Surfskates have come a long way since they first hit the market.
If you've never heard of a surfskate before, then check out my “What is a surfskate” article that breaks it down.
Lucky for us, the market has flooded with companies trying to capture that feeling of surfing on land.
At the end of this article, I'll link to some of my most helpful pages to help you choose the right brand for you.
Alright, here are the top surfskate brands (I own eight out of ten of these surfskates).
10. Slide Surf Skates
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 I think it's safe to say they have some experience under their belts.
Whether you wanna shred bowls or cruise, it seems like Slide is a solid option for that. I haven't had a chance to try Slide surfskates because they're not stocked in the USA. If I had to guess it probably has something to do with the patents that Carver owns in the USA.
I even reached out to Slide directly to see if I could buy one, and they said “sorry we don't have distributors in USA at the moment.”
Their adapters have a pretty simplistic design. They use a spring and an adjustment nut. You can tighten or loosen the nut to adjust the feeling of the spring. It honestly looks pretty similar to Carver's C7 trucks.
Z-Flex has been a top brand in the skate industry for quite some time. Started in 1976, their mix of surf and skate culture is the perfect match for launching a surfskate.
With their surfskate builds, they actually partnered with Waterborne Skateboards, using their adapters. This is something that Penny Skateboards has also done and it's honestly not a bad idea. Especially because Waterborne makes such a solid surfskate adapter.
Anytime I see a surfskate that doesn't use a spring like most of the other companies on this list, I'm intrigued.
Curfboard is one of the most innovative companies to break onto the surf skate scene because they approach it completely differently than anything I've ever seen.
Curfboard has come a long way since its successful Kickstarter campaign. Offering a minimal range of products, the team at Curfboard has given themselves space to perfect their products’ form and function to bring riders a one-of-a-kind surf skate experience.
Probably the most innovative design I've seen, Curfboard's front adapter doesn't use any bushings or springs. Instead it's design swivels back and forth, making extremely loose. There's no resistance at all compared to most other adapters on the market.
7. Penny Skateboards
The origins of Penny Skateboards distinct plastic boards can be traced back to founder Ben Mackay’s early years stripping down, revamping, and hopping on an affordable little plastic deck purchased by his father.
His passion for building skateboards would blossom as he spent his adolescent life experimenting with board shapes and setups alongside manufacturers in his local town.
30 years later and Mackay would revisit the little plastic board he bombed hills on as a child, using it as the inspiration for his groundbreaking professional board company Penny Skateboards. The brand is renowned for its vibrant collection of plastic boards that pop off the shelves of stores across the world and give skaters a genuinely unique surf-like experience.
Just like Z-Flex, Penny Skateboards uses Waterborne's adapter on their High-Line surfskates. It has a really punchy feel to it and was my first surfskate I ever tried. It made me fall in love with the surfskate feeling and for the price, you can't really beat it.
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.
Waterborne is less of a traditional surfskate company because they focused 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 simplistic 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,
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.
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 their C7 & CX trucks (haven't tried their C5 yet). The C7 trucks use a spring pivoting design (this was their main surfskate adapter).
The 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. And what I can gather, it seems like the C5 has a more traditional skateboard feel.
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. They only sell their completes because of quality control.
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 center in 2021.
After riding it, out of all the surfskate boards I own, this replicates the feeling of surfing on land the best. 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 which doesn't have an exposed bottom.
Standing for Your Own Wave, YOW is a surfskate brand based out of the Basque Country, created by HLC Distribution.
They're in a unique position compared to other surfskate companies because they make almost every part of their boards in house. This allows them to consistently keep up with their stock.
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 System V.4 S4 and YOW System V.4 S5. 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.
I own the YOW Pipe and Snappers but use my Snappers the most. It's concave, aesthetic, and S5 adapter makes for an insanely fun ride.
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.
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.
Before you leave!
Hopefully, you now have a solid idea about surfskate companies, but if you want to know how the top brands feel to ride, you'll probably be interested in this page, where I describe the different feelings of the adapters.
Or browse our whole surfskate section.