Heading to the beach this year? In addition to soaking up the sun, you’ll want to spend some time in the waves. Of course, there’s only so much fun to be had actually swimming in the water, and you might not be in the right area for full-blown surfing. Skimboarding is a great option that allows you to have all the fun of surfing without the need for major waves (or experience as a surfer).
With that being said, you’ll need to know a thing or two about skimboarding, and you’ll need to have the right skimboard, too. Whether you’re completely new to the sport, or you know what it’s all about and are just interested in buying the best skimboard, this guide is for you.
What Is Skimboarding?
If you’re new to the sport, you might be wondering exactly what skimboarding is. Really, it’s a sort of fusion between surfing and skateboarding. Skimboarders perform in the shallow water near shore, and don’t need large waves to enjoy their pastime. However, they do need at least a little room to get a running start, and they also need good balance and coordination. The same abilities and aptitudes that make for a good skateboarder will be important with skimboarding.
In a nutshell, a skimboarder stands just ahead of the incoming surf line, and gets a running start. Once up to speed, you’ll toss the skimboard into the water ahead of you, making sure it skips a little on the surface. Next, you’ll jump from the sand onto the top of the board, maintaining your forward momentum. The board’s wide, flat surface combined with your forward movement will allow you to skim over the surface moving down the beach parallel to the water.
Sound tricky? It can be. If you’ve never skimboarded before, you’ll need to practice. The most important part is to make sure that you hit the board with both feet, while still moving forward. Hitting with just one foot will disrupt your motion, pushing part of the skimboard into contact with the sand. By landing with both feet on the board, roughly shoulder width apart, you keep a thin layer of water between the board and the sand, and your forward momentum does the rest.
Related: How to Skimboard
How Does a Skimboard Differ from a Surfboard?
Skimboarding and surfing are related, although not that closely. Really, surfing is closer to snow skiing and skimboarding is more akin to skateboarding, at least in practice. You’ll also find that surfboards and skimboards vary significantly in a number of important ways. While they are both used in the water, that’s about the only similarity they have. Skimboards and surfboards differ in many ways.
- Length: Surfboards are far longer than skimboards. However, skimboards can vary significantly in their length, depending on whether they are made for wave riding, or designed for flatland use.
- Weight: Surfboards weigh much more than skimboards, although some skimboard models can weigh quite a bit, particularly if you purchase a woody (a skimboard made from wood).
- Shape: You’ll find that surfboards and skimboards have very different shapes. Surfboards tend to be long and narrow, whereas skimboards usually have a roughly teardrop shape.
Important Considerations When Comparing Skimboards
Before we dive into a detailed comparison of the best skimboards on the market, it’s important that we discuss the features and considerations that you’ll need to take into account when choosing the right skimboard for your particular needs. While skimboards might look like teardrop-shaped, flat pieces of foam or wood, they’re much more than that. Likewise, there’s more to do as a beginning skimboarder than just choosing the color scheme or print pattern that you like the most. You will need to consider the following before making a purchase:
Flexibility – Flexibility is all about how adaptable a particular skimboard is to your usage needs and personal sense of style. If you’re just starting out, you probably should focus on other areas first in order to develop your technique, and then worry about flexibility later.
Weight – Weight is a significant consideration. We’re not talking just about the board’s weight, but about its ability to support your weight – it’s weight allowance. Wood generally has a higher weight limit, but also weighs more itself. It’s best to look for a board that can support your weight, but is neither too light nor too heavy. A lot of this will depend on how you intend to use the board, too.
Speed – Speed is essential to skimboarding. You need to move faster than the water in order to skim the surface. A board’s speed is due to a combination of its weight, your weight, the material the board is made from, the condition of the board’s bottom surface, and more.
Wave or Inland – There are two main types of skimboard – those designed for wave riding, and those made for use on primarily flat, inland areas. Most wave riding boards are made from foam, while inland boards are made from wood.
Material – Your primary choice when it comes to skimboards is wood versus foam. Both have their pros and cons. Wood is more durable, but is much heavier. Foam is lightweight, but may not last as long as a wood board. Cost is also tied to material. The more advanced the material, the higher the cost of the board.
Rocker – “Rocker” is not really a feature of a skimboard, but is an ability delivered by the shape of the body. It’s the ability to raise the nose of the board to help keep it going forward over the water, rather than nosing down under the water and dipping. You’ll find three types of rocker on the market: constant, which is better for wave riding; hybrid, which works for both wave and inland riding; and traditional, which is better for inland riding. Match the board’s rocker to the type of riding you intend to do.
Size and Shape – While skimboards do not vary all that much in terms of size and shape, there is some variation out there. The larger a board is, the heavier and more difficult to maneuver it will be. However, larger boards also offer a bit more stability for those just starting out. There are many variations on shape, as well. For beginners, the traditional teardrop shape is recommended, particularly if you’ll be riding the shoreline. If you’ll be riding bigger waves, you might want to consider a different shape, though, as the rear shoulders of the board will affect your riding experience.
Traction – Skimboards can be quite slippery, and they often do not come with any sort of traction aid. You can purchase traction pads on your own and add them to the surface of the board. Make sure you get some time in on the water beforehand, so you know where the pads will be best positioned for your personal riding needs and style.