Are Electric Skateboards Worth It? – Reflections From 1 Year In

If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably been asking yourself questions like: Why are electric skateboards so expensive? Is it really worth it? What’s the best electric skateboard if I’m not looking to break the bank? I went through the same thing a year ago and wanted to share my reflections on the journey since, in the hopes that it can provide you some guidance at the start of your e-skate journey.


About a year ago, midway into the Covid-19 pandemic, I was looking for a change–a new hobby to keep me entertained and help fight off the ever-present challenge of isolation, anxiety, and depression. So one day, I decided on a whim to buy an electric skateboard.

Why? I thought it would provide a fun activity while I was bored, something to focus on and get better at that was purely for personal enjoyment and not school or work, and potentially would be useful for short-range transportation. While I thought I’d probably be satisfied with my purchase, I wasn’t ready for just how much it would change my life for the better.

One of the things that scared me away from buying an electric skateboard at first was the price. The brand I was most familiar with was Boosted–a company made famous in part by YouTube star Casey Neistat, who featured it as his main form of transportation in many of his videos. Their boards cost more than $1000, which to me–a student at the time–was just too high for a purchase I was not 100% certain I’d get the value back out of. On a school job part-time salary, the board would cost pretty much my entire semester’s pay. It seemed crazy to me, so I hunted down a way to make getting a board more affordable.

I went on Google and started researching the best budget electric skateboards on the market, looking for high quality construction and good customer service at an under $500 price tag. After reading into it for a few weeks, I settled on the Backfire G2 Black. It only cost a little over $400–although not inexpensive, pretty much the lowest price I was able to find for a board that was actually of decent quality–and everyone online seemed to be raving about the quality to price ratio, so I figured why not?

About a week later, my brand new board arrived and my life changed for the better. I didn’t really know what to expect at first, but one year after getting the board, I can say with certainty that it’s the best purchase (of a physical item) that I’ve ever made.

There are a few different reasons for this, which I’ll go through one by one:

First up, transportation and cost savings. One of the initial reasons that electric skateboards were so enticing to me is that they come with a pretty long battery range, which makes them great for short range transportation. On the budget end, the Backfire I bought promised about 10-12 miles, but some of the higher end boards can go for more than 30 before their battery dies.

On one charge, that meant that I could commute about 5 miles either direction (or more if you pay for that feature) before my board died, or 10 miles either way if I had somewhere I could charge in-between. As someone without a lot of disposable income who wanted to minimize any unnecessary costs, this provided me with a perfect solution to one of the things that was going to take up a big chunk of my income each month: car bills.

At the time I was thinking about buying my board, I was planning on moving to a small town where everything would be within a few miles of me. I’d originally thought that since I was finally living on my own and commuting to work and school all the time, I’d have to buy a car. That thought was a little overwhelming, considering that it was going to cost a few hundred dollars a month in car payments plus insurance and gas. After looking at the board range, though, I realized that if I strategized well, I could use the board as a replacement. By spending only $400 on one single purchase, I could save myself $400 per month for at least a year.

So that’s what I did. Ever since I bought my board, I’ve been living car-less and just getting around with my board, a bike, or the bus. It’s saved me thousands of dollars already, and will only continue to save me money as long as it does enough to me to serve as a car substitute. Instead of driving, I now go to friends’ houses on my board, to the grocery store, to the gym, and to all sorts of errands.

Electric skateboards are also an excellent transportation option for those who cannot drive–either because they are too young, the traffic is too bad for it to be feasible, or because the cost of owning a car is simply too expensive.

Although this has worked great for me, I do want to provide a warning that this is not a solution for everyone. An electric skateboard will likely only be an effective car replacement for people who meet the following general profile:

  • Commute fewer than 10 miles per day (total).
  • Have enough time to travel only 15 miles per hour (or less) on their commute.
  • Live somewhere with roads that are safe and accessible to skateboards, meaning they have a smooth sidewalk or a wide bike lane and do not have a high level of fast-moving and/or reckless traffic.
  • Live somewhere where it is not constantly raining, snowing, or freezing. Electric skateboards cannot be ridden in water and perform poorly in cold conditions, leading to risk of severe battery drain
  • Have decent public transportation around them or access to an inexpensive car share service. Sometimes electric skateboards will not be enough. You may need to run an errand where you have to carry more than you can easily fit on your board or want to go on a hike somewhere it’s just not convenient to carry your board. In this case, you’ll need a good backup you can rely on.

Using electric skateboards as an alternative transportation method to cars has had the additional benefit of dramatically reducing my carbon footprint and making me feel much better about my impact on the environment.

The average car emits around 4.6 metric tons (a little over 10,000 pounds!) of CO2 annually. Per mile, electric skateboards emit only about 1/50th what the average car gives off (primarily through the efforts required in charging). Given that total annual mileage should be a lot less for a skateboard due to its short range and lower flexibility for transportation conditions, real world emissions are likely close to 1/100th or lower that of owning a car.

If you are concerned about global warming and want to take action to reduce your own impact on the problem, an electric skateboard is a really easy way to do so. You can have fun riding, while also feeling good about what you’re doing for the world! It’s a win-win.

One of the more unexpected benefits of investing in an electric skateboard was the impact it would have on social life and community.

I used to ride my skateboard around a local park most days and would have people regularly stop me to ask about my skateboard. It was a great conversation starter, helping me feel more connected to my community. It also served me really well for friendship building. At this point I’ve taught more than 10 people to ride, and it’s been an easy way of bringing people together. I’ve offered free lessons and people have always taken me up on it and loved the experience. Every single time, whomever I taught came away excited and ready to learn more, which provided good opportunities for continued friendship (you could probably use this tactic to get people to swipe right dating sites, too, if you were really invested).

If you live in a big city, electric skateboarding can provide an even bigger community. Many cities have Facebook groups where riders get together for skate meetups and group rides. Through participation in those events, you can meet others who share your hobby and make new friends. This is an especially great option if friendship isn’t something that comes naturally to you, since bonding through shared experience is a lot easier and less stressful way to make connections than just walking up to someone and starting a conversation cold.

Although the money and environmental protection are great, what’s most important in the long run is your own mental health and happiness, and that’s the area where I think buying an electric skateboard gave me the most benefit.

Skateboarding gave me a way to escape the stress of life. When I cruise down the street on my skateboard, I get into a rhythm, zooming back and forth in a repetitive pattern. It’s very calming, but it also requires focus to dodge sticks or rocks that might cause me to fall. This combination has proved really successful at getting me out of my own head and into a sort of flow state. When I skateboard, I’m not thinking about a frustrating work problem or homework assignment, I’m just cruising and relaxing.

Making it even better is the fact that skateboarding is an activity done outdoors without the need for a screen of any kind. I’ve always found excessive usage of computer screens to be exhausting and excessive time spent indoors to be a trigger for increased feelings of depression. With skateboarding, you have an opportunity to be outdoors, enjoying the wind, the birds, and the greenery, and a chance to take a break from screens–helping both with mental health and with eye strain and headache.

Participating in active transportation–skateboarding instead of driving–also has the benefit of getting you a small amount of exercise, waking you up in the morning, and giving you a hobby to think about while traveling to and from school or work instead of thinking about those places. While bikes can do this for you as well, electric skateboards have the particular benefit of being incredibly fun. Biking–one of the most popular forms of active transportation–can feel monotonous after a while, but for me, electric skateboarding has never gotten old. It’s always a thrill to hop on the board and always makes my day better.

Takeaways:

So would I say my board was worth $400? Absolutely. Before I bought one, I didn’t know if it would be worth it, but a year later, I think it was an absolute steal. Electric skateboards are absolutely worth it if you make the right choice. The board I got has brought me thousands of dollars of benefit and has improved my life in so many ways, and I’m so grateful that I decided to take the plunge and get one.

While I think that the budget board I chose was a great purchase for me, I don’t think that all electric skateboards are great deals, nor do I think they are right for everybody. Some come with incredibly hefty price tags––topping at multiple thousands of dollars––and that is likely not worth it for the average individual. Even a budget board may not be worth it if you live in a location that’s not conducive to electric skateboarding. However, if you live somewhere where skateboarding is convenient and have enough disposable income to afford it, a budget or mid-tier board could be a fantastic investment in the long run. Just make sure to do your research and pick an option of high quality. My Backfire has been fantastic, but it’s not the only great brand out there, so you should do your research and choose what’s right for you!


Let me know your thoughts on electric skateboards in the comments! Do any of these points sway you? If you have been looking for a while but haven’t bought one yet, what factors are limiting you?

Is Athletic Greens Worth It? A Buyer’s Guide

What Is Athletic Greens?

Athletic greens is a nutritional supplement that aims to help people make sure they are getting enough vitamins and minerals in their diet every day.

It is designed to be consumed daily–in drink form–and contains 75 different ingredients. According to the official site, the ingredients come from whole foods (and therefore are not artificial) and are accompanied by probiotics and digestive enzymes to help your body process them.

What Are The Potential (Advertised) Benefits?

The combination of ingredients in the drink is designed to have four primary benefits:

  • Boosting energy
  • Supporting recovery from intense workouts
  • Improving immune system function
  • Promoting better digestion

Each ingredient in the mix helps to promote at least one of these goals and a few promote multiple.

The full list of ingredients and their proposed benefits can be found here and should be reviewed before you purchase so that you know exactly what you’re getting.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are six different products for sale:

One Time Purchases

Although Athletic Greens is primarily a subscription service, you can buy a single pack of the drink mix. There are two different options:

  1. A pouch containing 30 servings of 12 grams each, which are not individually portioned –> $97 ($3.23/serving)
  2. A box containing 30 travel packs, which are individually packaged servings –> $107 ($3.57/serving)

If you don’t want just one pouch and would prefer to buy Athletic Greens on a recurring schedule via subscription, there are two options. A single subscription, where you get one set of 30 servings per month, and a double subscription where you get two sets of 30 servings (60 total).

Single Subscriptions

Like the single purchase, there are two options for single subscription:

  1. A monthly pouch containing 30 servings of 12 grams each, which are not individually portioned –> $77/month ($2.57/serving)
  2. A monthly travel pack box of 30 individually-packaged servings –> $87/month ($2.90/serving)

In addition, both of the subscriptions come with a bonus. Option 1 comes with a welcome kit with your first delivery, including a ceramic jar to hold powder and a shaker bottle to mix your drinks. Option 2 also has a welcome kit, but it only includes the shaker bottle.

Double Subscriptions

The double subscriptions are identical to the single ones except that they come with twice as many servings. Both come with the same bonus welcome kits as before. For the double subscriptions, it would cost:

  1. Two monthly bulk pouches with 60 servings of 12 grams total –> $147/month ($2.12/serving)
  2. Two monthly travel boxes with 60 servings total between them –> $167/month ($2.78/serving)

The Good

Listing Ingredients

If you are a customer in the United States, there is no regulation or oversight of quality for products sold in the country that are under the classification of health supplement. This means that anyone wanting to make a quick buck in the US market can make a product out of a bunch of random ingredients, claim it has a bunch of health benefits, and sell their product to many unsuspecting customers–without anyone checking if it actually does what’s advertised, or even if the ingredients are safe for human consumption. If buying in the US, you never want to trust a supplement that does not list exactly what it contains, because that is a likely indicator that whoever created it is probably not all that invested in the science.

(Supplements aren’t regulated in the US, so transparency about ingredients is really important!)

Anyone who really cares about science will actively promote that fact and be transparent about it, because that attracts loyal customers. This is especially important in the US, but applies to customers around the world as well. Clearly visible scientific content and transparency on a product website is great to see.

Athletic Greens does appear to be one of those brands invested in the science side of things. They list every single ingredient on their site, give a short description, and categorize them all by which benefits they give.

However, the one area where they fall short from top quality in this respect is that their ingredients page does not link out to scientific articles backing their claims. Although some of the ingredients are widely known to be scientifically-backed, not all of them are, and linking back to direct evidence would make their claims a lot more trustworthy.

Additional Safety / Nutrition Checks

Athletic Greens has also gone through an additional process to ensure that they are working with quality ingredients: getting NSF certified. NSF–The National Sanitation Foundation–is a global organization that conducts independent reviews of products to ensure that their ingredients and products meet certain standards for health, safety, and quality.

The NSF review process is pretty extensive and involves annual checks of manufacturing plants to ensure that they continue to operate at the same high standard over time. They ensure that no illegal substances are included in the final product and check that unsafe contaminants–such as heavy metals–do not get mixed in during production.

If a company goes through NSF review–as Athletic Greens has done–this is a great sign that they care about producing a quality product and that they are not cutting corners in their manufacturing process.

Digestion Improvements

Many reviews online indicate a positive impact on digestion, with Athletic Greens promoting more regular movement and reducing issues such as constipation.

Other Potential Benefits

  • Improved hydration
  • Energy boosting, particularly if you drink it early in the morning to get fluids going
  • Tits well into a lot of restrictive diets including vegan and paleo
  • Gluten free
  • Sugar free
  • Helps fit in vitamins at times when you can’t fully control your diet (such as on vacation/travel or during times where you don’t have enough time to cook for yourself at every meal)
  • Does not include any of the most common allergens

The Not So Good

Imbalanced Ingredients

The ingredients the mix are not balanced evenly. For some ingredients, the quantity in one serving of Athletic Greens is 100% or more of the daily recommended value (DV), while for others it’s as low as only a couple percent. That’s almost as useless as just leaving the ingredient out altogether and does feel like a little bit of false advertising.

Some of the vitamins and minerals that tend to be favored in the mix are Vitamin C (700% DV), Vitamin B12 (467% DV), Vitamin E (334% DV), Thiamin (200% DV), Vitamin B6 (150% DV), Riboflavin (118% DV), Biotin (110% DV), Niacin, Folate, and Zinc (All 100% DV).

Others are advertised to be included, but have such low amounts that they’re not really useful. These include Calcium (12% DV), Copper (10% DV), Potassium (9% DV), Magnesium (7% DV), and Phosphorous (6% DV). And some things that are necessary for optimal health (such as iodine, choline, and molybdenum) are left out completely.

(The supplement facts table–like a nutritional facts label, but with no oversight or verification–for Athletic Greens)

Proprietary Formula

There is no official breakdown of how many of each of the ingredients in the 75 item list actually goes into a daily serving (we just get an estimate of different vitamin and mineral percentages). This is because Athletic Greens uses a proprietary blend that is kept secret.

Usually the argument behind proprietary blends is to keep market share and prevent others from copying your recipe–and therefore not buying your brand–but the sheer number of ingredients and lack of availability via easy channels means that pretty much no average consumer could ever copy the recipe. There is not really too much of a valid reason for keeping the blend proprietary–besides potentially preventing other companies from trying to copy the recipe and take customers away from Athletic Greens–and it comes at a big cost of transparency.

Not All Ingredients Are Scientifically Backed

While some ingredients in the Athletic Greens formula have been scientifically shown to be beneficial (see dandelion root, ginger, green tea) others have not. For example, licorice root has not yet been shown to have any real health benefits and in some cases can actually lead to dangerous side effects.

Bad Taste

Many customers of Athletic Greens online have commented on the unpleasant taste of the mix. The best way to build sustainable habits is to set them up in a way that is enjoyable. If a daily activity is unpleasant, it is going to be very difficult to stick with long term. The only way to really keep up with a healthy habit long term–and actually go far enough to receive the benefits from that activity–is to make it enjoyable. If you hate the taste, Athletic Greens is probably not going to work for you in the long term.

Price $$$

Perhaps the most significant downside is the price. Athletic Greens costs nearly $3/day, which can start to add up really quickly. A single monthly subscription of the bulk pouch for an entire year would run nearly $1000 (and even more if you got the travel packs). You could buy a year long membership to a nice gym with that, which––for the average person––would probably be a much more useful way to spend that much money.

Athletic Greens is one of the most expensive greens powders out there, so it’s not hard to find something comparable that costs you less. You could also try the alternative option of just buying a multivitamin and fiber supplement and you’d get the same benefit without all the extra potentially non-useful ingredients.

Who Is It Right For?

If you meet all of the following conditions, then Athletic Greens might be a good option for you:

  • You have a lot of disposable income and can afford to drop $80 or more per month on supplements.
  • You do not dislike the taste of the mix (I’d recommend doing a trial period to test this out–they have a 60 day money back guarantee).
  • You do not already get your daily quantity of vitamins and minerals from your diet. If you do, it would be a waste of money to consume more, because your body won’t be able to absorb much else.
  • You travel a lot or have some other barrier that prevents you from being able to prep your own food regularly, limiting your ability to get all your vitamins and minerals from your normal diet. Note that if you don’t have this limitation, it’s probably a better option in the long run to learn how to just cook healthy and nutritionally dense meals for yourself, rather than relying on a powder that is not 100% scientifically backed.
  • You prioritize convenience over all else. Another way to get the same benefits as athletic greens would be through a combination of multivitamins and fiber supplements. That would likely be less expensive, but would take more steps.
(Daily supplements can be a great option for those always on the move.)

Who Is It Wrong For?

If you meet any of the following conditions, Athletic Greens probably isn’t right for you:

  • You don’t have a lot of disposable income.
    • What should you do, then?: try to purchase inexpensive, healthy fruits, vegetables and grains at the store to help promote a balanced and nutritious diet on a low budget (See the r/eatcheapandhealthy discussion board on Reddit for some great tips).
  • You already eat a balanced diet.
    • What should you do, then? Nothing. You probably don’t need a supplement. Just focus on getting good exercise in and you should be fine!
  • You don’t like the taste.
    • What should you do, then? Options include: 1. Find another greens powder you like better. 2. Take a multivitamin or pill combo that would not have as much of a taste. 3. Attempt to get your vitamins and minerals through your normal food, which tends to taste a lot more pleasant if you take the time to learn how to make enjoyable recipes.
  • You have the time and flexibility to learn how to plan and cook a healthy, balanced diet for yourself (or at least the time to pick out some multivitamins that might work better for you) and don’t need an instant solution to your lack of vitamins/minerals.
    • What should you do, then? Do some research into healthy eating. A good place to get some inspiration is r/healthyfood on Reddit, but there are thousands of resources easily accessible via search engine.
(If cooking is an option for you, that can be a healthier, cheaper, and more sustainable long term strategy.)

Takeaways

Athletic Greens is a decent greens powder–and can help meet daily vitamin and mineral needs–but it’s not likely to be the best option for most customers. The high price point and lack of balanced ingredients mean it is only best for those with a lot of money and not a lot of time. Anyone not in that category could likely do better with an alternative strategy for nutritional balance–whether that be another, less expensive, product or an entirely different health strategy altogether.

Is WHOOP Worth It? A Comprehensive Guide

 If you’re anything like me and you spend any time in the lifestyle section of YouTube, you’ve probably heard of WHOOP. It’s the newest fad in the fitness tracker market, having exploded in popularity due to extensive marketing by successful YouTube influencers. But what is WHOOP, really? Is it really as good as all the influencers say? And is it worth it to buy one?

WHOOP is a fitness tracker that is purchased via subscription service. It can run you anywhere between $18 and $30 per month ($216-$360/year), depending on how long you sign up for, plus an extra fee if you want a cool colored strap.

What makes WHOOP unique is its focus on sleep, strain, and recovery. 

WHOOP comes with a detailed sleep tracker, which recommends optimal sleep levels based on your activity for any given day, tracks any sleep disturbances, measures sleep cycles, and even your rate of breathing through the night.

Using this sleep data combined with other metrics, it also provides information on your recovery, letting you know each day how recovered you are from earlier activity and how much your body can reasonably do for the day in order to optimize performance and health.

Lastly, WHOOP actively measures the strain you’re putting your body (both mentally and physically) through exercise, work, stress, etc.

That all sounds great, right? But is it really worth the hefty price tag? It depends a lot on who you are and how you’re going to use it.

To help you figure out if WHOOP is right for you, I created this comprehensive flow chart:

WHOOP excels for those who exercise with a high rate / intensity on a cardio-heavy training plan, are at some risk of overtraining, and have flexibility in their schedules and routines. It’s not great for those whose primary focus is fitness motivation (those who are not already deeply invested in a busy training plan), who do not exercise a significant amount, those whose training routines are primarily strength-focused, or those who have rigid schedules. In those cases, other fitness / lifestyle trackers would provide a better value.

If you’re unsure and interested in trying WHOOP out, my recommendation is to go for a 6 month trial––long enough to get the benefit of learning your sleep, strain, and recovery patterns but not so long that you end up with diminishing returns on your investment.

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Do you have a WHOOP? What do you think of it? Comment down below.