Longboarding, somewhat unfairly, never seemed to earn the cool cultural credibility as its sibling, skateboarding. Skateboarding-inspired clothing brands like Supreme will have people lining up around the block, and artists and designers collaborate on skate deck designs all the time. But longboarding’s un-flashy nature is actually part of its appeal. Skateboarding is showy by design because it emphasizes tricks, and skate culture reflects that. But if you think of a person on a longboard, you might imagine someone on a college campus, wearing a backpack and zipping their way to class. That’s because longboards are made for cruising, and cruising is up there with “moseying” for the most leisurely ways to get around.
There are a few reasons longboards are easier to ride for longer distances than skateboards. The first, and most obvious, is the size. A larger deck to stand on is simply more comfortable for extended periods. The wheels of a longboard are also typically softer, making for a smoother ride over rough ground. Another major factor is the flexibility of the board; longboards rotate side-to-side fairly easily, which makes turning easier compared to a stiff skateboard. That’s also not to say that longboarding is all leisure. Downhill longboarding is as extreme a sport as it gets.
Once you understand the basic differences, choosing between a skateboard and a longboard is pretty easy (not that you can’t buy both). But actually choosing a longboard can present a challenge. The shape of a skateboard is pretty much the same no matter which you choose. But there’s a tremendous amount of variation in longboard shapes. And, beyond aesthetics, there are substantive differences between the shapes.
There are several variants of pintails, and these have a sort of teardrop shape. They’re generally less stable but more maneuverable. Drop-through shapes are another kind, and they have a more aggressive angular shape. These are less maneuverable but more stable. There are also drop-decks, cruisers, and a whole bunch of other shapes. But perhaps the best way to choose between them is taking a look at some of the best longboards available right now, which we’ve listed for you below.
1. Quest The Super Cruiser Longboard
The look of a longboard is hardly the most important thing about it, but it doesn’t hurt to have a beautiful one. This option fits the bill. It has a cruiser shape with a kicktail, and the bottom has light wood paneling with a simple black design. The board is made from multi-ply hardwood maple and bamboo, making it both good-looking and durable. At 44 inches, it has a fairly long deck, so it may not be the best option for shorter skaters.
Pros: Good-looking shiny deck made with bamboo and maple. Affordable board for the quality.
Cons: May be too wobbly a ride for some.
2. Retrospec Zed Bamboo Longboard
As the name Retrospec might imply, the brand excels at vintage-inspired designs. They’re best known for their bicycles, but the same goes for their longboards. You can choose between a variety of designs, and the bottoms of the boards have a wood-paneled look with a contrasting design such as marbled paint, an ombre sunset, or tropical flowers. Likewise, you can choose between pintail or cruiser designs. The board is made from maple and bamboo, and the board has a substantial 41-inch length, making it suited to taller people. The board uses 70mm polyurethane wheels.
Pros: Variety of stylish vintage designs to choose from, made from durable bamboo and Canadian maple. Lightweight aluminum trucks.
Cons: Somewhat rigid given its large size. Trucks can be squeaky out of the box.
3. Playshion Drop Through Longboard
If you prefer a drop-through design, this 39-inch option from Playshion is a solid, affordable pick. It’s a good option for beginners, as well, because it’s fairly easy to get the hang of. There are a variety of designs available, including this beach-inspired deck. The board uses soft, 70mm polyurethane wheels. The drop-through design means it’s closer to the ground, adding stability. As an added bonus, they include a skate tool to make adjustments.
Pros: Affordable board with a drop-through design that makes it closer to the ground and more stable. Available in a variety of stylish designs. Comes with an adjustment tool.
Cons: Trucks may need to be tightened out of the box.
4. White Wave Bamboo Longboard Skateboard Complete
This longboard from White Wave is made from a mix of bamboo and Canadian maple, and the clear grip tape means you can see the wood from the top of the board, as well as the bottom. That gives it a highly unique look compared with the usual black grip tape that most boards use. This particular board features a drop-through design, but you can also choose from other designs like drop decks. The wheels are 70mm high rebound urethane, and the bearings are a smooth ABEC 9.
Pros: Unique look featuring clear grip tape that allows you to see the bamboo board from the top, ABEC 9 bearings. Smooth riding.
Cons: May need adjustments out of the box.
5. Atom Drop Deck Longboard
This longboard has a unique drop-deck design –– the middle of the board is very low to the ground, and the ends are slightly elevated to accommodate the trucks and wheels. The fact that it’s very low to the ground makes it highly stable, so it’s good for carving downhills and traveling at high speeds. The board itself is 41-inches long and it’s made from maple. The wheels are 70mm and have a bright orange look with a playful design reading “AREA 51.”
Pros: “Drop deck” means the board is low to the ground. As such, it’s more stable, so it’s well-suited to both uncoordinated beginners as well as pros looking to go down steep hills.
Cons: Grip tape could be applied more securely, and may be prone to peeling.
6. Atom Drop Through Longboard 40 Inch
Another option from Atom is this drop-through longboard, (not to be confused with the drop deck). The board is made from a hybrid bamboo/maple laminate, and it’s 40-inches long. The bearings are ABEC-9, making for a more smooth ride than ABEC-7 bearings or lower-rated options. The bottom of the board features a wood-paneled look with an intricate tribal-inspired black print featuring the name of the brand. The wheels are a comfortably large 70mm.
Pros: Smooth ride with ABEC-9 bearings and large, soft wheels. Wood made from a mix of sturdy maple and flexible bamboo.
Cons: May be squeaky out of the box, meaning the trucks could need adjusting.
7. VOLADOR 42inch Freeride Longboard Complete Cruiser
Another option with a drop-through design is this pick from Volador. There are over a dozen designs available for the bottom of the deck, and the top features a unique outline design of a koi fish. The wheels are a fairly standard 70mm soft polyurethane. The board itself has a slightly cambered shape, meaning that the center of the board curves upward and the ends are angled downward, which adds shock absorption and flexibility. The board is made out of an 8-ply hard maple.
Pros: Affordable drop-through cambered board, very grippy grip tape makes for a secure ride, and it’s easy to turn.
Cons: Bearings are not the highest quality, and may be worth replacing.