If you’re about to buy your first snowboard, make sure not to make a common rookie mistake by focusing on length only.
The width of your snowboard is extremely important. While a slightly wider board can improve stability on thick snow, a too-wide one is hard to control.
With that said, you shouldn’t pick a too-narrow board, either. If your toes and heels aren’t placed properly on the board, you can easily fall and get hurt.
So, the wide snowboard vs regular sized snowboard dilemma really comes down to the height and weight of your body, the size of your feet, and your riding style and experience.
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A Wide Snowboard vs Regular Snowboard – The Perfect Fit
Once you’ve chosen the length of your snowboard, based on your stature, it’s time to think of the height. The easiest way to check if the board width is suitable is to take your snowboard boot and put it in the appropriate place on the board. Check if everything fits. The heel or the toes shouldn’t hang off the board by more than 1 inch — it’s best if they don’t hang off at all.
We know that it’s not always possible to measure width this way. If you’ve already bought the boots and don’t have them with you as you shop for the board, or if you’re buying the thing online, don’t worry, there are more ways to decide between wide and regular snowboards.
Boot size is still the most relevant factor. Most people whose boot size ranges between 6 and 7.5 choose a 24-cm wide snowboard. A 24.5-cm wide board is suitable for anyone whose boot size is 7.5 to 9. As long as your boot size is below 10.5, grab a regular snowboard.
Wide Snowboards – Who Needs Them and Why
If your boot size is above average, however, you’ll probably want to consider buying a wide board. Luckily, that’s not a problem, as the majority of the best snowboarding brands have lots of wide boards available.
If your boot size is 10.5 to 11.5, a 26-cm wide board is probably the best choice for you. If your feet are larger and you wear a boot size 12 or 13, look for a 26.5-cm board. Large feet are the most common reason to choose a wider snowboard model, but there are other reasons, too.
People with smaller boot sizes sometimes opt for a wide board, and they have a good reason: a wider board waist makes it easier to maintain stability during hairpin turns and sharp carves on the fresh snow. It might be a bit harder to move on a wider board, but if it makes you feel more secure, that’s a good enough reason to buy it.
Regular and Narrow Snowboards – Women’s Boards and Freestyle Boards
Wider is not always better, and sometimes you’ll need to select a board that’s as narrow as possible. That’s especially true for ladies and anyone who’s into slopestyle or freestyle snowboarding.
Snowboards designed for women are generally smaller than those made for men. They’re also considerably narrower than men’s. Normally, these boards are up to 25 cm wide. However, women can still pick boards with wider waists for off-piste riding. The largest powder boards made for women are 26.5 cm wide.
For freestyle or slopestyle snowboarding, most people prefer narrower waist models. The slim shape increases the rider’s ability to control their movement and change the course on the groomed snow of terrain parks. At the same time, a narrow design decreases the weight. Most men’s slopestyle and freestyle boards are 25 cm wide, while the models designed for younger riders usually have a 22 cm waist width.
Do You Need a Wide Snowboard?
Put simply, you should go for a board that matches your stature. If you’re tall and heavy, you’ll definitely need a wider model.
If you’re not sure, think about your snowboarding habits and experience. What’s more important for you: maneuverability and speed, or stability? Narrow models allow fast, sleek movements, while wider ones help you to stay on your feet.
Measure your feet or just try on a pair of boots. If the boot size is 11 or above, you’ll need a wide snowboard. A regular one may leave your toes or heels unprotected, dragging through the snow during sharp turns.
The width of the board should also match your riding style. Off-piste terrain riders typically prefer wider snowboards, because they’re more suitable for flowing over powdery snow deposits. But on groomed slopes, a wide model would only slow you down.
It’s crucial that you’re honest with yourself about your skills and your physical shape. If you choose a board based on skills that you still don’t have, you risk disappointment and injury. Trust us, it’s much smarter to find a perfect fit and then improve your skills.
Keep in mind that wide boards require more energy and can reach rapid speeds because of their weight. That’s why beginners are advised to start with narrower boards and avoid injuries caused by increased speeds and the inability to control the heavy board.
If Your Snowboard is Narrower than It Should Be
So, let’s say you agree that you should use a wider board, but for some reason, you ended up with a narrower model. There are a couple of things you can do to solve the problem.
- Last chance to change your mind: grab a wider one.
- Adjust the binding and play with different angles. Try taking up to 18 degrees sidestep to place the entire soles of your boots on the board. Also, adjusting the heel cup will help you center your boots properly.
- Make sure that your boots aren’t larger than they should be. You can also buy slim, low-profile boots that take up less space on the board.
We hope we helped eliminate some of the confusion around a wide snowboard vs regular snowboards. If you need help finding the best snowboard boots for beginners, a recommendation of the best headphones you can use on the ride, or advice on similar subjects, check our buying guides and subscribe to our site.