A Complete Guide to Wide SnowboardsPublished on 06/01/2023 · 10 min readThere are tons of benefits to having a wide snowboard, but how wide is too wide? Read on for details on how to choose a wide snowboard and factors to consider!
Photo by Naomi Hutchinson
Wide snowboards are designed for riders with large boot sizes so they don’t experience toe drag when snowboarding. If sized properly, they can also be advantageous for riders with average boot sizes by providing more stability, powder float, and maneuverability. However, there can be negatives of wide boards such as a slower board response and added board weight. In this article, we’ll discuss all these factors and more, and offer recommendations on which wide snowboard may be best for you.
My name is Gaelen, and I’ve devoted more than half of my life to snowboarding. Over the past 11 years, I’ve had the privilege of snowboarding 50+ days every year in locations such as Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. In addition, I’ve worked as a snowboard rental technician at multiple mountain resorts and in a snowboard shop. I’ve also worked with thousands of customers here at Curated to help them find the right gear for their specific needs and wants.
Today, we’ll go over the complete guide to wide snowboards:
- What are they and why you might consider one
- Specific features to look for in a wide snowboard
- Sample suggestions for real-life riders based on their specific needs and wants.
Common Questions Pertaining to Wide Snowboards
What Is a Wide Snowboard?
While there’s no true definition for a wide board, it’s generally agreed within the snowboard industry that it falls within 260 mm or more at its waist width—which is at the exact center of a board. This term is interchangeable with simply “width”.
How Can I Identify If a Snowboard Is Wide?
Simply look for a listed waist width that’s over 260 mm in the product description of any given snowboard. Alternatively, if you can’t find it, you can always consult a Snowboarding Expert at Curated.
Further, some board models are made “wide” in almost every length they’re produced. Most notably, the Ride Warpig, which is considered wide in every length produced except for the 142cm size.
Other board models won’t normally come wide except for a few specific lengths they’re produced in. If this is the case, companies will usually follow up the length with a “W” for wide or “MW” for medium wide. However, the exact millimeter length for a board that’s labeled as “W” or “MW” isn’t standardized, so it’s best to double-check the waist width specs as well.
What Is the Purpose of a Wide Snowboard?
So, you want to know why you should even consider a wide snowboard. The answer is simple—feet. If you have large feet, and thus a large shoe size, you’re going to have large snowboard boots. If you have large boots, your feet may hang over the edge of your board, which results in toe drag or heel drag on turns—sending you to the ground.
As someone who has taught snowboard lessons for a while, I’ve seen firsthand how that can be a huge source of frustration for beginners who keep ending up getting tossed to the ground. So, wide snowboards are meant to eliminate this problem. They give riders with larger boot sizes the same opportunity to snowboard as everyone else.
Do I Need a Wide Snowboard?
At this point, you may be thinking, “Well I have large boots, do I need a wide board?” Unfortunately, there’s not a hard and fast rule. Unless your shoe size is especially large in comparison to your body weight and height, then a wide board is not strictly necessary.
When a snowboard model is released, both the length and width of the board change with each model size change. The longer a board, the wider the board as well. The reasoning here is that if you’re a larger human, you’ve probably got a larger boot size. So a shorter board is going to be narrower, and a longer board is going to have a wider waist width naturally. With that being said, there are plenty of exceptions that may require a wider board. The best example—if you aren’t particularly tall or heavy, but your boot size is still large relative to your height.
The easiest way to tell if you need a wide board is to simply see if your toes or heels stick out significantly over the edge of your board. While your toes should hang over a bit on a proper-sized board (if they don’t at all, it’s actually a sign the board might be too wide for you), they shouldn’t be hanging over more than half an inch. That’s a surefire sign the board isn’t wide enough for you.
If you don’t have your boots handy, you can also check this chart I’ve included. It includes a list of boot sizes and the corresponding minimum snowboard width you should search for. But keep in mind, boots from different brands can be slightly different sizes even if advertised as the same size. Additionally, your stance width and binding angles will play a role in how wide of a board you actually need. In other words, this chart isn’t an exact science, but rather just a place to start.
Can I Ride a Wide Snowboard Even If I Don’t Need One?
At the end of the day, snowboarding comes down to your own personal preferences, so you can ride whatever you’d like. Beyond that, there are some advantages a wide snowboard can offer—even if your boot size doesn’t require you to get one. As a personal example, I own a CAPiTA Slush Slasher, which has a waist width of 264mm— which is much wider than I need in theory considering my size 10 men’s boot size. However this extra width gives me lots of float in powder and the ability to make deeper carves, while also being more maneuverable as I ride it in a smaller size. That’s because this is a “volume-shifted” snowboard!
“Volume-shifted” snowboards are boards that are built extra wide and are meant to be sized down 3–6 cm from your normal riding size. With the extra width, these boards still maintain the same surface area as a traditional snowboard. Therefore, they feature the same stability, edge hold, and high speeds as a traditional board—but with better maneuverability and board control.
How Much Do Wide Snowboards Cost?
Luckily for riders with big feet or riders interested in volume-shifted boards, wider versions of snowboards are not typically more expensive than the “normal-width” versions of the same snowboards. The average snowboard goes for anywhere between $400–700, with beginner snowboards being on the lower-end of that price range and advanced boards being on the higher-end of that range. Therefore, riders seeking out a wide snowboard should expect to pay about the same amount.
Different Types of Wide Snowboards
Wide snowboards are made for all different skill levels and riding styles. So while there aren’t defined subcategories, having a wide board can have certain effects on boards meant for any type of riding including beginner boards, all-mountain boards, freestyle boards, and freeride/powder boards.
There are not many advantages a wider snowboard will offer a beginner other than allowing beginners with large boots to snowboard safely without fear of falling due to toe drag when going toe-side. In fact, as a beginner it’s important to get a board that’s just wide enough but not too wide—as a board that’s too wide will be slower when going from edge to edge. Snowboarding is already hard enough to learn, don’t make it any harder by selecting a board that’s much wider than you need.
- Allows riders with large boots to learn to snowboard
- Can cause a board to take longer when going from edge to edge
While a casual all-mountain rider may not appreciate a wider board, advanced riders can benefit from the extra stability a wider board provides. Additionally, a wider board allows riders to carve deeper than a regular width board as they have more surface area to push into the snow. Just remember that a wider board will handle as if it’s 3–6cm longer than it actually is, so it’s best to size down within the same range, lest you end up riding a board that feels way too large for you.
- Provides more stability at speeds or in gnarly terrain
- Allows riders to make harder and deeper carves
- Can feel too big if not sized down properly
There’s not a concrete reason a freestyle rider would want a wide board if their boot size doesn’t require it, but this doesn’t mean you won’t see them in the terrain park. The extra width can help improve stability when stomping bigger tricks such as large jump lines. Plus, some riders say the extra width also makes it easier to lock into and stay balanced on rails and boxes.
It is worth noting that a wide board will be a bit heavier than a non-wide board, as it features more surface area. This may impact how easy it is to get the board into the air, forcing you to pop a bit harder. However, in my experience, I don’t think the weight of a wide board differs dramatically from that of a regular-width board, especially if you size down.
- Provides more stability for high-impact tricks
- Could make it easier to balance on rails and boxes
- Slightly heavier than the average snowboard
While riding piste trails such as groomers is totally fine on wide boards, I think they really shine on off-piste trails such as powder. As we’ve previously discussed, wide boards provide more stability which is great if you’re getting gnarly and riding steeper terrain. They also provide more float as your weight is spread out over more surface area, making them exceptional in deep snow! The conventional wisdom with powder boards is to size up a couple of centimeters and you can certainly do this with a wide powder board. Just remember the extra width makes your board feel even longer than it already is, and If you’re not careful you’ll end up with a board that feels quite big compared to what you’re used to.
- Provides extra stability in off-piste terrain
- Provides extra float in deeper snow
- Risk of board feeling larger than you’re comfortable with
Choosing The Right Snowboard For You
In order to better demonstrate how you should go about choosing the best model for you, below I’ve included a few real-life examples of customers I’ve helped on Curated, and each of their individual needs.
Jake: A Beginner With A Big Boot
Jake is a beginner snowboarder with size 13 boots. Every time he uses rental boards, his toes always catch in the snow, preventing him from properly learning toe-side carves. He’s now in the market for a board that’s going to prevent this problem and help him finally get off the bunny hill!
Features Jake should look for:
- A snowboard that’s at least 262 mm wide so he doesn’t experience toe drag
- A snowboard that’s under 268 mm wide so he doesn’t work harder than necessary
- 2023 Rome Mechanic 157W (266mm wide)
- 2023 K2 Raygun 160W (263mm wide)
- 2023 Salomon Sight 158W (264mm wide)
Cassandra: A Powder Hound
Cassandra does not have a particularly large boot size, only a size 10 U.S.. However, she’s an avid powder rider and would like to get a wide board to improve her float in powder.
Features Cassandra should look for:
- A snowboard that’s at least 256 mm wide to reap the benefits of the extra width
- A snowboard that’s no wider than 262 mm so it doesn’t feel sluggish
- A volume-shifted snowboard that’s designed to be downsized
- 2023 Lib Tech Orca 147cm (257mm wide)
- 2023 Ride Warpig 148cm (260mm wide)
- 2024 Capita Slush Slasher (262mm wide)
Connect With a Real Expert
If you’re still undecided on if a wide snowboard is for you, don’t fret. Instead, simply reach out to a Curated Snowboarding Expert for free, live-time advice and gear recommendations. The process takes only a few minutes, and is the easiest way to avoid analysis paralysis and buyer’s remorse when choosing your next snowboard.