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What do you do when the waves are flat? Surf skateboarding might as well be the next best thing! Surf skateboards are skateboards built to carve and ride similarly to a surfboard and are ideal for helping you ramp up your surf skills.
In this guide, we’ll show you the best surf skateboards on the market and show you some things to consider when choosing the right one for you.
Carver is one of the oldest surf skate brands in the market and is the market leader with its premium quality surf skateboards. Carver offers a handful of surf skateboard configurations.
Look for the C7 or CX truck options. These trucks make for a smooth turning and agile surf skateboard. You can pair these trucks with any of carver’s wider decks, like the 36.5″ Tyler 777 or the 30″ Emerald Peak.
These surfskates ride smoothly and have an exceptional level of pump. A wide turning radius helps you practice carving even when you’re out of the water. This surfskate is also fun outside of surf training, making it a top all-around skateboard.
SmoothStar a brand that specializes in surf training, dedicating most of their models to surfskates rather than being an overall skate brand. SmoothStar surfskates are high performance and help riders focus on surf technique. The SmoothStar helps surfers master deep turns and riding on your backhand in between surf sessions.
SmoothStar makes grom-sized surfskates (26″) up to 39″ longboards. The 32.5″ Johanne Defay Pro model is a more advanced level surfskate with an extra wide tail that is a master at carving concrete. It’s built to suit riders 5’3″-5’11” (160cm-181cm). If you’re not sure which model to choose, SmoothStar has a “which model is best for me?” FAQ.
Best surfskate for intermediate/experienced surfers
YOW (Your Own Wave) is a European surfskate brand that manufactures some of the most renowned dedicated surf skateboards. YOW surfskates come with two truck types, the V.4 S4 and the V.4 S5. The S4 has a light, responsive feel for ultra-sharp cutbacks and turns. It works best for surfers under 110 lbs (50kgs). The S5 is popular among the everyday surfer, and has a heavier spring that can handle a bit more weight. Both models carve effectively and work great when paired with a YOW deck.
Practically, you’re able to perform very tight turns and radical cutbacks due to its shortboard-like structure. Beginners might struggle at first to get used to the loose way the board rides, but stick with it and you’ll progress both in skating and surfing quite quickly.
The Pescadito is a popular and beloved surfskate with a unique retro design. The deck is shaped like a 60s fish (a nod to the name), making it a smooth yet agile ride. The Pescadito is perfect for carving and pumping–just like in the water.
The top layer includes a grip coating which makes it more comfortable to ride barefoot, emulating the authentic surfing experience. The board might not be the best one for high-speed rides or for distance kick pushing. This shortboard-specific model is built from bamboo and perfect for those no-swell days.
Surfers will love this retro surfskate designed specifically with longboarders in mind. Practice noseriding, turning, and cross stepping along this stunning deck that comes in natural wood (6’2″), red, pink, blue, green, and more. The deck is 18″ wide and capable of handling extreme turns. This is one of the best surf skateboards to practice longboard footwork before moving onto the water. This smooth ride is stylish and fun.
The Jamie O’Brien Pro Model was manufactured by SwellTech specifically with surfers in mind–and input from J.O.B. himself. The board can handle sharp, fast turns and steep descents with excellent stability. Think 360-degree slides and agile turns. This board in particular works best for surfers from 4’10”-5’10” (149-170 cm). Taller surfers might fare better on the 36″ model.
The board has a concave running which gives the feet addition stability along with the mellow grip stripe attached on the top. It also comes with a detachable traction pad that you can continue using or remove according to your preferences.
More durable than some of the other surfskates on the market, the Penny High-Line Surfskate is a great hybrid model for skateboarders who dabble in surfing and want a board that can handle serious turns. This board is outfitted with a Waterborne Surf Adapter on the trucks, giving it more lean than the classic Penny skateboards. This helps it have an ultra smooth, ultra-agile rail-to-rail ride. This board comes in multiple color options like pastel pink, teal, black, yellow, mint, and more. As a bonus, it’s small deck size makes it travel friendly.
One of the best value surfskates on the market, the Flow 29″ surf skateboard is a stylish and practical skateboard ideal for practicing turns and everyday cruising. Truck springs come with a lifetime warranty and are made to emulate the flow of shortboard surfing. Springs can be tightened or loosened, depending on the rider’s preference. The classic swallow shape with a wide deck gives just enough room for footwork.
This is a great alternative to the Carver and for building skills before moving onto higher performance surf skateboards.
The Z Flex 31″ surfskate is built with Waterborne surfskate adapters, giving it more turning and carving capacity than your everyday carving skateboard. Throw the tail, carve, and enjoy the smooth ride of this surfskate. While not as high performance than the Hamboards, Carver, or Smoothstar models, this surfskate is ideal for those looking for a high-value skateboard that won’t break the bank.
Choosing the best surf skateboard for you requires a bit of introspection and research. The good news is that even if you get one that’s a bit above your experience level now, surfskates tend to be something you can grow into.
Here are a few things to consider on your search.
Skateboard vs SurfSkates – What’s the Difference?
At first glance, typical carving skateboards or longboard skateboards look vastly similar to surf skateboards. And while it’s true that improving your overall skating ability often helps with your surfing, surf skateboards are specifically designed with surfers in mind.
Trucks of surfskates tend to be looser than typical skateboards, mimicking the wide carving motions you’d do on a wave. They are also slightly less stable, allowing you to fine-tune your balancing skills. Surf skateboards often have a wider tail, allowing the skateboarder to control the board with a back foot. Some surfskates even propel forward by pumping the back foot rather than pushing off the ground.
As a contrast, skateboards are built for jumping and grinding. Longboards tend to be built for wide turns and speed. Each skateboard has its own personality, pros and cons, and differences. If you skate to surf above all, or are looking to progress in another area of skateboarding, then a surf skateboard is a worthy purchase.
The truck refers to the complete set including a baseplate, hanger, kingpin, etc. that connects the deck to the wheels. The type of truck you use has a lot to do with the level of safety and comfort of your board. You can select between a spring-based and a bushings-based truck. Both are almost similar in terms of the functionality, although the spring-based boards are a little more responsive. Trucks with a greater height have lower stability but offer more ‘pumpability’ and vice versa. If you’re a beginner go for a truck that isn’t very loose since loose trucks are slightly difficult to ride.
Length and Wheelbase
The length and the wheelbase mostly depend on the size of the rider. Bigger riders would prefer a fuller board and smaller ones would like a smaller board. A shorter wheelbase would allow you to make tighter turns but will be a little more unstable compared to their larger counterparts. At the same time, a longer deck and wheelbase results in wider turns but with greater stability at high speeds.
As a general rule, those under 5’10” will be fine with a 33″ and under deck. Larger riders might want to opt for something 34″ and up. Of course, any rider can learn to master just about any board–regardless of size. Longboard surfskates are less finicky when it comes to board rider to board size ratio.
Deck shapes vary from surfskate to surfskate. Some surfskates mimick shortboards (typically fish shaped surfboards) while others have a wide nose to emulate a classic longboard. If you’re a longboard surfer, then opt for a large deck where you can crosstep and noseride to your heart’s content.
If it’s sharp turns you’re after, a squat fish-shaped deck with a wide tail will help you master quick cutbacks. As a general rule, the deck shape is completely up to personal preference.
Turn versus Tilt
The turn refers to the amount of rotation the wheels can offer, whereas the tilt refers to the degree to which your board can lean towards the ground while turning. Deciding the turn to tilt ration of a board mostly depends on how you like to make your turns. As a beginner, you can simply get a board with a 50:50 ratio and then explore your style.
Softer wheels will give you a better grip while harder ones will be easier to slide. Surfskates tend to have softer wheels.
A surf skateboard can help you gain experience carving, noseriding, cross-stepping–and performing other tricks you might not have been able to while on the wave. While of course surf skateboarding still has its own nuances when it comes to technique, skating allows you to focus on these skills for hours–rather than seconds–at a time.
Surf skateboarding is a great medium to practice your skills before you face the waves. You’ll improve your balance, posture, and will be able to easily translate whatever you’ve learned on the concrete into the surf.
And obviously, surf skating is the perfect thing to do when you’re waiting for a swell on those pesky no-wave days.
FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Surf Skateboards
A surf skateboard (also called a surfskate) is a skateboard built specifically with surfers in mind. The trucks of a surf skateboard tends to be looser than a typical skateboard, allowing the surfskate to emulate deep turns required in surfing. You can move forward on a surfskate by pumping rather than pushing off the ground. Surf skateboards allow surfers to train their skills while out of the water.
How do I choose a surfskate?
To choose a surfskate, first think about the type of surfing you’d like to progress in. If you’re a shortboard surfer, consider a surfskate around the 28-35″ deck size. This will allow you to make quick, sharp turns that help with sharp cutbacks on a wave. If you are a longboard surfer, look for a longer (3’0″+) surf skateboard that can handle noseriding, wide turns, and footwork along the deck.