Best Skateboard Brands – Decks, Trucks & Shoes


skateboard brands decks trucks wheels

Whether you’re a novice skater looking to get started or an amateur hoping to hone your skills, finding the right board makes a difference — a big difference.  This is one decision you don’t want to make while scouring Amazon for the best deal.

Determining the best skateboard brands depends on a few different factors, including whether the board will be used for vertical, technical, or street skating, your personal preferences, as well as your size and experience level. Additionally, the best brand regarding the skateboard deck differs from the best brand for skateboard trucks and even skate shoes.

Still, Anti-Hero, Independent Truck Co., and Vans are a few of the top brands for each of these essential aspects to a great skateboarding experience.  Here, you’ll discover more about what makes each of these brands the best.   

Best Skateboard Deck Brands

While every part of your skateboard is important in both maneuverability and fit, the deck may very well be the most fundamental. 

It’s important to consider more than the design and avoid falling into a purchase based on aesthetics alone.  You will want to be sure that you are looking at the materials used as well as the shape and size of the board deck and, with that, your experience level.  

The central difference you’ll find with deck types is the shape, and each shape is built for different styles of riding. Keep in mind that while all boards can be used to ride around town, not all board decks are made for performing tricks or riding on rails.  

When you are looking at what size board to get, wider is better for those of you who are larger in stature though shoe size remains debatable.

Remember, too, that cheaper boards are going to be harder to ride given that they are made from lower quality material, and this applies to both the deck as well as the trucks, which we’ll get into a bit further later.

The deck of your board is most likely made of wood and either 7 or 9-ply (6 if you consider Bamboo), meaning how many layers of plywood are glued together.  Which is better depends on your personal preference, but a 7-ply deck is going to be lighter and a bit easier to control, while a 9-ply deck will be more difficult to control, but a bit sturdier.  

With all of that said, we’ll take a look at some of the top skateboard deck brands, starting with Amost.

Almost

Founded in 2003 by two of the gnarliest skaters and known for the legendary video series Daewon Song VS Rodney Mullen. Almost saw the day of light in 2003 when Mullen decided to leave Enjoi. Almost decks are a bit more expensive than other brands, mainly the impact boards come at a premium.

Many of their boards come with carbon fiber making them extra strong. Impact light, impact Support, and the 8-ply Impact Plus are great options for deck breakers and heavy riders that worry about snapping decks.

The boards are not only strong, but they also offer great designs that make you think twice before doing that first boardslide. Decks are meant to be trashed or you could get two, one on the wall and one for the shredz.

Anti-Hero

Anti-Hero boards have a dedicated following and for good reason.  Founded in 1995 by professional skater Julien Stranger, the creator of the company is surely a protagonist,  but he in no way lacks in heroic qualities. 

When culture shifts, changes in trends that seem to fit the mood of the moment tend to fall across the board — no pun intended. The same holds true for board decks — but not so with Anti-Hero.  

Those who love the brand love the consistency and quality that sits alongside a philosophy that all types of skateboarding are welcome. And while skating is central to the mission and vision of the company, there is also evident a strong voice for equality and social change.  

The company boasts several series of board decks and designs, including the “Plastics” Pro Series, the “Mercantile General” Pro Series, Reach for the Stars, Evan Smith, the For Lovers and Drink Special Pro Series, the “Aguardiente” mini-series, the “Drive-In” Pro Series, 1-Offs, the “Eighteen” Team Series, and finally the Budgie Price Points.

Currently, Anti-Hero boards are owned by Deluxe Distribution, having multiple lines that reflect the diversity and personality of every rider, while unmatched attention is paid to two fundamental aspects: the quality of the deck and the graphics.  

Every Anti-Hero board is made with the exact same high-quality wood. This creates consistency in quality across every line, with materials that are both durable and solid.

In addition to quality, Anti-Hero boards are known to be a bit wider, allowing for more comfort and control. And while we did mention at the outset that buying a board based on aesthetics alone is a bad idea, you can do that if you’re looking at Anti-Hero boards because quality and design go hand in hand.

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz boards are certainly in the running for the best board decks available, and they have a solid 4-decade history to back up any questions you might have about the company’s knowledge of what exactly makes their skateboard decks one of the best.   

The company goes back to 1973 when a few surfers —  Richard Novak, Doug Haut, and Jay Shuirman —  founded the brand, and they have managed to stay on top of industry trends since the company’s inception. 

What makes Santa Cruz stand apart from many of the other popular brands is the perfect mix of both quality and experience.  

It’s no small deal for a skateboarding company to last as long as they have without being bought out by a larger conglomerate. And while one thing is not necessarily better than the other with regard to ownership, it’s certainly part of what makes Santa Cruz unique.  

One main feature that sets Santa Cruz boards apart is their use of “Everslick” into the bottom plyboard, where the actual graphic is underneath a layer of plastic that takes the “stickiness” right out of every ramp and curb you ride. The slide-friendly plastic is an investment-worthy of nearly any terrain.  

When it comes to price, Santa Cruz is going to sit a bit higher than others but, as is true in all things, you get what you pay for. When it comes to the top few Santa Cruz boards, quite a few riders rated the Land Shark Rasta Sk8 as number one, along with the Mahaka Rasta Cruzer and the Roskopp Face X Edmiston Deck.

The most recently released Santa Cruz deck, the Slasher Cruzer 80s Complete, is also highly acclaimed with traditional maple construction and a popsicle shape that allows for easy riding and maneuverability with a design that is both classic and eye-catching.  

Powell Peralta

Powell Peralta Flight Deck bottom graphic

The next in line is the Powell Peralta skateboard deck.  The American born company was started by George Powell and Stacy Peralta in 1978 and features lightweight, high-quality boards.  

The Powell Peralta flight deck board construction is what makes this particular version stand out. It is held together by what has been referred to as a “secret” glue and has an epoxy-infused, fiber-reinforced structure, making them perfect for those who are deemed to be “board breakers.”   

Though many of these boards do come at a hefty price, it’s definitely one of the strongest boards out there and will likely outlast many others on the market. Sure, your upfront cost will be higher, but you’ll save money in the long run.  

A few seasoned riders have expressed that the flight deck is a great option for more experienced, technical skaters who are less concerned about long-lasting graphics, and more interested in finding a board that isn’t going to snap easily and retains its “pop” as the deck wears down.  

It’s not only about figuring out what combination creates a board that withstands your most epic street skating, it’s also about the research that goes into answering that question.  

And, when it comes to the Flight Deck Powell Peralta board, we’re talking about no less than five years in putting together a board that is second to none in strength and performance.   

Element

Element is one of the largest skateboard deck brands, and the name and logo — representing wind, water, fire, and earth — is recognizable by most anyone in and outside of the skateboarding world.  

The company was founded in 1992 by professional skater Johnny Schillereff and has proven itself successful regardless of industry changes when it comes to skate decks, clothing, and even footwear.

In general, Element decks are affordable at under $100 and feature construction with both an artistic and environmentally friendly approach, using undyed wood layers to both aid in recycling and lessen the need for any added chemicals during the manufacturing process.  

In this way, Element is definitely your premier “eco-friendly” brand, intentionally connecting skating with making the world a better place.  

Element’s “Featherlight” construction is well-suited for riders who are smaller in stature, too. These boards are known to be thinner and lighter, while also retaining a high level of quality and durability, and still at a lower cost. 

For higher-end skaters who want a deck made from carbon fiber, there is Element’s most cutting-edge board with a helium gas line inside.  But for everyone else, Element’s Thriftwood and Featherweight deck boards are technologically driven and do not disappoint.   

Chocolate

You’re probably not thinking of skateboard decks when you hear the word “chocolate,” but perhaps you should.  

This company, started in 1994 by Mike Carroll and Rick Howard, bounced onto a scene where events like the X-games brought skating to a larger audience.

The company is an extension of the “Girl” label, another high-quality brand, which we’ll get into shortly. The decks come with a standard popsicle shape that has not deviated and a wider size for those with larger feet. 

The decks are made from 7-ply maple wood, making them both durable and long-lasting.  They’re known to have a solid pop and overall good quality with a range of pricing.  

The signature graphics and design of Chocolate skateboards feature classic cars and cartoon characters — some are actually depictions of the company’s staff members. Jerry Hsu’s Chocolate OG Chunk Skateboard, a deck that is known to be both simple and effective with signature chunk font in the design, is one of the company’s top-rated boards.

Baker

Baker boards are synonymous with intense street skating, founded by pro skater Andrew Reynolds in the early 2000s. Their boards are both simple and fun, and they are well-fitted for older, beginner riders.  

One thing that makes these boards unique is the wide range of selection when it comes to design and size, including both mellow and steep concave, as well as varying length and width.  

Baker boards are known to be both durable — made from 100% Canadian maple — and affordable, offering some of the widest selections when it comes to customization and model. 

The company quickly sought to team with Tony Hawk’s son, Riley, when he turned pro in 2014, creating the Riley Hawk “Halftone” pro deck that features a slim width, ideal for smaller skaters.  

This particular board also has a steeper concave, optimal for rail riding — an essential for any progressive street skater aiming to nail tricks similar to those mastered by both Hawk and Reynolds.  

Girl                                                  

The “Girl” team includes Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Megan Baltimore, and Spike Jonze, and started as a group of riders itching to start their own story after feeling a bit disillusioned with the industry.  

Why is the company name “Girl” when there are three guys on the team?  Nobody really knows, it seems, but you’ll find a few that say legend has it they were told they “skated like girls,” and it stuck.

With the names that stand behind this brand, you’re going to find quality decks that don’t disappoint.  But you also want to keep in mind that a particular deck is only as good as what is right for you. This particular brand has a flatter concave and a more mellow nose and tail.  

They’ve been around for a while, and have made a name for themselves since early in the 1990s. The designs can be customized, either featuring the Girl brand women’s bathroom logo, or a wide variety of graphics that you can choose from. These boards also come fully assembled with all parts, if you’re not looking to purchase the deck alone.

What you can expect from this crew is a style and structure that is consistent in quality — decks with 7-ply maple wood construction that are sturdy, resistant, and that provide a good pop while also being affordable. 

Enjoi

Enjoi boards is a newer brand of boards, created in part by Rodney Mullen and Marc Johnson, both of whom left for other ventures. Currently, the company is led by Matt Eversole and continues to impress with solid decks and great media, too.

As with other name brand boards, there are videos produced representing the brand, and Enjoi made a name for itself with the release of their first video “Bag of Suck” in 2007, winning Transworld Skate Video of the Year.  

Much of the branding and design features Enjoi’s signature black and white panda in comical, cartoon-like settings with a touch of humor, in stark contrast to many other brands and logo designs.  

While the Enjoi boards are durable and have some pretty prominent names standing behind the quality and design, some have said that these boards may not be quite as long-lasting as others. The boards are indeed manufactured in China, but you’d be mistaken to assume that means that they are low-quality.  

Enjoi boards are distributed and owned by Dwindle — a manufacturer known to press one board at a time. This ensures that the result has the desired concave, pop, and solid lamination.  They also boast Resin-7 epoxy, providing added durability and performance.  

What’s the downside?  If you are performing some intense tricks, this board may not be your best bet, as some have mentioned that it can get pressure cracks and break a bit more easily than some other brands.  

Birdhouse

Birdhouse brand skateboards was founded by former Pro Freestyle skateboarder Per Welinder, who ultimately partnered with Tony Hawk in creating the company, and the name is a reference to Hawk’s nickname, “Birdman.” 

Gaining popularity via exposure in Hawk’s video game series, the brand continues to be a household name, recognizable both within and outside of the industry.  

And with a team of skaters backing the brand who are skilled skaters of all styles, it’s no surprise that, while Hawk was initially concerned about the lack of interest in vertical skating, Birdhouse boards are inclusive to both vert and street style skating.  

Don’t assume that just because Hawk is a vertical skater that his boards are for a single style. It all depends on the size of the board and, with Birdhouse, the options are plentiful.  

A top-rated Birdhouse board deck is the Tony Hawk Falcon 8.12 deck, right alongside a similar board in graphics and style, just a touch wider at 8.5. Both boards are made of high-quality 7-ply maple wood, built to last longer regardless of the terrain.  

When it comes to Birdhouse, the 25-year-old company started with a goal not to be combative with other brands in order to be on top or to shock the market with offensive styles.  Rather, this team’s vision focuses on quality skating and creative genius that results in some pretty unique graphics, and it shows in every deck.  

Toy Machine

While Toy Machine boards don’t make too many of the top ten lists when it comes to board decks, those who ride them agree that they’re strong, durable, and retain a sufficiently intense amount of pop.

The company began in 1993 and should not be confused with the toy skateboards you’ll find on the shelves of your local superstore. The decks of Toy boards are designed by Ed Templeton, an American professional skater, artist, and photographer who captures the subculture he has been a part of since the mid-1980s.

The fan base for Toy Machine boards is vast and loyal, touting the company’s 7-ply maple wood construction that is the foundation for every style and trick you have up your sleeve.  

And, with a variety of options in width and length, including those suitable for kids ages 9 to 12, there’s a deck that fits every rider.

Still, regardless of size, it’s the graphics that have won over the hearts of many Toy Machine fans — the colors, lines, and comic style cartoons all reflect a sense of humor that is as unique to the company as to the rider.  

World Industries

World Industries boards have a wide range of reviews and options, but let’s start with what most agree on:  they’re solid boards for beginners. But, if you’re an experienced rider, you probably already know this might not be your best option, unless you have one from the early 2000s, that is. 

They have a strong reputation for quality from about a decade ago but seemed to have fallen off of the map since then.  

Still, World Industries board decks have some pretty neat graphics and, if you are just learning, there’s no need to worry about the amount of pop or intense trickery you are planning to perform — not yet, at least.  

The company started in 1987 and was known for signature mascots Flameboy and Wet Willy in the 90s — and some other pretty interesting designs and themes, each one different from every other. 

They’re sturdy boards, made out of the standard 7-ply maple, though some say they’re pretty heavy comparatively. And, they’re also lower in price than the average, making them a good choice to that end.  So, if you’re just beginning and desire to give it a shot, go for it.  

Real

In the early 1990s, the skateboarding world was a different scene — one where Tommy Guerrero and Jim Thiebaud felt it was time to create their own brand of boards, and have since been part of the industry, continually releasing new boards and new designs.

One notable aspect of Real boards is the use of Heavyweights technology, a cross-directional, thicker x-band ply with glued layers that result in a stronger, more durable deck. The only drawback: this makes the deck heavier in comparison to others.  

Still, it’s a brand favorite with a traditional popsicle shape and wider size, coming in at 8.5 inches, and it’s going to last you longer given the stability and durability.  

And, if you are searching for a board with a cause, Real Skateboards have been supporting non-profit foundations, consistently giving back to the community in which they are a part.  

Welcome

Welcome skateboard deck

Last on the list of top deck brands is Welcome — a brand that began in 2010 with California skater Jason Celaya. This isn’t your global conglomerate skate company. They’re small, independent, and don’t necessarily have any desire to compete with big chain brands.  

Welcome breaks tradition in creating boards that come in a wide variety of shapes, veering away from the more customary popsicle shape board. Some like it, some don’t. But, at the time, nobody thought these weirdly shaped boards would be a hit, and yet here we are.

The company’s goal is to make something different that doesn’t necessarily reach a predetermined demographic, but rather a board that is better than the last one you rode. They strive to be different and, so far, it’s worked.  

Whether or not this is the correct brand for you depends on the size and shape of board you are looking for.  If you want something outside of the box, Welcome might be your next board deck. 

Best Skateboard Truck Brands

The next essential piece of equipment you need to evaluate before buying is your skateboard truck, a T-shaped piece of equipment that is mounted on the underside of your board deck to protect the wheels and bearings and control the direction you are traveling.

We’ll go through the top four brands below, should you decide to assemble your skateboard based on your needs, which experienced riders tend to recommend over buying anything preassembled, though you certainly can do that as well.  

Just keep in mind that, when your board deck goes, your trucks are going to stay part of you for much longer. You aren’t replacing these as you will a well-used, worn, or potentially cracked board deck.  

Independent Truck Co.

independent trucks

Most riders will agree that one of the best skateboard trucks you can buy is made by the Independent Truck Company. They’re pretty much the gold standard by which all others are compared.  

The company, founded in 1978, aimed to create a truck that fixed a prevailing issue at that time — a lack of reliable, well-built skateboard trucks. Thus, Independent was born and is currently the only brand based wholly in the US.  

What makes this company the best, in part, is the fact that the hardware options available to you cover every style of skateboarding while, at the same time, increasing strength and turning control and also reducing weight — the stage II model being about 15% lighter than previous models. 

And, when you are talking about stability, balance, and controlling sharp turns for vertical skating, at parks, or on ramps, these are your best, most stable option. 

Indy trucks are made with forged titanium and hollow kingpins, allowing for what every skater wants most — a lighter yet stronger skateboarding experience — and being that they are the most durable, they’re going to last you a good long time regardless of how much grinding you do.

Thunder

https://youtu.be/vsQjWt_gpYA

Coming in second on the list, Thunder trucks have a solid reputation for street skateboarding, allowing for better, more responsive turns and control, while also being a bit lighter in weight than some Independent models, which is a huge advantage.  The only downside is that they may wear down more quickly.  

As far as pricing, Thunder seems to fall at the most reasonable spot, right in the middle of the shuffle.  But when it comes to finding the right trucks, price is the least important consideration.    

Specifically for street skating, you’ll want a bit more responsiveness when it comes to quick turns, so regardless of price, Thunder should be on the top of your list. The bottom line: these trucks are going to allow for quicker turns and faster reaction time.  

Venture Trucks

Venture Trucks

Venture trucks are some of the lightest on the market and also lower in cost. They’ll give you a solid amount of stability because of the placement of the axle, directly over the bolts toward the end of your board. However, when compared to Thunder, you’ll get a bit less turn ability and reaction time. 

If you ride a lot of mini ramps and tend to grind away your trucks pretty quickly, needing frequent replacing, Ventures are a good choice because they will give you that stability while also not breaking the bank. 

Another note about ventures is that if you are just learning new tricks, these are a great choice.  Why?  Again, stability. Your board is less likely to fly out from underneath you if you don’t land quite the way you intended to. 

As you gain more experience, however, some have felt that these trucks make your board feel slower to respond.  

Grind King

grind king trucks

Grind King, the last on our list, has been around since 1988 and was founded by Donald Cassel — an architect-gone-skater.  

He’s called the grind king for good reason — if you are a street skater, you know that slamming your board into curbs and concrete is going to cause some major wear and tear.  And, your skateboard isn’t going to fare well for very long. 

With that in mind, Cassel created what is now known as the high-performance inverted kingpin to improve how the skate trucks grind. 

The reason these trucks aren’t necessarily numbered one comes down to the fact that while they are very light and there’s no competition when it comes to grinding, they’re also known to loosen easily, which is not ideal. 

 

At the end of the day, though, if you go with Grind King, you’ll just need to remember to tighten them as soon as you feel things getting loose, but you’ll need the correct tool from the company to do so.

Best Skate Shoe Brands 

Vans skate shoes and a skateboard

So, you picked out the perfect board deck with graphics that fit your personality and style, you’ve got your trucks assembled, and you are just about ready to go. 

While you might like to wear your old pair of beat-up Cons around town, there are a few better options when it comes to getting the right pair of shoes for skating. You are going to want a pair that is going to give you a good amount of cushion and protect your heels while also allowing for a good grip as you ride.  

Here, we’ll start with Vans — a well-known brand both in and outside of the industry. 

Vans

Vans are great shoes. There’s no doubt about that. They’ll last you a long time, and the company has dedicated itself to skateboarding. But, when it comes to finding the right skate shoe, you need the right type of Vans — the pro model.  

The pro model is made of suede and has insoles that are going to give you the cushioning and flexibility you need, alongside heel and arch support for absorbing the heavy amount of impact you can expect when you land your next trick. 

The pro model also has “Duracap” technology, which basically means there’s an extra layer of rubber in the places where you’re likely to find the most wear and, potentially, get a hole when you least expect it.  

Think of them as the steel-toed shoe you’d find at a construction site — only these are made specifically for skating. 

Etnies           

The last thing you want is a shoe that gets a hole in the heel a week after wearing them, which is why Etnies is second on our list.  Etnies are great shoes.  Like Vans, they’re durable, which is essential, and they’re made for “high impact” skating. 

These shoes offer a good amount of “grip” when riding, as well as cushioning that is made from a foam midsole that is superior in comfort to many others on the market.  

The best-rated Etnie for skating is the Marana X Michelin, touting an outsole from, you guessed it, Michelin tires. They claim to be able to last three times longer and, when you combine the added durability with the extra comfort, you’ll definitely notice the impact absorption and comfort while riding.

DC Shoes

What makes DC shoes stand out is the unique graphic on every pair.  Unlike others with more low-key style, here you’ll get something different and a bit more noticeable than a few other brands.  And the quality is up-to-par, too.

They’re stable, provide a good grip, and have enough cushion for impact that some have said feels like landing on a pillow — not so bad, right?  Some have also noted that they tend to feel a bit stiff, though they do get more comfortable after a few times of wearing and use. 

New Balance

The New Balance Numeric is a well-reviewed skate shoe, offering air holes on the side and toe box and a redesigned heel area for added and improved comfort.  These shoes are both durable and flexible, but not exactly light when compared to others.  

The impact support is good, too, with about one centimeter at the heel, allowing for solid absorption, while thinner at the front to provide a better feel of connection between your foot and the board. 

One thing to note with New Balance is that they tend to run smaller and narrower and don’t leave much room for those with wider feet.   

eS

Our next on the list, eS Shoes both look and feel great. They are true-to-size and stretch to fit your feet comfortably.  They’re flexible, and the style is simple, making them a good choice on and off the board. 

The downside with eS shoes is that the longer you wear them, the more they stretch. Over time, that means they may lose their shape a bit. But, with that said, once they’re broken in, you’ll feel the grip and the board really well through the shoe without getting a bunch of bruises on your heels.  

Some have also noted that these shoes are best for tech skating and do not have enough cushioning to protect your feet from intense impact — though you can add a layer of insoles to solve that problem if you choose.  

Lakai         

Another solid brand when it comes to good skate shoes is Lakai. They’re well known, and the newest model, the Sheffield, doesn’t disappoint.  If you have wider feet, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the fit, and they feel broken-in right out of the box.  

The tread on the bottom of these shoes is thick, so even when they are worn down, you’ll still retain a good amount of grip and solid board feel.  

These shoes are also known to have a pointier toe, allowing for better action with flips. The shoe is comfortable, durable, and supportive for low impact skating but, if you are a rider who needs more support, you’re going to want to add in some extra padding to cushion your landings. 

Nike

Nike is a well-known brand, of course, and as with the others we’ve mentioned, they’re pretty good when it comes to board feel and grip, comfort, and durability.  

One complaint about some versions of Nike’s skate shoes is the level of cushioning and heel support. However, their most recent version, the Nike SB Zoom Janoski RM, has a definite improvement. 

There’s a bit less padding here in the front, with no impact support on the arch.  Still, they are comfortable from the first wear with a sole that is not too thick and still provides a decent amount of support after 20 hours of wear.  

Final Thoughts

The only way to find the perfect deck for you is to ride it. The only way to find the perfect truck is to consider what type of skating you are into. And, when it comes to shoes, you’ll want something that is going to cushion the impact and give you a good grip.

When it comes to the best skateboard deck, truck, and even shoes, the best thing you can do after reading all of the insight on the best brands is to go to your local skate shop and try these things out yourself.

Ruben Vee

I 'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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