Getting started with wakesurfing
The sport of wakesurfing has exploded in popularity in the last 20 years or so. Being able to surf perfect waves no matter where you are? Sign me up! Improvements in boat technology and wakesurf gear has inspired more and more people to bring the coastal surf lifestyle to interior lakes and rivers. Plus, as a much slower paced activity than it’s watersport counterparts like wakeboarding and waterskiing, the potential for injury is much lower (queue the parental ears perking up). If you’re looking to get started with wakesurfing, one of the first things to understand is the wakesurf gear you’ll need for epic days out on the water. After over a decade of shredding (and face planting) on perpetual waves, here are our 19 wakesurf gear essentials.
Wakesurfing equipment for getting the perfect wave
One of the trickiest things about getting started with wakesurfing is figuring out how to get the wave right. While there’s no one-size-fits-all recipe for the perfect wave – every boat is different – having the right gear will allow you to tinker and toil with different setups in order to lock in the ideal setup.
Well, duh. There’s no wave without a boat. While I won’t get too deep into wakesurf boats here – that’s a whole article in itself – there are a few key considerations here. Buying a brand new wakesurf boat can get expensive in a hurry. Some boats can run you up to $200,000+ full-loaded with all the bells and whistles. These will undoubtedly provide outstanding waves with incredible ease of setup, one flick-of-a-switch ballast fills, and sex appeal that will be the envy of the lake. That said, it is definitely possible to create just as good a wave with older, second-hand boats that will be significantly lighter on your wallet. It will take some experimenting, but by testing out different ballast weights, fat sack orientations, and wake shaper locations you can surely find the optimal setup for consistently epic waves.
As you probably already know, wakesurf boats come with built-in ballast tanks that can be filled with water to weight the boat down. This is what creates the powerful wave off the back. However, to make that wave even bigger and more powerful, many wakesurfers put fat sacs in their stern storage compartments. These are essentially large, heavy-duty bags that can be filled with water when needed to add additional weight. Alternatively, some people use ballast weight bags, which are typically filled with metal or another heavy material. However, if you plan to use your boat for things other than wakesurfing, then it’s advantageous to use fat sacs because you can empty out the additional weight. When it comes to purchasing the right fat sacs for your boat, it is crucial to confirm that you get ones that are compatible with your boat. This means in terms of the volume of space they take up, as well as the additional weight capacity for which your boat is rated.
Fat Sac Pump
Obviously, if you have fat sacs, you need to be able to fill and empty your fat sacs. Do so with relative ease using a portable fat sac pump. These typically plug into a power outlet, are easy-to-use, and can fill and empty a 600lb fat sac in just a couple of minutes. Make sure the one you choose is compatible with the connections on your fat sac(s).
Wake Shaper / Wedge
A wakesurf shaper – also known as a wakesurf wedge – is not always a necessary piece of wakesurf gear, but it can really improve the quality of your wave in many cases. Essentially, a wakesurf shaper is a removable flange that suctions onto the hull of your boat, on the opposite side of the surfer. This disrupts and weakens the flow of water on that side, in turn cleaning up and strengthening the flow of water that’s feeding the wave. I wrote a whole other article about how to shop for and use a wakesurf shaper. I’d recommend trying out your boat without a wakesurf shaper to start, and then adding it to your setup later on if you think your wave could be better. The Mission Delta has worked magically for us.
Once you’ve got the wave right, the next wakesurf gear you need is your surfing equipment.
Everyone’s got their own take on which type of boards are the best. It’s heavily personal preference, but also depends on the skill level of your surfers, the size of your wave, and what type of surfing you plan to do. I’ve written a whole difference article about the best beginner wakesurf boards as well, which you can find here. At the simplest level, boards fit into one of three categories: Surf, Skim, or Hybrid. Surf style boards are most similar to coastal ocean surfboards. Skim style boards are thin, squirrelly and great for tricks. And Hybrid boards are somewhere in between. Ideally, you want to have one of each so that you have an option for all types of surfers and can ride whatever style you’re feeling on any particular day.
Safety first! Life jackets or life vests are non-negotiable pieces of wakesurf gear. Doesn’t matter how strong a swimmer you are, you should always surf with a life jacket. Not only is it the law in most places, but the board could hit you in the head when you wipe out, knocking you out. For that reason, always jacket up! Thankfully, there are lots of very sleek, minimalist life vests on the market these days.
Wake boats will typically have multiple tow rope attachment points. For wakesurfing, you want to attach the rope at the highest point, to give the surfer the leverage they need to get out of the water.
Even though they’re not required everywhere, safety flags are a smart piece of wakesurf gear to have. Having someone hold up the safety flag while you go to pick up a fallen surfer signals to other nearby boats there there is a person in the water and to proceed with caution. This is especially important in areas where there is a lot of boat traffic.
Look good. Feel good. Surf good.
Stretch, comfort, coverage, style, and security. You want to look great out there, but you also don’t want your suit to hold you back! Nor do you want to get de-suited when you inevitably wipeout. Check out a couple of our favorites.
You wouldn’t be the first one to have their sunglasses knocked off by the tow rope or the in-boat action. Keep the stoke high by protecting your sunnies and make your dad proud with these croakies.
A piece of wisdom straight from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – always know where your towel is. Towels are wakesurfing essentials on cooler days to keep the surfers happy and the session going longer.
Let’s be honest wakesurfing is always better when the tunes are bumping. If your boat doesn’t have a built-in Bluetooth connection, a waterproof speaker like the Bose Micro Soundlink is a wakesurfing essential.
Look cool and keep your drinks even cooler with a Yeti Hopper Flip Cooler. Keeping hydrated is crucial on hot days and will keep the surf sesh going as long as possible. And remember, water on the water, beer on the pier!
Yeti Hopper Sidekick
Bringing your phone onboard is key to capturing epic rides and iconic wipeouts. But keeping track of your device can be kinda hectic when the boat’s rocking and rolling in the waves and gear’s getting tossed around everywhere. Keep your valuable secure and achieve peace of mind by storing them in a Yeti Hopper Sidekick. Because there’s no quicker buzzkill than losing your keys, wallet, phone, or Chipotle loyalty card overboard.
These aren’t your grandfather’s koozies…although those are still cool af. Once you discover Yeti Rambler Colsters you’ll have a hard time drinking from anything else. Keep your drink icy cold without chilling your hand. Like everything Yeti makes, these bad boys are indestructible.
Make docking a breeze and avoid the previously inevitable “Why did you let the boat hit??” by getting some sleek fenders like the Mission Icon Fenders. These universal, easy-to-set-up, unobtrusive fenders will take docking from stressful to blissful.
Capture the Fun
Because your friends won’t believe that you actually stuck that 360…
There are all kinds of cool angles you can capture while wakesurfing with a GoPro, both in the boat and on the wave. Since the wide angle camera of a GoPro does its best work up close to the subject, having a GoPro pole attachment is key to getting right up in the surfer’s grill. This leads to some epic footage and images. Trust me, you’ll be extremely disappointed if you don’t capture dad’s legendary nosedive.
Flying a drone behind the boat definitely takes some practice, but can lead to some unbelievable footage. Our recommendation is to have the drone operator fly from the dock, as trying to fly (and ultimately land) while in a rocking, moving boat proves to be very challenging. Thankfully, drones like the DJI Mavic Pro 2 have excellent follow-me modes that will help create buttery smooth footage.
There you have it! 19 essentials to great wakesurf days out on the water. Anything we missed? What else are you bringing out with you? Let us know in the comments. Happy surfing!