Skateboarding and surfing have always been closely related. The feeling of riding a skateboard has a lot in common with that of riding a wave on a surfboard. But there is a special breed of skateboards specifically designed to emulate surfing: surf skateboards – or surf skates. If you’re a landlocked surfer or if you’re looking to get into surfing soon, then a surf skateboard is for you.
A very commonly asked question is, which is the best skateboard for surfing? The answer depends on the kind of surfing you want to emulate. Generally speaking though, the following are generally considered amongst the best skateboards for surfing cross-training:
- Carver surf skates
- Yow surf skates
- Waterborne surf skates
- Swelltech surf skates
- Hamboards surf skates
- Slide surf skates
- Jucker Hawaii surf skates
- Smoothstar surf skates
These are a lot of skateboards to choose from! Which should you pick for your needs? In this post, I discuss which of these skateboards work best for different surfing styles.
What makes a skateboard good for surfing?
Surf skateboards emulate surfing on land by offering trucks that can turn very tightly, allowing you to perform surf-style maneuvers like on a surfboard.
When discussing the best skateboard for surfing, however, you first need to define the style of surfing you’re aiming for. As a surfer myself, I know there are very different surf styles, including:
- High-performance shortboard slashing and ripping
- Classic style down-the-line, fluid turns, tube riding
- Longboard style carving, pumping, and boardwalking
Every surf skateboard is typically good for emulating a given kind of surfing. The question is, which type of surfing do you want to cross-train for on your skateboard? Surf skateboards can be broken down in terms of their capabilities:
- Surf skates best for easy carving and efficient distance pumping
- Surf skates best for pool riding and smooth bottom/top turns
- Surf skates best for skatepark, verts and big airs
In light of these categories, we can safely say distance pumping skateboards are best suited for longboard-style surfing, pool riding skateboards for down-the-line surfing, and park skateboards for aggressive shortboard surfing.
Let’s go over each of the surf skateboards in the list and see where they fit in the surfing spectrum.
Note: the following surf skates are not listed in any particular order, the numbering is only used for structure, not ranking!
1. Best skateboard for surfing: Carver
The oldest surf skate brand on the market, Carver pioneered the surf skate market and is still a leader with its high-quality decks and surf trucks. Carver completes and trucks are quite pricey, though their newer Triton line is more affordable (same trucks, cheaper decks).
So how good are Carver skateboards for surfing? There are two different Carver trucks, the C7 and the CX. All Carver complete skateboards can be bought with either the C7 or a CX front truck. Each of these two skateboard trucks offers a completely different surfing experience.
C7 Carver skateboards for surf training
Carver skateboards equipped with the C7 are great for classic, fluid, down-the-line surfing. The C7 gives you very fluid turns like on a single fin surfboard. It makes it easy to pull tight turns off the back foot. It’s also a great truck for riding pool and sliding the rear of your skateboard by putting more weight on your front foot and pushing out the back foot, emulating sliding the fins when surfing.
CX Carver skateboards for surf training
Carver skateboards with the CX truck offer a very different surfing experience compared to the C7. While the C7 has a special geometry and uses a torsion spring for its turning mechanism, the CX has a regular RKP geometry and uses a rubber bushing. The result is a very snappy riding feel closer to performance shortboard surfing. It’s a great truck for skatepark tricks and vert airs – again comparable to aggressive shortboard surfing maneuvers.
2. Best skateboard for surfing: YOW
YOW’s (Your Own Wave) skateboards are the top-selling surf skates in Europe. Like the Carver C7, it uses a spring mechanism – albeit a round one. YOW is manufactured by HLC in Northern Spain, in Europe’s largest skateboard factory.
The YOW truck adapter is very loose (looser than the C7), resulting in a riding feel on YOW skateboards closer to shortboard performance surfing. You’re able to perform very tight turns and radical cutbacks like on a shortboard. The body movement on the YOW is also close to that of a shortboard surfer, originating from your core rather than your leg. Therefore, YOW is positioned as one of the best trainer skateboards for performance surfing.
YOW skateboards are also great for skatepark riding. They are not easy skateboards to start on as they are less stable and require more work to pump and carve over any distance. They’re great for practicing radical surf maneuvers but are not as well-suited for classic surfing style and down-the-line carving.
YOW skateboards come with either the S4 version of the truck adapter, which uses a 4mm spring (looser, best for lighter riders) or the S5 version which uses a stiffer, 5mm spring. You can get the YOW adapter standalone and mount it on your existing deck with your existing trucks.
3. Best skateboard for surf training: Waterborne
Waterborne is a smaller but upcoming surf skate brand from the USA. Their Surf Adapter surf truck mechanism is a quality challenger to YOW and Smoothstar. Unlike them, however, Waterborne uses urethane bushings instead of springs. You can mount the Surf Adapter on pretty much any deck and mount your existing trucks on it, turning them into surf trucks.
The Surf Adapter turns your existing setup (deck and trucks) into a pumpable and carvy skateboard, allowing surf-style slides and cutbacks with more control. The adapter provides a riding experience similar in looseness to YOW but with a more fluid feel due to the bushings (vs springs). The riding on the Waterborne surf adapter is more stable than the YOW or Smoothstar but deeper turning than the C7.
Thus, skateboards fitted with the Surf Adapter are great for versatile surf training, somewhere between high-performance shortboard surfing (hard snapbacks and surf slides) and down-the-line carving and fluid surf turns.
Waterborne also recently released complete carbon surf skateboards that come fitted with the Surf Adapter.
Check out the Waterborne Surf Adapter price and reviews on Amazon.
Or, check out my in-depth review of the best surfskate adapters (including the Waterborne).
4. Best skateboard for surfing: Swelltech
Swelltech is a reputable surf skate brand from the U.S (Florida). They offer the most radical and performance oriented skateboard surf truck on the market. Their V-truck (aka Swelltech truck) uses two springs and angled risers to provide unlimited 180º free motion for the trucks.
The Swelltech surf skateboards have a distinctive surfboard-like shape.
Swelltech surf skateboards are fully aimed towards hardcore performance surf training. Only riders with the right surfing motion (initiating from the body core) are usually able to get moving on these boards. In contrast to other surf skateboards, trying to get moving by kick pushing or wiggling your feet generally won’t work.
The Swelltech is highly unstable due to its 360º turning front truck – even more so than the YOW S4. Experienced shortboard surfers often see it as the ultimate surf cross-training skateboard, as they’re able to perform tight cutbacks and surf-style rail-to-rail transitions. If you’re more into classic surfing with mellow carving and wide curves in the waves, however, you may want to opt for something less radical.
5. Best skateboard for surfing: Hamboards
Hamboards is a longboard surf-focused skate brand from California who makes very large skateboard decks that look like longboard surfboards. Their large, classic surf-shaped decks come with a spring torsion surf truck engineered to provide the closest experience to surfing when used on the large decks.
In order to sustain the pressure from the large decks through extreme surf-style carving, the HST was designed as a 200mm RKP truck with 28º turn on both sides. It has a beefed up hanger and baseplate, thicker pivot cup, and a robust spring torsion mechanism.
Hamboards skateboards are surpringly agile and tight-turning given their large size, offering a riding feel close to classic surfing on a longboard or mini-malibu. These skateboards are designed for classic surf carving and surfing moves like boardwalking and hang-fives.
If you’re into classic longboard surfing, be sure to check out Hamboard skateboards, e.g. the Pescadito, Huntington, or Logger.
Check out the Hamboards Amazon store for surf skateboard models and prices.
6. Best skateboards for surf training: Slide
Slide is a line of quality surf skateboards manufactured in Spain by Sancheski, one of Europe’s oldest skateboard factory. The surfskates are powered by a well-performing surf truck. The complete skateboards sell at very affordable prices compared to other brands.
How good are Slide skateboards for surfing? They are great for practicing normal everyday surfing and down-the-line carving on average waves on a single-fin, hybrid, or fishtail surfboard. Slide skateboards are known to be push-friendly (being low riding) and much more stable and pumpable than most other surfskates out there.
Thus, for newer surfers, Slide is an excellent surfing cross-trainer board for honing your pumping and fluid carving skills on waves. Performance surfers may find the Slide not turny enough for their extreme deep carves and surf-style slides. However, Slide skateboards are stable enough for some comfortable distance commuting through pushing and pumping, while still surfy enough to practice your basic wave riding skills.
The Slide surf skates are also very suitable for pool riding – another great way to improve your basic wave surfing, fluid carving and pumping technique. They offer a riding feel somewhat similar to a CX Carver board, stable enough for pushing and distance pumping – though perhaps not as tight turning as the CX.
7. Best skateboard for surfing: Jucker Hawaii
Jucker Hawaii surf skateboards are powered by the Rugged surf truck. Like the Slide, the Rugged is not a surf adapter but a complete surf truck, comparable in geometry to the Carver CX though much more affordable.
Jucker Hawaii surf skateboards let you perform quick and sharp turns like on a regular surfboard, as well as pump your board easily from a standstill and pick up speed through surf-style carving. Similar to the Slide, these skateboards don’t lose too much stability at speed – much less than performance surfing trucks like Smoothstar, Swelltech, and even YOW.
The Jucker/Rugged can also be used for distance pumping, especially with a harder front bushing. This again puts the Jucker Hawaii surf skateboards in the same surfing style as the Slide and Carver CX – i.e. fluid carving and down-the-line surfing.
8. Best skateboard for surf training: Smoothstar
Smoothstar is a leading surf skateboards brand in Australia and Japan. They offer complete skateboards that build upon their surf truck adapter. Like the C7 and Yow, their swing adapter is a (straight) spring mechanism. Note that Smoothstar only sells the Thruster adapter as part of a complete.
Smoothstar surf skateboards are best-suited for shortboard performance surfing cross-training. The riding feeling is very similar to YOW. The internal spring and bearings combine to enable surf-like rail-to-rail transitions, tight turns, and radical surf tricks. Smoothstar focuses on pure shortboard surfing functionality and is recommended by Australia surf trainers.
Like YOW, Smoothstar offers a very loose riding feel and tight carving which works well for performance surf training. On the flip slide, Smoothstar skateboards are relatively unstable and harder to begin on. Similar to YOW, they are great skateboards for a specific style of surfing (performance) but not as good for more classic surfing styles.
Most surf skateboards, through their tight-turning and hard carving surf trucks, are great cross-trainers for some type of surfing. The range of surf skates on the market is broad. Some surf skateboards catering to high-performance, radical surf style. Others are great for practicing mellower, fluid surfing techniques and classic wave carving. Others still offer a skateboarding experience similar to ocean longboard surfing. Whatever your personal surf style, you’ll definitely find a surf skateboard that matches your needs!
– Featured image courtesy of Carver Skateboards
– “Hong Kong Skater” (surf skate lineup) courtesy of Henry Li
– Product shots courtesy of Carver, YOW, Waterborne, Swelltech, Smoothstar, Jucker Hawaii, Slide, Hamboards