Should I Buy a Women's Snowboard?
Snowboard Expert Jen Mocanu details her experience shopping for a snowboard as a woman and whether or not it matters to get a women's-specific board!
All right, ladies! It’s time to talk about foot size and how it plays into buying a snowboard. This one is for all of you out there who are no stranger to the phrases “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch,” just like me!
If you have ever gone to a shop or talked to an expert online while in search of your new snowboard setup, you have most likely experienced some version of the following story I am about to tell you. Don’t worry, it is totally normal and all the cool kids are experiencing the same thing!
My Personal Experience as Bigfoot
I still think back on being fourteen years old and walking into my local board shop to buy my first legitimate setup. The stoke was real! I remember being like most new riders and being so excited to pick out my first real snowboard. Boots (arguably the most important piece of equipment for any rider) obviously didn’t matter to me then, neither did the bindings. It was all. About. The. Board.
As I walked through the shop, I spotted a few potential decks that I was excited about. I was obviously attracted to all of the graphics and color options that each board offered. They were all so cool, and I couldn’t wait to find out which one was going to be mine. I was truly a little kid in my own super-stoked version of a candy store.
After what felt like an eternity, a shop employee finally came over to help me with my new setup! As he walked over, I was proud to say that I was shopping for my first real snowboard and began to show him some of the women’s-specific boards that I was feeling.
He went on to ask me questions about my riding ability, height, and weight. I answered them all as I was still eyeing up those boards that I was loving. Then came the question of foot size. I told him that I wore a women’s size 10. He immediately suggested that I go to a men’s board due to sizing specifications with the women’s boards. I didn’t understand why, and he didn’t really explain it. I kept thinking that all the boards came in different lengths, both the men’s and the women’s, so why did I have to get a men’s board? But he was the professional, and I was new to the sport, so I just went with it. I looked at the men’s boards and found a bunch of those that I thought were rad too! I ended up walking out of that shop with a men’s-specific board that I loved.
A few years later, my next experience buying a board was very similar to the first. I went into my local shop with the intention of buying a women’s-specific board and walked out with a men’s-specific board, which I ended up loving as well! My riding progressed at a fast rate and I always felt comfortable and confident on the mountain.
Almost twenty years have passed since then, and nothing has really changed. My foot size did not magically shrink and, unfortunately, most snowboard companies still don’t make boards that accommodate women with bigger flippers. I still buy men’s boards and I still love them!
What Is Waist Width?
So, what does having a larger footprint have to do with buying a snowboard, and why do we recommend that women with bigger feet choose a men’s board as opposed to a women’s board? Well, it all comes down to the waist width of the snowboard.
The waist width of a snowboard is just as important as length when choosing your deck. In short: the bigger your foot, the bigger your boot, and the more surface area you need on your board to avoid heel and toe drag. Heel and toe drag occurs when the heel or the toe (or both) of your boot hangs over the edges of your board. This poses a problem when putting turns together or carving. When your boot drags on the snow, it can cause you to catch an edge and fall, resulting in tons of unnecessary frustration—especially if you are a newer rider, you probably won’t need any help falling!
Unfortunately for us female Bigfoots, women’s boards typically do not have a wide enough waist width to accommodate our boots. This is where the men’s-specific boards come in! Men’s boards tend to have a wider waist width than women’s boards to fit the (typically larger) footprint of men.
What does all that mean? Well, let’s look at two beginner-intermediate snowboards from GNU: the GWO or GNU World Order, a men's board, and the GNU B-Nice BTX, a women’s board. If we are looking for a waist width of at least 245 millimeters (suggested for women with a boot size of 8.5 and up), we will find it at a size of 150 centimeters in the GWO. In the GNU B-Nice BTX, we don’t see that waist width until we get up to the 154-centimeter size. This can pose a problem if you are a rider who needs a board no longer than 150 centimeters due to your height and weight. This is a prime example of when we would suggest going to the men’s GWO instead.
This gets a bit more complicated when we look at women with an even larger footprint than an 8.5. A woman with a boot size of 10 or up is going to have an extremely hard time finding a women’s board with a waist width large enough to accommodate her larger footprint (at least between 248 and 250 millimeters).
Do We Just Look at Waist Width?
No, of course not! I am not saying that waist width is the only thing we look at when choosing a board. There are other factors to consider as well; weight, height, and riding style are also taken into consideration when matching riders with their perfect boards! It can also depend on what type of board you are looking for (for example, what type of terrain you ride and what you are looking for in a snowboard).
However, waist width is EXTREMELY important and can sometimes be overlooked by newer riders. To get an idea of what other factors we look at when recommending boards to riders like you, check out this guide written by another Snowboard Expert at Curated!
Women’s-Specific Board or Not?
So, ladies, the question you’ve been waiting to ask: should I buy a women’s board or not? Well, as I have already explained, there are a few different factors that we take into consideration when suggesting the ideal snowboard for you.
If you are like me and have a bigger foot, there is a good chance that you should be looking at men’s-specific boards over women’s-specific boards. Snowboards are made to function in a certain way, and there are rider characteristics that will affect the way the board rides. Finding the perfect board for someone entails matching the rider’s characteristics with the board’s characteristics, like a puzzle!
Therefore, when your Curated Expert recommends a men’s board, welcome it with open arms because it will help your riding and it will make you happier to be on the correctly sized board! Hopefully, we can look forward to more companies making women’s-specific boards with a wider option. Until then, keep shredding on those men’s boards and show the guys how it’s done!