Loaded Vanguard Review: The Longboard Carving System

loaded vanguard

Loaded boards are recognized as being among the most high-end longboards out there. Each Loaded model focuses on specific areas of the riding style spectrum.

The Vanguard is an essential piece of Loaded’s impressive lineup. It’s positioned as a snowboard-style flexy topmount primarily designed for exceptional carving and pumping.

The Vanguard is a full-sized longboard (38″ or 42″) characterized by a lightweight snowboard-like construction, a cambered profile with sidecuts (we’ll see why this matters) and high-energy flex.

Loaded Vanguard owners swear by this board like there’s no other, and it’s quite common for them to ride daily it for 6 to 10 years! While many rave about the carving experience, some also use it for distance commuting, while a few like to freeride on it.

See the great reviews and pricing for the Loaded Vanguard here on Loaded’s website

Riding experience

loaded vanguard carving and pumping

The Vanguard impresses you by its responsiveness the moment you step on it. The flex is so bouncy you feel like you’re on a trampoline – especially the flexier versions. This allows for very deep carves and slashy pumps you don’t typically get on other boards.

Riders generally agree the Vanguard is the ultimate carving board – some refer to it as a “carving system”. The bounce in the deck is extremely energetic yet forgiving. The camber gives you release/pop out of your turns. Many riders who’ve owned many different boards feel the Vanguard is by far the best they’ve ever ridden.

The carving feel you get also depends on the amount of flex you choose – the Vanguard comes in 5 different flex options. Although some riders start with a stiffer option, many end up swapping it for a flexier version as they get hooked on the flexy carving feel.

The deck flex combines with the Paris trucks to offer one of the smoothest and most responsive carving feel. Because of the topmount design, the Vanguard has a tight turning radius. Riders commonly evoke a snowboard-like experience.

The flex and large wheels (optionally the very large 80mm Kegels) also result in very comfortable shock absorption on cracks and rough pavement.

The “trampoline” feel of the Vanguard can take a bit of getting used to initially but typically ends up being addictive. Your weight counteracts the flex which locks you in position and results in a special smooth riding feel.

The bouncy flex of the Vanguard results in very deep pumps, not often found on other boards. This makes it a very good board for distance pumping and commuting (LDP) due to its special pumping capabilities.

Riders also love the Vanguard’s light weight, which makes it easy to carry around when cruising or commuting on it.

The Vanguard is commonly used for dancing and freestyle as well – particularly the long version. Due to the flex and carving ability, it very suitable for cross-stepping, ghost riding, and doing some kickflips and light slides, e.g. with Orangatang Stimulus wheels.

The Vanguard, on the other hand, is not the best board for high-speed freeriding and downhill. Most riders agree it has too much flex for speeds over 25 mph, and sliding can feel a bit sketchy due to the camber. The lack of concave also makes it more challenging to keep on the board.

See the great reviews and pricing for the Loaded Vanguard here on Loaded’s website

Vanguard shape & construction

loaded vanguard construction bamboo & fiberglass

The Loaded Vanguard is a symmetrical topmount shape with a length of either 38″ or 42″ (two sizes) by 8.5″ width, quite narrow compared to most other symmetrical cutouts. The wheelbase of each version is 31.5″ and 35″.

The deck has a hybrid construction with vertically laminated bamboo core and triaxial snowboard-like fiberglass top and bottom. It features beautiful bamboo veneer graphics on the bottom.

The Vanguard has a cambered platform (higher in the center than at the mount points) which combines with the composite material to give the deck that high-energy springy feel it’s known for.

The Vanguard’s shape is tapered at both ends with big wheel cutouts for maximum wheel clearance, allowing for deeper carves and tighter turns – the board’s primary focus.

loaded vanguard shape

The Vanguard also features sidecuts (a narrowed “waist”) to reduce torsional stiffness between the feet. This results in better control in tight turns and contributes to that special carving feel.

The deck’s light concave is also designed for an optimal carving and pumping experience, allowing the rider to shift their feet freely for deeper turns.

As mentioned, the snowboard-like bamboo and fiberglass material used to produce the Vanguard results in a relatively lightweight board for it’s (full) size. The deck alone comes in at between 2.7 lb and 3.8 lb depending on the length version and natural variation in the bamboo material.

The complete setup for the 38″ length weighs around 7+ lbs and 8+ lbs for the 42″ length.

Like most Loaded longboards, the Vanguard really stands the test of time and can handle a lot of abuse. Riders praise the boards’ exceptional reliability and durability. Many have been riding their Vanguard for 6 years, sometimes even up to 10 years, without any failure, and choose to buy it again once theirs gets too old.

See the great reviews and pricing for the Loaded Vanguard here on Loaded’s website

Loaded Vanguard size & flex

loaded vanguard flex

As mentioned the Vanguard comes in two different lengths and 5 different flex ratings, so you may need some help in choosing the right deck for you.

One thing that’s not immediately clear about the Vanguard is that size and flex are tied to each other: Flex1 and Flex2 are associated to the 42″ length (wider stance, bigger riders), while Flex3, 4, and 5 come with the 38″ (average size riders). The longer a deck, the stiffer it needs to be for strength and ground clearance.

Now the choice of size and flex option is typically based on your weight, height/stance, and riding style. As a rule of thumb, heavier riders generally choose stiffer decks, and taller riders go for longer decks.

The following chart shows Loaded’s suggestions – I’ve added deck length as well:

Flex ratingDeck lengthRider weight
Flex 142″175 – 230 lbs
Flex 242″150 – 210 lbs
Flex 338″150 – 200 lbs
Flex 438″120 – 170 lbs
Flex 538″80 – 140 lbs

So if you’re a heavier rider (200+ lbs) for example, you should probably opt for the bigger version with Flex 1 or 2 for a stronger deck.

The above chart, however, is only a general guide, and riders often choose based on their own riding preferences. For example, you may choose a flexier version than the chart suggests for more responsive carving or for more control and tighter turns at low speed.

On the other hand, a stiffer board will be more stable at higher speeds. It will also hold up better for hard freestyle tricks such as shuvits, bonelesses etc.

Riders also tend to prefer the longer and stiffer deck versions of the Vanguard for long sweeping carves down small hills. The 38″ flexier versions, on the other hand, are often preferred for flat terrain and crowded areas such as a college campus as they are more responsive and nimble.

These are some concrete examples from actual Vanguard owners:

  • One 165 lbs rider is very comfortable on the 38″ Flex 4
  • One 150 lbs rider feels just right with the 38″ Flex 3
  • 185 lb rider (6’1) rode Flex 1 / 42″ for a few months then switched to Flex 4 / 38″
  • 200 lb (6’1) rider raves about carving on his Vanguard 42″ Flex 2

If in doubt, Vanguard riders recommend erring on the flexier/smaller side (for an average rider weight) as in many cases, those who start with a stiff deck end up switching to a flexier one after a while.

It’s worth noting, however, that decks will generally do become flexier over time as they break in.

See the great reviews and pricing for the Loaded Vanguard here on Loaded’s website

Loaded Vanguard setups

loaded vanguard setup

The Vanguard comes in two Loaded recommended setups, “Carving and pumping” and “Monster truck” – though you can alternatively go for a custom config.

The Carving and pumping setup focuses and fluid, fast, and smooth carving with large (75mm) and grippy Orangatang In Heat wheels. You can see the Carving & pumping setup on the Loaded website.

The “Monster truck”, on the other hand, includes the HUGE 85mm Caguamas – also a 80A duro like the In Heats – for really fast and smooth riding.

The fact that you can run 85mm wheels is an indicator of the Vanguard’s amazing clearance and carving-focused design – most “normal” longboards would at least need big risers to run these wheels wheelbite-free.

The Caguama setup includes high-rebound Orangatang Nipple Bushings for uber-responsive carves, and a custom washer configuration to ensure a smooth and durable setup. This “Monster truck” Vanguard setup can easily roll over all kinds of obstacles on the pavement.

See the Vanguard Monster truck setup on Loaded’s website

Alternative setups riders also use include Randal RII 180mm in the front for super-efficient distance pumping. The Holey, Crail, Bear Grizzly, Tracker Fastrack, and S Original trucks also play very well with the Vanguard.

Some Vanguard riders run smaller 70mm wheels for agile cruising, dancing and freestyle.

Final words

The Loaded Vanguard is a very durable, high-flex, uber-responsive longboard built specially for carving and pumping. It’s lightweight, playful, and buttery-smooth, built with the highest quality.

This board is particularly great for hard carving, distance pumping, and even dancing/freestyle. It’s also exceptionally smooth and comfortable for all-around cruising.

3 comments

Hey fellow boardrider, want to post a comment or question? Due to the ever-growing number of comments on this site, I've moved them here:
As always, I try to answer as many of your questions as possible. Since the forum is better organized, other riders may also help answer your questions. You can still post comments here if you want to but from now on, I'll mainly be monitoring the forum. Ride on!

  • OMG Your reviews are so good! How do you do it? I bought a Loaded Bhangra from a pawn shop recently to deal with the quarantine blues and completely fell in love with longboarding. I did not purchase the Bhangra because I wanted to dance, its just what was available. But the quality and responsiveness of the board absolutely amazed me. After about 25 hours on the Bhangra and many hours watching videos and reading reviews I realized that the next evolution for me is towards a pumping and carving setup.
    I am 6’2”, 225 pounds, and 41 years old! Who said you can’t teach and old overweight dog new tricks? The Bhangra is huge even for me but I worry that I will miss with the width if I drop down to the Vanguard. I am agonizing about what my next board will be. Either the Vanguard, Fattail or Icarus, or Maybe poke? Any suggestions?
    With much gratitude,
    Bob

    • haha age doesn’t matter for longboarding as long as you can balance and push! I know what I’m talking about. You do need the right board though. The Vanguard and the Icarus are probably the big stars in the Loaded lineup for pumping and carving. The Vanguard is topmount so possibly stronger a more solid choice than the Icarus or the Sama. Given your build, you may also want to consider a stiffer deck – both the Vanguard and Icarus are quite flexy. The Tesseract (36″ or 39″) and the Omakase (33.75″) are on the stiffer side. The Poke is somewhere in between (medium flex), a great board for carving/pumping so that could be a good option, though it’s not very wide. Take a look at my Loaded selector here.

About me

Big Kahuna

Hi I'm Jesse. All my life I've been passionate about the board riding lifestyle. Some years ago I got into longboarding, and in doing so, I discovered a whole new universe and a fantastic community. There's something for everyone in longboarding regardless of age, gender, size, and fitness level. Ride on!

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