Skateboarding vs All-Terrain Boarding: What’s the Difference?

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Skateboarding has come a long way since the 50s. What used to be a simple plastic or wooden platform mounted on wheels has become slightly more complicated with a host of variations designed to suit different riding needs. This refinement of different skateboard decks has led to alternative options, such as all-terrain boarding, offroad boarding, or mountain boarding.

To the untrained eye, these board sports might seem the same. Even though a skateboard and an all-terrain board help you move from point A to point B, their specific inventions accommodate different riding conditions and styles.

Let’s take a quick look at skateboarding vs all-terrain boarding or mountain boarding. We explore the differences and similarities between the two in this ultimate guide and try to see which one best works for you.

What is Skateboarding? 


The simple definition of skateboarding is it’s a form of sport or recreational activity in which a person rides standing on a board mounted on wheels.

This sport or recreational activity has evolved into a subculture in its own right, where the participants often take part in it to experience their own freedom. The right skateboard is a recreational tool and a means of transportation.

Typically, skateboarding involves more than just riding a board on wheels. The best skateboarders perform tricks and take part in competitions that showcase their skills and passion for the sport.

At first, skateboarding was invented by surfers in California as an alternative to surfing whenever the waves were flat. This idea quickly evolved into a recreational activity enjoyed by millions around the globe.

Just as skateboarding came about as an alternative to surfing, many other recreational activities have come from skateboarding. Over the years, skateboard decks (the plastic or wooden plank with wheels on which the rider stands) have changed. They have gotten wider and some have also gotten narrower, shorter, taller, higher off the ground, and even lower to the ground.

This is to say that skateboards now come in different variations, and most of them have specific names to suit their purposes. One such alternative is an all-terrain board.

skateboarding during sunset

What is All Terrain Boarding? 

All-terrain boarding is pretty much skateboarding using an all-terrain board. An all-terrain board is a skateboard customized to take on any terrain.

This kind of board evolved from the original skateboard because there was a need for participants to practice their skateboarding skills on more than just tarmacked roads, skate parks, and half-pipes.

An all-terrain board allows the skater to skate over more terrain, such as dirt roads, mountain bike trails, ski resorts, skate parks, all-weather roads, and so on. All-terrain or mountain boarding is more of an extreme sport than most other board sports.

As you would expect, since an all-terrain board is simply a more rugged version of a skateboard, there are many similarities, just as there are many differences.

What’s the Difference Between a Skateboard vs All Terrain Board? 

Let’s take a quick look at some of the differences between a skateboard and an all-terrain board.

  • Wheels: Originally, skateboards were made to go on tarmac or paved ground. That’s why they have smaller wheels that can handle that terrain. To go off this beaten path, you will need something that has heavier-duty wheels. That’s one of the areas in which a skateboard and an all-terrain board differ. All Terrain boards typically have heavier-duty wheels that can take you off-road. This type of wheel isn’t as big as the wheel you would find on a mountain board, but they aren’t as small or as smooth as those on a typical skateboard either; they fall somewhere in between. This way, you can easily skate on uneven ground and take on small bumps and cracks in the road without wiping them out while mountainboarding.
  • Deck size: While there are many different types of skateboards, all of which have different sized decks, these decks typically fall within a specific parameter that suits the rider. As a rule of thumb, most skateboard decks are shorter. All-terrain decks tend to be longer and, in some cases, wider. The deck on an all-terrain board is similar to the deck on a longboard. You can also use all-terrain boards for cruising purposes and riding over obstacles and almost any terrain. This longer deck allows for more comfort and stability when riding.
  • Durability: In essence, most skateboards are durable. They can handle the weight and stress you put on them when performing tricks and going through rough spills. However, their tolerance is limited to paved paths. All-terrain boards take on everything a skateboard can take and then some. These boards can take on the stress and strain of performing tricks and rough spills on paved paths and rough terrain. Even though it’s possible to turn your skateboard into a more rugged skateboard with the right modifications and upgrades, the truth is that you will get better results in terms of durability when you use a deck designed for off-roading. That’s one of the main reasons why an all-terrain board or mountain board is tougher than a typical skateboard.
  • Size: Note that the sizes described here are relative and that different skateboards and all-terrain boards may differ in size. That said, a typical skateboard is much smaller than an all-terrain board. Skateboards usually come in the 28-34 inch length and 7-10 inch width range, while all-terrain boards come in the 35-60 inch length and 9-10 inch width range.

What are the Similarities Between a Skateboard vs All Terrain Board? 

skateboarding stunt

Since all-terrain boards or mountain boards are essentially derived from skateboards, there are bound to be some similarities. Here are some of the most obvious ones:

  • Shape: Skateboards have always been distinctive as far as their shape is concerned. Unlike most other alternatives, skateboards have decks that curve upwards at both ends, allowing for easier riding and trick performance, such as kickflips and ollies. A board for mountain boarding, grass boarding, offroad boarding, or dirt boarding also tends to have this distinctive shape. The only issue is that not every all-terrain board is designed in this way, just like not every skateboard is designed the same way. Some all-terrain mountain boards are designed like longboards and have adopted different shapes such as flat noses and pintails.
  • Protective gear: This is yet another similarity. To ride a skateboard or an all-terrain board, you need protective gear, including knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards.
  • Trucks: Even though skateboards tend to have stiffer trucks, the biggest similarity between them and all-terrain boards is that you can loosen or tighten the trucks. When it comes to all-terrain boards, looser trucks work best because you need the flexibility to run over rough terrain, while that isn’t that much of a concern in skateboarding.
  • Skills: In skateboarding and all-terrain boarding, beginners must start by learning the basic skills before learning other skills and tricks.

Both skateboarding and all terrain boarding or mountainboarding are fun and exhilarating hobbies or recreational activities to take on.

One, skateboarding, is best done on paved paths, while the other, all terrain boarding, gives you the freedom to skate on almost any kind of surface. Just remember your elbow pads, knee pads, and other safety equipment and you’ll be ready to go.

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