Skateboards have been around since the 1940s. While the basic design was just a square plank on roller skate wheels, it wasn’t until 1963 when Makaha was created in Venice Beach, Californiato manufacture high-quality skateboards.
Makaha’s founder was credited with creating the first skate team and holding the first contest in the same year. Since then, the design, sport and culture of skateboarding has been influenceda number of skateboarders and manufacturers.
Many of these have grown to become the top skateboard brands in the world. We’ve put together our definitive list of the Top 10 skateboard brands currently ruling the roost. (Technically, it’s 11 brands, because we think Chocolate is unique enough to deserve its own spot even though it’s owned/ distributed by Girl. But more on that later).
Here are the brands that rule the roost right now. Each has its own unique identity and army of hard core fans.
They are not only an essential part of skateboard culture, but also responsible for shaping it for the past few decades.
Here are the Best Ones to watch in 2016
10. Toy Machine
Toy Machine was founded in 1993 byEd Templeton and has invested a lot of energy and time in building loyal fan base. It has acquireda solid reputation over the past couple of decades as a high-quality manufacturer. Ed Templeton is responsible for all the creative product designs, and has developed a signature ‘alien cartoon’ look for the graphics. Toy Machine skateboard decks have become known for their quality as well, and are made of maple wood in a robust 7-ply construction.
The decks can be customized with Toy Machine wheels, available in a number of high-performance models. Most customers prefer to use in-house bearings, though the wheels will accept standard third-party hardware as well.
There’s a huge variety of deck graphics to choose from. The theme that recurs in most of the collections is their characteristic alien look, with variations of close-cropped cartoon faces.
Options for customization are available across the range. For customers that don’t want to go through the hassle of putting together a custom board can choose from the collection of skateboard completes. These are pre-assembled and come with a deck, truck and wheels ready to go out of the box.
Since the components are standardized, customers can upgrade to performance wheels and bearings later, or choose to swap out the trucks to get the exact level of performance they are looking for. Toy Machine also has a line of apparel that feature their alien graphics.
The skateboard shirts and hoodies are popular, though there is also a choice of socks, beanies/ hats and other accessories. This, along with their high-quality skate equipment puts them on our list of popular skateboard brands this year as well.
Tony Hawk needs no introduction – as a skateboarder he was been popular in traditional skate circles, and has also successfully transitioned into mainstream skate culture, with number of video games, training programs and other related media. He,along with Per Welinder,was also responsible for creating Birdhouse to diversify into merchandiseway back in 1992.
The name they picked was play on Tony Hawks last name (hawk = bird, see?). Birdhouse skateboard decks are instantly recognizable for their Grim Reaper and the ‘Hawk’ designs, as well as variety of fun, cartoon-styled images of people, animals and things.
Birdhouse chose to construct its decks with 7-ply maple, making them strong and durable, with plenty of pop. As with many skateboard brands, there are a huge number of options for customization, from decks, graphics, trucks and wheels. They have options for grip tape and wax as well.
For people looking for more ready-to-go experience, Birdhouse also offers assembled complete skateboard sets, witha deck, trucks, bearings, hardware, grip tape, and wheels. Their complete boards feature a number of the graphic designs offered on their individual decks.One of the reasons Birdhouse is so popular is because they appeal to a wide range of riders, at various levels of skill.
Whether they are interested in just smooth cruising,or heading out to the skate park and trying new tricks. Birdhouse also offers apparel and accessories that feature Tony Hawksunique designs, making it one of the more successful mainstream skateboard brands over the past couple of decades.
Habitat was founded in 1999 by Chris Carter, Mike Hill, and Neil Blender who were very popular as pro skaters at the time. The brand is owned under the Tum Yeto distribution company, and is there for a sister brand for labels Alien Workshop and Reflex Bearings.
Habitat decks are unique because they chose to eschew the standard 7-ply maple construction for their own unique design and construction method. Called Skylite Construction, Habitat skateboard decks are actually made with 5 ply maple and a laminated top and bottom. This makes the decks lighter overall, without jeopardizing strength at the same time.
The low friction on the bottom of the board is great when performing grind tricks.Habitat offers highly customizable options for wheels as well. Most of their high-performance sets have great grip and are very durable, and have a smooth roll-away. There is a also a great selection of skateboarding apparel, including t-shirts, sweats and shorts – great for skateboarding, or for chilling out with friends later in the day. Habitat offers a collection of stickers that has become very popular.
These don’t cost a lot, and for many kids is usually the entry into the world of skateboarding. The can be placed on decks, packs, computers or even walls – pretty much anywhere that expresses their individuality.
Because of its unique construction and interesting merchandise, Habitat still sits firmly in our list of great skateboard brands.
Almost a decade before Habitat, Alien Workshop was founded in 1990 by Chris Carter, Mike Hill, and Neil Blender. As one of the early companies that were part of the skateboard movement, Alien Workshop is different from the others on our list because they primarily offer pre-assembled skateboards and longboards.
The philosophy is to get the riders on their boards as quickly as possible, and they are able to achieve that with two skateboard product lines. The Vertiply, as the name suggests have vertically layered deck construction, with laminated tops and bottoms, and graphics scorched into the wood.
The result is unique and unmistakable Alien Workshop. The Pong Pusher Cruiser line has flexible trucks for control and stability.
The graphics are custom dye, and the grip tape has a texture to that is visually identical the surface of ping-pong paddles – hence the name. The longboard line follows the same design aesthetic as the Pong Pusher products, just with longer deck lengths.
Like most other skateboard brands, Alien Workshop has also extended their product line-up to include clothing and accessories.
Available in a traditional cargo style and range of designs, the shorts in particular are popular with skateboarders because of their flexibility and durability.
Founded in 2003 by professional skateboarders and business partners, Daewon Song and Rodney Mullen, the Almost brand has garnered its fair share of followers. The company makes high-quality skateboard decks using traditional 7-ply or 8-ply maple wood. It also has a high tech line of with carbon fiber construction bound with resin epoxy glue.
Almost has built a reputation in the industry for manufacturing high quality equipment, and pushing into new and innovative areas of construction technology. The complete skateboards kits are ready to hit the street out of the box, no assembly required.
For the riders that want to build custom boards, can choose from a fantastic range of durable and light-weight decks, and partner it with a hardware kit that contains everything they need – trucks, wheels, bearings and even the tools needed to assemble the board.
Most of the graphics are fun and colorful, with comic heroes and villains appearing regularly in their collection, as well as the Almost logo itself. They also have a line of skate accessories that include supplies, apparel and their much-loved sticker packs.
Riders can express their style by choosing from an up-to-date range of tees, shorts, sweats and headgear.
Almost fans love the forward-thinking mentality of the company, and looks forward eagerly to new product launches.
Andrew Reynolds, son of the founder of BakerBoys founded his own skate company Baker in 2001. Reynolds, a professional skater, runs the Baker brand under Blitz Distribution.
Like many skateboarders of the time, Reynolds yearned for products that were not complicated. He wanted to keep things simple and pure, with the focus squarely on skateboarding.
It seems like many skaters echo that sentiment, since Baker has now grown into a successful skateboard brand with a unique image.