Skateboarding in the rain

Can You Skateboard in the Rain?

Skateboarding in the rain

Unfortunately, I live in an area that rains quite often, and I wanted to know if rain was ruining my skateboard and what exactly it was doing to my skateboard. So I did some digging to find out.

So can you skateboard in the rain? Yes, you can go skateboarding in the wet and rain, though you really shouldn’t. There’s not any part of skating that isn’t affected by rain as the wheels lose their grip in wet conditions, the wood of a skateboard absorbs water, and the metal trucks & bearings are prone to rust. 

The extent of any water damage will depend on how much water your board was exposed to, and what kind of aftercare you apply because water will affect each part of your skateboard differently.

Why You Shouldn’t Skateboard in the Rain

I know it can be frustrating waiting out the weather before you can get back to skating,  and skating in the rain can be a lot of fun. There are pros who have some crazy shots skating in the rain and making it look easy, but they are pros and they’re still falling consistently, so you probably shouldn’t! 

If you’re wondering if it’s worth giving it a go anyway and getting your skateboard wet you need to look at the three main components of your board: the wooden deck, the metal trucks, and the wheels.

  • Your Deck can get waterlogged

One of the biggest reasons to avoid skating in the rain or any wet conditions is to avoid getting your board waterlogged.

A skateboard is typically made up of multiple layers of plywood that are glued and pressed together. When a skateboard gets too wet the water can get absorbed between these layers, eventually leading to the board becoming waterlogged & deformed.

Once the deck absorbs too much water it’s you’ll notice a lack of ‘pop’ in your deck when performing tricks. It can also be noticeably heavier and lose its shape – you’ll be able to see twisting & warping down the length of the deck. In really bad cases it can leave only 2 or 3 of the wheels able to touch the ground at a time. You’ll still be able to skate, but it will be much worse.

This won’t happen immediately unless your board gets completely submerged in water, but over time.

  • Water Wears Out Your Bearings

Even though bearings are easy enough to replace, bearings are what keep your wheels attached to the trucks of your board, so you really want to make sure these are looked after. Unless you’ve bought ceramic bearings, your bearings are liable to rust over time. Say goodbye to smooth rolling with rusted bearings!

The real danger though is that water dries out the oil in your bearings, and that’s hard to undo once it’s done. A dry bearing with no lubricant can actually cause the bearing to explode. I learnt a hard lesson the day my wheel came flying off coming over a spine. 

Decent bearings can easily last years with proper maintenance.

  • Your wheels slide

Skateboard wheels are not designed for wet conditions. Some cruisers and longboards may have bigger, softer wheels that can handle wet conditions, but your typical skateboard wheels are much smaller and harder. The smaller size means there’s less surface area to grip the floor and even a slight turn can send your board sliding, especially on smoother surfaces. 

Don’t think you’ll be able to correct it either unless you’re really experienced you’ll be on the floor before you know it.

  • Griptape Loses its Grip
Worn griptape on skateboard

This one isn’t the end of the world as much because griptape is fairly cheap, but it is a minor annoyance. Over time griptape is going to get smoother and lose its grip anyway, but add water to the mix and it can also get slippery, basically turning it into a sponge – Obviously, you want to avoid sliding off the board. 

The purple on this board where the griptape has worn off will be extremely slippery in the rain. It’s even come away from the edges.

You do want to make sure that water doesn’t get between the griptape and the deck. The griptape will start to peel away making it useless and leaves your board exposed to absorb water. The wetter it gets, the more likely your board is to warp.

  • Your Trucks are okay

Even though your trucks are made of metal, they’re made to last. Getting them wet occasionally won’t really do much damage, but they will eventually start to rust so it’s still a good idea to keep them as dry as possible.

You should pay attention to the kingpin and axle nuts of your trucks as these are particularly prone to suffer from rust and will need cleaning if you want to look after your board properly. 

How Do You Tell If Your Skateboard Is Waterlogged (Too Wet)?

Unless you’re going swimming with your skateboard then your board won’t become waterlogged overnight or by going out in the rain once. It will happen over time the more your board is exposed to water, which is why it’s important to dry your board. 

By the time you’re thinking your board might be waterlogged, you should have a good feeling for the weight and sound of your board, which will be ‘off’ if it is waterlogged.

The weight will be up to about 3 times heavier due to all the extra water weight, and your board will be making a more muffled thud noise instead of the crisp popping noise you should have gotten used to.

What to Do If Your Skateboard Gets Wet

If your skateboard does get wet, you should aim to try it as soon as possible. Carrying a towel or a small rag with you when you go skating to wipe it down would be a good idea, this will stop your deck absorbing any more water.

If you want to dry out your board leave it out in the sun, or in a warm room to dry naturally. Don’t try to use a hairdryer or placing it on a radiator as you might affect the glue binding it all together.

As I said earlier, what you really want to pay attention to are your bearings. To clean your bearings though you’ll need to take your wheels apart, and to do that you’ll need a skate tool to take the axle nut off. It’s simple enough.

Take the bearings off and dry them on a towel, make sure they’re completely dry before you put them back on but make sure to re-lube them otherwise you’ll still end up with the same problem you were trying to avoid. If your board is making a squeaking noise after you put it back together, that’s a good sign that you need to lube your bearings.

While you’re at it it’s probably a good idea to take your trucks off too to dry the areas you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. There’s a great guide on taking your skateboard apart here.

Exploded Illustration of Skateboard Trucks

5 Tips to Skating in the Rain

Sometimes it’s inevitable that your board is going to get wet, but what you can do is minimise how wet your board gets and keep your skateboard working for longer.

  1. Avoid big puddles: You’re not going to be able to avoid every single puddle, but the big ones, ride around them! Not only will you splash less water up to your board, but you also don’t always know what’s in that puddle. You never know if there’s going to be a crack or sludge waiting to throw you off.
  2. Find other places to skate: This one might seem a bit obvious, but I’m not talking about heading to your nearest indoor skatepark, I mean get creative with where you can skate! Sheltered car parks, tunnels, garages, abandoned buildings, anywhere with a roof! Though if you do get told to move on, you’re better off not arguing.
  3. Get a beater board: This is what I ended up doing after destroying one too many expensive boards and would be my number 1 tip for skating in the rain.  An old, inexpensive deck you don’t really care about is going to be perfect for crappy weather.
  4. Centre your weight: I mentioned earlier that you’re not going to have as much traction with the ground when it’s wet, especially with the size and hardness of skateboard wheels, so make sure you’re not shifting your weight around too much and going into turns too harshly because that’s a sure-fire way to send your board flying in one direction and you in the other. Keep your weight centred and spread evenly and you’re good to go.
  5. Pay attention to the ground: Similar to before, pay attention to the ground because different surfaces are going to be more slippery than others. Smooth surfaces like wood and concrete, especially in the rain, can be dangerous. Small cracks and sludge which wouldn’t usually be a problem can also be a lot more difficult to navigate.

Final Tips

  • If you can’t take your bearings out for whatever reason, spin your wheels. It won’t be as effective as taking them out and drying them properly, but spinning the wheels will at least get rid of the excess water in your bearings.
  • Avoid keeping your skateboard in places like your garage or the trunk of your car, these places can absorb humidity from the air and might not keep your deck as dry as you’d think.
  • When taking your board apart with a skate tool, pay attention to how many turns it takes to take your axle nut and kingpin off. When you put it back together you’ll know exactly how tight it was and avoid any trial and error trying to get your board the way it was.

Let’s break it down. Skating in the rain can be a lot of fun, but it’s also more dangerous. It will damage your board over time, so taking some steps to avoid this will go a long way! Your skateboard is going to get knocked around a lot anyway, though it’s a really good idea to get a cheap beater board if you’re planning on doing a lot of skating out in the rain.

Enjoy. Skate on!

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