Updated: May 29, 2015
Skimboard Reviews:Be Ready for the Next Wave: Choosing the Best Skimboards - What is skimboarding? You'll hear people say that it is like surfing - and it is. But it gives the surfboard a contemporary update, slimming it down and adding elements of "flatland," or skateboarding, to give it a very dynamic, fast-paced, and fresh feel. Skimboarding as we see it today is a sport that has been evolving for over six decades. Skimboarders started out riding wooden boards, and as skills advanced, so too did the boards. We now have fiberglass and carbon fiber beauties that are lightweight, sleek, and fast. What do you need to know before you buy a skimboard? This guide will show you what to look for, different styles, and what you can expect to pay.
What is Skimboarding - The best way to understand skimboarding is to try it - but do watch it first! You can check out some great moves in this YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uSF9mfSlRg); at about half a minute, you can see the take-off. This is part of what distinguishes skimboarding from surfing: the action takes place near the shore. Starting about 20 feet from the shore, the boarder waits for a wave and then runs to it. When he gets to the wet sand, he drops the board, jumps on, and lets the wave propel him forward. The key is stability and the ability to go from the barely covered sand to the ocean. The goal is to catch a wave and ride it back to shore. As you can see on the video, the course from point A to point B and back again can take many different forms. A lot of skimboarders incorporate skateboarding moves, such as shove-its and ollies. So what do you need to get started? It depends on what type of skimboarding you want to do and how much you've already done. Some people prefer to stay very close to the shore, riding shallow water, while others want to get into the waves a bit more. This will inform your choice of skimboards. You will want to pay attention to:
You can browse the best selling skimboards here.
You can browse the best selling skimboards here.
Best Skimboards:Skimboards for the Beginner - When you first try skimboarding, you face the inevitability of falling. You need a board that will keep the pace relatively slow so you can get the hang of riding and maneuvering. To get that slower pace, opt for a wide, short skimboard. These are ideal for practicing and for younger children, and the cost makes them perfect if you want to try but are not sure yet that you're a lifer. Look for the shape called the "hybrid." It will have a more blunt nose and wider profile, which provides enough area for beginners to grip. Most skimboards will reach your chest when they are standing on end. Make sure that you choose a board that is rated for your weight. For instance, if you weigh 120 pounds, a medium board will work. If you weigh 150, you'll need a large. If you weigh more than 200 pounds, you'll need an extra-large. If you get a board that is too small, you risk breaking it, and you will probably find it is harder to balance and maneuver. If it's too big, though, it'll be difficult to control. The weight rating is listed for a reason, so make sure you get the right size! What should you look for in terms of materials? Advanced skimboarders often choose very high-tech carbon fiber or fiberglass boards, but these are pricy. Before you get into these specialized boards, try a wooden model. These aren't your grandpa's skimboards, though, so don't worry. They are still lightweight and relatively speedy. Look for a wooden model (maple withstands beach elements best) that has a graphite or plastic-coated bottom. Graphite keeps the board light and fast, while special plastic coatings offer a smooth surface and prevent scuffs and nicks to the wood. The rocker is the curve of the board, and different rockers help with different types of riding. A constant rocker, which curves from nose to tail, is ideal for big waves. A hybrid rocker is the most common. It has a curve on the bottom that extends about 3/4 of length of the board, and the tail is usually flat. Hybrids are good for speed riders and those who need control on moderate waves or for flatland moves. The traditional rocker is flat except for the upturned nose. The curves vary from board to board and depend on the type of waves you ride. Some experts say that 2 inches is better for the East Coast while 3 is better for the West Coast because of the steeper beaches. One more design feature to look for: the tail. This helps determine how your skimboard will handle. Beginners will find that the common pintail is best suited for learning. This design helps keep the board more stable. As skimboarders advance, they may opt for a swallow (W-shaped), diamond, or square tail. These allow for more flexibility and motion, but are difficult for beginners to control. If you are just starting out, you can find a less expensive skimboard to experiment with and try out. If you want to learn on the best and have a high quality skimboard that will last and that you can enjoy for years, 3 companies stand out:
Let's take a look at the Victoria Woody XL Skimboard, which is billed as an excellent "entry level" board. Made from Meranti (Luan) wood and polyester resin mixed with fiberglass, the Woody is durable and tough without weighing a ton. It does weigh in at more than advanced skimboards, but beginners will appreciate the added stability. It measures 48.5 x 21.3 inches and has a weight rating of between 180 and 220 pounds. The tail is a swallow shape instead of the typical beginner pintail, but this allows for gliding. One user said that "It's affordable, but still the Cadillac of all skimboards." It allows for flatland tricks and can handle deeper water. The Woody is a remarkably versatile board and the price is definitely right. At $60, this is a tremendous deal and a board that will last you through a lot of trial and error. Other great boards to try include the Zap Large Wedge and Fish for adults and the Lazer and Mini Lazer for children. Exile makes an excellent board but the shapes and prices make them more suitable for advanced riders.
Skimboards for More Advanced Riders - As you progress, skimboards tend to get narrower and longer. These types of boards are good for sand and small and larger waves. Slimmer boards are harder to control and less stable, but they allow for a wider range of tricks and turns. If you are an advanced rider, you've probably already developed a good sense of your needs - that is, what type of rocker works best for your riding style and the terrain. If you already know you love skimboarding, then investing in a good, durable, and, yes, expensive board is an excellent idea. You will get the most for your money in terms of control and handling. Exile's least expensive models begin at $375. For a double carbon fiber skimboard, you'll start at $435. These boards are roundly considered to be the best. Let's take a look at their S-Glass Art Skimboard. This is made of structural fiberglass, which is 30 percent stronger and 15 percent stiffer than standard fiberglass. The core is made from high density polyvinyl chloride foam, which inhibits water absorption. Other features include aircraft grade epoxy resin and a hybrid rocker. This is an excellent skimboard for a variety of conditions and they are fast. This model costs $430. Yes, it's expensive, but you are definitely getting your money's worth for years of fun. See top rated Exile skimboards here. Skimboards run the entire spectrum from sub-$50 starter or kids models to $400+ beauties for the ardent skimboarders and pros. Start with a less expensive, stable model to learn, and you'll be getting your high-end Exile, Victoria, or Zap in no time.