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What is a Wake Skate? The "Mini Wakeboard" Explained

What is a Wake Skate? The "Mini Wakeboard" Explained

Wake skating is to wakeboarding what skateboarding is to longboarding: You make use of a smaller, lighter, more maneuverable board while being towed in the wake. But there's a lot more to it than that. Let's explain.

What, Exactly, Is a Wake Skate?

A wake skate is, as the name implies, a board made to ride more like a skateboard on the water than a conventional wakeboard. It's short, wide profile makes it far easier to perform spin and flip tricks, and grab air by popping off the wake.

Some wake skates even make use of grip tape, and some users even wear wake skate shoes, similar to regular skateboarding shoes.

Wake Skate vs. Wakeboard: What's Different?

Functionally, a wake skate isn't so different from a regular wakeboard. It's just a lot smaller. Most wakeboards measure between 53" and 60" long, while the average wake skate measures just 40" to 44" long.

Shape and Rocker Profile

Pictured: Ronix Rove Karver

Wake skates are generally the same shape as wakeboards, with rectangular profiles sporting slightly curved edges on either side, and flat noses and tails. Wake skates are also slightly curved, with most using a continuous or hybrid rocker profile from tip to tail, like many wakeboards.

(No Bindings Needed)

The obvious difference in function lies in how the rider attaches to the board -- which is to say they don't attach to it at all. Wake skates have no bindings, instead relying on grip alone to keep the rider planted.

Board Fins

Wake skates also use fins, like some wakeboards, but they're usually a bit smaller. Most wake skate fins measure 0.8" to 1.2" tall, while most wakeboard fins measure 1.5" or taller.

Wake Skate Deck Material

Pictured: Liquid Force Wake Skate

Like a skateboard, many wake skates use a multi-ply wood deck, usually constructed of 7 to 9 layers of maple. This skateboard mimicry is what gives a wake skate its performance: These stiff, springy, and light but strong decks are incredibly responsiveness in the wake, allowing for effortless tricks and big air.

Some wake skates are still made from composites, like most wakeboards. These boards are lighter and give a more "floaty" feeling. They'll also typically land longer than wood decks, but they're far more expensive.

Deck Top Material & Shape

Pictured: Ronix Electric Collective

Grip tape is not uncommon when it comes to wake skates, but many boards also use an EVA foam top. This foam top provides a good balance of grip and cushion against landings. Those who ride with foam tops instead of grip taped decks also ditch the shoes and ride barefoot.

You'll also notice the top of the deck on the skate above is flat, while it's bottom rocker profile is more curved. This is by design: The top of the deck is flattened to provide a feeling similar to that of an actual skateboard. This is called a bi-level deck, and it gives your feet a flatter surface to rest upon, providing more control in the water.

Grip Tape or Foam: Which is Better?

If you're committed to riding fast, pushing the limits performing tricks, and wiping out frequently, wake skate shoes and a deck with grip tape will work best for you.

A shoe-and-tape setup provides the most control and performance, and shoes help protect your toes and ankles from injury. Of course, you don't need grip tape and shoes to spin, jump, and flip -- plenty of riders still catch big air and make their heads spin riding barefoot on foam.

Foam is also more comfortable, and it provides some cushion against impacts. In the end, it's personal preference above all else.

Picking the Right Wake Skate Size

Like we mentioned, wake skates are noticeably smaller than wakeboards. Reference the size chart below to pick the appropriate size skate based on rider weight:

Wake Skate Size Chart

 Have some overlap between board size and rider weight? Pick the bigger wake skate if you prefer riding at slower tow speeds with more stability. Pick the smaller skate if you prefer faster tow speeds and quicker spin and flip tricks.

 Wake Skate Length (in.)
Rider Weight (lbs)
39" - 41" 90 - 170
42" - 43" 150 - 200
44" - 46" 180 lbs+


Ready to Wake Skate?

Check out our available wake skates! We've got popular options from Ronix, Liquid Force, and other makers, available in the sizes referenced above, with various rocker profiles and deck tops optioned for your personal preferences.