What Protective Gear Do You Need to Skateboard?
Skateboarding can be pretty gnarly.
Every skateboarder I know who does tricks has gotten hurt at some point. Whether that be a sprained ankle or a broken wrist, skateboarding will inevitably take its toll.
You can avoid the worst of this and probably completely if wear protective gear and don’t push beyond your limits.
For skateboarding, protective gear is a necessity. The essential protective gear includes a helmet, wrist guards, knee pads, and elbow pads. If you are a beginner, you need to wear this gear no matter how overdone it can feel. Skateboarding is dangerous and you can easily injure yourself if you don’t take precautions.
So let’s go over each piece of gear.
A helmet is a no-brainer for skateboarding and most high-impact sports.
As a beginner, you will need a helmet. If you ever plan on skating transition, which means bowls and halfpipes, then you will need a helmet.
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 really for a beginner, a helmet is a necessity.
A life-long head injury isn’t worth looking cool while you skate.
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 Skateboarding 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. JBM is the only non-skateboarding specific company on this list though the other companies also market for BMX and other extreme sports.
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|
If you’re interested in seeing how much a skateboard costs, check out our complete price guide for complete and custom skateboards here.
Is It Weird to Wear a Helmet While Skateboarding?
You never see professional skaters wearing helmets unless they’re skating transition which is bowls and halfpipes. All street skaters seem to go at it will no pads at all to speak of. Even at your skatepark, you will see most skaters probably aren’t wearing protective gear.
This makes people feel conscious about wearing a helmet or other pads as they feel awkward, uncool, or like they are advertising that they’re a beginner.
The reality is that as a beginner you need to wear a helmet. Professional street skaters don’t wear helmets because part of their job is to look cool while they make their skate parts. Their image is essential to their success and unfortunately, pads and helmets don’t look cool.
This sucks and is jeopardizing their safety.
For smaller tricks, however, experienced skaters don’t need a helmet. Most experienced skaters will rarely fall on flat ground, and never make an impact with their head. In this case, a helmet really isn’t necessary.
Just know that a beginner needs a helmet and looking cool isn’t worth sacrificing your safety.
Knee pads can save you as a beginner and are necessary if you are skating bowls or transition even as a veteran. The pads themselves can be pretty bulky or more light-wight. Bigger may seem unnecessary, but if you are going to slide down a concrete bowl with them you might change your mind.
While you’re skating flatground, if you aren’t a beginner, then you really don’t need them. I honestly can’t remember the last time I fell on my knee while skating flatground. At some point, you’ve learned how to fall, and falling on your knee just doesn’t happen anymore.
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)|
How Much Do Knee 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 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|
Elbow pads are essential for a beginner. Even on flatground sometimes I can fall on my elbow and if you are learning transition for the first time I would also recommend them. The hardest I’ve ever hit my elbow was on a concrete little mini halfpipe learning to rock and fakie.
Once you are comfortable skating transition (bowls and halfpipes) then you won’t really need them. For example, you’ll see that professionals like Tony Hawk and Lizzie Armanto usually don’t wear elbow pads while skating transition.
How Can I Measure My Elbow Pad Size?
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 Elbow Pads Cost?
The price range for elbow pads is pretty much the same for elbow pads. You can buy a bundle to save some money, but the individual price for a set of elbow pads is around $20-$30.
I would avoid JBM and 187 Killer Pads make great pads, but they are a bit pricier.
|Company||Elbow Pad Price|
|JBM (for a set of knee/elbow pads and wrist guards, cannot buy individually)||$15-$35|
|Gonex (for a set of knee/elbow pads and wrist guards, cannot buy individually)||$30-$60|
|187 Killer Pads||$35-$42|
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 as you can land on your own hands or wrist and break something.
Wrist guards have saved me countless wrist sprains and I love my pair. Personally, I skate regular and usually only have one wrist guard on my left wrist. This is just because I fall on that wrist much more often as it’s front-facing while I skate.
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|
If you are interested in seeing a bought and tested wrist guard review, check out my review of 187 Killer Pads wrist guards.
Padded shorts are something that I’ve never personally used, but have wished I had at points. Your hip can take quite a beating from a few flatground falls.
This protective gear is definitely nonessential and is more of a nice-to-have. I can’t say too much about these as I’ve never used them and I haven’t known any other skaters who do use them.
That being said, the idea is great and I’ve had enough hip bruises to consider getting a pair. You should know about them and for adults, this could a big game-changer.
How Much Do Padded Shorts Cost?
The price range for padded shorts is sort of all over the place. The cheapest padded shorts listed here are less protective and more lightweight than the pricier shorts.
The pricier shorts look a bit like armor and keep in mind that Triple Eight is the only skate company in this list. I plan to order a pair and do a product review and will update this post when I do.
|Bodyprox Padded Shorts||$30|
|Appolis Padded Shorts||$26|
|Shock Doctor Padded Shorts||$80|
|Triple Eight Padded Shorts||$70|
|Legend Fit Padded Shorts||$47|
What Skateboarding Protective Gear Do Adults Need?
Sometimes it’s easy to wonder what protective gear you really need and what is unnecessary.
Adults who are new to skateboarding need to wear a helmet, knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. As you begin to become comfortable on a skateboard, some of this protective gear will become unnecessary. Once you are more experienced, you can make the call for when protective gear is necessary or not. For example, cruising in the street requires protective gear like a helmet because you might have an accident with a car.
I made a little table that can give you an idea about when certain protective gear is necessary.
|Skill Level||Situation||Necessary Gear|
|Beginner||Any||Helmet, Elbow Pads, Knee Pads, Wrist Guards|
|Experienced||Cruising in the Street||Helmet, Elbow Pads, Knee Pads, Wrist Guards|
|Experienced||Skating Transition (bowls, halfpipes)||Helmet, Elbow Pads, Knee Pads|
|Experienced||Flatground at the Skatepark||Wrist Guards, (optional)|
|Experienced||Cruising Sidewalks and Parks||(optional)|
So that’s that. Skateboarding is dangerous and beginners need to wear protective gear. Even if you aren’t a beginner, you will need protective gear if you’re skating a bowl or halfpipe.
So thanks for reading and look out for more articles from Board and Wheels.