Skimboarding is taking the world of watersports by storm. It is similar to surfing but the boards are smaller and a bit more nimble, and designed for use in shallow water. With the best skimboard, you can do a load of incredible tricks, and use your board at the beach or other bodies of water such as rivers. Skimboards can also go along wet sand at beaches and you can build up a lot of speed, great for tricks and for the rush you get from most types of watersport. One of the main benefits of skimboarding is that it is pretty cheap to get started, the skimboards themselves aren’t the most expensive items, especially when compared to surf boards, and though the hobby takes a bit of getting the hang of, it can be so rewarding and fun.
As Skimboarding continues to grow and more people find out about the sport, more manufacturers are creating products! Skimboard reviews used to be hard to come by, but now it is relatively simple to make a list of the best skim boards, and to compare the features of each brand. The features of each skimboard will be appropriate for different people depending on your size and speed, so the model best for one person may not be the best for someone else. The best skimboards for beginners may not be the best for a more advanced boarder. We’ve created a handy buying guide and some skimboard reviews to make sure you pick the best for you.
Tempting as it may be to find a recommended model of skimboard and just go for it, you’re a lot better off thinking it through first, and even doing a small amount of research on the types of skimboard out there. Giving some thought to the below considerations will ensure you’re making the right choice.
Size – The boards generally are somewhere between 45 and 60 inches in height, and 17 and 23 inches wide. Which one you choose depends on how big you are, and how you plan to ride it! When finding the right height, as a general rule of thumb, it should come up to your chest when held out in front of you. If you’re not in a store and are buying online, you can quickly measure how long this is. The width and thickness are decisions you should make largely based on your level experience and how you plan to ride it. If you can handle a thinner board with less thickness in the material then you may be able to move very freely, but if you’re a beginner then this may not be advisable whilst you are finding your feet.
The following should help as a reference based on what you weigh, but can slightly vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Don’t panic, as when you choose a skimboard to buy it will tell you the recommended size of the rider.
- 80 – 140 lbs: 45″ or below (Small)
- 120 – 160 lbs: 45-47″ (M)
- 140 – 180 lbs: 47-49″(M/L)
- 160 – 200 lbs: 49-51″ (L)
- 180 – 220 lbs: 51 and up (XL)
Foam vs Wood
The material which makes up the core of your skimboard will likely be foam or wood. Some other materials such as fiberglass can be used. Foam boards are a little more expensive than the wooden boards as they have more that goes into the process of making them. “Foamies” as they’re often called by watersport enthusiasts are made to skim across waves, and they’re incredibly light and flexible. This means that even if you use them a lot or in choppier waters then they are less likely to break or warp. Wooden boards can be good for stability if you are an absolute beginner, and of course are a cheaper option, some people prefer them for non-coastal waters or calmer currents. If, however, you think you will be using your board a lot, the foam or PVC materials are probably a better option due to its flexibility and durability. You’d be forgiven for thinking that the wooden model is more durable, but due to the fact it has no flex when pressure is applied, and will simply crack or break. Some skimboards are better than others at this.
The shape of a board is also something to think about. You’re likely to hear the term ‘rocker’ when it comes to skimboards and other types of surf boards, which is basically how much of a curvature the skimboard has. A lot of curve can make it easier to maneuver through the water and the sand, but it can also make the board slower. If you want something that will be quick across the water then a shallow curve or ‘rocker’ is probably the best option for you. Tails also have different shapes, some are square or ‘W’ shaped, which are great for flexibility. A ‘pintail’ shape is better for stability and allows you to keep steady and balanced in the water.
Having talked a little about the core of a board, it should be noted that there is also a ‘wrap’ around the outside. This material has an impact on how durable a board is and even how it performs. There are a few different wraps you’re likely to come across. E-Glass is a popular choice for the cheaper, lower end models, which is pretty flexible but also not unlikely to break. Carbon is the higher end choice and makes the board very strong, even when it comes up against waves, rocks, shells and the rest of the perils of the sea! Mid range boards tend to be S-Glass or Texilium, it is much stiffer than E-Glass but doesn’t have the speed of movement you get from carbon.
The Best Skimboard Brands
There are so many models of skimboard out there, but in reality most of them are made by three or four good quality brands. One of the best ways to go through the recommended models is to discuss each brand and what they have to offer.
Zap are a very cool brand in the world of skimboards. They’re based in Florida where skimming and watersports happen all year! The build quality on these boards is excellent and you can tell just from holding one that love and care have been put into the design and manufacture. Most of their boards are made with a foam core and are renowned for flexibility, which is why a huge amount of them are used by the professional skimboarders and watersport enthusiasts, as you can see on their website.
Zap’s boards are made in the UK with quality at the forefront of their design morals, and it shows. The slogan ‘handmade in the USA’ is emblazoned with pride on their marketing material. They’ve got quite the following and even sell merchandise as well as skimboard bags.
Recommended models of Zap Skimboard:
Amp – Zap’s Amp skimboards are fast, very fast. If you’re serious about the sport and want something with some serious go across the water, this is a great option for you. It is quite a thin and streamlined model with 3/4 tapered rails allowing you both a lot of float and the ability to maneuver across the water. It is available in the bigger sizes you’re likely to see. 50, 52, 54 and 56 inch models.
Pufferfish – A much more forgiving model of skimboard. It is longer and wider than a lot of the models out there and allows you to balance with ease even in slightly choppier water. Comes in a 53 inch size which is great for most beginners and those who are back foot heavy on the board.
Zap Wedge – The manufacturer describes this as the ‘work horse’ of their skimboard lineup. It is amazing no matter what your ability and comes in three different sizes so you can find something suitable no matter what your size and style. Not only is this great for beginners, as your skills start to grow you won’t find yourself restricted by the Wedge. Strong, durable and pretty simple to get to grips with, the Wedge is an amazing skimboard and one of the most popular we’ve come across.
M5 – If you’re looking for a model that is great for professional use, the M5 has the perfect balance of speed, performance and durability and is designed to be used in a professional setting. It costs a little extra but the quality is evident.
Victoria describe themselves as ‘the original skimboard manufacturer’. They have been manufacturing from their base in California for over 40 years and have skimboards ranging from beginner models all the way up to pro models.
Grommet – The Grommet is designed for mainly smaller built users and beginners, a lot of younger people learn to skim on the Grommet board which is lightweight and flexible whilst also being durable. It is easy to stay on top of as well as having enough maneuvrability to start to learn tricks. There are five different sizes available so you can find something perfect for you, but the smaller models are definitely recommended for children and younger people to get to grips with skimming.
Bigfoot – If you have a larger build, then it can be hard to find a skimboard to use, but the problem has been addressed by Victoria who made the Bigfoot. In their words it is ‘designed to take a pounding’ and we’ve found it excellent for anyone who still wants to be able to skim but is well over 6 foot or even carrying a few extra pounds. The best skimboard for larger builds.
The Woody – The Woody has been manufactured for nearly 40 years now and is nothing short of iconic in the world of skimboards. As you might have guessed, it is made out of wood, but not just any wood, Russian Birch is used to ensure that this can take a beating and is less likely to warp or break than a lot of the lower priced wooden models you can find under $100. The Woody is an ‘all rounder’ and is good for people of all different shapes and sizes, as there are six different variations which accommodate little people (from 30 lbs) all the way up to 210 lb riders.
Budget Option – Wave Rebel Local Motion
Skimboards can cost a fair amount of money and if you’re a beginner you may want to find something that doesn’t cost the earth but can still get you started. Some beginners are looking for skimboards under $100 or even under $50, and this can sometimes be tough, though there are some wooden options available for a good price and allow you to learn the basics.
The Wave Rebel Local Motion is a board with a lot of good reviews, and while it doesn’t quite hold up to the standards of some of the elite and professional boards, it is a decent beginners option or board for the casual user.
The board is made of wood and has a slight curve, and is made with a very sturdy design, easier to stay on top of than some of the more advanced boards, and therefore great for beginners. The board has 35 inch, 40 inch and 45 inch sizes all of which have slightly different capacities.
Our guide is designed to help you to work out the ins and outs of finding an appropriate skimboard for your use, whether you are an absolute beginner or a pro. There is a board out there to suit everyone, from children to teenagers, small adults to larger builds, it is simply a case of finding which one will best suit your own body type and needs. If you have any experience with the boards mentioned above, or have another skimboard to mention, feel free to leave a comment below.
Skimboarding is one of the most thrilling watersports out there, and it is accessible and simple to get into. It can be made a lot more fun by choosing the right board for you!