Snowboarding vs Sandboarding, What’s The Difference?

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When you think of gliding down the slopes on a board or skis, snowboarding automatically springs to mind. But more and more people are taking to the sand dunes every year to take part in the sports of sandboarding and sand skiing.

So which is the better substance to board upon? Is it the sand or the snow?

It is a question that stirs up much debate, so we are here to compare the two sports and to help figure out how different they are.

Sandboarding vs snowboarding

It is clear that boards and skis are used to travel through both snowy and sandy terrains from centuries. However, when the snowboarding and snow skiing have been recognized as official and respected winter sports, sandboarding and sand skiing have been overshadowed, only rising in popularity in the past decades.

Sandboarding vs. Snowboarding


Sandboarding is usually available all year round, unlike the ski-resorts that are usually seasonal, which makes sandboarding a lot more accessible than its snowy rivals.


The equipment is less expensive for sandboarding than it is for snowboarding.


Unique clothing isn’t required for the sand- the rider simply needs a board, wax, and goggles if you are sandboarding or a pair of skis and ski poles if you are sand skiing. If you are snowboarding, there are a lot of clothing and precautionary accessories necessary like proper snowboarding goggles, sturdy helmets, etc.

Quality of the board

Sandboard bases are much harder than snowboard bases that are built out of laminex or formica. The bases are usually waxed with paraffin-based sandboard wax before a run so that the user can slide down the sand easily.


The sandboards are much shorter, about a meter long shaped like a Magnum ice-cream stick, and are also a few centimeters thick. The shorter size reduces the surface friction, which makes the boards glide down the rough sand of the dunes easier. These also do not have a metal edge as the snowboard does. Instead, the wood of the board just finishes.

Difference between Sandboard and Snowboard

The difference between sandboarding and snowboarding

If sandboard looks eerily similar to snowboard that is because the concept is almost identical- strap a board to your feet and surf down a mountain of sand at a quick clip, by maneuvering your body and shifting your weight from toe to heel in order to navigate the dunes as you make your way to the bottom.

Sand dunes do not offer ski lifts to help boarders get up and down the sandy slopes. After boarding to the bottom of the dunes, the rider has to hike back up to the top to do it again while carrying your board with you.

If you do happen to hit the slopes on a scorching hot day, dress appropriately by covering up with a lightweight, breathable fabrics that will help to protect the skin if you fall on the warm sand. While the sand isn’t quite reflective as snow, you will still be dealing with additional glare from the sun.

A sandboard looks a lot like the snowboard except that it is comparatively lighter. This lightness is essential as many sandboarding dunes don’t have lifts, and you will have to carry the board up with you each time you want to go down. Do not use a snowboard on the sand as it can really scratch up.

Sand has extremely high friction. Snow has low friction. It gets even lower when the snowboard is riding on its edge when the snow compresses briefly into the ice with a floating layer of water on top.


Sandboarding was developed out of necessity. In a few parts of the world, snow is not an option, and those who wanted to snowboard came up with the idea of sandboarding on the large sand hills located in the desert. Sandboard is still a sport even though you don’t hear of it much.

The bottom line is that snowboards are made to perform on snow, and the sand boards are made to perform on the sand. If you really want to experience these activities, then ride the real sandboard on the sand and snowboard on the snow. Both of these are great sports that include a lot of joy and fun, and yes, you are going to love it!

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Thomas Miller
Thomas is an adventurous man from Colorado. He likes to ride snowmobiling in the harsh cold weather. Along with snowmobiling, he is also involved in the combat sports like boxing.

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