Picking the right surfskate brand is a challenge.
If you pick one that doesn't fit within your riding preference, it's not going to be enjoyable.
My first mistake was…
I picked a brand that was too mellow, with a short wheelbase.
To say the least, I was bummed because I wasn't able to shred how I envisioned.
Fast forward and all of 2020 I had a full-blown surfskate addiction. Currently, I own 12 different surfskates.
Do you want one that will help you with surf training or something that will offer more stability?
I wanted to put together a list of the best surfskate brands to help you avoid picking the wrong one for you.
At the end of this article, I'll link to some of my most helpful surfskate articles.
Best Surfskate Brands
(Listed from mellow to deep carving)
Sancheski is the company behind Slide surfskates. They're based in Irún, Spain, and have been manufacturing sporting goods for over 80 years. They started to specialize in the skate industry in 1966, so they obviously have experience in this industry.
Whether you wanna shred bowls or cruise, Slide's mellower feel is a solid option. I had a hard time getting a Slide surfskate to the USA since you can't buy them directly from their website. If I had to guess it probably has something to do with the patents that Carver owns in the USA.
However, I was lucky enough to find a few that were getting sold via Amazon. So if you live in the USA and are having trouble getting one, check Amazon.
Their adapters kind of remind me of Carver and Smoothstar. From an aesthetic point of view, it looks similar to Carver C7, and from a functionality standpoint, it's somewhat similar to Smoothstar with adjustable spring. They use a spring and an adjustment nut, which gives you some freedom to finetune it how you like. You can tighten or loosen the nut to adjust the feeling of the spring.
Check out my Carver review
Carver Skateboards was founded in 1996 by Neil Stratton and Greg Falk in Venice Beach, California. Their idea initially started because they wanted a way to replicate surfing on land. So they created their first prototype, which was actually a trampoline surf trainer.
Neil sketched up a different type of wheel system for his skateboard, creating the first surfskate system, which had a trailing wheel and a swing arm.
After many failed attempts they came up with a system where the back truck was stable while the front truck could perform a swivel motion. This was when they found their first bit of success. They even mounted a bungee cord in the middle of the board to hold the front truck from rotating too far.
After years of improving they now have one of the most well-known surfskate brands in the world. Just about everyone knows about Carver.
Carver has a few trucks to choose from – their C7, CX, and C5 (I own all three). The C7 trucks use a spring pivoting design (this was their original surfskate adapter).
The Carver CX is the set I use the most because even though it doesn't have a spring, it still offers a similar carving experience that feels more fluid to me. I was surprised that the way the geometry is setup, makes for some really fun carving. And what I can gather, it seems like the C5 has a more traditional skateboard feel.
Who Is Carver Best For?
If you want something that you can ride longer distances on and still carve more aggressively than a traditional cruiser, Carver Skateboards could be a solid choice for you.
Curfboard is based in Munich, Germany, and got its start with a successful Kickstarter campaign back in 2016. They've now established themselves as a main brand in the surfskate scene.
Anytime I see a surfskate that doesn't use a spring in its design, I'm intrigued. Almost all the other surfskate brands on this list use a spring, so it's cool to see Curfboard innovating.
Curfboard's front adapter doesn't use any bushings or springs. Instead, its design swivels back and forth, making it extremely loose. There's no resistance at all compared to most other adapters on the market. As far as surf training goes for the Curfboard, I wouldn't say it's the best since it doesn't have resistance like the other spring adapters.
Check out my Waterborne review
Waterborne is less of a traditional surfskate company because they focus mainly on creating a universal adapter that doesn't use a spring. And because of this successful universal design, other companies have partnered with them (Penny & Z-Flex).
Beyond being unique in construction, Waterborne claims their adapters are indestructible, extending their lifespan and saving you money in the process. They also came up with a design for the back truck that suspends it on a bushing rail adapter, allowing you to get even gnarlier with your turns.
For the more experimental surf-skater, Waterborne’s collection will turn your stale rig into a fresh and exhilarating shredding machine.
Instead of going the spring approach like most other surfskates on the market, they use a cube bushing, mixed with bearings and washers. Although it might not add the resistance that a spring design has, it works great and is an extremely durable way of approaching an adapter. It offers a deeper riding feel compared to Slide and Carver since it pivots more aggressively. It even has a wheel bite limiter, which stops it from pivoting at 35 degrees.
Who Is Waterborne Best For?
If you want to get that surfskate feeling without spending hundreds of dollars on a complete, you should highly consider Waterborne. Especially if you have a cruiser laying around. It'll give you a good idea of that surfskate feeling without breaking the bank. Then if you end up really liking it, you can start exploring other options.
Check out my Smoothstar review
Smoothstar is easily one of my favorite surfskates in my quiver because of how light their completes are. Not only that but they use a compression spring versus a coil spring, which offers a different feeling that I have yet to find in other surfskates.
They're so aggressive in protecting their image as the ultimate surf trainer, that they even discontinued selling their adapters separately. Although I'm gonna be real, I wish they sold their adapters separately.
The main downside (at the time of writing this) is they're having a lot of trouble keeping stock. This is making it super hard to get your hands on a Smoothstar.
If you live in the US, they're a bit difficult to get, however they claim they're trying to launch a USA distribution soon.
After riding it, out of all the surfskate boards I own, this replicates the feeling of surfing the best. Anytime someone asks for the best surf training brand, I'll recommend Smoothstar. The reason is that they use compression springs versus coil, tension springs, which give a resistance that no other adapter offers. The downside is that they're more prone to rusting and breaking, versus Waterborne or YOW which don't have an exposed bottom.
Who Is Smoothstar Best For?
If you're looking for something to ride in a flat parking lot or even in a bowl to do technical surf training, Smoothstar is a good option. Similar to YOW, it's not a surfskate that you'll want to take for a long-distance cruise since that front adapter pivots aggressively. In my opinion, this is the best option for those that want the closest feeling of surfing on land.
Check out my YOW review
Standing for ‘Your Own Wave', YOW is a surfskate brand based out of the Basque Country, Spain – created by HLC Distribution.
YOW surfskates are in a unique position compared to other surfskate brands because they make almost every part of their surfskates in-house. This allows them to keep up with their stock better than other brands.
The major downside is if you live in the USA, they still don't have a distribution center here, so shipping these boards from Spain is pretty dang expensive.
YOW is my favorite surfskate and the one I use the most since I love its deep carving. It's also a solid adapter for surf training since you can do deep and fluid cutbacks.
YOW surfskates currently offer three adapters – their S4, S5, and now their newest Muraki system. The 4mm spring in the V.4 S4 is positioned to help skaters achieve sharp cut-backs and fast carves while the heavier 5mm spring housed in the V.4 S5 provides a slightly stiffer surfing experience.
Personally, I rarely ride my S4 because it feels a little too loose for me.
I own the YOW Pipe, Arica, and Snappers but use my Snappers the most. Its concave and deck length make it perfect for my riding preference. It feels great for doing sharp cutbacks and overall surf training.
Who Is YOW Best For?
I would recommend a YOW if you want something that you can do deep carves with. Out of all my surfskates, I use my YOW the most since it's adapter feels natural to pump and gain speed. They also have some of the coolest graphics/designs in my opinion.
Check out my Hamboards review
Based out of Huntington Beach, California, Pete Hamborg, the founder of Hamboards, realized all longboards had the same issue…
“The trucks always seemed too tight, and the boards were way too narrow and short. Longboard skateboards evolved, but still had the same limitations, too narrow and too tight.”
Through trial and error, he began making longboards that replicated the look of surfboards. But there was one main issue… they still didn’t ride like you were surfing. That was until one of his kids left the board outside overnight and it got run over by the family SUV.
This was the breakthrough for Hamboards. The way the board broke, actually ended up modifying the trucks to turn like an actual surfboard.
They finally found the solution to achieving that rail to rail carving. Fast forward and Hamboards now have a major investment from Robert Herjavac of Shark Tank.
Their signature 200mm HST carving trucks use springs in both the front and back trucks. The benefit of this is the rail to rail turning is a lot gnarlier than most of the other surfskates, but the downside is that you can't really pump from a standstill or maintain speed. Their trucks remind me a lot of the old Original Skateboard trucks (if you're familiar with those).
I own their Biscuit, Twisted Fin, Pescadito, Huntington Hop and they're all a blast in their own way. But I'll really only take them out if I know there will be lowkey hills so I don't have to always keep pushing.
Who Is Hamboards Best For?
If you want something that's bigger than most surf skates and has a similar aesthetic to an actual surfboard, Hamboards might be a solid choice. Not only that but if you want to do insanely sharp, rail to rail turns and don't care to pump from a standstill, I'd say go for it. The ideal conditions are if you have lowkey hills to ride down, so you can do continuous turns without having to push.
Check out my SwellTech review
SwellTech started when the founder, Colin Newton couldn’t find a board that actually felt like surfing. According to their website, even though companies were claiming it as a surfskate, the reverse kingpin trucks just didn’t cut it for him.
As Colin says on SwellTech’s website…
“One day I found my skateboard in the street run over… by my friend who just got his license. The deck had snapped and one of the trucks had cracked in half.. So, skateboard-less, I decided to take those parts and make my own skateboard, one that had that surfy feeling.”
It's crazy that Hamboards and SwellTech have a very similar story of discovering their surfskate design. Thank god for cars running over their boards… I guess?
Colin used those broken skateboard parts and combined it with a door hinge to put together the first prototype.
That accident was the birth of SwellTech’s innovative free-motion skateboard truck.
Probably the most extreme approach to the spring surfskate adapter, SwellTech uses two springs attached to their 360-degree centerpiece. Their adapter rotates a full 360 degree, which is definitely the gnarliest of all the surfskates I've tried. The downside of this design is that if you shift your weight too far in the front, the adapter will completely jackknife.
Although SwellTech's adapter isn't my favorite, there are many people that think it's the best for surf training since it's so aggressive.
Who Is SwellTech Best For?
Getting an aggressive surfskate in the USA (at the time of writing this 12/14/20) is an expensive challenge since a lot are located outside the USA. SwellTech is a lot easier to access since they're based in Florida. If you want a surfskate that has the most aggressive turning (full 360 rotation) then SwellTech is a solid option for you.
Most Common Surfskate Questions
Below I want to answer some common surfskate questions that I get emailed to me. Hopefully they clear up some confusion!
What Is The Best Surfskate Brand?
If I could only pick three out of the ten on this list, I'd pick…
There's a reason that Carver has been around for a long time. They're high quality and their trucks allow you to carve more aggressively than a traditional cruiser, while still offering a solid amount of stability. I use my Carver when I'm going for a longer cruise or just want something that's more stable.
Compared to Carver and Smoothstar, YOW is a newer brand. This is the surfskate that I used most often because it offers a deep, divey, and natural pumping feel. You'll have no issue at all pumping from a standstill on a YOW.
Smoothstar is my other favorite surfskate because it has a natural pumping feeling. Their tension spring allows you to carry your pumping momentum more efficiently than the other ones. If I'm doing slower technical surf training in a parking lot, I'll use my Smoothstar because you can really focus on your technique without losing momentum.
I did a more in-depth analysis on how each surfskate feels to ride in this article. It will really help you!
Can You Cruise On A Surfskate?
It's possible to cruise on a surfskate, however it depends which brand you're talking about. If you get a Carver, then their trucks are much more mellow than a YOW or Smoothstar. Make sure to research the company you're thinking about getting because a lot of them have springs in their adapters, making it very hard to cruise for more than a few blocks. It also depends on your expertise but I would really only recommend Carver if you're going for long-distance cruises.
Are Surfskates Good For Beginners?
If you're just getting started skateboarding/longboarding, I wouldn't suggest getting a surfskate since they carve so aggressively. But if you're set on getting one, then I'd recommend picking one that doesn't have a spring in the adapter, so it's more mellow. Something like the Carver CX trucks are better suited for beginners rather than a YOW, Smoothstar, or SwellTech.