Do I Need a Wide Snowboard?

Whether you need a wide snowboard on not all comes down to the size of your feet, or more specifically the size of your boots.

When choosing a snowboard it’s not just the length of the board that is important. If your boots are longer than your board is wide then that means either your toe or your heel will likely be overhanging the edge of the board. A consequence of this is that you’ll get either heel or toe drag. This happens during turning when the board is put on its edge and either the toe of your boots with a heel makes contact with the snow normally resulting in you hitting the deck. This is obviously something you want to avoid, but how do you know whether you need a wide snowboard or not?

Standard width snowboards are normally around 25 cm in width at the narrowest point between the binding mounts. This typically gives enough room for your boots up to a size 10 US or size 43 in European sizes. If your feet a larger then this then it probably means that you need to get a wide snowboard.

How wide is wide?

Snowboard widths can be split into four categories: narrow, regular, mid-wide and wide.

MensBoot Size (US)5 - 77 - 9.58.5 - 10.59.5 -11.511+
Womens Boot Size< 66 - 8.58 - 10.510.5+
Snowboard Width (mm)225-235236-245246-250251-254255-259260+
Category Narrow women'sNarrow/ regular women'sRegularRegularMid-wideWide

Do all boards come in wide versions?

Generally, it follows that if you have big feet you’re also pretty big, so snowboard brands tend to only make the longer boards in wide versions, from about 158cm and up. Unfortunately, not all models come in wide versions, so you are slightly limited in choice. But there is enough selection out there so you should be able to find a board which suits you and your style of riding…and your big feet!

What about my riding style?

Like I said above, ideally you want to keep your board as narrow as possible, but this is maybe dependent on the kind of riding you are into.

If you like riding fast on groomers and carving up the trails then you definitely don’t want your toes dragging in the snow, but you also need to be able to get as much pressure pushing through the edges as possible in the turns. If this is your style of riding then you need a board that is as close to the perfect width as possible

If you ride only in the backcountry then it doesn’t matter if your board is a bit on the wide side. That extra width will give you a bit more float in the powder and you won’t be needing to push too hard through the edges in the soft snow.

If you ride a lot of park then its not so important that you get the width exactly right. A narrow board will be a bit lighter and easier to throw around, and you tend not to edge that hard when setting up for tricks in the park, so a tiny bit of toe or heel overhang shouldn’t be a problem. With one exception…

In the pipe, you need to be able to carve and edge hard to hold your speed across the bottom on the pipe. Halfpipe riding is really precise, and falls can hurt on the icy walls so you really want a board that is the perfect width if you are serious about your pipe game!

Don’t go too wide

Even though you may need a wide snowboard you still want the board to be as narrow as possible. It’s important that both the toe and heel of your boot reach the edges of the board so that you can apply pressure through the edges when turning. Also, wider boards have more material in them and so are heavier you want your snowboard to be as light as possible not just so it’s easier to carry but so it’s easier to manoeuvre when you’re riding it I’m performing jumps and tricks.

If you have a board which you think maybe too narrow for your boots, then there are a few tweaks that you can try before you rush out and get a new wide snowboard.

Check your bindings are centered

Firstly it’s worth checking that your bindings are correctly centered across the board so that you have even amount of space between the heel/toe of your boots on both edges. If you feel when riding that you are catching your toes in the snow more than your heels (or vice-versa) then this might be the cause of the problem.

Increase your binding angle’s

Next, you can experiment with new binding angles. By increasing the angle of both your front and back bindings, you can make your boot less square across the board and reduce the overhang. This means changing your riding stance, so if you have to increase the angle of the bindings by a lot then I’d recommend another solution instead, or it will just feel weird when riding.

Change your boots

Finally, you could try changing your boots instead. Your boots should fit pretty snug so often times there is room to come down a size. Or if you are a size 11 US and right on the cut-off for a wide board, then you might be able to get away with a boot which is lower in profile. The Burton Ions are a good example of a nice neat boot which doesn’t take up too much room on your board.

Still getting toes and heel drag?

If you’ve got the right width board and the bindings are set up in the center of the board but you’re still getting toe/heel drag then there one last thing you can try – riser plates. This is something that is definitely not for everyone but if you carve like this guy and you suddenly find yourself sliding along on your face/butt then you might need to lift your bindings up a little. Riser plates screw directly into the board and then the bindings going on top, creating up 1cm extra hight off the snow. When you really lean the board over into a carve, this extra hight allows you to get more angle before the boot or binding starts to drag in the snow. But like I said they’re not for everyone!