When it’s time to throw down your board and try something at the very edge of our comfort zone… We all want to feel comfortable with the equipment under our feet. Many of us skateboarders have favorite board brands or a go-to truck, but some of us don’t have a preference for one grip tape company over another. Many skaters don’t even know the nuanced differences between them. Today, we lay it all out for our curious customer…
To keep things simple, we’ll cover just the most common/top-selling grip tape brands. There are plenty of new brands that have varying levels of durability and quality. Some of them are made in the same factories as the better-selling legacy brands, and some are made independently. Most grip tape you’ll find is nine inches wide, so if you have a wider deck you’ll want to search for MOB Clear Grip Tape, 11″ x 33″ Grip Tape, or some other offering. Regardless, here we will speak to the characteristics of four grip tape brands that we see bought often: Jessup, Grizzly, MOB and Black Magic:
MOB Grip is a top choice for many skateboarders. It is affordable and reliable. The brand has been around since 2000 and distributed by NHS of Santa Cruz Skateboards and Independent Trucks fame. Most famously known for their perforated grip, it is more difficult to make the mistake of creating air bubbles in the grip tape while applying it to the deck.
Black Magic Griptape is one of the original skateboarding grip tape brands around. Since 1992, they have provided quality product for skateboarders all over the world. Know for its coarse grip, this is ideal for a skater who enjoys high speeds or who doesn’t plan on setting up a new board / grip tape for a while. It may take a toll on the suede of your shoes, but it’s a great all-around choice.
Jessup Griptape is the original in the category. Founded in 1975, they have literally been in the game the longest and probably known it best. It is widely available and trusted by many skaters, regardless of location. Standard Jessup grip tape is known to be less coarse; some like this as it preserves the life of their shoes, others less as it doesn’t grip for flip tricks as much.
Grizzly Griptape is another staple in the game. Although it has only been established for ten years, it is a favorite of many skateboarders now. The iconic bear icon cutout is an aesthetic feature many enjoy. Though its application may be less smooth than its competitors’, it will last and make your investment worth it.
Applying Grip Tape
You may or may not need to read this section, but here is your step-by-step grip tape-applying process:
Begin with (only) a skateboard deck. Remove the grip tape from the paper it comes attached with. Set the paper aside for later use, but keep the sticky side of the grip tape unfolded and away from touching other things in the meantime. Carefully apply sticky side of the grip tape to the top (concave side) of the skateboard deck. Once adhered, take a screwdriver, file, skate tool or any oblong item that is sturdy and that you’re not afraid of damaging and scrape along the edges of the board, on top of the grip tape. Consider getting an adult for this step, if you are not one: Use a sharp razor blade to cut along the edge ALL THE WAY AROUND the skateboard deck, eliminating the excess grip tape from the deck. Optional: Use the discarded paper from Step Two to press and smooth the edges of the grip tape on the board. Bonus: Get creative! Feel free to use paint pens or additional razor blade strokes to remove small sections of grip tape or paint patterns onto the grip, if you’re so inclined. Have fun with it.
Aside from this guide and personal advice you might hear, the next best way to decide which grip tape is the best for you is to try them! So get out there and sample them all. Experience is the best teacher and lucky for us, practicing skateboarding is one of the most fun things we can do.