Top Swim Kickboards Compared: The Expert Review
by Loretta Race, Swim Writer & Masters Swimmer
ARENA SUPER HEROES KICKBOARD ($14.70)
First Impression: A fun take on the classic kickboard
The Arena Super Heroes Kickboard looks like a traditional board, but is donned with two unique features. Of course, with the name ‘superheroes’, a colorful graphic of Harley Quinn stood out on a black background on my particular board. Also towards the top of the board are two ‘handles’, much like the Sporti Momentum reviewed below, although more effectively placed.
The size and weight of the Super Heroes Kickboard are adequate and conducive to keeping in a gear bag without difficulty. Plus, the superhero design could help set your board apart from someone else’s on the pool deck, which is helpful given the ubiquity of boards.
Kicking with the board was a typical experience for me with nothing out of the ordinary, but the handles were nicely placed, where it fit my natural hand placement. Flipturns weren’t too difficult with this board, although I doubt I looked graceful.
Retta’s Rating: B+ for a traditional board with super hero edge.
FINIS ALIGNMENT KICKBOARD ($19.99)
First Impression: Big benefits in a little yellow package!
It's exciting to see how far innovation has taken the basic kickboard, as is the case with the FINIS Alignment Kickboard. After playing around with the Alignment board over several practices, this has become the functional piece of gear I never knew I needed. The board is in an arrow or triangle-type shape, made of lightweight foam and fashioned with a durable rubber strap across its width. It's easy to slip one or both hands under the strap to maintain a tight streamlined position while kicking any stroke on your stomach or back. Or, you can also use just one hand in the strap to maintain body position while kicking on your side. It’s perfect for pairing with a snorkel in order to be fully stretched out and focus on your body line while kicking.
The size and density of the Alignment kickboard reduced any strain on my shoulders and allowed me to press into it, lengthening my body line and not feel as though I was kicking uphill, as is the case with traditional kickboards. I was able to release one hand easily and stroke into the wall with the board under control in order to complete a flip turn and seamlessly move on to my next kicking lap.
From a traveling/storage perspective, the size and lightweight foam makes the board easy to slip into my bag and carry to the pool, while the strap could also be slid through a carabiner or velcro strap some swim backpacks offer on the outside. Additionally, if more than one of your teammates has this piece, the bright yellow is easy to mark with a swimmer's name for identification.
At a very reasonable price point, this is a valuable tool with big benefits without a big price tag.
Retta's Rating: A+ for an innovative, purposeful piece of equipment
SPORTI MOMENTUM PREMIUM KICKBOARD ($14.95)
First Impression: An aerodynamic foam rocket
The Sporti Momentum Kickboard gets the job done without added bells and whistles. The foam construction has a solid, durable feel and the unmistakable streamline shape helped me glide through the water during kick sets without tons of resistance.
You get a nice two-tone color option using side.
I understand the idea behind the handles with giving the athlete something to grip, but they make using the board while kicking on one's side a little awkward. Additionally, the size and extreme arc made my flipturns clumsy and not worth trying.
Retta's Rating: B- for solid construction and a price that’s tough to beat, but points off for slightly awkward design for my taste
SPEEDO TEAM KICKBOARD ($13.49)
First Impression: Quintessential kickboard
Ask a kid to draw a picture of a kickboard and I bet he/she would come up something very close to the Speedo Team Kickboard. It’s a traditionally-shaped board with a generous size and weight, typical of what you see on pool decks everywhere.
A bonus of Speedo’s conventional design is a small gutter running along the underside edge, which serves as a comfortable groove for fingers to grip. The foam itself all throughout the board is textured as well.
The material is firm and inflexible with no indentations or notable marks on the front. I was able to kick in all positions with this board, although the size did tend to position my body’s upper half higher in the water than my lower half, which I could feel take its toll a bit in my lower back after a while.
In my training, with sets involving both kicking and pulling at quick intervals, I sometimes substitute in my kickboard for a buoy. The Team Kickboard was ideal for this use, acting as a rudder for me to feel rotational reinforcement while pulling.
Retta’s Rating: B for a useful and practical, but expected board
SWIMMERS BEST LIL RED KICK KICKBOARD ($18.56)
First Impression: What the heck?
This ‘Lil Red Kick’ threw me for a loop at first glance, with its unique design and thick black strap. It didn’t take me too long, however, to figure out the board’s design was intended for multiple purposes aside from just horizontal kicking. So much so that I wouldn’t even call it a ‘kickboard’ per se.
There’s a little weight to the device, which helped my body kick more downhill than uphill when holding it out in front, both with and without a snorkel. Plus, the ‘handles’ on the Lil Red Kick are close together so you are nearing streamline, but you can take it a step further by inserting hands into the black strap in numerous configurations.
The different cut-outs for hand placement made the product easy to kick with in various positions and it’s small enough to use as a hand paddle of sorts stroking into the wall for full-on flipturns.
I also experimented holding the Lil Red Kick between my feet while stroking and holding it up in the air for vertical kicking, both of which were successful and confirmed the product’s versatility.
I love bringing and using gear at every workout, so the Lil Red Kick’s small size means I can add it to my bag without having to take something else out to make room.
Retta’s Rating: A for an innovative, multi-purpose device
TYR INFLATABLE KICKBOARD ($14.99)
First Impression: Convenience plus!
I'd never seen an inflatable kickboard before, nor ever used one, so I was excited to give this TYR Inflatable board a try. The product came folded into a small rectangle that would be easy to fit in any type of bag for travel and it only took me three big breaths to quickly inflate it.
As one would expect with it being air-filled, the board was extremely buoyant, so much so that I did feel some mild strain on my shoulders after a bit of use in the pool. Plus, it being so 'floaty' took flip turns out of the equation, at least for me. But, I wouldn't expect this is intended to be a permanent piece of equipment at a home pool, so these drawbacks wouldn't be a deal breaker for just a travel board.
The air held throughout the workout and the board deflated in no time to pack away just as simply as it was taken out.
Retta's Rating: B for a travel-friendly, temporary board
TYR HYDROFOIL KICKBOARD ($19.99)
First Impression: Lightweight, ergonomic board
The first attribute I noticed about the TYR Hydrofoil Kickboard was how weightless it is. There was nothing bulky or thick-foamed about this piece of equipment. The size is spot-on for putting in your gear bag without heft, while also being big enough for virtually all sizes of swimmer.
The board's design takes a traditional kickboard shape and turns it on its head, cutting out grooves at the top that enable your hands to hold on easily. The board also has subtle indentations along the front in which your forearms naturally set, making this a very comfortable board for those long haul sets.
Under the board there is also a unique arch, which helps your body roll a bit more than with a typical rigid and non-concave shaped board. I was able to maintain solid body position without noticeable pressure on the shoulders. Additionally, the Hydrofoil's lightweight and ergonomic grooves enabled me to hold on with one hand and successfully perform a flip turn without too much disruption.
The board comes across as possibly over-engineered when kicking with a snorkel, however. When holding the end of the board with my face in the water, the Hydrofoil's distinctive design and ergonomics don't get to be utilized.
Retta’s Rating: A for a comfortable, well-designed board
Editor’s Note: The Expert Review is a completely independent review of products sold on SwimOutlet.com by outside swim experts to help customers in their purchasing decisions. The opinions are solely those of the author. Many factors go into the purchase of a product and an expert review should be just one of many.
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