Wakeboarding vs Snowboarding : What’s The Difference?

Wakeboarding vs Snowboarding

Are you interested to try a new outdoor activity but can’t decide which one? Have you ever considered trying wakeboarding or snowboarding but can’t decide which one to try first? Both sports are definitely fun and exciting and have a lot of similarities but they also differ in many aspects.

If you are intrigued to try both or any of the two sports, it’s important to learn how they are done and all the elements that come with them. To help you decide which sport to try first or if they are something that you would still like to do in the future, let’s discuss the wakeboarding vs snowboarding similarities and differences.

Having said that, if you are short on time:

DefinitionA winter sport where the rider descends a snow-covered slope on a single boardA water sport where the rider is towed by a boat or cable and rides on a single board
EquipmentSnowboard, boots, bindings, helmet, and outerwearWakeboard, boots, bindings, helmet, and life jacket
TerrainSnowboarding can be done on slopes ranging from beginner to expert, including terrain parks and backcountryWakeboarding is typically done on lakes or other bodies of water with calm, flat conditions
Riding StyleSnowboarders can ride regular or goofy (with left or right foot forward), and can perform tricks such as jumps, spins, and grabsWakeboarders ride with one foot forward and can perform tricks such as jumps, spins, and grabs, as well as more advanced maneuvers such as inverts and flips
DemographicsSnowboarding is popular among a wide range of ages and genders, with a focus on youth culture and alternative sportsWakeboarding is popular among a younger demographic, with a focus on water sports and outdoor recreation
Health BenefitsSnowboarding can improve cardiovascular health, balance, and coordination, as well as provide a full-body workoutWakeboarding can improve balance, coordination, and core strength, as well as provide a full-body workout
Competitive SceneSnowboarding has a competitive scene with events such as the Winter X Games and the Winter OlympicsWakeboarding has a competitive scene with events such as the Wakeboard World Series and the Wakeboard National Championships
Environmental ImpactSnowboarding can have an impact on the environment through the use of resorts and transportation, as well as potential damage to natural habitatsWakeboarding can have an impact on the environment through the use of boats and fuel, as well as potential damage to natural habitats

Similarities of Wakeboarding and Snowboarding

Similarities of Wakeboarding and Snowboarding

Apart from being an extreme sport and both activities are fun and exciting, wakeboarding and snowboarding have more similarities than one might think. One obvious similarity is that you need a board to perform these two sports. Although there are specific boards intended for wakeboarding and snowboarding, it is also possible to use a snowboard to wakeboard and vice versa.

Both sports are based on surfing. When surfers can’t surf due to lack of waves in the olden days, they do wakeboarding instead. Same with snowboarding, although not done in the waters, but it was once considered snow surfing or snurfing.

Extreme balance is another similarity. The two sports will require you to have a good balance on a board to slide across the snow or water. Leaning back slightly will help you maintain balance when wakeboarding. Only one rider at a time can ride and perform tricks.

How you stand on boards is very important with these sports. Your knees should be bent and your weight must be equally distributed, this way the load on your knee joints is even. Across these two sports, there are two kinds of stance or the way you should stand on the board. You are either regular or goofy.

A regular stance is when you use your left foot as your front foot and your right foot is at the back, a goofy stance is the other way around. It does not matter whether you put your left foot forward or backward as long as you are comfortable with your stance.

Wakeboard and snowboard need bindings to secure the feet on the board. Where you place the bindings will depend on the height and heaviness of the rider. Edging is another similarity; you can turn and balance by either toe side (toeside) edging or leaning on your heels.

Differences of the Two Board Sports

Differences of the Two Board Sports

Now that you know the many similarities between wakeboarding and snowboarding. Next, let’s discuss their differences so you can better decide which works well for you.


The key difference between wakeboarding and snowboarding is the equipment you need to perform these activities differ. A boat is needed to pull a wakeboarder. As for snowboarding, you don’t need such big equipment to do it. As long as there’s a hill with compact snow, you can already enjoy snowboarding.

Some wakeboarders also prefer to be pulled by a wakeboard tower. Although it is not necessarily required, having a tower on your boat will give you a better experience. Keep in mind that not all boats can be installed with a wakeboard tower. Runabouts, deck boats, and bowriders are some examples of boats where you can install a tower. Apart from boats and towers, some also use a jet ski to pull the rider.

One more distinct requirement for wakeboarding that is not required in snowboarding is speed; speed in terms of getting up on the surface of the water. Without it, the snowboarder will sink. As for snowboarding, weight and gravity are required to move downhill.

To have a better wake boarding experience, some riders put a metal or wedge at the back of the propeller to shape the wake. Others use a water ballast tank to increase the load on the boat.


When it comes to equipment, snowboarding has more gear. When wakeboarding all you need is a wetsuit or swimsuit, and a life vest for your safety. Snowboarding requires more personal equipment like heavy clothing or layers of clothing that is waterproof, a hat, gloves, goggles, and boots to keep you warm while playing in the cold.

Physical Ability

Just like with other sports that use boards, stamina and strength are needed to perform snow boarding and wake boarding. With snowboarding, you need core and leg strength and flexibility in the lower body and hips to move gracefully in the snow and perform tricks.

As for wakeboarding, it also requires legs and upper body strength when doing the bended knee position. In addition to that, you need to have strong arms to hold on to the tow rope as the boat pulls it.


In general, many people prefer to wakeboard during warm months, and obviously, snowboard season is during cold months when there’s snow. However, you can enjoy wakeboarding all year round, even when it’s cold if you prefer it.

The perfect time to snowboard is right after it snowed. During this time the powder had turned into a compact surface due to the freezing temperature. This is the best time to ride your snowboard and go downhill.

Even though you can ride a wakeboard any time of the year, the warm season is still the best time to ride a wakeboard. Wind can cause excessive waves and you don’t want that when wakeboarding. When there are too many waves, it can break up the wake of the boat.


Well, location is definitely a big difference between wakeboarding and snowboarding. Wakeboarders need a lake with a boat that has an engine and tow point or wakeboard cable parks to attain the necessary speed to create a wake.

Snowboarders on the other hand need hill, mountain, or a snow park. They use their weight and gravity for them to fall on the snow. For them to move forward, they need to lean forward a bit and start riding.

Basically, water for wakeboard and hill and mountain with a hard pack of snow for a snowboard.


The board you used on wakeboarding and snowboarding may seem identical at first glance. However, they are very different from one another. Snowboards are more similar to skateboards, but of course without the wheels. They are also longer and thinner compared to wakeboards, which is needed for downhill streamlining. Wakeboards have a wider base and have fins beneath the board. The fins are used to improve the rider’s stability.

The price of snowboards can be more expensive, it can range from $150-$600. For wakeboard, you can get a decent model for at least $150.

Which Board Sport is Easier to Learn

Which Board Sport is Easier to Learn

This will actually depend on a person’s experience with the sport in question. However, for a beginner, wakeboarding would be easier to learn. This is because they have a rope to hold on to for balance, fins to keep them straight, and an experienced boat driver that will keep them away from obstacles and maintain a good speed.

All you really need to learn at first is how to stand up on the wakeboard, once you can do this, then you’re already wakeboarding. However, though it is much easier to learn than snowboarding, don’t expect that you’ll get it on the first try.

Expect to fall a couple of times before you’ll get the hang of it. Another thing to remember is that wakeboarding is not just about standing up, you also need to learn how to turn, jump, and perform other tricks that would take a lot of practice before you can master.

Snowboarding on the other hand is not just about standing up on a board, there are a lot of things to learn. One is that you need to learn how to skate to move around the snow. Another thing is learning how to glide and stop on one foot which you need to do when getting in and out of the chairlift.

It can be unnerving to ride a chairlift for most people. One more task to learn is to strap in and put your back foot repeatedly and stand up after strapping in.

You see, there are a lot of things to learn all at once with snowboarding than wakeboarding. Add the fact that it is harder to spend a day on a cold mountain while learning all these things.

Wakeboarding and Snowboarding Basics

Wakeboarding and Snowboarding Basics

Now, it’s time to learn the fundamentals of the two sports. This includes turning, stopping and falling. Apart from the things mentioned above, these are the three basic things you need to learn.

Turning – The mechanics are similar to snowboard and wakeboard. When turning, you need to move your weight to one side and put some pressure on your heels or toes. It’s a bit easier to that with wakeboarding because you have a rope to hold on to. With snowboarding, you need to keep your balance on edge when turning, which is difficult to master.

Stopping – Learning how to stop on a snowboard is a very important skill you need to learn. This will keep you safe and help you maintain control when you need to change directions to avoid slamming on a tree or other snowboarders. Stopping on a wakeboard is fairly easy and does not need any necessary skills.

All you need to do is come up with a hand sign to tell the spotter and boat operator that you want to stop. However, if you badly needed to stop, you can let go of your rope but keep your arms up, so other boaters can avoid you.

Falling – This is inevitable when riding across all board sports. Although it’s unavoidable, you can minimize the number of times you fall from a snowboard or wakeboard by learning how you can prevent this from happening or at least falling without getting badly injured.

Basically, falling on a wakeboard is less painful since you’ll fall into water. Falling on a snowboard, on the other hand, can be very painful since there’s a big chance you’ll fall on packed snow or ice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions wakeboarding vs snowboarding

Is wakeboarding harder than snowboarding?

If you are a beginner at both sports, wakeboarding is easier to learn than snowboarding at first. The initial thing you just need to learn is how to stand up.

Is wakeboarding similar to snowboarding?

They do have some similarities but they also have a lot of differences in terms of equipment, physical ability, and a lot more.

Can you use a wakeboard as a snowboard?

Yes, it is possible as long as you remove the bindings on your wakeboard and replace them with boots. It’s a lot of work but it is possible.

How dangerous is wakeboarding?

Just like any extreme sport, wakeboarding can pose a risk to your life if you are not careful. Common injuries involve the head and neck.

Which foot should be your back foot?

It depends on which is your stronger foot. It can either be your left or right as long as you are comfortable with your stance.

What’s the difference between boat riding and cable riding?

Boat riding is when you are riding behind a boat when wakeboarding, cable riding which is also park riding is when a cable is used to help pull a wakeboarder.


So, which would you like to try first? If this is your first time to try your hands on these sports, it would be ideal to start with wakeboarding. The only thing you need to learn initially is how to stand and give a hand sign to stop. However, if you have tried skating or skiing before, any of the two will be a bit easier for you.

But still, even if you have experience with skateboarding or skiing, snowboarding is still different from the two and can still be a bit of a challenge to learn. If you are ready, go and invite your friends and start riding. Good luck and have fun!

Sharing is caring!

Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x