Are Wide Snowboards Harder To Turn?


Snowboarders with larger feet often have a hard time snowboarding on regular size boards. Their toes and heels hang off the sides, causing them to drag in the snow and mess up their rides. A wide snowboard might be the best option for these snowboarders, but many boarders are afraid wide boards won’t move as smoothly and may be harder to turn.

Wide snowboards are a little harder to turn than regular size boards. Although they’re only a few centimeters larger, maneuvering them takes a little more power and force. However, most intermediate to pro snowboarders should have no problems making the wider board adjustments.

This article will go into a little more detail about wider boards and why they’re harder to turn. We’ll also discuss whether wide boards are more stable and go over a few of the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a wide snowboard. 

Are Wide Snowboards Harder To Turn?

The short answer is yes; wide snowboards are slightly more difficult to turn than standard width snowboards. It’s simply a matter of physics. Anything with a larger mass will require more force, effort, and power to make it do anything, and wider snowboards are usually heavier than narrow boards.

To turn a snowboard, a rider must turn his body in the direction he wants to go; the snowboard will follow the turn of his body. Riders must also shift their weight from one edge of the board to the other. For example, as he turns, a rider may need to move his weight from his heels to his toes (heel edge to toe edge) or vice versa to turn in the right direction. 

This shift has to cover more surface area on a wider board than on a regular or narrow board. This video breaks down exactly how turning on a snowboard works:

Whether someone is riding a wide or regular snowboard, the mechanics behind turning are the same. However, those riding wide boards have to put a lot more effort behind the body turning and the edge-shifting to make the board follow suit. 

What Does That Mean for Riders?

In terms of technique, nothing much has to change in the way boarders ride their snowboards. The basic movements and things stay the same. It’s just a matter of adjusting the amount of power they use. Many boarders fear moving to a larger board will mean they have to completely re-learn how to ride. 

That isn’t the case at all. For most boarders in the intermediate to the pro range, figuring out how to use a wider board shouldn’t take longer than a few hours. Within a week, they should be right back to the same skill level they were at before having to swap to a wider board. 

It’s unlikely that any serious snowboarder will suffer permanent negative consequences when changing to a wider board. However, in the rare case that this happens, the rider could switch to a slightly shorter board. Decreasing the overall length of the board after increasing the width is one way of offsetting the loss of agility the wider width caused. 

We just want to reiterate that this is rarely necessary. Most snowboarders can easily make the adjustments needed to handle the wider board just as smoothly as the narrower one.

Are Wider Snowboards More Stable?

Luckily, there are some perks to riding a wider board as well, mainly stability. A wider board provides much more stability than a narrow board, especially when it comes to “sticking the landing.” 

Once riders get the hang of using them, the entire ride on a wide snowboard is a much smoother, stabler, and more pleasurable experience. When doing jumps and other tricks, it’s also much easier to land the board without buckling, swaying, or wiping out. 

Riders will also be able to adjust their stances to a broader stance on larger boards. A wider stance adds another layer of stability on top of the broader board’s added stability. 

Other Advantages of Buying a Wide Snowboard

Stability may be the most significant advantage to buying a snowboard with a wider waist width, but it’s certainly not the only one by any means.

Wide Snowboards Are Better for Off-Mountain Slopes

Off-mountain slopes have deeper, powdery snowdrifts, which is different from the light, packed snow of ski slopes. The wider waist width of wide snowboards makes it much easier to fly down the mountain on this type of powdery, deep snow. 

Imagine it like a person on a bed of nails. If the person presses all his weight down on his hand on the bed of nails, he’s probably going to impale his hand. If the person lies down on the bed of nails, spreading his body weight equally over the entirety of the bed, he’ll probably be okay, if a bit uncomfortable.

The large board’s wideness more evenly distributes the weight of both the snowboard and the rider, so it doesn’t bog down or sink into the snow as badly. 

Wide Snowboards Eliminate Heel and Toe Drag

For most people, the potential for heel and toe drag is why they change to a wider snowboard in the first place, but it’s still an advantage. People with large feet often find themselves “booting out” when turning sharply or freestyle boarding because of heel or toe drag. 

They lean too far to one side or the other, and their toes or heels, which are hanging off the edges of the board, catch in the snow, causing them to lose control and fall. On wide boards, even people with large feet can adjust their stance so that their toes and heels don’t hang off the sides. 

Wide Snowboards Are Fast

When it comes to flying down banks of dense, powdery snow, wide snowboards get super fast. This attribute could be considered both an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on a particular snowboarder’s skill level. 

While flying down the slopes is a rush (advantage) and a ton of fun (advantage), it can also be incredibly dangerous if a rider’s skill level isn’t good enough (disadvantage). Most companies won’t recommend beginning snowboarders start with a wide snowboard for this very reason. People on wide snowboards can get seriously hurt if they don’t know what they’re doing. 

Disadvantages to Having a Wide Snowboard

The most significant disadvantage to boarding with a wide board is the slight loss of agility that makes the board harder to turn and control. As we’ve already mentioned, though, most snowboarders with any measurable level of skill can easily overcome that. Buying a shorter board can also help combat the agility loss. 

Additionally, wider boards are often heavier. That means they’re more cumbersome to carry around on the slopes, and they feel heavier once people strap themselves into the foot bindings. 

Can Riders Still Freestyle With a Wide Board?

Snowboarders can absolutely still freestyle and perform tricks with wider boards! Depending on the type of freestyle boarding they’re doing, they may even be able to do more with a broader board since it’s easier to navigate certain terrains with wider boards. 

Furthermore, landing tricks are much easier on a wider board because of the board’s added stability. Getting the board off the ground to perform some of these tricks takes a little more effort, though, simply because of its additional weight. However, once it’s up, landing it is much easier than landing a narrower board.

What Kind of Boarder Needs a Wide Snowboard?

People with large feet are the people who most need snowboards with wide waist widths. Their feet are long and tend to hang off the edges of narrower boards, which — as we’ve already mentioned — can result in the dreaded heel and toe drag and subsequent crashes. 

Additionally, heavier snowboarders may perform better on wider boards. Not only will the heavier board support their weight better, but the board’s design will also help distribute their weight more evenly on top of the snow. This means they won’t bog down or sink into the snow nearly as bad as they would on a narrower snowboard. 

Do Women Need Wide Snowboards?

Women rarely need to use wide snowboards. Their feet are usually never long enough to necessitate a board with a wide waist. At most, women sometimes have to go up to a men’s regular-sized snowboard, which is traditionally the “men’s narrow” size. 

Women riders who are heavy may want to try a short, wide board if they’re doing a lot of boarding over thick, powdery snow. Otherwise, they may start sinking into the snowdrifts instead of gliding over them. 

Final Thoughts

Science is science, and one of Newton’s first laws of motion says that heavier objects (objects with larger mass) are harder to put into motion and more difficult to stop once they’re moving. Wide boards are heavier; therefore, they’re going to be harder to turn and control. 

That doesn’t mean riders can’t get used to them, though.

Most good boarders adjust to the heavier weight and wider waist width of the board within a few hours of practicing with it, and by the end of the week, most of them are just as skilled as they ever were. 

Sources

Snowboarding Profiles: The Key Specs for Choosing the Best Freestyle Snowboard for You

Coalition Snow: Size Matters: How to Choose the Right Size Women’s Snowboard

White Lines: Do I Need a Wide Snowboard?

Ryan Conner

Outdoor enthusiast with several years of snowboarding experience in the winters and watersports activities all summer. Living within 3 hours of 4 well-known ski resorts, I get plenty of board time from Nov-March every season.

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