie up and the laces can come undone when you’re going at higher speeds.
The Boa® lacing system is a patented no-tie lacing system that gives you a tighter, more secure closure than lace-up boots do. This system uses a dial and ratchet that allow you to tighten or loosen the laces on your boots.
Apart from making your boots more efficient to take off and put on, this system also gives your ankles and heels more support, giving your feet more grip as well.
Like the Boa® laces, Velcro straps have the advantage of allowing you to get in and out of your boots quickly. They also give you a nice, tight fit, especially when compared to standard lace-up boots.
Velcro straps can’t come undone at high speeds either, which makes them the perfect choice if you plan or doing trick maneuvers or obstacle riding.
Some boots also come with hinges that allow you to open the boots along the back. These boots are typically higher-end, but they are an excellent choice if you can get them. They are far easier to get on and off and give you an exceptional fit. These types of boots often have a Boa® lacing system.
Wakeboarding Boot Flex – Why Is It Important?
Many wakeboard boots come with a Stiffness Scale rating, a number between one and five that indicates how stiff the material of your boots is.
A five rating means that the boots are very stiff, offer a very secure ankle and heel hold, and give you a very tight fit. A one rating means that the boots are very soft, allowing your ankle and heel some movement, which lets you maneuver your feet better for tricks.
In general, beginners are advised to start with soft flex boots – these types of boots allow you greater movement, so you have the flexibility to fall safely when you’re first learning to wakeboard.
They also feel more natural to begin with than the much stiffer boots that are often preferred by advanced wakeboarders.