How To Choose A Good Skim Board

by Nov 24, 20210 comments

Skimboarding is a pretty straightforward sport: you run along the shoreline of a body of water with a flat board in your hands, you throw the board ahead of you, run after it, jump on it, and glide across the water’s surface, either meeting an incoming wave and riding it (beach style) or simply carrying on gliding (inland style). And it is precisely the fact that it is a straightforward sport that, ever since it began back in the 1920s in Laguna Beach, California, has allowed it to gain increasing popularity and spread all over the world.

But despite its structural simplicity, finding the right board to place under your feet may not be that simple – especially if you are new to the world of boardsports. Besides, since we all have different goals and riding styles, choosing a good skimboard becomes a rather subjective matter. To say nothing of budgets! Nevertheless, there are still a few pointers that can come in handy when thinking of what kind of board to spend money on.

The first thing to remember is that skimboards are not hats: like surfboards, skimboards don’t come in a one-size-fits-all. And just like with surfboards, a range of elements (the rider’s weight and height, his/her skill level and riding style, the type of wave he/she is likely to ride, the skimming speed, as well as the board’s dimensions, rocker, and core material) comes into play when choosing the best model for you.

In this article, we will discuss the main things you need to know when buying a skimboard. The purpose of this guide for choosing a skimboard is to outline the main characteristics of boards so that you can make up your own mind about what will/might work best for you. For that, we will assume that you are a beginner but know the basics of skimboarding.

What to look for when buying a skimboard
Let’s get straight to it. In order to buy a skimboard that is both of good quality and good for you, there are a few factors you should consider. Below we have outlined the main things you should look for when buying a skimboard.
The two main core materials used in the construction of most skimboards are wood and foam. Since they differ in many aspects – from durability to price, weight to wave type – it is important to know what each one is best for what so you can decide which best suits your needs.

Type / Material

The two main core materials used in the construction of most skimboards are wood and foam. Since they differ in many aspects – from durability to price, weight to wave type – it is important to know what each one is best for what so you can decide which best suits your needs.

  • Wood: Wood-core skimboards tend to be stiffer and heavier (though less chunky) than their counterparts, meaning they sink more easily. As such, these types of skimboards are most commonly used in less agitated bodies of water (lakes, creeks, puddles, etc.) or sand-only skimming at beaches. That said, wood boards are considered to be faster than foam boards; this will depend, of course, on the rider’s speed and technique. Another curious design aspect to note about wood skimboards is that, more often than not, they will feature a square tail (see Shape section below) and more surface area than foam-core boards. Because of their more accessible price, beginners often opt for wood skimboards when getting started. Those who like performing tricks – as opposed to riding waves – also usually prefer wood boards to foam. On the other hand, wood-core crafts aren’t as durable as foam-core ones.
  • Foam: Foam-core skimboards (aka foamies) tend to be thicker and lighter than wood-core ones; their tail is generally pin-shaped (see Shape section below) and many of them look like a mini surfboard. Given the properties of the material, foam boards also provide more flexibility than wood boards. Hence, these types of skimboards are the go-to option for more agitated bodies of water with irregular surfaces and rougher currents; they are particularly good for wave skimming. Finally, when it comes to speed, foam boards are generally seen as “slower” than wood ones; they rely more on the rider’s skill and the speed of the wave itself. Due to the aforementioned characteristics, foam skimboards are generally recommended for medium-to-advanced level riders. And again, because these are more durable and flexible boards, their price also tends to be higher.

Size

Another aspect of skimboards that it is important to understand before forking out for a new board is how the dimensions work. To use the example of surfboards again…skimboards vary greatly in length (between 45 and 60 inches / 115 and 150 centimetres) and width (between 17 and 25 inches / 45 and 65 centimetres).

Thickness-wise, you will find boards as thin as 3/8 inches / 1 centimetres, up to around 1 inch / 2.5 centimetres. Thickness is an important aspect to factor in because this will have a direct influence on how responsive the board is (the thinner the more responsive), as well as how well it glides across the water (the thicker the more buoyant).

As for the weight of a skimboard, it will vary according to the core material. Wooden skimboards range between 18-22 pounds/81- kilograms, whereas foam boards generally weigh anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds / 1.5 to 2.5 kilograms – which is a huge difference!

When it comes to determining the size of your skimboard, the main sub-factors you should consider are your height and weight, followed by your skill level and the skimboarding conditions and, perhaps just as important but relatively underestimated – your running speed.

  • Height: As a rule of thumb, look for a skimboard that comes up to the height of your chest. Too small of a skimboard will feel too skittish and hard to control (especially for beginners); too big a skimboard will feel cumbersome and slow. Next, think about your weight…
  • Weight: Different skimboard manufacturers provide different weight-to-size recommendations, so your weight will always correlate with the size of the board. Therefore, the heavier you are, the larger the size of the board. Skimboard sizes start from XXS and go until XXL, with XS, S, M, ML, L, and XL in between. (See size chart below for general guidelines of rider weight x board size).
  • Skill Level: Beginners should always start with longer and wider boards – period. This is important because, given the larger surface area, they will be able to balance a lot more easily, and thus improve more quickly. Larger and wider boards also have a direct influence on weight distribution, which facilitates skimming. Then, the more experienced you get, the smaller your board can be, as reduced dimensions provide more manoeuvrability.
  • Skimboarding Conditions: Beaches with softer waves and/or bodies of water with calmer water surfaces call for longer and heavier boards that generate more speed. On the contrary, beaches with rougher and bigger waves and/or choppier conditions are best ridden with smaller skimboards that allow for more manoeuvrability.
  • Speed: After your weight, your running speed is probably the most determinant factor when choosing the right size skimboard. In a nutshell, the faster you can run, the easier you can skim and the faster you can catch waves. That is because fast runners can achieve more buoyancy when riding, so they needn’t as big of a board as someone who is light but can’t run very fast.

How to choose a good skim board

Shape

The shape of a skimboard entails four main elements – the outline, the rocker, the tail shape, and the wrap.

Outline

  • Symmetrical/Twintip: As the name suggests, symmetrical skimboards, are the ones in which both sides and both look the same, that is, the nose and tail have the same shape. These types of outlines are mostly used in inland bodies of water, and are great for performing tricks. Within the Twintip kind, we also have the Proto and the Streamline types. The first is known for providing more stability, whereas the latter is great for manoeuvring.
  • Asymmetrical: Asymmetrical skimboards, on the other hand, feature different shape noses and tails. They are ideal for wave skimming.

Rocker 

  • Shallow: A shallow rocker means that the curvature of the skimboard’s nose is flatter. If you buy a board with a shallow rocker you can expect it to perform faster, and thus be more suitable for calmer waters.
  • Steep: Skimboards with steeper rockers will have an increased inclination in the nose. The steeper the rocker, the better the board is likely to perform in bigger and chopping wave conditions. That said, it is important to note that steep rocker skimboards can slow you down – especially if you are not used to it.

Tail

  • Pintail: This is a great option for those who seek more balance when skimming.
  • Square: Square-tail skimboards provide the rider with more agility and flexibility, hence its popularity for doing tricks.
  • W-Tail/Swallow: Similar to the square tail, a skimboard with a w-tail will be more agile and flexible in the water. Because of their similarities, choosing between the two often turns out to be a matter of aesthetics more than performance.

How to choose a good skim board

Wrap (the material that wraps the core; big influence on durability)

  • Carbon: Of all materials currently used for wrapping skimboards, carbon is considered the toughest one – as well as the most expensive. Skimboards wrapped with carbon can pretty much withstand all sorts of impact and conditions – whether on land or in the water – with the downside being that they usually feel stiffer under the rider’s feet.
  • E-Glass: This is the most popular material used for wrapping skimboard cores. That said, it is also the weakest, meaning it is not as durable. The biggest upside of E-glass is the increased flexibility, which makes it easier to manoeuvre than carbon, for instance.
  • S-Glass: S-glass sits between carbon and E-glass in terms of flexibility, durability, and price. Therefore, they can be the ideal option for beginners with a slightly higher budget

How Much Does A Skimboard Cost?

When it comes to the cost of a skimboard, we can divide it into two price ranges: “prices for beginners” and “prices for experienced”. The first would entail that you will be skimboarding once a week on average, whereas the second is for those who want to practice the sport more regularly whilst also demanding more of their equipment in terms of performance.

Another important factor in the price of a skimboard is the core material. Wood, which is recommended for beginners, tends to be cheaper and durable enough for the sort of use someone who is just getting started would have. Meanwhile, foam skimboards, whose durability is better than wooden ones, will also cost you more.

With that in mind, beginners can expect to pay not more than US$100 for a wood core skimboard. Intermediate and/or advanced riders, on the other hand, will be looking at anything from US$200 and US$400 for a good-quality foam core skimboard. Still, if you are a beginner who is considering spending a lot of time skimming, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a top-notch wood skimboard; after all, you will always be able to use it for flatland skimming.

Skimboard Size Chart

Rider Weight Skimboard Model Skimboard Dimensions
> 80 lbs | > 35 kg XXS 45.00'' x 19.00''
80 – 100 lbs | 35 – 45 kg XS 48.00'' x 19.25''
100 – 140 lbs | 45 – 65 kg S 51.00'' x 19.75''
120 – 160 lbs | 55 – 75 kg M 52.00'' x 20.00''
140 – 180 lbs | 65 – 80 kg ML 52.25'' x 20.25''
160 – 200 lbs | 75 – 90 kg L 52.50'' x 20.50''
180 – 220 lbs | 80 – 100 kg XL 53.00'' x 20.75''
200 – 240 lbs | 90 – 110 kg XXL 54.00'' x 21.50''

Final Thoughts

Whether you are rock climbing or skimboarding, one thing we as consumers pay attention to is brands. Consciously or unconsciously, we establish the quality of a certain gear based on the notion that the more well-known the brand, the better the equipment they produce. As such, it helps to know what names to give preference to – and which to steer clear from!

Below is a list of the three best skimboard manufacturers in the market, so you can have a rough idea of what brands should look out for when stepping into your local outdoor store or when browsing for a skimboard online.

Victoria Skimboards: Hailing from the same region as skimboarding itself (Laguna Beach, California), Victoria Skimboards is arguably the most solid brand out there. It was started back in 1976 by Charles “Tex” Haines (a local skimboarding legend) and his partner Peter Prietto, both of whom have plenty of years of experience with the sport to support their designs. In other words, if you have the budget for it, going for a Victoria Skimboards board – whether you are a beginner who is into sand skimming or an advanced rider looking to push the limits of wave riding – is the safest bet quality-wise.

Zap Skimboards: Established in 1983 by Robert Smetts, a skimboarding prodigy, Zap Skimboards has grown to be the world’s largest skimboard manufacturer. Nowadays, Zap prides itself in producing some of the best high-performance boards in the world, hence the brand’s continuous apparitions in competitions across the globe. Whilst they also make boards for beginners and intermediate level riders, their strong point is the designs made for advanced and pro skimboarders.

Exile Skimboards: The youngest of the three brands, Exile Skimboard was set up in 2002 in San Clemente, California. Nonetheless, owners Andy Chiavetta and Aaron Peluso have managed to quickly make a name for themselves, thus rendering Exile one of the world’s most popular skimboarding brands. Much like Zap, they tend to focus on producing first-rate boards for high performance. That said, they also have a range of beginner-to-intermediate designs, as well as offering the option to build your very own custom board.

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