I have to admit, that I always prefered dropped boards for pushing, as the platform is closer to the ground, creating stability and making it easier to push in general. But as my personal understanding of skogging increased over time I felt the need to add a surfier way of skating and a better pumping ability to my skogging workouts. I decided that for this purpose the best choice would be a top mount board without any drop. As the Whatever Skateboards Bamboo Skogger from Steven Meketa posesses these characteristics together with a nice large platform which is slightly wider in the front (which is good for pumping) and a flex that made me curious, it was an easy decision to get that board, even though it is not available from within europe.
(The deck can be ordered at Whatever Skateboards.)
When I finally got it my first impression was that it appeared to be really huge. Although it is only slightly longer than my big dropped pusher I usually skog with, it has even more deck surface as it is a top mount board without wheel-cutouts. I asked myself, if it would be possible to pump this large board easily. But with the Carver CX. 4 /C2.4 trucks pumping the Bamboo Skogger was really easy and despite the length of the board, they allow for the surfy ride I was looking for. From my experience so far I would say, that this top mount set-up with Carver trucks is a very good combination for serious long distance pumping that even allows you to throw in some really narrow surfy turns. Actually the result is not that surprising as we all know from slalom boards that the best decks for pumping are top mount and are not dropped.
But for distance pushers there is usually a downside to these set-ups, because the board is located rather high above the ground. This is especially true if you are using Carver trucks as you need enough space between the wheels and the deck to avoid wheelbites. To push non-dropped boards you have to bend your knees to a greater extent with every push which on longer distances will tire the leg standing on the board much faster. Of course there are so called hybrid boards that are still pumpable but usually also have a lowered platform to allow for easier pushing and so the result you get cannot be compared to the pumping performance of a higher top mount board.
From a skogger's point of view I would say there is not really any need for hybrid set-ups since a main focus of skogging is to use pushing as a workout while alternating the use of the legs. To do little knee bends when pushing actually makes commuting an even more interesting workout for advanced skoggers. But if the goal of a distance skater is to skate as far as possible in the most energy saving and fastest way by alternating between pumping and pushing, a non-lowered deck like the Meketa Skogger doesn't seem to be the best choice.
But as I see it, the most important factor for the efficiency of long distance pushing/pumping - as with all sports activities - is the style and the skill of the person itself. Compared to this factor the used set-up is only secondary and probably can provide some additional minor benefits, which an experienced and well trained skater might not need. On the other hand the used equipment can very easily ruin one's skills.
As an example from the world of running/jogging we can take the cushioned high tech running shoes, which promise more damping and comfort for longer, better and faster runs. But in recent years it turned out, that these shoes were not the ultimate solution, as they encourage heel strike running which is not the best way to run and can lead to injuries resulting from unfavorable running posture. Muscles of the feet and legs usually used when running barefoot or with very minimalistic shoes are no longer trained and degrade. From this point on you are no longer able to run in a healthy posture. There are a lot of examples of skilled runners using minimalistic shoes that can run injury free and even more efficient than runners wearing cushioned shoes. They naturally tend to use a midfoot or forefoot strike.
I think that the principle behind this example can be transferred to the different kinds of boards we use. By using dropped boards all the time it will have an effect on the way we use our body for pushing. If we then attempt to push on higher boards for longer periods it will be even harder, as we are not used to it. The pushing of a higher board will engage the muscles in a different way. If we keep on training with the higher board there might be a way to push, that is equally effective than pushing on a low board. I don't want to say that dropped or lowered boards are not good at all. But I think we should not accept them as the only solution for efficient long distance pushing only because they obviously seem to be more comfortable from the start.
I am convinced that the key to efficient distance skating can only be found in the way of pushing itself. Here the most important aspect is to align your body in the right way and to bring it into a lowered stance where you move with your knees constantly bend, at least for most of the time. It is the same low stance that is used for moving when practicing Tai Chi. This stance not only gives you stability, it will also help you to reduce the up and down movement of bending your knees you would otherwise have to perform with every push on a higher board. By avoiding these active knee bends the leg on the board will stay more or less on the same level. Although you might have to get used to this kind of position first, with time it will be possible to relax the muscles in the legs more and more. Another important aspect is to releive the front leg in the moment of pushing. The result of these ChiSkogging techniques is that you will not experience the same fatigue of your leg, as you would when pushing a higher deck the usual way. It all depends on practice and the development of our skills. So when I go out skogging, the new Meketa Skogger will provide a good reason for me to improve my abilities for efficient pushing in a much lower bodily position than usual.
From my testing I can say that for experienced skoggers who are skilled in using both legs with the same power, the Meketa Bamboo Skogger with it's large flat platform together with the deck´s flex capabilities is a very good pumping/pushing-hybrid.