The brand that pops up from our mind is Vicious Grip Tape. Their grip tape is perfect for downhill, dancing, freestyle, and carving longboarding.
Some other good brands are Mob, Jessup, and Lokton. The main difference is in the tape construction.
So, whether this is your first beginner longboard or second board, don’t overlook this important aspect.
Choosing the right grip tape is crucial for your overall performance. That’s why today we’re going to show you everything you need to know!
Hang on tight and let’s ride!
Understanding The Grit System
Folks familiar with woodworking may know this sandpaper grit rating system very well.
Basically, the grip tape on your longboard is a kind of sandpaper.
Because of that, you’ll find the grip tape rated in grit numbers.
Sandpaper is made of abrasive particles such as aluminum oxide or silicon carbide.
The grit number of sandpaper measures the coarseness of those particles.
It usually goes from 12 grit to over 3000 grit in the sandpaper world. However, you’ll usually find 24 to 80 grit grip tape in the longboarding world.
For example, a 24-grit grip tape sheet is a coarse, rough tape. An 80-grit grip tape, however, has much finer abrasive particles.
Why Grit Matters
Higher-grit grip tape often has a smoother surface. This would be fine for street skating.
You generally don’t need that much friction on your deck. Finer grip tape may then help you slide your feet and do tricks more easily.
When you’re racing downhill, you will need a lot of friction on your board. That’s why most longboard grip tape sheets have very coarse and rough surfaces.
These surfaces with large abrasive particles help the deck stick better to your shoes. Thus, it makes racing at high speeds much safer.
Grip Tape Brands with Grit Numbers
24 grit: Gator Grip Super Coarse XP 24-Grit Anti-Slip Tape
30 grit: Vicious Black
36 grit: New Vicious Black, Clear Vicious, Gator Grip Coarse
40 grit: Blood Orange
50 grit: Loaded Chubby Unicorn
60 grit: Bustin
80 grit: Jessup, Lokton, Mob, Black Diamond, Grizzly
A Good Rule of Thumb for Choosing Grit
If you use your longboards for downhill racing or freeride, 24 – 40 grit is very good.
If you use your longboards for cruising or freestyling, then 50 – 80 grit would be fine.
Although these are good rules of thumb, they are not strict rules.
Some riders do use smooth grip tape for fast downhill racing and freeride.
Some also use coarse grip tape such as Vicious for technical slow rides.
It does come down to your preference. Do you like it super grippy? Or do you like it a bit smoother?
The lower the grit, the more grip you’ll get.
Best Grip Tape for Downhill & Freeride
For downhill racing and freeride, you’d generally want to stick with 36 or less grit.
The 36-grit Clear Vicious works extremely well in cold and wet weather conditions.
However, in warm weather, it doesn’t feel as grippy as the Black Vicious.
24-grit Diablo Belt Sander is also a great choice in this category. However, to put this on the deck, you may need to use some 3M spray-on adhesive.
The good thing about it is that it’s priced at only $10.
Best Grip Tape for Freestyle
When you’re freestyling, you’d want to do some tricks on your longboard.
That’s why we recommend getting a grip tape around 50 – 65 grit.
This is much less coarse than the one for downhill.
It feels much easier to slide your shoes on the board. The overall surface is slightly smoother.
The 80-grit tape may be a bit too smooth. The 36-grit one is a bit too movement restricting and may destroy your shoes.
That’s why this 50 – 65 range is the sweet spot.
You can easily move your feet across the board to do tricks like Tiger Claws or shove-its.
If you want to get a grip tape for freestyling, the Loaded Chubby Unicorn is a good one.
It’s the perfect balance between freeride and freestyle!
Still Can’t Decide?
Maybe you’re going back and forth between the 80 and the 40. If you’re still wondering, we’d recommend sticking to the middle range.
Specifically, choose the 40 – 50 grit range. This is a happy medium that would be suitable for various types of riding.
First of all, it’s not too coarse. So, you’ll be able to move your feet freely across the board. Your shoes won’t get shredded because of the abrasive materials.
Second of all, it’s not overly smooth. Some 80-grit grip tape is way too smooth. This can make going at high speeds a bit dangerous.
In fact, we don’t recommend choosing it for racing at all.
The 40 – 50 grit will give you the best of both worlds.
Downhill racing: 24 – 36 grit, Vicious, Diablo, or Gator grip tape
Freestyle: 50 – 65 grit, Loaded Chubby Unicorn grip tape
Street skating: 80 grit, Jessup, Mob, Lokton, Black Diamond
General purpose: 40 – 50 grit
Tips for Applying / Removing Grip Tape & Custom Design
When you apply your grip tape sheet, make sure you leave no air bubbles on the surface.
When you remove your old grip tape, it helps to use a blow dryer to loosen up the glue.
Many beginners haven’t thought about this, but you actually don’t have to put the whole sheet on your board!
Yes, many pros custom design their grip tape. They make it in all shapes and sizes.
Some cut the sheet into smaller pieces and create a checkerboard pattern. Others make very cool zig-zag designs. If this sounds fun to you, why not check it out?
This is how pro skater Cameron Frazier grips his board:
It’s Your Choice!
Which one do you think would best suit your need? These are the good brand names you should keep in mind: Vicious, Jessup, Mob, Black Diamond, Gator, etc. If you’re looking for downhill grip tape, choose the 24 – 36 grit one. If you’re looking for freestyle grip tape, choose the 50 – 65 grit. For general purposes, 40 – 50 grit is perfect. In any case, have a safe and awesome ride!