What Are The Best Surfskates? (Brand Comparisons)

By Billy James | Updated: March 14, 2022 | Surfskates

Picking the right surfskate brand is a challenge.

A board that doesn’t fit your riding style will be frustrating. Not everyone is gonna like Carver, or YOW or Smoothstar, etc.

It’s all subjective.

I wanted to put this list of the best surfskate brands together to make your life easier. If you’re a complete noob, this is the place to start your research.

Once you narrow down the brand that fits your riding style, check out how to choose a surfskate. I cover deck shape, wheelbase and wheel characteristics.

Summary

It’s impossible to classify one surfskate brand as the “best” because everyone has their own riding style. I’d recommend looking into Carver, YOW, Smoothstar, SwellTech, Waterborne, Slide, or Hamboards. They each offer a unique feel that will cover most riding styles.

If you’d rather watch a video, check it out below. If not, keep scrolling.

Let’s go over each popular surfskate brand, starting with…

Slide Surfskates

slide surfskate adapter

The Sancheski company, based in Irún, Spain makes Slide surfskates. They’ve been manufacturing skate products for almost 50 years. It’s been trickier to get them if you’re based in the USA, but they’re finally distributing.

Slide’s Adapter

Slide’s adapter uses an adjustable spring, like Carver and Smoothstar. It pivots back and forth like most surfskate adapters, making it easy to pump from a standstill. You can adjust the spring by turning the nut.

Who Is Slide Best For?

Slide is a good option if you want a surfskate that won’t break the bank. If you want something more mellow compared to other surf pivoting adapters, it’s a good option.

Carver

Check out my Carver review

carver surfskate adapter

Carver Skateboards started in 1996 in Venice Beach, California. The founder’s Neil and Greg set out to replicate the feeling of surfing on land. Their journey was not without some unusual and innovative ideas. Their first prototype was actually a trampoline surf trainer.

This design didn’t stand the test of time but, through trial and error, they found their way. Their first breakthrough was using a swing arm. The design allowed for sharp turns but was quite unstable.

Carver’s Trucks

Over the years, Carver has innovated upon their first swing arm design. They now offer 3 trucks – C7, CX and C5.

The C7 truck is a pivoting-arm spring adapter. It’s their most loose, flowing surfskate truck. The spring is adjustable, allowing you to tighten/loosen the tension-level.

The CX truck is a bushing-based design. Don’t let it fool you though, the geometry and bushings still allow for a flowy carving experience. This is my personal favorite set by Carver because of how simple yet effective it is.

The C5 truck is most like a traditional skateboard truck out of all three. It uses a reverse kingpin design like the CX but it’s lower and narrower. The C5 is commonly used in skateparks but you can still get a surfskatey pump.

Who Is Carver Best For?

If you want to get into surfskating but don’t want something super aggressive. I’ll ride my Carver if I want to get into surfy carves, but still feel comfortable taking it more than a few blocks. I own and tested all (C7, CX & C5) and I prefer riding the CX the most.

Curfboard

curfboard surfskate adapter

Curfboard’s headquarters is in Munich, Germany. It’s the brainchild of Stephan Augustin, a lifelong skater, surfer and snowboarder. Over the years, Stephen created some wild skateboard designs. It was a passion project, until his son came across his old boards in 2015. And in 2017, Stephen successfully launched the Curfboard kickstarter project.

Curfboard’s Adapter

Most surfskates make use of a spring or bushing, but not Curfboard. They created a swiveling design, which offers an insane amount of pivot. It swivels back and forth like handles on a bicycle. It has no spring making for a much more loose feel compared to others on the market.

Who Is Curfboard Best For?

If you want a surfskate you can easily pump from a standstill. Keep in mind the Curfboard is a front heavy rider. Your front foot does most of the wiggling. It almost reminds me of the motion of a ripstick.

Waterborne

waterborne surfskate adapter

Waterborne’s headquarters is in Costa Mesa, California. Like every other surfskate company, they wanted to perfect the feeling of surfing on land. But Waterborne took a different approach. They focused on the surf adapter. Figuring out how to make it as universal as possible.

Waterborne’s Adapter

Instead of going with a spring-based pivoting adapter, Waterborne uses a cube bushing. And although it might not offer the resistance a tension spring has, it works great. It’s also a more durable way of constructing a surfskate adapter. It sort of reminds me of when skateboarding discovered the urethane wheel in the 70s. A simple, but revolutionary breakthrough.

Their pivoting adapter even has a built-in wheel bite limiter that stops the adapter from pivoting more than 35 degrees. They’ve also developed a rail adapter for your back truck. It’s purpose is to add more lean, making it the perfect pair with their front pivoting adapter.

Who Is Waterborne Best For?

For the more experimental surf-skater who wants to build and tinker with their set-up. It’s a pivoting adapter, which offers a deep carving experience. They’ve focused on making it universal, so you can slap it on almost any setup.

Smoothstar

Check out my Smoothstar review

smoothstar surfskate adapter

Smoothstar is an Australian-based surfskate company that makes complete surf trainers. They don’t sell their adapters separately because they’re trying to protect their image as the “best surf trainer”. Catch the vibe? They’re only focused on creating surf trainers.

Smoothstar’s Adapter

Like Carver and Slide, Smoothstar uses an adjustable tension spring. As a result, riding feels consistent and smooth when carving. I’ve noticed that Smoothstar parts are more prone to breaking. Their adapter doesn’t seem as durable as others on the market. But if you’re only using it for flat ground surf training, that’s not a big deal.

Who Is Smoothstar Best For?

If you’re looking to do technical surf training, Smoothstar is a solid option. It’s not a surfskate you’ll want to ride more than a few blocks because of the front adapter. I use mine in flat parking lots with cones to practice engaging my upper body. A very solid surf trainer.

YOW

Check out my YOW review

yowsurf surfskate adapter

Standing for ‘Your Own Wave’, YOW’s headquarters is in the Basque Country, Spain. It’s a spinoff company under the HLC Distribution umbrella. They’re in a unique position because they make almost every part of their surfskates in-house.

YOW’s Adapter

YOW surfskates currently sells two adapters, their S4 and S5.

The difference being that the S4 has a 4mm spring and S5, 5mm spring. The S4 offers a looser ride because of the thinner spring. This is better for people weighing under 110 lbs (50 kg). The S5 (most popular) offers more resistance because of the thicker spring. Better for riders over 110 lbs (50 kg). Both surf adapters feel incredibly surfy to ride.

Who Is YOW Best For?

I would recommend a YOW if you want something that you can do deep carves and pump from a standstill. I use my YOW the most since it’s adapter feels natural to pump, gain speed and perform cut-backs. It also helps that YOW has some of the coolest designs on the market. I guess that’s subjective though.

Hamboards

Check out my Hamboards review

hamboards surfskate adapter

Hamboards started in 2012 in Huntington Beach, California. Like every other surfskate brand on the market, they wanted to evolve the longboard. Something that was more surfy. They take a different approach than the rest with a spring-based truck in the front and back.

Hamboard’s Trucks

Their HST carving trucks use springs in both the front and back. As a result, their boards carve rail-to-rail aggressively. There’s even lean on both the front and back, which is different then pivoting adapters.

Who Are Hamboards Best For?

Hamboards are best used on moderate downhill slopes for consistent momentum. On pivoting arm surfskates, this isn’t an issue since they’re easy to pump. But because of the even rail to rail lean on HSTs, you need consistent momentum, unless you want to push. This is why their land paddles are a great addition.

SwellTech

Check out my SwellTech review

swelltech surfskate adapter

SwellTech is a Florida-based surfskate company. They felt that single-spring or reverse kingpin designs didn’t cut it. As a result, the SwellTech surf adapter was born. One of the most innovative designs we’ve seen.

SwellTech’s Adapter

One of the most extreme approaches to the spring-surfskate adapter design. They use two springs attached to the pivot rod of the truck and another two springs attached to the hanger. This design allows for their adapter to rotate a full 360 degrees. Making for one of the most aggressive adapters on the surfskate market.

Who Is SwellTech Best For?

A SwellTech isn’t for beginners. It can jacknife if you don’t have the right technique. With time you’ll get the hang of it and some claim it being the closest feeling to surfing on land. Just keep in mind, the learning curve to become confident on a SwellTech is steep.

What Is The Best Surfskate Brand?

This answer isn’t so simple and straightforward but if I could only pick three out of the ten on this list, I’d pick…

Carver Skateboards

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 enough stability to give you confidence. I use my Carver when I’m going for a longer cruise or just want something that’s more stable.

YOW

Compared to Carver and Smoothstar, YOW is the newer brand. I use my YOW surfskates the most because they offer a deep, divey, and natural pumping feel. You’ll have no issue pumping from a standstill on a YOW and they’re really a blast to ride. The learning curve isn’t as steep as a SwellTech but still does give you that free, flowing feel you don’t get from a traditional skateboard.

Smoothstar

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 offerings from other brands. 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

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. Better yet, go to your local surf or skate shop and see if they have models you can try before you buy.

It all really depends on your riding experience level and expertise but I would really only recommend Carver if you’re going for long-distance cruises. Smoothstar and YOW are a lot more work and you have to stay focused on the ride.

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. That being said, I know people who haven’t skated much at all and have been just fine starting with a surfskate. Wear protective gear when you start out no matter how experienced you are.

Billy James

I started street skating when I was 5 years old. Picked up surfing and snowboarding soon after. These days, if I'm not surfing, I'm trying to replicate it on land or snow. My goal is to shred, then share my thoughts in a honest and transparent way.
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