Imagine riding a skateboard with a deck that is smooth, your shoes are bound to keep sliding off the board when you slow down or make a sharp turn, and here is where grip tape comes to the rescue. Grip tape is the sand paper-like, rough and gritty layer that is applied to the top of the board deck, so that your shoes can have enough friction to grip the board and hence give you more control while riding. In most cases, skaters cut out patterns into their grip tape prior to applying it, in an attempt to make their boards distinctive. Another use of the grip tape is that it can help the rider to effortlessly differentiate between the nose and tail of the board. This effect can also be achieved using spray paint patterns being applied to the top of their grip tape.
If you are worried about uniqueness and authenticity of your board, don’t sweat it because grip tape comes in various customizable patterns. The most common grip tape is in the form of a sheet that is black on the grippy side. Grip tape is not always black, it is available in various colors, it can also be relatively transparent or even camouflage.
As we delve deeper into the world of the grip tape, it is important to note that the grip tape is one of the most highly overlooked and lightly explored parts of the skateboard. It may surprise many to know that a lot of detail and science goes into grip tape development. There is actually a different kind of grip tape to cater to every riding style known to man; it is common to find people dividing grip tape into two types, that is, Vicious and Jessup.
How to choose grip tape for longboarding
The Choice of the “right” kind of grip tape for your board is one of those things in life that comes down to your personal preference. Some riders actually prefer to have their feet held firmly on the board with Vicious tape, while others may want to be able to move their feet with relative ease and therefore choose to go with the standard Jessup tape.
For most beginners the “stock” grip which is found on most longboards serves as a good start. It is however recommended to use a slightly coarser grip tape when riding hills with steeper gradients; such coarser grip tapes include Vicious, Jessup Super Coarse and Edger. In case you are a fan of Vicious but you do not want it in black, you can try Clear Vicious grip tape which is more transparent compared to Black Vicious. Clear Vicious is also relatively grittier and durable compared to other brands such as the Gravity clear grip tape.
Best Longboard Grip Tape Designs
There are various grip tape brands in the market however the most commonly used are Vicious and Jessup. Most of these grip tapes can be customized by the rider to his or her own unique liking for authenticity and awesomeness!
- Vicious Grip tape
Vicious is arguably the coarsest grip tape in the skateboard market. This tape was developed with the idea of speed in mind. This extra-grip is guaranteed to keep your feet attached to the board, even when maneuvering sharp corners. Vicious was made to be flexible and can stick to any shape of a board deck. The adhesive solution of this tape is strong enough to stick onto other kinds of grip tape, hence giving you the ability to add more grip when you need it. Vicious can be molded to any kind of concave and wrapped onto the side of the board so as to provide extra grip. If that is not enough, vicious is water-resistant. It also comes in clear, red and black coloring; red is the least grippy of the three while black is the coarsest and clear has medium coarseness.
- Jessup Grip tape
Jessup Grip tape is great for both short boards and longboards. It is common on most normal skateboard set ups. Moreover, Vicious Grip can adhere to this tape easily; therefore you are able to add more grip where it is needed. In most cases it is not sold in grip tape sheets, but rather it is cut out from huge rolls depending on the rider’s preference in feet.
Which grip tape is good for different longboard riding styles ?
Now for the fun part, deciding which grip tape suits you as a rider! Grip tape ranges from 24 to approximately 80 grit-score, the common principle is that the lower the grit, the better your grip. Generally speaking, 24-40 grit is for downhill and fast freeride, while 50-80 is meant for cruising, freestyle, technical freeride and slow freeride styles. In the end however it boils down to the rider’s style of riding, preference and confidence on the board.
For freestyle the 50-65 grit range is recommended since it does not allow your feet to slip across the board as easily as 80 grit-score. A low grit tape for freestyle will ruin your shoes and even your hands. This is the reason why brands such as Original, which sell boards oriented to freestyle riding, grip their boards with 80 grit grip tapes. The grip allows you to move your feet across the board deck and effortlessly get off the board for tricks such as 360 slide shuvits and Tiger-Claws.
Let us have a look at some best grip tape brands:
Mob Skateboard Grip Tape
It is a bit more expensive that Jessup and Vicious. It does not produce have air bubbles this is because it has hundreds of very small perforations which allow air to escape resulting in a bubble-free application. It is as grippy as Black Magic, and is highly durable. It is waterproof and does not wear and tear easily. It uses an ultra-sticky adhesive which will not peel away in extreme cold or hot conditions.
Mini Logo – PRO LONGBOARD SKATEBOARD GRIP TAPE
It is relatively cheap, easy to apply but starts to tear off after a couple of weeks. In case you are a calm rider and you like to speed then this tape will work for you; however if you enjoy sliding and freeriding then a coarser grip tape will work for you.
Jessup Skateboard Grip Tape
It is commonly referred to as the pioneer skateboard grip tape since the brand was the first to introduce silicon grit grip tape to the skateboard industry. The solvent-based adhesive that the grip tape uses can stick to any board deck and its grip lasts long.
Longboard & Skateboard Soft Grip Tape
If you like a textured and smooth pad under your feet, this is a great option for you. You can even skate barefoot on it. It is easy to apply and versatile, you may take less than ten minutes to apply it on your board deck. However if you are an extreme skater then it might wear out fast on you.
Black Diamond Sheet of Grip Tape
The tape is easy to cut and apply, and you can reposition the tape in case you placed it wrongly on the first attempt. It provides very good grip however after some wear and tear, the adhesive fails. It is important to note that so as to prevent air bubble-problems you have to apply the tape properly. Once it is in use, just like most grip tapes it becomes dirty quite quickly hence ruining the design of the board.
In the end, grip tape preference is grounded entirely on the rider’s opinion and personal riding style. There is no such thing as a perfect grip tape, only the ideal grip tape for your individual riding style. The key things to consider when choosing a grip tape include: how much grip you need, your riding style, and where exactly you need it on your board in order to create a design you love. In case you are unable to determine what your needs are, a grit of 40-50 is recommended since with a mid-level range grip, you are well moderated.