Helmets are a must have when it comes to any type of skateboarding. Especially during longboarding when speeds can easily break 20mph on any day you ride. Wearing a $40 helmet can save you thousands of dollars in hospital bills. You don’t want to just slobber in a bed for the rest of your life, you’re brain is important, even a slow slam can cause serious problems.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission certifies helmets to be safe after a series of tests; one of the most important tests is the ‘high impact test’. In order to pass this CPSC test a helmet must reduce a 1,000 G energy pulse to under 300 G’s. A 1,000 G energy pulse is equivalent to falling roughly 7 ft to the ground or skating at 14mph into a flat surface. All skateboard helmets must meet the ASTM F1492 standard, most helmets are dual certified to ASTM and CPSC.
In helmets the hard foam is usually Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam, which works wonders in protecting your dome. In CPSC tests show that the EPS Foam reduces a 1000 G force to anywhere between 168 to 258 G, that’s about an 80% reduction! This is well within the CPSC limits, EPS also has a sister foam called EPP or Expanded Polypropylene which is similar to EPS but has a rubbery feel to it. This helps the foam recover after a slam and can be able to be used again. With EPS its designed to break apart upon impact especially in bike helmets, which helps reduce force.
Soft foam does not perform as well; in older times soft foam was the only way to go when making helmets, EPS was created in 1954 but didn’t come to helmets for sometime after. A soft foam helmet can only reduce the 1,000 G force down to a range of 400-900 G. It is not recommended to use a soft foam in your helmet, they may be comfortable but the foam simply doesn’t protect you. An example below:
BHSI gives great advice when it comes to buying a skate helmet:
- You always need a helmet when you board. You will crash eventually.
- Even a low-speed fall can scramble your brains.
- Laws in some states and skateboard parks require helmets.
- Buy a skateboard helmet for skateboarding, not a bicycle helmet. You will get better coverage and protection built for skateboarding.
- Skateboard helmets should meet the ASTM F1492 skateboard helmet standard.
A skateboard helmet softens the impact when the foam inside crushes or slowly deforms. The hard shell on board helmets holds up un-der multi impacts. Bike helmets use thin plastic that breaks immediately the first time you hit hard. The best interior foam for skateboard is probably Expanded PolyPropylene (EPP). It looks like bike helmet foam, but feels a little bit rubbery. Unlike bike helmet EPS foam, EPP recovers and is good for the next hit. The helmet must stay on your head. It’s not a hat, just sitting there. It will fly off while you are flying through the air. So it needs a strong strap and an equally strong buckle. And you need to remember to fasten it.
Slide gloves are not required for all styles of longboarding, but they do help provide protection for your hands in case you fall; they are recommended as a safety item when boarding. Slide gloves are simply a work glove with plastic or synthetic pucks attached to the palm. The point of a slide glove, obviously, is to assist you in sliding by giving you the opportunity to lay your palm down on the road while sliding. This will give you better balance and more steez.
You can buy longboarding gloves from many of the top longboard companies, but they can run as much as $50-75 or more. You can however, simply make some home-made gloves. All that you need is some cheap gloves and a puck to attach to them.
The most common home-made puck is simply from everyday cutting board; it’s easy to obtain, cut, and mount, making this a good fit for a slide puck. Another puck that is common is out of Corian, which is a sort of acrylic polymer, it feels a lot like a hard plastic. Its very durable, but not so easy to obtain and mold to the way you want them. Sometimes you may be able to get a Corian tile sample from your local hardware stores, the samples are usually a perfect fit for a slide puck.
Attaching a puck can be very simple, from personal experience there are two main methods that have worked best for me. The first is using Velcro, putting Velcro on each the puck and glove works great in keeping the puck on the glove and also allowing you to position the puck wherever you want it. The second would be to simply use hot glue to mount the puck to the glove. This also works great, the bond it makes is strong, the obvious downside is having to place the puck perfectly the first time and it doesn’t have any mobility.
This video is quite instructional when it comes to making gloves, thanks to Original team rider Brian Bishop:
Getting in full pads will give you a feeling of invincibility, it gives you great confidence. With that sort of confidence learning to do new things on a longboard will seem easier.
It is suggested you find yourself some kneepads and elbowpads to protect your bones. Especially when learning new tricks or slides it is important to protect yourself. For example when learning a toe slide many riders begin leaning too much toward the road and fall to their knees, this is a good trick to use knee pads on.
Hard shelled caps are the most popular choice for longboard knee and elbow pads because of their size, meaning they can take a lot of impact and abrasion. This type of shell is often big and reduces your range of movement, but the safety factors outweigh this. Also the padding on the inside of the pads if too big can add weight and be cumbersome.
For best protection, use a pad that has a hard shell on the outside and a nice soft patch on the inside. Getting one that is comfortable and breathable is something to look for when trying them on or buying them.