I have never injured myself longboarding and I’ve been longboarding for the last three years. I don’t wear a helmet. That being said I don’t longboard in the street, don’t do downhill longboarding and I skateboarded before hopping on a longboard.
Is Longboarding Dangerous?
Statistics show that longboarders are at a higher risk of head and neck injuries compared to skateboarders. Does this mean you shouldn’t longboard?
Longboarders infrequently get injured, but statistically are more prone to head and neck injuries when compared to skateboarders. In my experience, if someone is not pushing themselves or longboarding in the street with cars, then the risk of injury is incredibly low. In fact, longboarding sidewalks with a helmet is probably the safest variation of a board sport that you can do.
I’ve never been injured from longboarding and none of my friends who I’ve taught have been injured. In fact, some friends literally have never taken a fall from longboarding. The learning curve with longboarding is very easy and you will be confidently riding in no time.
If you’re curious about whether learning to longboard is hard or not, check out our guide with tips to get started.
Is Longboarding or Skateboarding More Dangerous?
Skateboarding, longboarding, and all board sports have an inherent risk with them. You’re literally on a piece of wood with wheels riding over concrete.
But what is more dangerous skateboarding or longboarding?
Longboarders are at a higher risk for neck and head injuries which can be severe and have life-long effects. However, skateboarders are more likely to get injured than longboarders albeit these injuries might just be a sprained ankle or something minor. If you are skateboarding to learn tricks, you will eventually get injured. However, there are longboarders who never get injured.
If you wear a helmet, don’t push yourself, and ride on sidewalks then longboarding is incredibly safe. Once you know how to ride you will virtually never fall down. I’ve taught friends to longboard who never once fell.
The contrary is that I’ve never known a skateboarder who tries tricks that hasn’t been injured at some point. These injuries might be very minor, but they are much more frequent in skateboarding.
The riskiest factor with longboarding is longboarding in the street as you cannot control what cars will do. An incident with a car can be absolutely fatal so be sure to be very aware and cautious while cruising the streets. Otherwise, you will just need to watch out for pedestrians on the sidewalk. Make noise when you are coming up behind someone so they know you’re about to pass. The sound of your wheels might be enough to warn someone.
Do I Need a Helmet for Longboarding?
Sometimes it’s hard to know what safety gear you need to longboard especially as a beginner.
If you are a beginner or are riding in the streets, then you will need a helmet. The risk of being hit by a car is something that you can’t predict. If you do have an accident with a car while on a longboard, a helmet could save your life. Even on a sidewalk, there can be unpredictable pedestrians or animals so a helmet is never a bad idea.
I have honestly taught people to longboard with no protective gear at all, but this was in an open park with no cars and almost no people around. When cruising in streets or around people, a helmet is essential. You can get away with skipping the knee pad and elbow pads once you can ride comfortably.
Do I Need Elbow and Knee Pads for Longboarding?
If you are experienced cruising on a longboard, then you do not need elbow and knee pads. If you are a beginner, are doing downhill longboarding, or are doing tricks, then elbow and knee pads are needed.
Whether or not you need pads depends on how comfortable you are on your longboard. This comes pretty quickly for most people. Once you are comfortable on your longboard, you will not really need knee pads or elbow pads. Of course, if you are not very flexible, older, or just not confident in your longboarding then having elbow and knee pads is never a bad option. You make the call here.
Again, this applies only to cruising on a longboard. If you are doing tricks, downhill longboarding, or other style variations then elbow and knee pads are essential for your own safety.
Longboarding Protective Gear (PPE)
As most longboarders will just be cruising, the protective gear or PPE is a bit less intensive than if you were skateboarding.
Let’s look at a quick breakdown:
|Experience Level||Situation||Protective Gear Needed|
|Beginner||All||Helmet, knee and elbow pads, and wrist guards|
|Experienced||Cruising on the sidewalk and in parks||Gear is optional|
|Experienced||Cruising in streets||Helmet, other gear is optional|
|Experienced||Downhill longboarding or other style variation||Helmet, elbow and knee pads, wrist guards, thick clothing so skin not exposed|
A helmet is a no-brainer for longboarding, skateboarding, and most high-impact sports.
As a beginner, you will need a helmet. If you plan on cruising in the streets, then you will need a helmet. An accident with a car could be due to no fault of your own and yet be fatal.
Some people don’t want to wear this as they feel like a helmet isn’t cool. This especially applies to kids and teenagers, but your safety is more important than being cool.
A life-long head injury isn’t worth looking cool while you longboard. Though there are some pretty sleek-looking helmets out there.
How Can I Measure My Helmet Size?
To ensure a perfect fit, measure the circumference of your head starting in the middle of your forehead and match it with the sizes in each company’s respective size chart. You can use a measuring tape to do so.
Below is the size chart from Triple8. These sizes will be similar to other companies, but you always should check the proper size chart before ordering.
If your measurements are in-between the sizes shown or you’re simply in doubt, then I strongly recommend sizing up to the larger size.
|XS/S||20 in – 21.25 in (51 cm – 54 cm)|
|S/M||21 in – 22.5 in (53 cm – 57 cm)|
|L/XL||22.5 in – 23.5 in (57 cm – 60 cm)|
|XL/XXL||23.5 in – 24.5 in (60 cm – 63 cm)|
How Much Do Longboarding Helmets Cost?
The price for a decent helmet from a skateboarding company will cost around $30-$50. This might seem expensive, but a quality helmet could save your life. Helmets are also typically a one-time expense. You will purchase one and you will never need to purchase another.
There is a good amount of variety in the price of helmets and usually, the price will match the quality. There is no difference between helmets for skateboarding and longboarding.
My advice is that you shouldn’t expect good quality from any helmet that costs less than $20. Paying an extra $10-$15 is worth the better comfort, design, and material quality.
|JBM (not a skateboard company)||$15-$35|
Wrist guards are great for cruising or flat ground where a fall will likely mean you try to catch yourself with your arms. Resist this urge to use your hands as you can land on your own wrist and break something.
Wrist guards have saved me countless wrist sprains and I love my pair. Personally, I use them when I skateboard more than longboard, but I am very comfortable on my longboard and virtually never fall. I also don’t bomb hills on my longboard so I can always stop pretty easily.
If you are older or less sure of your balance, I recommend wrist guards over knee or elbow pads. You simply will use them more.
How Can I Measure My Wrist Guard Size?
To figure out your sizing, you need to measure your hand circumference at the knuckles. It’s encouraged that if you are unsure about your size then you should go one size up. This is better than having a wrist guard you can’t even put on.
There will be some variance with each company and it’s best to refer to that company’s sizing chart. The sizing chart here is from 187 Killer Pads:
|Junior (JR)||6 in – 7 in|
|Extra-small (X-Small)||7 in – 8 in|
|Small||8 in – 9 in|
|Medium||9 in – 10 in|
|Large||10 in – 11 in|
How Much Do Wrist Guards Cost?
Most wrist guards cost in the $20-$25 range. These are the fully supported standard wrist guards. There is another wrist guard model that is extremely minimalistic that only offers protection from road rash and offers no wrist support. These models are in the $12-$15 range in price.
Below is a table with some common pricing values for wrist guards. You can see how there is little price variance across different companies.
|187 Killer Pads Wrist Guards||$20-$22|
|Triple8 Wrist Guards||$20-$23|
|Pro-Tec Wrist Guards||$20|
|Soared Wrist Guards||$13 (Minimalistic Model)|
|ELOS Wrist Guards||$20-$22|
Knee Pads and Elbow Pads
Knee pads and elbow pads can save you as a beginner but aren’t so necessary when you become more experienced. The pads themselves can be pretty bulky or more light-wight.
How Can I Measure My Pad Size?
To ensure a perfect knee pad fit, measure the circumference of your extended knee starting at the front of the knee. Do not bend your knee while measuring.
The following table is an example of general sizing. It is taken from Triple8’s pad sizing charts. If you are not sure of your size always order a size larger!
|Size||Circumference of Unbended Knee|
|JR||11 in – 12.5 in (28 cm – 32 cm)|
|S||12.5 in – 14.5 in (32 cm – 36 cm)|
|M||14.5 in – 16 in (36 cm – 40 cm)|
|L||16 in – 17 in (40 cm – 44 cm)|
To ensure a perfect elbow pad fit, measure the circumference of your extended elbow and do not bend it while measuring! Use a measuring tape.
Below is an example size chart from Triple8. If you are unsure of your size, then you should always buy one size larger.
|Size||Circumference of Unbended Elbow|
|JR||5 in – 6 in (12.2 cm – 15.2 cm)|
|S||6 in – 8 in (15.2 cm – 20.3 cm)|
|M||8 in – 10 in (20.3 cm – 25.4 cm)|
|L||10 in – 12 in (25.4 cm – 30.5 cm)|
How Much Do Knee Pads and Elbow Pads Cost?
Knee pads are often sold in a set with elbow pads, a helmet, and possibly even wrist guards. Below is a price for buying the individual knee pads or elbow pads unless marked otherwise. The price range is pretty similar across the board with JBM being the cheapest, but also not of good quality.
|Company||Knee Pad Price|
|JBM (for a set of knee/elbow pads and wrist guards, cannot buy individually)||$15-$30|
|Gonex (for a set of knee/elbow pads and wrist guards, cannot buy individually)||$30-$60|
|187 Killer Pads||$35-$42|
If you want to read a more in-depth guide to all of the different protective gear you need for skateboarding and longboarding, check out our guide here.
Longboarding can be dangerous if you push yourself too far and don’t take safety precautions. Statistics show that longboarders are at a higher risk of head and neck injuries compared to skateboarders, but this shouldn’t stop you from longboarding.
Most longboarders I know have never gotten injured as long as they just cruise along. There is some basic protective (PPE) gear that you should have as a beginner or when you cruise in the street. The number one is a helmet. Other gear is a bit less necessary once you’re comfortable on your longboard.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.