Some longboarding styles, like downhill riding, involve higher speeds and, hence, more risk. Therefore, even seasoned longboarders are at risk of falling off their board. So, safety in this sport is a prime aspect to be ensured.
The good news? With the right protective gear, you can minimize or prevent various longboarding-related risks. This is because the equipment is designed to absorb impact forces in case of a crash, warding off severe injuries.
So, what longboarding protective gear do you need? In this comprehensive guide, I will discuss all the essential gear and equipment you must have to ensure your safety. Let’s explore them comprehensively.
Generally, longboarders tend to suffer more head or intracranial injuries than skateboarders, based on a 2014 study. Therefore, using the right helmet type is essential and should be strongly reinforced.
Below, I will discuss the common types of helmets for a quick overview.
This is one of the best helmets for longboarding, as it covers your entire head and face. Therefore, the helmet shields your head, face, and neck from injuries. We will elaborate on full-face helmets in a later section to give insight into this.
Skateboarding or open-face helmets are also suitable for longboarding. Unlike the full face, they don’t cover your entire face. Instead, they rest on your head, protecting the back and top from serious injuries. These helmets boast a hard ABS-plastic outer shell that can withstand crashes and falls.
BMX or half-shell helmets only protect your skull, leaving your face free for enhanced vision. They are lightweight and ideal for BMX freestyle riders, but longboarders can also use them. However, most of these helmets prioritize comfort and fit more over protection.
Wearing a properly fitting helmet is crucial in case of a fall or crash. Below are tips to help you with proper fitting and adjustment:
- Before buying the helmet, measure your head size or circumference.
- Try on different helmets in your size until you get one that fits snugly.
- Adjust the side and chin straps, ensuring they are snug and not too tight. Only one finger should fit between the strap and the chin.
- Ensure the helmet does not rock side-to-side while sitting flat on your head.
- If you can pull your helmet off while the chin strap is secured, it is too large.
Choosing the appropriate longboarding helmet is crucial for your safety and comfort. The critical factors I recommend you consider before making your purchase include:
Typically, the best helmet for longboarding should be made of durable outer shell materials like polycarbonate or ABS.
On the other hand, the inner lining should be constructed from expanded polypropylene (EPP) or expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam. These materials offer superior impact resistance.
Proper ventilation can go a long way to make your ride more comfortable. So, I suggest you get a helmet with multiple airflow channels and vents to keep you cool and prevent excessive sweating.
In addition, I suggest you consider features like built-in shatter-resistant and flip-up visors. This way, you don’t have to pair your helmet with a pair of sunglasses when it is sunny. A helmet with a visor will also protect your eyes from debris.
Certification marks mean the helmet has been tested for impact protection and meets strict safety standards. So, choose a helmet that is dual-certified by ASTM and CPSC.
Typically, the minimal certification a helmet should have is ASTM F1492. Another certification to consider is the CE standard for helmets sold in the European market.
- Fit and Comfort
Lastly, you must consider the fit of the helmet as it is essential for your comfort and safety. Find a helmet that fits snugly and with sufficient padding for maximum comfort.
To extend the lifespan of your helmet, proper care and maintenance is crucial. Here are tips to help you:
- Regularly clean the interior and exterior of the helmet.
- Only clean the helmet with a mild detergent and warm water.
- Never use solvents or thinners to clean your helmet because they can cause damage.
- Use a soft cloth to clean the helmet without applying too much pressure.
- If the inner lining and pads are removable, take them out and wash them in a solution of baby shampoo.
- Store the helmet in a soft cloth bag when not in use and away from direct sunlight.
- Inspect your helmet periodically and replace any worn-out parts.
Besides a helmet, you also need the correct pads and armor for added protection. As an avid longboard rider, I recommend the following:
You can either get softshell or hardshell knee pads. Softshells are low-profile and are constructed from flexible materials but can absorb impact. They are also exceptionally breathable.
Hardshell pads boast a plastic cover, making them bulkier. However, they offer better abrasion resistance than softshell pads.
These pads offer protection to elbow skin and bones. They are made from soft and dense foam for enhanced cushion. Generally, I recommend them for beginners. This is because experienced longboarders usually use the slide gloves once they realize they are falling over.
Wrist guards are equally important. They offer protection to the wrists in the event of a fall. These guards are made of high-density ABS splint covers for maximum impact absorption.
Downhill and freeride longboarding all involve high speeds. This means the risk of injury is higher. Therefore, I recommend wearing full-body armor for these activities. This includes:
- Full-face helmet
- Gloves with plastic slide pucks
- Knee, hip, and elbow pads
- Sunglasses or goggles with shatterproof lenses
- Well-gripped shoes
- Full-body armor suit
Pads and armor will only provide you with the necessary protection if they fit the right size. Here are suggestions for selecting the correct size to ensure a proper fit:
For the knee pads, measure above the knee cap and around the calf with your legs straight. Next, gauge your elbow’s circumference at the joint area for elbow pads.
Then, measure around your four knuckles at the widest point minus the thumb for the wrist guards. As for the armor, take the measurements of your chest, shoulders, and hips.
After taking the measurements, refer to the sizing charts of the different armor and pads.
If possible, try on the pads and armor to assess the fit. Ensure the pads fit snugly without sliding down.
Below, I have discussed the correct placement of the pads and how to secure them properly.
Place them directly over your knees and ensure the caps align with your knee joints. Then, secure the pads by tightening the straps. If you cannot bend your knees comfortably, loosen the straps slightly.
Position the pads directly over your elbows with the protective caps lined up with the joint. Next, secure the straps but not too tight to keep the pads in place.
Put your hand inside the guard. The part with the splint should face down, and your thumb passes through the side hole. Then, secure the guard with the velcro straps.
Check out these tips on how to clean and maintain your protective pads for long-lasting performance.
- Hand-wash the pads after every use using lukewarm water and a mild detergent. Then, rinse them thoroughly.
- If the pads are exceedingly dirty, soak them for at least 30 minutes in water and vinegar solution. Use about one cup of white vinegar.
- Don’t use harsh chemicals, abrasive cleaning agents, or bleach to clean the pads.
- Always let pads air dry since other heat sources can damage the padding materials.
- Inspect the pads regularly before each longboarding session for signs of wear or damage. Then, replace the damaged hardware.
- Store the pads in a dry, cool place, away from direct sunlight.
Gloves serve crucial functions in protecting your hands while longboarding. They are essential because this activity involves high speeds sometimes. So, in case of a slide or fall, your hands are usually the first to come into contact with the road.
The gloves help protect your knuckles, palms, and fingers from abrasions and cuts. And if you take a hard fall, they can minimize the severity of injuries on your hands and wrists.
Additionally, gloves keep your hands warm and dry while riding in rainy, cold, or windy weather. This enables you to enjoy the sport.
Longboarding gloves come in different styles and types to choose from. These include the following.
These are the most common types of longboarding gloves. I use them for downhill and freeride riding. The gloves are designed to let you initiate and control slides more efficiently while protecting your hands.
As the name suggests, these gloves only cover the base of your fingers and the palms. Their design allows you to perform other tasks effortlessly, like scrolling your phone. However, they don’t offer as much hand protection as other types.
These gloves offer superior wrist and lower arm protection in the event of a fall. They are equipped with wrist guards or splints to prevent injuries. Generally, I highly recommend them to riders who have suffered wrist injuries in the past.
Downhill gloves are constructed from more robust materials because of the aggressive nature of downhill riding. In addition, they boast reinforced fingertips and replaceable sliders for enhanced hand protection.
When choosing longboarding gloves, I suggest choosing ones with durable materials and reinforced palm pucks. This is for the following reasons:
- Maximum hand protection against road rash and abrasions.
- Increased longevity of the gloves.
- The reinforced palm plucks offer enhanced control and stability during slides.
- It is ideal for various longboarding styles like freeride and downhill.
- Improved wrist support.
Typically, longboarding gloves are available in 3 different material types. These include leather, neoprene, and synthetic fiber. Leather is the most durable material with the best abrasion properties. However, leather gloves are a bit expensive but worth the investment.
Neoprene gloves are soft, flexible, and offer great impact protection. They are also waterproof. However, they are not as breathable as those made from leather.
As for gloves made from synthetic fiber materials like kevlar, they are the most affordable and ideal for beginners. Although they offer adequate protection, they are not the most durable.
When it comes to palm pucks, you can choose those constructed from UHMWPE or POM plastic materials.
Typically, pucks made from Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) offer the best resistance for controlling slides. Their level of protection is also better than pucks made from Polyoxymethylene (POM). This is because UHMWPE is about 15 times more wear resistant than POM.
When buying gloves, proper fitting is crucial in ensuring they offer maximum protection and comfort. To ensure the correct fit, I advise you to measure around the fullest part of your palm, except the thumb.
Next, compare the measurements to the size chart provided by the glove manufacturer. If possible, always try on the gloves before making your purchase and ensure they fit snugly.
As for caring for your gloves to ensure their longevity, here are tips to help you:
- Regularly hand wash the gloves with mild soap and warm or cold water.
- Remove the slide pucks before washing the gloves if they are detachable.
- If the gloves are machine-washed safe, use cold water and mild soap.
- Do not store the gloves damp.
- Air dry the gloves, but avoid exposing them to direct sunlight for longer periods.
- Store the gloves flat or hang them by the cuffs when not in use.
If you often engage in freeride, downhill, and other longboarding styles, I recommend getting slide gloves.
They serve different purposes and boast various benefits, like the following.
Slide gloves prevent road rash, a common injury if you fall off on the pavement. They also protect against impact, fractures, cuts, and abrasions. This is thanks to their durable materials and slide pucks.
The gloves boast slide pucks on the fingers and palms. These pucks minimize friction, allowing you to control your board’s speed when riding downhill.
Slide gloves offer added grip and protection. Therefore, when wearing them, you can effortlessly execute slides and make different maneuvers.
Compared to other glove types, slide gloves offer a lot of versatility. You can use them for various longboarding styles without sacrificing your safety.
Slide gloves consist of various components designed to enhance their function during slides. These include:
The gloves boast reinforced palm pucks, allowing you to initiate and control slides with your hands on the road. These pucks can be replaced to suit your preferences.
Some gloves also feature pucks on the fingers for additional control. I find these pucks very useful for beginner longboarders. This is because they often drag their fingers while sliding, causing tears on the glove’s fingertips.
Apart from your fingers and palm, your thumb can also be vulnerable during impacts. Thumb pucks come in handy in offering added protection.
When using slide gloves to control slides and drifts, the correct approach is crucial. Here, I will discuss the different techniques you can utilize.
- Always place your gloved hand ahead of your board’s front or back wheels based on the slide’s direction.
- Position your body weight to the side or onto your back foot while you initiate the slide. This helps create balance and control.
- Your fingers should always be pointed in the direction of your slide.
- Use your gloved hand to apply pressure to the ground when initiating a slide or drift.
- Look in the direction you want to slide for improved control.
With proper maintenance and puck replacement, you can extend the lifespan of your slide gloves. Below, I have compiled tips to help you with this.
- Clean the gloves regularly with mild soap and cold water after use.
- Only air dry the gloves.
- Don’t leave the gloves exposed to direct sunlight.
- Inspect the gloves and the pucks regularly for wear and tear. Then, repair or replace them.
- Before replacing the pucks, clean the attachment area to remove any dirt or adhesive residue. This will ensure a strong bond.
Full-face helmets can be a little more expensive than their counterparts. Fortunately, they offer many advantages for downhill and high-speed longboarding. These include:
- Complete head protection, including the face and chin area.
- Keeping dirt, debris, and bugs out of your face and eyes.
- Prevents facial injuries.
- Well-ventilated to keep your head cool even on hot weather days.
- Reduces wind noise when riding at high speeds.
With so many full-face helmet brands on the market, knowing what features to look out for in a quality helmet is crucial. Check for the following features in the full-face helmet you are going to pick.
A quality full-face helmet should be made of sturdy and impact-resistant materials. The best shell materials are fiberglass, carbon fiber, Kevlar, polycarbonate, and composites.
Full-face helmets cover your entire head and face. Therefore, without proper ventilation, they can cause heat buildup. Owing to this, I recommend finding a helmet with ventilation systems to help dissipate heat.
Another feature to look out for is whether the helmet meets safety standards set by organizations like ASTM and CPSC. These certifications guarantee that the helmet is made with durability in mind.
A quality helmet should have a good fit to ensure it does not come loose, exposing your head. In this regard, I suggest you choose a helmet with adjustable and secure straps.
I recommend getting a helmet backed by a warranty for added peace of mind. At least a one-year warranty against manufacturing defects is good enough.
To ensure a proper fit of your full-face helmet, take your head’s measurements. Then, refer to the manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine your size.
Next, try on the helmet, ensuring it fits snugly and not overly tight by adjusting the straps. Start by altering the chin straps and then the side straps.
Additionally, ensure the helmet is level on your head to ensure a proper fit. Simply, it should not be tilted to either side. If it is, adjust the straps to keep it level.
After using the helmet, it will be moisturized due to heat and sweat. So, you should clean it properly to maintain its resilience and durability. Here is how you can do so.
- Step 1: Remove the padding, inner lining, and visor if detachable.
- Step 2: Soak the helmet and liners in a bucket filled with warm water and baby shampoo for at least 15 minutes. You can also use mild laundry detergent.
- Step 3: Use a microfiber cloth or soft bristle toothbrush to clean the helmet, including the vents.
- Step 4: Rinse the helmet with lots of clean water and let it air dry away from direct sunlight.
- Step 5: Store the helmet in a cool, dry place and away from extreme temperatures if not in use.
Proper footwear for longboarding is a must. It is related to your safety, comfort, and reliability.
From my personal experience, there are many benefits that come with wearing the appropriate shoes when longboarding. These include the following.
The appropriate shoes for longboarding provide foot support, preventing injuries. They also offer stability, especially during downhill riding.
With the right longboarding shoes, you can feel the board beneath your feet. This feeling is essential for maximum control when riding.
The right longboarding shoes also allow you to comfortably ride your board for extended hours. This is because they have padded collars and cushioned insoles to reduce pressure points.
You are less likely to slip and fall if you have the appropriate longboarding shoes. This is because the shoes have better grip than their regular counterparts.
The ideal longboarding footwear should offer a combination of various features, such as:
The sole of longboarding shoes is made of durable rubber material, ensuring better grip and traction on the board. This feature comes in handy when performing various maneuvers and slides.
Longboarding tends to put so much wear and tear on shoes. Therefore, I suggest you buy shoes constructed from durable materials like leather and suede.
Another feature of longboarding shoes is they provide ankle support, especially during high-impact landing. This helps prevent injuries. It does not matter whether you choose a high-top, low-top or mid-top shoes.
Longboarding shoes are built with flat soles. This helps ensure better contact with the deck’s grip tape. As a result, you get to enjoy more precise board control and stability.
Your feet are likely to become sweaty during those long rides. Longboarding shoes with breathable mesh ensure maximum air circulation, keeping your feet dry.
With longboarding, you can choose between skate shoes and other options like sneakers, running shoes, and cross-trainers. But do you have to make the choice?
The answer is yes. This is because the right shoes can enhance your longboarding performance, comfort, and safety while riding. On the other hand, the wrong shoes can cause foot fatigue or expose your feet to injuries. So, which option is better?
Unlike the other options, skate shoes are designed for skateboarding. Therefore, they offer features that cater to the demands of the sport, such as enhanced grip, impact absorption, and support. As such, you can use them for longboarding too.
However, the choice between using skate shoes and other options is always a personal decision. This is because everyone’s feet are different and what works for me may not work for you. But whichever shoe options you go with, you should ensure they offer the following features:
- Adequate cushioning and support for your feet
- Grippy outsole to ensure adequate traction on the board
- Reinforced heel for maximum protection
- Durable construction like suede or leather materials
Proper care is the only way your longboarding shoes will last and offer the best protection. Here are tips to help with this and replacement recommendations.
- Clean the shoes after every longboarding session with mild soap or wet cloth.
- Keep the shoes away from heat.
- Store the shoes in a ventilated space when not in use.
- Repair your footwear at the first signs of wear to extend its lifespan.
- Replace the shoes at least every 6 months, depending on how often you longboard.
Having the appropriate garments for longboarding is essential because of the nature of the sport. But what role does clothing play in longboarding safety? I will tell you below.
Here are the advantages you will get from longboard-specified clothes.
Falls and slides are common when longboarding. Wearing the appropriate garments can protect you from abrasions, impact, and harsh weather elements like wind and rain.
Clothing with reflective elements makes you more visible when riding in low-light conditions. This helps reduce the risk of accidents on the road.
Longboarding clothing comes in many options to ensure maximum safety. These include the following.
Also known as slide gloves, sliders offer protection to your hands. I highly recommend them to longboarders who are into sliding and cruising downhill.
Padded or impact shorts provide protection to your butt, hip, tailbone, and thigh area. The shorts boast a tailbone protector, foam padding, and breathable mesh fabric for maximum comfort and safety.
Armored jackets offer complete upper body protection against road rash, wind, and impacts. They feature padding and breathable fabric to keep your body cool.
These are common among downhill racers. The suits or onesies are one-piece, providing full-body protection from the shoulders to the legs.
Different longboarding styles call for specific clothing types. So, I will tell you exactly how to choose clothing based on your riding style and protection needs.
If you are a downhill or freeride longboarder, your clothing should comprise a full-face helmet. You also need knee and elbow pads, wrist guards, slide gloves, an armored jacket, and impact shorts. This is because this riding style exposes you to more risks.
This riding style involves lots of jumping, spinning, standing up, board dancing, and flipping. So, you can wear a half-face helmet, wrist guards, padded shorts, pads, and high-top skate shoes.
Cruising longboarding style allows you to get around places. The style is not aggressive. Therefore, I recommend getting comfortable and reflective clothing. You also need a half-face helmet and grippy skate shoes. Impact shorts are optional.
With proper care and washing, you can maintain the effectiveness of your protective clothing. Check out these care tips.
- Hand wash the clothing with mild detergent and lukewarm water.
- Only machine-wash the clothing if the manufacturer’s care instructions say it is safe.
- Spot clean the pants and armored jacket using a damp cloth to remove minor stains.
- Rinse the clothing with clean water and let them air dry.
- Store the gear in a clean and dry place, away from extreme temperatures.
Impact shorts offer hips and tailbone protection. But what are their benefits? Well, by protecting your hips and tailbone, the shorts reduce the risk of injury during hard landings or falls.
In addition, the shorts help boost your confidence, allowing you to try new riding tricks. After all, you don’t have to worry much about injuries in the event of a fall.
Another benefit is their ease of use. Simply, putting on and taking off the shorts is easy. In addition, the shorts allow a full range of motion, allowing you to maintain your agility.
Like with other protective gear, there are several features you must consider before buying impact shorts. Check them out.
The shorts must have enough padding configured on the tailbone, hips, and thighs. Typically, EVA foam is the best padding for providing effective cushioning.
Another feature to consider is the breathability of the shorts. This is because when riding aggressively, you can become overly sweaty. So, choose shorts made from breathable materials or mesh.
I recommend getting impact shorts constructed from materials that flex and allow freedom of movement. The materials can be lycra, nylon, or polyester.
Lastly, you must consider the fit of the shorts. I suggest choosing shorts with adjustable straps or an elastic waistband to ensure a secure fit.
Padded shirts offer additional protection to various high-impact areas, including the shoulders, back, and chest. They are armored with high-density foam in these areas to absorb impact and reduce the risk of injury.
Besides offering protection, the shirts also keep you dry and comfortable. This is because they are made from sweat-wicking materials. And just like the impact shorts, they also allow a full range of motion.
Impact shorts and shirts will only provide their intended protection if you choose the correct size and fit. If the shorts and shirts are too tight, they will restrict your movement. And if they are too loose, they will not absorb impacts effectively.
Here is how to ensure you choose the correct size:
- Measure the primary body areas, including the hips, waist, shoulders, and chest.
- Check the manufacturer’s sizing chart and choose a size based on your measurements.
- Try on the shirts and shorts before buying.
- Read online reviews from riders who have used similar brands or models of shorts and shirts.
- Ensure the shorts have adjustable waistbands or straps to help you customize the fit.
Safeguarding your eyes is very important during longboarding. But why, you ask? Here are the reasons:
- Goggles and eyewear protect your eyes from debris, bugs, dust, dirt, and other pollutants that could irritate them.
- They shield your eyes from wind effects, rain, snow, and other weather elements that could potentially affect your vision.
- They reduce sun glare while protecting your eyes from harmful UV radiation when riding on sunny days.
- Goggles and eyewear minimize eye fatigue, enabling you to ride for extended periods comfortably.
- They prevent severe eye injuries in the event of a serious crash.
If you are not sure which goggles to get for longboarding, below, I have discussed the different types.
As the name implies, these goggles boast clear lenses. Therefore, they are an excellent choice for longboarding in low-light areas since they don’t reduce glare or brightness.
Unlike the clear goggles, these have tinted lenses to reduce glare and protect your eyes from the sun. The goggles come in various tint colors to choose from.
For example, there are darker tints ideal for bright, sunny days. Also, there are lighter tints suitable for longboarding in low-light conditions.
Full-seal or wraparound goggles offer complete eye protection from harmful UV rays, wind, and debris. They boast a soft gasket that seals the goggles against the face. Therefore, I highly recommend them for downhill and high-speed longboarding.
For your safety, you must choose goggles that offer a comfortable and fog-free fit. Below, I will explain how exactly to achieve this.
- Try on different goggles and choose a pair that fits the width of your face. This is because goggles have different shapes and sizes.
- Choose goggles with adjustable straps for ease of customizing the fit.
- Test the suction of the goggles by pressing them firmly against your face. If well fitting, the eyewear should suction to your face without any air leaks.
- Choose goggles with anti-fog coatings to prevent fogging.
- Always adjust the nose bridge of the goggles to ensure a better seal.
- Consider getting goggles with double-layer lenses to reduce fogging.
Proper cleaning and maintenance can help prolong the life of your longboarding eyewear. Below, I will list down some tips to help you.
- Use a lens cleaning solution specifically formulated for eyewear to clean your goggles.
- Use a microfiber cloth to wipe the lenses gently in a circular motion to avoid scratching them. You can also use the cloth to clean the other eyewear parts.
- If the lenses have excessive dirt, rinse them under running lukewarm water. Then, use a lint-free cloth to pat them dry.
- Inspect the eyewear periodically for wear and loose screws or hinges. Then, replace or retighten them.
- Store your eyewear in a clean protective case to shield them against dust and scratches.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaning solutions, materials, or methods since they could damage the lens coatings.
Wearing protective gear when longboarding is highly recommended for your own safety. This is because, according to research, longboarding injuries account for a higher prevalence rate of critical head fractures than skateboarding injuries.
However, longboarding gear can vary from one manufacturer to another in terms of quality. Therefore, even if you are on a budget, I commend investing in high-quality equipment. Not only for its durability but also for your safety.
And if you want to enjoy the thrill of longboarding, take your time to learn different riding techniques while staying safe. Also, avoid using your phone or participating in distracting activities while riding.