Importance of Helmets
When riding a longboard, it's important to stay safe by using proper safety equipment, and by riding within your "comfort zone", or skill level. Some will debate on the requirement of safety equipment, but the use of a helmet is very necessary. Even at rolling speeds, a stone or crack in the road can throw you backwards, and you can land on your head or neck and become seriously injured. Anytime you step on your board, it's important to wear a helmet, despite what some may think about it's image or lack of "coolness".
Your brain is more important that looking cool. Because it's better to ride a skateboard, than ride around slobbering in a wheelchair for the rest of your life.
Choosing a Helmet
There are lots of kinds of helmets that you can choose to wear.
For any sort of riding under speeds of 30 or 35 mph (45-55 kph), a half shell helmet is fine. This is a helmet that sits on your head, secured by straps.
A sticker inside tells the standards that the helmet meets. True skateboard helmets meet ASTM F1492. Some "skate-style" helmets only meet the CPSC bicycle helmet standard. Those are bike helmets, not skateboard helmets, even if there is a skateboard on the box. You should try to find one that meets ASTM F1492 standards.
Some of the best helmets are dual certified to meet both ASTM F1492 and CPSC standards, and are certified for both skateboarding and biking.
You shouldn't need to replace a ASTM F1492 certified helmet after a crash, but if your helmet does crack or break, you should replace it.
Full Face Helmets
If you're going to be downhill racing on your board, or reaching speeds over 30 miles per hour consistently, then you might want to invest in a full face helmet (along with leathers, which we'll cover later).
A full face helmet will protect you from higher speed impacts. Some good helmets are made by Predator, Icaro hang gliding helmets, or Bell downhill biking helmets.
Other Safety Equipment
You can also wear other safety equipment such as knee pads, elbow pads, full leather suits, and slide gloves if you're going to slide/freeride.
Good brands for pads are 187, Triple 8, ProTec.
For full leathers, motorcycling leathers are normally used.
Gloves can be purchased from brands such as Landyachtz, Sector 9, Loaded, or Rayne. You ca also make your own from gloves, pucks, and Velcro.