I’ve probably snapped at least 150 skateboard decks across my unimpressive skating career. Some have lasted months, even a year, while some barely made it one full session before giving in.
This is exactly why I compiled in a list 16 of the best skateboard decks (and growing) I’ve ridden over the years.
The order is random, because there is no way of ranking decks in this context. Sure you can rank them for durability, but I’ll save that for another post.
See, most skateboard decks are made of 7-ply maple, which are the industry standards. Therefore, I won’t be mentioning the plies unless it differs from the norm.
This post contains affiliate links that might earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you.
16 of the Best Skateboard Decks Brands
Honestly, there is no such thing as the best skateboard deck. It all depends on what shape you like and the the style of skateboarding you prefer. Sure, there are decks that are more durable than others (Lithe, Santa Cruz VX, Almost Impact, Powell Flight) and the quality depends on where and what wood shop pressed the deck.
There is so much trash content out there, so I created a work in progress to help you to pick the right deck. Yes, Baker, Creature, Anti Hero, Sk8mafia, Madrid, Birdhouse, Primitive, Dark Star, Zoo York, or any other popular brand aren’t mentioned yet. But they will be!
Let’s go through a couple of reliable brands and see if there is a match. It comes down to what feels right and no blog post or YouTube video can help you find your perfect shape. There are a couple of safe choices though, and don’t forget about the graphics, they motivate you to go out and shred.
This list will grow and it takes time to sum up the best decks, can’t shred them in a day. I’ll keep track of the hours skated so you have a bit of an idea how durable these boards are.
1. Santa Cruz VX
Santa Cruz is the oldest skateboard brand in the world. Widely known for their “Screaming Hand” logo, the brand birthed the whole Californian skateboarding scene by staying true to the original link skating shares with surfing.
The VX deck is the last high-tech model introduced by Santa Cruz in 2019. Through 2 reinforced carbon plies (patented as Quad X technology), the brand claims the board will support impact and repeated shocks 10 times better than the standard 7-ply deck.
This deck is definitely a go-to for skaters going through decks in just a few days or weeks. It’s the perfect deck for riders wanting to learn new tricks without having to worry about snapping their brand-new deck, like flipping onto rails or copings.
There is a drawback, while being thinner than most, the deck is a bit heavier but it’s hardly noticeable. Nothing that should prevent you from doing tricks.
- Super strong Quad X technology
- Great graphics and shape
- A bit heavier than other decks
- Made by Dwindle (DSM)
2. Powell-Peralta Flight Deck
The story of Powell-Peralta is pretty unconventional. Born in 1978 from the association of George Powell, aerospace engineer, and Stacy Peralta, former professional surfer and skateboarder, the brand kept growing through the constant technological progress it brought to skateboarding.
As you would have guessed, Powell was in charge of the design and manufacturing while Peralta took care of the management and marketing of the business. (Bones Brigades, Lords of Dogtown…)
Powell-Peralta decks are classics among pool and transition skaters because of their vast catalogue of different shapes and length. It is one of the few brands that still sells old school 9.5” and above decks to rip pool copings with ease.
Nowadays, their most popular model has to be the flight deck. Knowing the brand’s background, it’s not surprising their saving grace will come from technological advancement.
The Flight deck is recognized as one of the most durable deck currently available on the market. The combination of 5 maple plies and 2 carbon plies makes for a tougher deck than the usual 7 plies of maple wood, while being the same weight. Flight decks are also known to have long-lasting pop and being anti-chip.
The end of the deck arrives when you have a sharp razor tail, as opposed to breaking it in half like you would with most traditional decks.
- Super strong Flight Deck Construction
- Great shape, single pressed
- Made in their Santa Barbara skateboard factory
3. Plan B BLK Ice
Plan B is yet another Californian OG of the skateboard decks industry. Founded in 1991 by four pro-skaters Danny Way, Colin McKay, Mike Ternasky, and Brian Johnson, the creators took direct inspiration from the NBA all-stars and selected the best riders at the time to form the “dream team” of skateboarding. Across the years, Plan B saw legend after legend of skateboarding joining its roster.
Professional skateboarders like Rodney Mullen, Chris Cole, PJ Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, and Ryan Sheckler. 30 years later, the brand is still going strong and keeps sponsoring the best upcoming skaters like Chris Joslin, Jagger Eaton, and Aurelien Giraud.
Plan B decks are long lasting and well-trusted among the skate community. What distinguishes Plan B decks from others is that they have a longer tail than most decks, which once you get used to, will give you a higher pop. The brand made some of the most iconic decks ever, like the PJ Ladd Pro-Model in the color of Boston Celtics or the classic OG team edition.
Their latest release, the BLK Ice decks introduce a new coating technology that makes the decks slide easier while protecting the graphic longer. Sticky ledges won’t be a problem anymore. A win-win situation, really. If you have the extra money to invest.
BLK is really works and the decks slide like no other. I had a hard time getting used to this especially when boardsliding copings. Once you get used to BLK Ice you will slide harder and faster!
Available at Amazon
- Longer tail for extra pop
- BLK Ice technology for better slides
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
4. Almost Impact
Almost Skateboards was founded in 2003 by two gods and pioneer of modern skateboarding, Rodney Mullen & Daewon Song. Both were already legends, but couldn’t find a brand that fitted their vision. So they created Almost and recruit some of their pro-friends: Chris Haslam, Ryan Sheckler.
However, Almost isn’t just there to showcase gifted skateboarders. From a technical aspect, Almost Skateboards reflects completely the mentality and motto of its creators: constantly pushing boundaries and innovate—on and off the board. The brand was among the first to introduce carbon decks.
The Impact construction deck is one of the latest Dwindle technology. The board has 8 plies (one more than usual) and has carbon fiber disc inserted around the truck mounting area.
This prevents your deck from having pressure-cracks, which can typically happen in only one session with a standard deck. Even though they’re normal, those cracks typically weaken the board the board and can lead to breaking your nose and tail.
As its name shows, the board is great at taking impact and will be the ideal fit for those who can’t stop jumping down stairs and are tired to snap decks every two months.
Available at Amazon
- Super durable because of the Impact technology
- Great for hardcore technical skaters
- Very poppy chip resistant
- Made by Dwindle
Flip is a pillar of the American skateboard industry since 1991. But did you know Flip was founded in the UK? Originally called Deathbox skateboard, the brand revamped itself when its founders (McEachran, Fox, and Houlton) and team riders (Tom Penny, Geoff Rowley, Andy Scott) moved to California to make it big.
Their most notable video series has to be the Extremely Sorry, which marked an entire generation of skaters. The rest is history.
Flip decks are usually praised for their pop. Maybe it’s just because their current team riders all can casually pop their tricks at chest-height. Check out Luan Oliveira if you don’t know what I mean.
The best thing about Flip decks is that most of their models have a mellow concave. Both team edition and pro-model decks have just enough concave to do flip tricks with ease, while not having too much concave so that the board is plain uncomfortable to ride.
Most of their board come between 8 to 8.5 which is great for both street and transition skateboarding.
- Mellow concave, great for beginners
- Made by the famous P.S. Stix wood shop (Paul Schmitt AKA The Professor)
When you think about Girl Skateboard, two things should immediately come to mind: technical ledge skating and California. The brand was created in SF, in 1993 by two pro skaters, Mike Carroll and Rick Howard.
The brand quickly blew up. So much that less than 5 years later, Caroll and Howard had a whole distribution of brands called Crailtap. Still to this day, Girl, Chocolate, Lakai, Royal Trucks, Four Star Clothing are on top of the skateboard industry.
Girl decks are great for street skating. Especially if you’re more of a technical skater and specialize in manuals and ledges more than stairs and handrails. Their steep concave lets you do tricks with less effort and helps to do flip in and out combos.
Steep concave isn’t for everyone, as it is harder to maintain your balance. Technical skaters will love it though but it’s also a matter of personal preference.
Still, you can’t go wrong with the Mike Mo Capaldi (8.125”) or Sean Malto (8.25”) pro models which are perfect for all aspects of street skateboarding
Be wary that they produce their decks in different places. They manufacture girl skateboards available in North America in the USA, however, in the EU, you will find some Girl decks made in China, which will directly affect the quality and longevity of the board.
- Steep concave
- Great for technical street skating
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
Created by the same people as Girl, they introduced Chocolate only a year after the creation of Girl Skateboard. It follows the immediate success the brand had and the desire Caroll and Howard had to support more skaters and people within the skateboard community
Most chocolate decks have flatter concave and a smaller nose than Girl boards. They are great for people who like skating in both stances without having to worry too much about their nose and tail. Still though, unless mentioned, Chocolate decks aren’t twin types. They have a steeper nose than tail, which helps have a better pop for switch and nollie tricks.
- Mellow concave
- Beginner friendly shape
- Great for those who like to switch stances
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
8. Alien Workshop
Alien Workshop is another pillar of the skateboard industry which was founded in 1990 by three Ohioan skaters. The brand always distinguished itself from other companies by having cartoony design and meaningful graphics with untouched thematic in skateboarding like human evolution, conspiracy theories, mind control and alien abduction.
After being sold to Pacific Vector in 2013, Alien Workshop went bankrupt only a year later and ceased to exist. In 2016 two of the original creators Mike Hill and Tum Yeto revived the brand.
Alien most popular graphics are undoubtedly the “Missing Link” and the “Full Spectrum”, which every 2000-2010s skaters has to have had at least the sticker, if not trying the deck.
But Alien Workshop hasn’t solely built their brand on their graphics, they made two mind-blowing full length videos: Photosynthesis (2000) and Mind Field (2008) in which legends revealed themselves: Arto Saari, Rob Dyrdek, Dylan Rieder.
- Iconic graphics
- Great for street skating
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
Real Skateboard was founded in 1991 by two Powell riders, Tommy Guerrero and Jim Thiebaud. To become free from sponsor obligation, they launched their own brand.
The name of the company explains it all, Thiebaud wanted to show all facets of street skateboarding while going back to what made it: the streets. They promote raw skating and sponsor riders that stand out. Whether by their style or their abilities.
Real Skateboard decks are praised for their pop. They have fuller nose and tail than the average board. Meaning it takes more time for the tail to hit the ground, resulting in a more powerful snap and higher pop. The deck holds its width from nose to tail—which is a rare shape, actually.
They have pretty low concave, even their medium concave is pretty flat—which is a good point for me, but it might differ according to your style. By the way, Mason Silva won the title of Skater Of The Year 2020 riding this decks. If you see what he skates, you can’t doubt the quality of Real decks.
- Super poppy decks
- Great for street skating
- Less standard shape
- Made by Generator Distribution
Johnny Schillereff started Element Skateboards in 1992. Like many other skateboard brands, Element begin by doing skateboard decks and apparels. Before expanding to footwear and accessories. The brand identity takes roots from its close relationship with nature and, well, the four primary elements.
In the skate scene, the biggest Element ambassador has to be Nyjah Huston, the number 1 ranked contest skater, who rides for the brand since he was less than 10. Outside of skateboarding, the brand is still known worldwide as they produce quality apparels that are popular in the general population.
When it comes to its skateboard decks, Elements definitely takes advantage of the esthetics with limited edition and rad collabs with other brands or franchises. Their decks are great not only to ride but also to hang on the walls as they make great decoration pieces.
For instance, Element put out a limited-edition series of decks in collaboration with Disney and Star Wars for the release of the Mandalorian TV show. They also released National Geographic decks who perfectly fit with the theme of the brand. Simply gorgeous.
- Great graphics and collabs
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
11. Toy Machine
Toy Machine is the fruit of Ed Templeton’s mind. Created in 1993, the brand is notorious for birthing some of the most influential skaters of the 1990-2000s era like Brian Anderson, Elissa Steamer, Jamie Thomas or Leo Romero. Toy Machine always embodied the “die trying” mentality. Their logo, the “red evil robot” is the perfect depiction of this mantra.
Their decks are recognized as durable and long-lasting by most of the community. Even though I’ve already heard people say they lose their pop rather quickly but I think it varies from people to people.
The primary source of disagreement among skaters regarding Toy Machine decks is their concave and shape. Toy Machine boards have low if not flat concave, which is a big no-no for some street skaters. I prefer flatter decks so it’s a big selling point for me as most street decks you’ll find in shops nowadays have high concave.
- Very durable decks
- Low concave
- Made in China by Dailan Huahong
12. Zero Skateboards
Zero has to be one of the most influential skateboard brand of the early 2000s. Started in 1996 by Toy Machine rider Jamie Thomas, the brand started as a clothing company. 2 years later, Jamie and Toy Machine went their separate ways. He then expanded the brand by manufacturing decks in Tijuana, Mexico and building up a skate team.
Zero Skateboards took inspiration from rock music, especially punk and grunge. Their promo videos transcribe a horror vibe, with heavy metal on dark atmosphere. On the prime of zero, the whole skate team were dressed as rock-stars.
This translates in the prominence of blood and skulls—their logo—in the design of their graphics. The “Single Skull” is an iconic design. It was my first ever proper skateboard deck. It lasted me more than a year and had a great shape and pop. Note that the nose is longer than most, which can destabilize some riders.
Available at Amazon
- Longer nose
- Long lasting
- made by Dwindle / DSM woordshop (China)
13. Lithe Skateboards
Lithe Skateboard is the first crowdfunded company to see the light of day in the world of skating. Started in 2015, in Huntington Beach, California, by two skate engineers, their project really got traction a year later when they release their first deck called the Slate.
With an innovative design and some bold claims, their campaign slowly caught the eyes of skaters that wanted to put it to the test. However, the real breakthrough for Lithe Skateboards was when they released the evolution of their first model, the Slate 2, and Braille Skateboarding made a review seen by almost 5 million people.
The deck is pretty recognizable with its green silhouette and black base color. Claimed to last 10 longer than the standard board, the durability of the Slate Lithe Skateboard comes from its reinforced polymer edges and its combination of wood and carbon plies.
The green layer prevents your nose and tail from chipping and wearing off so you always have a day 1 pop. The carbon fibers feature make sure your board doesn’t break but bend under impact. Be aware that all this come with a cost, Lithe board are by far the priciest decks of this list.
As of recently, Lithe Skateboard launched the third evolution of the Slate deck as a pre-order on their website. The Slate III introduces a whole new deck assembly system.
It combines both wood and carbon within the same plies. So that light wood is placed in low stress area while carbon fiber is set up in high stress ones. Making it the most durable deck on the market.
At the same time they introduced an alternative model called the Nex, which seems less reinforced, but more affordable than the Slate III, with polymer layers only placed on the nose and tail of the deck. They will soon be featured on SkateboardersHQ!
- Most durable deck in the world
- Won’t razor tail or chip
14. Mini Logo Skateboards
Mini Logo Skateboard has a pretty mysterious story compared to most skateboard brand. See, most successful skate companies shine through sponsoring great skaters, having a huge social-media presence or bringing technological advancement to the market, if not the three.
Mini Logo has been around for the longest, but still doesn’t feel part of the community. They don’t shoot ads, barely have an online presence and have no skate team. The truth is, Mini Logo actually belongs to Powell-Peralta.
They make the same boards except you have no graphics, just the blank deck. If you have a tight budget and don’t really care about graphics, Mini Logo are perfectly fine board, well worth their price.
Be aware though that you don’t support skaters when you buy blank decks, just saying. The Mini Logo Chevron deck has great pop and high concave which is great for technical street skating.
- Quality budget deck
- High concave
15. Jart Skateboards
Jart Skateboard is a European skateboard company. Created in 2002 by three Spanish brothers. The Iraola family always had the environmental and social issues at heart.
That’s why they’ve focused on making eco-friendly skateboard decks while still keeping their production in their home-region, the Basque country. They only buy hard rock maple wood from controlled forest in the USA.
Jart decks are a definitive best-seller in European skate-shops. Jart is the brand I’ve bought the most decks from. The boards are above average for durability, and they come in all size/concave combo you can ask for.
To top it all off, they come at $10 to $15 cheaper than bigger brands’ decks and have a wide variety of different graphics and artists. Great value for money decks. Jart also makes decks in Europe for Flip, Sk8mafia, habitat and more.
- Affordable deck
- Great for street skating
- Made in Europe
16. Liberalis Skateboards
Liberalis is based in the the UK but their boards are designed in California and finally crafted, pressed, and printed in Canada.
It’s fairly new company but Liberalis offers quality decks. The people behind Liberalis are super friendly and always willing to help out.
The graphics are heat transferred for extra durability, and the decks are made by Woodchuck, one of the best wood shops in the world.
Skateboard Deck Buyers Guide
When you go to a skate shop or even a website to pick a skateboard for the first time, the quantity of decks available can easily overwhelm you. If no one is free to help, this guide is for you.
In reality, selecting the perfect deck is easy when you know what to look for. Let me show you, so that next time, you’ll pick a skateboard, you will know exactly what you’re looking for depending on what matters to you.
The main two factors to keep in mind when choosing a skateboard deck are your morphology and the type of skateboarding you want to do.
Now, do not worry, I won’t be boring you with some useless information you have no use for. I will be 100% honest and straight to the point.
When you look for a skateboard deck, here are the principal things you should know. I’ve ordered them according to what I usually look for in a deck, but the importance of each will depend on your own preferences.
Skateboard Deck Construction and How They’re Made
A standard skateboard deck is composed of 7 plies of maple wood glued together and molded with a press into a popsicle shape. It has a distinct nose and tail to make the skateboard lift easily, and a more or less define concave to help do tricks. On the back of the deck is where the graphic is displayed, while the top is where you will put grip-tape.
Although nowadays, we see a lot of new material pop left and right on the market. Carbon plies, bamboo skateboard, 9-ply deck, the innovation is here, promising you deck that last longer, doesn’t break nor lose its pop.
Where to Buy Your First Skateboard Deck?
Once you know exactly what you’re looking for, it’s time to select where to buy your board from.
Let me start out by saying that if you’re picking your first ever skateboard deck, stay away from cheap complete you can buy in stores like Walmart or Decathlon. They won’t last long. Even worse, they will tarnish your introduction to skateboarding. Imagine learning how to drive in a car with all flat wheels and a lawn-mower motor.
Skate-shops offer the convenience of looking at and touching the decks directly. You can feel and stand on the boards to make sure you actually enjoy the one you’re going to buy.
You will support your local scene and skaters as well. In addition, skate-shops are a true meeting point for riders, which can help find like-minded riders to the increase the number of skate buddies you have.
Buying decks online gives you the advantages you all know about. It is very convenient; you have all the choices in the world, and the boards come at a cheaper price depending on the site.
Some will even give you free delivery and even directly grip your deck before sending it. However, it can have its disadvantages: longer time to return products, not being 100% sure about the concave and shape before receiving it.
Does Deck Length Matter?
When you buy a skateboard, skateboard length is hardly ever mentioned, and for good reason, it simply doesn’t matter. 99% of street decks have a length between 28” and 32”. The variation comes from the shape and steepness of the nose and tail. For skateboard size, we’re talking about the width, not the length.
If for some weird reason you want to measure deck length, make sure you put the rubber on the tip of the nose and tail and press it against the grip-tape.
Picking the right size
Usually, the first thing you want to look for when buying a deck is size. Every skater has their favorite, they’re most comfortable riding, but it isn’t as simple as let’s say picking a bike. The width of your deck will depend on your age, gender, and preference; but also the type of skating you want to do.
Here are a few baselines to give you a direction. Take these as indications, don’t regard it as the truth. Like many things in skateboarding, deck size will ultimately come down to preference. Don’t be afraid to test different widths at the start.
This table gives you an idea of the average most popular sizes across both disciplines. Take these as indications, not imperative rules to follow.
|Height||Recommended Street Skateboard Deck Size||Recommended Transition Skateboard Deck Size|
|3.6ft (Less than 110cm_||6.5” – 7”||7.5” and under|
|3.6ft-4.2ft (110cm-130cm )||7” – 7.2”||7. 75” – 8.1”|
|4.2ft-5.2ft (130cm-160cm )||7.3” – 7.75”||8.2” – 8.5”|
|5.2ft (160cm) or taller||7.8” to 8.5”||8.5” and higher|
Make Sure Your Trucks Match
Truck manufacturers use inconsistent measurements for truck widths. Some measure in Inches, others in mm. Some measure the hanger width, others measure the axle. Some companies measure the hanger and come up with different numbers. It’s all a bit confusing and difficult to decipher.
Let’s look at a few popular brands for an 8” board width:
|Deck width (Inches)||< 7.5″||7.5″ – 7.99″||8.0″ – 8.49″||8.5″ – 8.99″|
|Independent||109||129||139, 144||149, 159|
|Thunder||143||145||147, 148||149, 151|
All these trucks are the same size, and fit an 8” deck, but each company sizes them differently.
Your best bet, is to do some research into what size truck works for what size of deck. Every Truck brand has a sizing chart on their website. Or take your deck to a skate shop, and measure the truck on the deck.
What About Truck Height?
Skateboard truck height comes down to personal preference, but as a general rule, Low or Mid Truck Height is preferable for street skating. It will also depend on your deck shape, and wheel size.
- Low Trucks – 46-50mm tall
- Mid Trucks – 50-56mm tall
- High Trucks – 55-60mm tall
Usually, a street skating setup will have smaller wheels (49mm-53mm) and a fairly steep concave to the deck, so low or Mid trucks should work fine. Big wheels and low trucks on a mellow concave deck is a recipe for wheelbite.
High trucks with small wheels on a steep concave deck will feel less stable and require more effort to pop. If you have a low profile deck, you might like how it skates with low trucks. If you aren’t sure, Mid Trucks are easily available and always a safe option.
Just like truck widths, skateboard truck manufacturers all have different ideas about what Low, Mid, and High mean. Venture and Independent Lows are 48mm, but Tensor Lows are 46mm.
The standard Thunder trucks could be considered Mid at 50mm, but that is definitely on the low end of the Mid Scale. The standard height for Independent Trucks is 55mm. Which is considered a high truck.
Is the hangar more vertical/perpendicular to the baseplate, or does it have a bit of an angle one way or the other? This will affect the wheelbase of your setup. If the truck is basically at 90 degrees to the baseplate, it will make a wider wheelbase, than a truck that is angled in slightly toward the center of the board.
What does that mean? Wider wheelbase means more responsive turning, but not as sharp of a turn, as a short wheelbase. It may also be harder to balance manuals with a wide wheelbase, but it can feel more stable for landing. Thunder Trucks make for a wide wheelbase, while Independent and Royal Trucks make for a narrower wheelbase.
You might want to select the appropriate wheelbase depending on the type of street skating you do. If you are tackling more ledges and manual pads, maybe a shorter wheelbase will work best for you, but if you are looking for stability for jumping gaps or to get the pinch when grinding rails, a wider wheelbase may suit your style better.
What could this possibly have to do with anything? Well, the amount that the baseplate sticks out from the hangar, and your wheels will directly affect how your slides feel. If the baseplate sticks out past your wheels, it will be in direct contact with the ledge or rail when you nose or tailslide.
If it doesn’t, then your wheels will be on the obstacle during slides. This changes the way that slides feel, and how fast they are. If your wheels are dragging on the ledge, your slide will obviously be a bit slower, and shorter.
This is where you pull out the wax and season the obstacle to your liking.
The shape of the hanger can tell you a fair bit about trucks, durability, break-in time, and how they will grind. Trucks with a chunkier, beefier hanger, and more metal to it are likely to last longer. It will take a bit longer to break in for a comfortable grind.
Think Independent Trucks. They have probably the beefiest hanger on the market. They are heavier but have been known to outlast their competitors. Thunders have a fairly slim profile to their hanger and are known to break in faster resulting in a nicer right out of the box. They just don’t last quite as long as Indy’s.
If You’re Female
Although these last few years, we’ve seen “girls only” skateboard brands pop in the industry, it’s mainly an advertising approach. The decks are the same, only the graphics are more girly and the deck cost twice the price.
So, you girls out there, know that you can ride any board you want as long as you pick a size adequate for your height and shoe size. No need to pay more than men just because of some marketing shenanigans.
If You’re a Heavy-weight:
A wider board doesn’t mean more resistance. I’d start by picking a normal deck for your size, maybe a bit wider. If you break it fast without taking too much impact, switch to reinforced decks.
Whether you choose carbon plies technology like the Powell-Peralta Flight deck, bamboo skateboards or reinforced 8-ply deck, it increase the average lifespan of your board.
Real Skateboard released the “heavyweights construction” deck, which comes with thicker X-band strength. They specifically designed to sustain heavier weight than the standard deck.
If You Have Large Feet
The obvious answer is to take larger boards. But how much? The best way to know for sure is to head out to the skate-shop and try different sizes by standing on them. It’s normal for your heel and toes to stick out. Besides that, most of your sole should cover the deck, if that’s not the case, go wider.
I have a friend 6 foot 3 and wear size 13 US size shoes. Even though he mostly does street skating, he currently rides a 9” deck because he hates having his feet come out too much of the board. To still do flip tricks somewhat easily, the secret is to take high concave decks.
Which Concave Do You Need?
Skateboard’s concave refers to the sideways curve of the deck. They come with three different types: low, medium and high. While you might find some super-high concave labeled deck, it’s rather uncommon.
If you’re just starting out skating and have no clue what concave you might prefer, I’d suggest you stay away from the extreme. Flat and super-high concave aren’t the best for polyvalence.
It can affect your learning curve. For instance, learning flip tricks would be tougher with a flat concave while riding bowls with super-high concave would be almost painful.
If you know you want to ride mostly transition, doing long five-o in pools and big airs over coping, then start out with a low concave. If your mission number 1 coming into this is to land your first kickflip, then you should definitely go for a steeper concave.
Otherwise, I’d suggest going for mellow. A medium or mellow concave is the right fit for pretty much everything, and a safe choice.
Decks with flat concave are most of the time old-school skateboard or cruisers. While you may find some popsicle shaped decks labeled as “flat concave”, they have at least some curvature.
Low concave decks offer a better board of feeling and stability. It’s a comfortable concave that suit transition skaters the best. It also can be a brilliant choice for gaps and impact skating as you have a broader surface to land on.
However, be aware that you must flick harder to flip tricks with a low concave. This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to do treflips, though.
Decks with medium concave make for polyvalent set-up. It’s a great compromise if you want to ride street and transition without committing to a specific one.
You won’t feel as comfortable as you would with a flatter deck, but you will have an easier time landing those kickflips.
Steep concave decks are the go-to for most tech skaters. It allows you to effortlessly do flip tricks and can help learning more advanced tricks that require a lot of flicks like, for instance, double flips, hard flips, and inward heelflips.
However, some, like me, might find boards with high concave more inconvenient to cruise with. They’re also more injury prone, especially sprained ankle. Logically, a flatter deck provides a more stable surface to land on.
How to Check the Concave of a Skateboard Deck?
Even though concave type is usually directly specified on the board, that doesn’t mean all decks have the same low, medium or high concave.
To see how concave a particular deck is in a skate-shop, I do two things. I start by simply grabbing the board by the middle and look from tail to nose on the grip side. You can’t miss the curvature of the edges. Then I put the deck on the floor (ask first) and step on it to see how I feel.
Nose and Tail of the Board
The nose and tail are the two ends, or kicktails, of a skateboard deck. The nose is considered as the front of the board. It is longer, steeper, and less inclined than the tail.
The tail comes as short and snappy to have better reaction and pop from your back leg. You will use them for pretty much everything: from going over a crack, to kick-turns and powerslides, and tricks, obviously.
However, since the last few years, we see a lot more twin tip decks come out. Professional skater Ishod Wair released his Twin-Tail Real Skateboards pro model in 2018 and hasn’t stopped riding since. The reasons are many. First off, according to him, having a longer nose will prevent you from learning to skate switch the same way you skate regular.
Second, riding your board the same way all the time means stressing the same spots on the deck and trucks. By constantly switching, you will distribute the beatings all over the deck, which should last longer.
Third, you won’t have to decide whether you have to pop with the nose or switch your deck side after landing 180 shove tricks like shove-its, varial heels, hardflips.
Standard skateboard decks are priced in the $45-$75 range depending on the model, and where you’re from. However, you can pull out a quality deck for less than that, or buy a superior reinforced deck for a bit more.
Low budget: You can still ride quality boards under $45 by choosing blank boards. You can find them in most skate-shop or online. To get an even better deal, you can buy them in bulk. If you’ve noticed you break boards quickly, that could be the best solution.
You can also choose some decks from less-known brands like Mini Logo, Jart or Nomad that comes at a cheaper price, while not crossing out having a cool graphic.
High budget: By investing in more expensive decks, you might actually save money in the long run. If you choose to select reinforced decks, it might last twice as long (or more) than the average deck. Therefore, you’ll be saving the additional cost of a board.
Choosing the Right Grip Tape
Griptape is the rough layer of silicon carbide put on top of the deck that helps the insole of the shoes stick to the board. It is useful when you learn the concept of flicking required to do most skateboard tricks.
Unless specified, grip-tape comes as a separate item from the skateboard deck. You will need to buy it independently, although some skate-shops offer blank grip-tape with the deck. It usually cost around $5-$10 the sheet.
There are many brands of grip-tape which comes with different grain and colorway. Here is a quick recap of the three grip tape brands you’ll find in most shops, and their features.
It doesn’t really matter which grip tape you buy but some grip tape is more grippy than others.
Beyond just the grasp grip-tapes offer you, you need to keep in mind that more grainy grip will destroy your shoes faster than softer grip.
If you’re broke like me, Jessup is the perfect choice. You won’t pay much for it, if you don’t get it for free, and you will keep your shoes longer! Jokes aside, Jessup is my go-to because I actually don’t like grainy grip. I even scratch it out before skating it with another piece of tape.
Grizzly is probably the best when it comes to street skating because of its longevity and middle off the road grip hardness level. And mob is bowl-riders approved. Anyway, you can’t go wrong choosing one of the three, so don’t trip about it too much.
There’s also the option of skating without grip tape if you really don’t want to rip out your shoes. It’s actually strange but not impossible to do, although I won’t suggest it to newcomers.
If you really like the raw wood-style, consider clear grip tape. Clear grip tape works better on maple surfaces than on carbon fiber, Santa Cruz VX and Powell Peralta Flight decks look messy because of the woven fiber.
Jessup is the best-selling grip tape on the market. So much that it became the standard you will find in every skate shop. It usually comes out as the cheapest of the bunch.
It’s not even rare that skate shops offer it when you buy a deck. Jessup is one of the least grainy grip, while also being one of the thinnest. It definitely loses its grain rather quickly, especially if you ride parks or spots with a lot of dust. On the other hand, you will tear down your shoes less quickly.
How couldn’t we mention Grizzly Grip? Since its launch in 2012 by pro-skater Torey Pudwill, the bear became a staple of the industry by being the second most sold grip after Jessup.
Mob is another flourishing and long-lasting grip brand. It’s probably the gripiest of the grips. Your feet will stay in place on the deck. That’s exactly why it is particularly appreciated by transition riders.
Supporting Your Favorite Skateboard Brands
One of the most distinctive phenomenon in skateboarding is how attached people are to brands. By displaying their preferred brands, riders support their favorite pro-skaters while contributing to the growth of the company. But riders don’t support just to support. You will trust a brand solely based on your previous experience riding their boards.
If you want to expand your brands’ horizon without having to take a gamble, you could select decks from different brands that still have the same shape, because they come from the same wood shop.
For most skaters, having clothes your hyped on will boost your self-confidence and by that matter, your skating. The same thing goes with the graphics of your skateboard. Having a design that appeals to you should be a deciding factor when choosing a deck. You need to be hyped to go skate and show off this sweet piece of art you found.
Personally, I don’t consider graphics as a priority when I select a deck. Still, I wouldn’t ride a skateboard, I dislike the art. It’s definitely a big plus if the graphic is something I’m hyped on, but I’d rather have the perfect size, concave and shape combo over a breath-taking art and having to compromise.
However, I totally understand skaters that are passionate of graphics and always want the cleanest and coolest design. For those riders, selecting a deck with a protected graphic would make sense.
Did you know that some decks came with warranty? It’s something I don’t see being discussed enough, while it can be a deciding factor in choosing a deck.
For instance, the two Almost reinforced decks have a warranty. The Impact Support has a 30 days come with 30 days and the Double Impact with 45 days. All Real Skateboard decks are manufacturer’s defect guaranteed, meaning you can send it back and get a new one if you see some nods or you break it quickly than normal.
Even if the deck you’ve bought didn’t mention having a guarantee, it doesn’t hurt to try.
A few years ago, I broke a fresh Nomad deck right in the middle of my first session riding it, not even doing impact stuff, flat-ground tricks. I went back to the shop to explain my situation, and they sent back my deck to the manufacturer and let me pick a new one.
Always check the quality of the deck before riding it. Look out for wood nods, check the plies of your board and make sure they all are harmonious.
If you’re a beginner, I wouldn’t bug too much on choosing your first deck. Even though it’s a pretty big step and doesn’t come that cheap. Chances are, if you really like skateboarding, you will eventually try different ones until you find your favorite(s).
If you’re experienced, and you think you already know what is your perfect set-up, I would still keep an open mind to try new things. For instance, carbon decks are the answer if you’re tired of snapping decks left and right, while old school decks can bring you new feels riding pools.
I hope this article helped you know what you need to look for when choosing a deck, and which brands will fit the most of your riding style.