Knowing what clothing to wear when skateboarding is not a difficult decision to make. You can basically wear anything you want, however, comfort is paramount. Here are some guidelines to follow so you will be able to move freely and comfortably.
Skateboarding is a very physical activity. Your entire body will be moving all the time and often all your limbs will need to move in different, sometimes strange, directions. It is important that the clothing you wear when skateboarding allows your body to move freely without restriction but you also need to be comfortable.
There are a few exceptions of required clothing items made for skateboarding, but for the most part you should be able to get away with wearing your street clothes.
Lets start from the ground up:
Wear Skate Shoes
You need to wear skateboarding shoes. This is not negotiable. This is one of the exceptional items mentioned above. Skate shoes are designed to be used while skateboarding. Other shoe styles are not designed to properly work with a skateboard.
They designed to be durable enough to stand up to the beating that shoes take while skateboarding. Skate shoes also offer your foot proper protection when doing skateboarding maneuvers that other styles of shoe do not.
Just like how “Running Shoes” are designed for Running and “Golf Shoes” are designed for Golfing, “Skate Shoes” are designed for Skateboarding. You wouldn’t have a very good time hiking up a mountain in High Heeled shoes or Dress shoes.
You would be better served to wear a shoe that was designed for hiking up a mountain. A Hiking shoe perhaps. Shoe designers spend a lot of time and money to design shoes that function well when used for the purpose they are intended. Skate shoe designers are no different than any other shoe designer in this respect.
What Makes Skate Shoes So Special?
They usually have flat outsoles that allow for better surface area contact with the ground and skateboard, providing greater stability. The soles are often thin and very flexible to allow you to “feel” the board better.
Skate shoes are also designed to be more durable in the parts that receive the most beating while skateboarding. For example, when doing an Ollie outside of the shoe on your front foot drags up the griptape on the board.
A good quality skate shoe is designed to stand up to what is the equivalent of rubbing sand paper on the shoe. I once tore a hole through a running shoe doing a single Ollie. A skate shoe can stand up to this punishment and should last you a while (depending how often you skate and your style).
Socks For Extra Support
Socks are up to the individual. You can find socks that provide more ankle and foot support and some offer extra impact support for your foot bed. Regardless of the style of sock you prefer, it should allow your feet to breath, and to wick the sweat away from your feet.
Personally, I like to wear simple, tall, boring white athletic socks. I also feel this gives me a little bit of extra shin protection.
Pants That Aren’t too Restricting
Pants are also a non negotiable. Because skateboarding is generally done in a public environment, nudity is likely not permitted.
But seriously, a pair of loose fitting, comfortable pants that allow you to move your legs freely in order to pull those sick maneuvers will go a long way. A pair of pants that aren’t comfortable or restrict movement make for a bad and frustrating skate session.
When choosing pants, or shorts, pick something that is loose enough to allow free movement but not so loose that they fall down, or get in the way. Your pants are likely going to take some punishment. Skateboarding is hard and you are going to fall on your knees and butt.
Your pants should be made of a durable material like denim or heavier cotton. I like wearing carpenter work pants and shorts because they last for ever and are extremely comfortable after a couple washes.
It is pretty embarrassing and cuts your session short when you tear the bottom out of your pants after sliding down a pool wall.
Safety wise, pants are better than shorts. The most common injury I have had when skating is The Dreaded Shinner (when your skateboard smashes into your shins causing varying degrees of pain) and pants give you a thin layer of protection. Pair this with tall socks and you have really thin shin pads. Pants can also help prevent skinned knees, but they aren’t bullet proof.
When it comes to shirts, loose fitting shirts that allow free movement (do you see a theme?!) will be what you want to select. The shirt you pick should reflect the weather conditions. If its cold, wear a long sleeve or sweat shirt.
If its hot, a tee shirt will do. Dressing in layers can add to your comfort as your base layer can wick sweat off your body and prevent you from getting chilled. You can also peel off layers as you warm up.
Shirts should be made from a durable and breathable material. Cotton is an excellent fabric choice. It is breathable, durable and allows your body to move freely. Synthetic fabrics like polyester don’t always breath well and are not likely the best option. Tactile fabrics are nice because they are designed to wick moisture away but can be fairly pricy.
Entirely optional. Beanies can keep you warm when its cool. Ball caps can keep the sun out of your eyes. Sweat bands can keep the sweat out of your eyes. Headwear may be more about weather conditions and personal style than functionality when skating. Except for the Helmet. Helmets are insanely functional.
What Not To Wear When Skateboarding
This is simple: do not wear restrictive or uncomfortable clothing and do not wear shoes that are not skate shoes. Skateboarding requires your body to be able to move in its full range of motions.
Wearing something that prohibits your full range of motion will prevent you from learning and may increase your possibility for injury.
Avoid wearing the following clothing items:
- Pants/shorts/Shirts that are too tight or too baggy – What were we thinking in the late 90s wearing huge pants and shirts that we had to hold up?! They certainly didn’t help anything.
- Backpacks – Some people can skate with a backpack, and others cannot. You can get used to the extra weight on your back (like Chad Muska) but it will take time to adjust. If you don’t have to wear a backpack, maybe leave it on the ground.
Any shoes except skateboarding shoes – Skate shoes are specifically designed for skateboarding. Using other style shoes can greatly increase the risk to slip and injure yourself. Not to mention that non-skate shoes are not designed for skating and will quickly become damaged.
Dress for the Weather
Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for the weather conditions you are skating in. Being over dressed or under dressed for the conditions you are skating can make for a bad session. You are also potentially putting your self at risk of getting a chill or even heat exhaustion. Dress smart and follow these guidelines.
Winter is over and its starting to warm up. Spring is one of those seasons that it is good to dress in layers. Spring temperatures are generally cooler in the morning and late afternoon, and warmest midday.
If its a bit chilly in the morning, wear a base layer, a long sleeve over that, and a hoodie or light jacket over top. Pants are likely a must wear item. Your body will warm up as you skate, so you want to be able to remove layers to avoid overheating.
Summer can be the best time to skate. Hot summer days are shorts and tee shirt weather. Its important to stay cool in the heat. Sunscreen would also be a good thing to wear. If the weather is cooler, pants and a long sleeved shirt over a tee shirt may be in order.
Autumn is one of my favourite seasons to skate in. The cooler and more moderate temperatures are more comfortable for me to skate in. Like spring, dressing in layers is essential for an Autumn skateboard session. Comfortable pants, a tee shirt under an over shirt, and carry a hoodie. The weather could stay cool, or could heat up if the sun comes out.
Skateboarding in winter requires you to bundle up. Pants, a couple shirts, a hoodie, and a heavier jacket allow you to strip off any extra layers as you warm up. The base layer shirt can help wick away sweat to keep the chill off when you take a break. If its cool enough, a beanie and gloves or mittens can help keep your head and fingers from getting cold.
I wouldn’t be a responsible adult if I didn’t highly recommend you wear safety gear. I know, you’ve heard it a million times! But, skateboarding can be a risky activity, so wearing proper skateboarding equipment can prevent a world of hurt. Pads are especially important when you are a beginner.
We will keep it short. Here are is a list of your basic safety gear and how it can help you:
Helmet – Protects your head. If you are going to use one piece of safety equipment, please make it a skateboarding helmet. Head injuries are no joke.
Knee and Elbow pads – These prevent skinned and swollen knees and elbows. These injuries can end your day pretty quick. As a bonus, you can learn to knee and elbow slide, which is one of the safest ways to bail, especially in a ramp or bowl. Knee pads are a must for me if I am wearing shorts.
Wrist guards – These aren’t seen as often as the others, but they can help prevent sprains and other wrist and hand injuries, especially if you put your hands out when you fall.
Skateboarding is a physical activity which requires your body to move in ways that you don’t often move outside of skateboarding.
Wearing loose fitting, unrestrictive clothing while skateboarding will allow you to move in the way you need too. You can wear just about anything, but the key is to be able to move comfortably. While a three piece suit and dress shoes may look very stylish. It isn’t very practical to wear at the skatepark.