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Longboarding In Snow: Is It Worth It?

Longboarding In Snow: Is It Worth It?

When the winter season arrives, most longboarders hang up their board and switch to other activities – like snowboarding for those who have mountains nearby. In many states, temperatures drop way below zero, roads ice, and snow eventually covers everything.

If you don’t have the mountain access, budget, or taste for going snowboarding, can you keep longboarding in snow? You can certainly go longboarding when it flurries but the road is not yet snow-covered. In these conditions, the only issues you’ll have stem from water from the wet pavement getting into your your setup.

Riding your longboard, however, becomes trickier with ice on the road or when a thick layer of snow has built up. If you’re a die-hard, you may still go riding using extreme caution, highly grippy wheels, and solid protection gear.

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Longboarding when it snows

If it’s snowing but temperatures are not that cold (above freezing level), the road will typically be wet but not yet icy or snow-covered. Riding in snow flurries before any snow buildup is totally doable as long as you have some warm clothes on. If you’re riding on steeper hills, consider wearing leathers underneath your snow jacket.

With snowflakes falling, though, the pavement is typically wet. With adequate grippy wheels, you can ride on wave pavement, but this can damage your setup if you’re not careful:

Getting your longboard deck wet in snow

If your deck is not fully covered with paint or clear coating, for example, chances are water from the pavement and from the snow will eventually get in between the plies. The deck will become waterlogged and eventually might rot. To ride in the snow, you should choose a fully coated deck or even a waterproof deck (such as a Loaded or a Moonshine deck).

Alternatively, you can seal your deck yourself with a polyurethane coat. This is quite easy to do, although it’s best to also coat the top of your deck, which means removing the grip tape!

Even if you add a water sealing coat to your deck, you should always wipe it off after each snow and rain riding session to remove residual moist and keep it from making its way between the wood layers.

Many longboarders actually prefer to use a separate “throw-away” deck for wet conditions and save their favorite deck for the dry days.

Getting your bearings wet in snow

The other component that quickly gets damaged from getting wet when riding in snow and wet pavement is longboard bearings. Water will filter into the bearings and cause them to rust. To help prevent this, lube your bearings before going out longboarding in the snow and on wet pavement. Optionally, you can also use duct tape to cover your bearings and help protect them from water.

Also, after each snow session on wet ground, take your bearings out again, wipe them off and dry them – as well as all the trucks screws and nuts, then lube the bearings again using a waterproof or water-resistant lube such as Bones Cream.

Like for your deck, you can choose to use a separate set of “throw-away” (but reasonable quality) bearings for your snow and rain sessions.

Another good option is to buy Zealous bearings (Amazon) which are water resistant and hold up much better through rain, snow, and dirt. If you have those, just wipe down the shields and spin the wheels after each snow session.

Longboarding in snow salt

Often, as you’re waiting for the snow to melt, the City will spray salt on the roads. Post-snow salt can be a pain and as hazardous as small pebbles if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you’re an experienced rider, however, you can take advantage of the salt on roads to throw some nice long slides.

Salt will generally not hurt your deck as the coatings on it will generally protect it from the corrosive action of the snow salt. The metal parts, on the other hand, may eventually get correded by the salt if you leave it on, so make sure to wash off the salt from the trucks and hardware with normal water as soon as you can within a day or two. Re-grease the trucks as needed is also recommended to help preserve your gear.

The snow salt will typically stick to your wheels, so you can clean that off too. Occasionally, some grains may get inside the bearings if these are not protected. Good bearings like the Zealous, however, tend to hold up well after salty sessions – just be sure to clean them once in a while.

Longboarding on snowy or icy ground

longboarding on snow-covered roads

If there’s no icing but a thin layer of snow on the ground, and if you’re the adventurous type, you can try fitting wheels with a wide contact patch and some rain grooves for better water and snow handling. Good examples are Shark Wheels Sidewinder and Orangatang Harfang In Heats (Amazon) which provide better grip in wet or moist condition. Before choosing one, be sure to check your deck has enough clearance for that wheel size.

Although the above wheels can offer a bit more grip compared to other regular wheels, riding in snow will always be a sketchy adventure. Always wear a helmet and protection pads when doing so – even full leathers if you decide to go freeride or downhill in the snow.

Longboarding tends to become much harder and more dangerous on roads with icy patches, as your wheels easily lose all grip and you can find yourself sliding out of control, especially going downhill. My advice is, avoid longboarding on icy pavement – I certainly do. Likewise, don’t go out riding if it’s snowing hard and the temperature is cold enough for the snow to ice rapidly.

Summary

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean it’s off-season for longboarding. Longboarding in the snow can be a lot of fun if you know what to expect and you have the skills, setup, and protective gear for it. Longboarding in the snow can even be a cool way to get into snowboarding. Just stay clear of icy roads and keep you speed to controllable levels.

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Photo credits:
Featured photo “snow plow” by Danielle DeJesus (Loaded Boards)
Photo “Ayumi bombing Snowy MtFuji” by Fifer Figueroa (Loaded Boards)