The Differences Between Wakeboarding Vs. Snowboarding

by Sheila Zahra
A snowboarder wears gloves, goggles and a hat for protection from the cold.

A snowboarder wears gloves, goggles and a hat for protection from the cold.

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Wakeboarding and snowboarding both require boards, but they are distinctly different boards for very different sports. A wakeboarder's habitat includes calm water, warm sun and a boat, while a snowboarder dwells in the cold snowy mountains. Both sports involve gliding and jumping across surfaces, but snow and water are quite different surfaces to navigate.


Wakeboarding takes place on the water, usually a lake. The term "wake" refers to the waves that a boat creates while moving across the water. Snowboarding takes place on the snow, usually on hills or mountains. Thus geography factors greatly into which sport can be performed in a given place.


Wakeboarding is done on water suitable for swimming, which requires a warm or temperate climate. Snowboarding is done on packed snow, so it must be cold enough for snow to remain on the ground for long periods of time. Ideal weather for wakeboarding includes warm air and little to no wind, in order to minimize waves on the water. Ideal weather for snowboarding includes near-freezing temperatures after snowfall, though not during snowfall.

The Boards

Although wakeboards and snowboards are both flat with bindings to hold your feet in place, they are distinctly different. A snowboard is longer and thinner than a wakeboard, with a skateboard-like shape. Wakeboards are wider and have fins on the bottom for use in the water.

The Gear

Snowboards require snowboarding boots that fit into the bindings, whereas wakeboards are designed to be used with bare feet. Snowboarding requires gear associated with snow and cold weather, such as an insulated jacket, goggles and gloves. Wakeboarding requires a boat and a line, much like waterskiing. A wakeboarder wears a bathing suit or a wetsuit and a lifejacket.

About the Author

Sheila Zahra began working as an editor and writer in 2004. She has edited full-length works of fiction and nonfiction, and has written articles and essays for academic and business clients. Zahra earned a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and creative writing from California State University, Long Beach, in 2006. She currently lives and works in Eugene, Oregon.

Photo Credits

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