Snowboarding and Skiing, What's the Difference?

Snowboarding and Skiing, What's the Difference?

Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular winter sports, but they are also two completely different sports. While both activities involve navigating downhill courses with a variety of obstacles, there are also some significant differences between them. To ensure that your new hobby stays fun and safe, we’ve provided some details about the key differences between skiing and snowboarding.

What’s the difference between skiing and snowboarding?

Skiing equipment

The first distinction between skiing and snowboarding is the equipment. Skiing gear consists of a set of skis, bindings, and boots. Ski bindings are designed to hold the skis to the boots. You just need to step into the bindings and then click the skis into place to start skiing. You will also need poles for balance and turning.

Snowboarding equipment

Snowboarding requires a board and bindings. Snowboard bindings don’t need to be clicked into the board, but they do need to be securely fastened to your footwear. You will also need a pair of poles to help with turning. Beyond the equipment, the two sports also differ in how they are performed.

The mechanics of skiing vs. snowboarding

Skiing is a downhill activity that is often done on groomed, flat trails. The skier stands upright on the skis and propels himself down the hill by using the edges of the skis for grip. Snowboarding is done on a downhill or uphill course using a board that is often strapped to the feet with bindings. Snowboarders glide down the course using the smooth, flat surfaces of their boards for stability and control.

The experience of skiing vs. snowboarding

The main difference between skiing and snowboarding is the experience itself. Skiing is a more contained activity that is often done with friends and family on a groomed trail. Snowboarding has more of an outlaw feel and is often done in the backcountry where there are no trails.

Which activity is right for you?

If you crave a more extreme experience, snowboarding is the sport for you. Snowboarders often like to challenge themselves by going off-piste or taking on extreme terrain like the backcountry. Keep in mind that both activities are challenging and risky, so you’ll need to be prepared to deal with some bumps and bruises along the way. You may also want to invest in a good pair of gloves to protect your hands from the cold. They might not look as stylish as a pair of mittens, but they’ll keep your hands warmer for longer.

If you enjoy a quiet afternoon on the slopes with family and friends, skiing is a great option. It is often more affordable than snowboarding and is a great family activity. If you want to take your experience to the next level, try heli-skiing. This extreme sport is done by skiing off of mountains that are too remote to be skied by conventional methods.


Once you’ve decided which activity you want to pursue—and that’s no small decision—the next step is to decide which type of gear is right for you.

Most ski shops offer complimentary demos or private fitting sessions so that you can try out the equipment before making a purchase. You don’t need to be an expert skier or snowboarder to make an educated choice about what will work best for you.

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