Protective Gear for the Skater

©istockphoto/Ian McDonnell

©istockphoto/Ian McDonnell

Mom always told you to suit up in pads and helmet before you started a sidewalk-shredding session, and the older you get, the more you understand why—emergency room visits are costly. But you don’t want to sacrifice style for protection. What’s a cool skater to do?

Fitting In: Gear that Fits Properly Ensures Proper Protection and Better Style
It’s not that protective gear makes you look dorky, per se. But a clunky helmet and oversized pads sure do. Far worse than fashion faux pas, when your gear fits imperfectly, it can’t do its job: sparing you from injury.

To achieve a sleeker look and legitimate protection for your noggin, use a sizing guide and measure your head to make sure that your chosen helmet fits snugly. Wearing a helmet that’s skateboarding specific also helps to streamline your look. You’ll feel a little silly wearing a bike helmet to skate, and more importantly, you won’t be giving your head the best possible protection—different activities have different protection needs.

Skaters who want to stay safe while still showing off their most daring moves should select a helmet that is constructed with an exterior hard shell and interior expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam liner that meets Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards.

Pads must also fit you securely. Use this pad sizing guide before buying.

Keep a Low Profile: Choose Protective Gear That’s Unobtrusive and Strong
You probably remember retro ‘80s and ‘90s gear. The wild neons, the contrasting color schemes, the knee pads that screamed, “look at me,” but today’s protective pads (you’ll want them for your elbows, wrists, and knees) are all about blending in. Most pads are made of material that is less loudly colorful and more flexible than their early-years counterparts.

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man: Coordinate Your Threads with Helmet and Pads
A big part of styling is knowing how to work around your need for protection. Baggy, low-hanging jeans will look goofy when cinched at the knee by your pads. A better choice might be pants with a tighter fit, which will not look dramatically different worn under your gear.

Black and dark jeans will also blend with the black pads, whereas lighter washes will make them stand out more.

A dark long-sleeve t-shirt can help minimize the visual effect of your elbow and wrist guards. Bonus: long sleeves are more protective than short. If you crave a good pop of color or clothes that make a statement, wear short-sleeve atop a long layer.

Select a helmet in your favorite color to go bold, or choose basic black for a classic, unobtrusive style.

Safety First
Don’t jazz up your helmet with stickers or purchase models with built-in Mohawk spikes and other decorative features. Stickers can corrupt the integrity of your helmet’s construction; while fashion-plate extras like ‘hawks or horns can seem fun, they can also affect the angle your head hits the ground if you take a fall, potentially leading to injuries.

Above all, take your safety seriously and rock your gear with pride. Your daredevil confidence and your safety-conscious intelligence are always in style.

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