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Wakeboarding vs. Snowboarding

Wakeboarding vs. Snowboarding
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If you’re new to wakeboarding, you might think it’s similar to snowboarding. While these two sports do have a lot in common, there are major differences as well. Here’s everything you need to know about about wakeboarding versus snowboarding.

Similarities Between Wakeboarding and Snowboarding

There are many similarities between wakeboarding and snowboarding. At the core, both of these sports require extreme balance while using a board to slide across a surface. One person rides the board at a time. You can simply ride or do tricks on a wakeboard and snowboard.

Both sports have roots in surfing. Wakeboarding is thought to have derived from surfing because surfers still wanted to spend time in the water, even when there were no waves. Snowboarding has less of a direct line to surfing but was known as surfing on snow or “snurfing.”

The way you stand on the board in both sports is important. Your starting position should be as if you are getting up out of a chair, with your knees bent and your weight evenly distributed so both sides of the knee joint share the load. In both sports, you choose your stance based on which foot feels more natural in the front. The stance is the direction you face while looking towards the boat or going downhill. Wakeboarding and snowboarding both consider left foot forward as regular and right foot forward as goofy.

Bindings are required for both sports to ensure your feet stay on the board. Height is the deciding factor of where the bindings are placed. Another important factor when it comes to binding placement is weight. Edging on the board is important in wakeboarding and snowboarding and works virtually the same way. You can push down on your toes or lean back on your heels for turning and balance.

Differences Between Wakeboarding and Snowboarding

While these two sports have many similarities, they are significantly different from each other. Here are the major areas where wakeboarding and snowboarding differ:


The requirements to participate in either activity differ from each other. The biggest piece of equipment you’ll need is a boat capable of pulling a wakeboarder. The best way to pull a wakeboarder is with a wakeboard tower. While a wakeboard tower isn’t necessary, having a wakeboard tower will significantly improve your experience by raising the tow point and allowing you to get more height and air. The wakeboard tower must be attached to a boat with another person driving it or else you won’t be going anywhere. Additionally, not all boats are well suited for installing wakeboard towers. The ideal boat for wakeboarding is a fiberglass constructed v-hull ranging from 18 to 25 feet long. This could include bow riders, runabouts, and even deck boats. If you want to improve your wakeboarding experience, you can get a wedge, a piece of metal behind the propeller to help shape the wake, and water ballast tank to weigh the boat down.

Speed is another requirement for wakeboarding, because without enough speed, you would sink into the water instead of getting up on your board. Snowboarding has less requirements than wakeboarding. You’ll just need compact snow on a hill. The rider uses his or her weight and gravity to ride down the hill.


Generally, you’ll find people wakeboarding in warm months and people snowboarding during cold months. However, you can still wakeboard when it’s cold; you would just need to wear a wet or dry suit to stay warm depending on your preference The best time to go wakeboarding is on warm days when there’s not going to be much wind. Wind causes waves in the water, which isn’t good for wakeboarding. You want the water to be smooth without excessive waves because these waves can disrupt the wake of the boat, which is where wakeboarding takes place. The best time to go snowboarding is right after it snows and when temperatures are at freezing because the powder turns into a compact surface you can ride on.


Wakeboarding and snowboarding both require boards and bindings, but equipment and gear differ from there. You should wear a swimsuit or a wetsuit and a life jacket when you are wakeboarding. Snowboarding requires more equipment since you’re going to be in cold weather. Snowboarding also requires boots, heavy clothing that keeps you warm and that is waterproof, goggles, gloves, and a hat. The actual boards are different too. A wakeboard has a wider base than a snowboard, and they have fins for stability in the water on the underside of the board. Snowboards are thinner and longer than wakeboards, which makes them better for downhill streamlining.

Physical Ability

Strength and stamina are required for any sport. Wakeboarding requires strength in the core and legs for the bended knee position. You’ll also need arm strength for wakeboarding since you have to hold onto the tow line to be pulled by the boat. To maintain balance, you’ll have to lean back slightly when you are wakeboarding. Snowboarding also requires core and leg strength, as well as flexibility in the hips and lower body for ideal movement.

Transitioning from Snowboarding to Wakeboarding

Many snowboarders want to try wakeboarding. While they are similar in nature, the differences can make it difficult to transition from snowboarding to wakeboarding. Wakeboarding requires arm and upper body strength to hold onto the tow line to ride behind the boat, which may not come naturally to a snowboarder who is used to relying on just core and leg strength. The stance you would take on both boards would be familiar, but a snowboarder might have trouble when it comes to getting up on the water. Be prepared to feel unsteady at first, and you may even fall in the water. While some aspects of wakeboarding might seem hard compared to snowboarding, a snowboarder will probably have an easier time than someone who is new to all board sports.

If you’re an experienced snowboarder, you’re a little more prepared to get into wakeboarding knowing the similarities and differences between the two sports. Ready to get started on your new hobby? Check out our wakeboard towers and accessories.

Curious how wakeboarding stacks up against other board sports? Be sure to check out our additional resources comparing wakeboarding to other board sports.

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