If you’re a female rider in the market for a snowboard, you may come across good opportunities for boards that are normally designed for men. Or iIf you’re a larger than average woman (e.g. 5’8″ – 165lb), you might find woman’s boards to be too lightweight or flexy for you.
Can a woman ride men’s snowboards? Is it only a marketing thing or should a female rider generally opt for a women’s model for real reasons? You may think a snowboard should be chosen based on size and weight regardless of gender.
This question is asked so many times we thought we should address it with some depth.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the short answer:
While a women can ride any snowboard, a men’s board may not be great if her feet are too small for the board’s waist width. A larger sized woman with medium to large feet may ride a men’s board efficiently. A woman may also choose a softer men’s board to suit her weight and muscle mass.
Should a woman ride a men’s snowboard ?
Men’s boards generally run bigger and wider than women’s. Women’s boards have a narrower sidecut and waist width, designed for smaller bodies and smaller feet. They also have a softer flex compared to a similar men’s model . Men’s boards are also heavier.
Women’s boards are designed for women’s lower center of gravity. This is factored in in the board’s width sections, edge pattern, and binding placement, all of which play a role in the snowboard’s control, agility, and balance.
Yet many women find men’s snowboards more comfortable for to their own size and/or riding style. Generally speaking, a men’s snowboard might work well if the board flex matches your weight and if your shoes aren’t too small for the board width.
A stiffer and longer men’s snowboard (e.g. a Burton Custom X) can give a female snowboarder a more stable ride compared to softer/shorter women’s boards.
Some bigger female riders may feel comfortable on a men’s snowboard, but may later switch back to a women’s board after a loss of weight.
Let’s look at some key characteristics of men’s vs women’s snowboard and the differences between them, and whether women can ride men’s snowboards interchangeably.
Men vs women snowboard size
Women tend to be smaller and lighter than men so women’s boards are generally smaller. A 152 cm snowboard will often be too large for a 100lb female, while a 144 – 147 board should be big enough. A 5’9″ / 125 lb woman would have a much easier time maneuvering on a 151cm women’s board vs a 157 men’s board.
That said, a woman’s height and weight aren’t the only factors to consider. One also needs to take into account the rider’s skill level and power. While a men’s snowboard will generally be heavier and bulkier, it might be a good match for a powerful female rider.
Another important aspect to consider when choosing a men’s vs a women’s snowboard is stance. A smaller woman will find the stance on a men’s board too wide.
A female rider can of course adjust the stance and make it narrower, more set back etc. However the optimal binding placement on a snowboard is determined in relation to the sidecut so as to achieve efficient edge pressure and turn initiation. On a snowboard designed for men, the optimal stance will be wider.
A stance too wide for a smaller female rider can lead to increased fatigue.
Snowboard width is perhaps the most important difference between men’s and women’s snowboards. Men’s boards are generally a lot wider than women’s. Therefore, only female riders with larger feet should consider a men’s snowboard.
As a female rider, if your feet are smaller than the board width, initiating turns on that board will be challenging and the response will be sluggish, especially for a newer snowboarder.
A rider should have slight overhang in order to apply pressure efficiently to the snowboard rails and get good edge-to-edge response.
So even if a you have the right weight for a snowboard, your feet should not fit completely on the board widthwise. A women’s 8.5 boot size will generally ride comfortably on a board up to 25mm in width, which for a men’s board corresponds to 158cm or shorter.
Mens vs womens snowboard sidecut
As I mentioned earlier, female boards have a deeper sidecut for easier turning. As a result, women’s snowboards generally have a smaller turning radius.
While men tend to transition with their shoulders, women use their hips more. The overall shape and waist/sidecut on women specific snowboards take this difference into account.
The narrower waist on a women’s board is designed to provide good toe or heel leverage in turns for a rider with smaller feet. A waist much wider than the rider’s feet would hinder turning ability significantly.
For this reason, a woman with larger feet (e.g. men’s 7 or more) may consider choosing a small men’s snowboard over a women’s boards. Conversely, a female rider with average women’s foot size might find a men’s board harder to control, particularly a beginner.
Mens vs womens boots & bindings
As a female rider, if you choose a men’s snowboard, depending on your boot size you’d still want to fit the board with women’s bindings since men’s bindings will generally be too loose.
A rider with a women’s 8 boot, for example, will find even a small men’s binding to have extra width, which is not ideal – even though some female riders enjoy the bigger highbacks on men’s bindings.
While some women do ride with men’s bindings, it is generally not recommended.
Mens vs womens snowboard flex
Female rider are typically lighter than men and have lower strength when carving, resulting in less flexing of the snowboard when riding compared to men.
In general, the flex rating of a snowboard should be matched to the rider’s weight. A heavier rider typically needs a stiffer board, while a lighter rider will perform better with a softer flex.
As a result, men’s boards are stiffer than women’s. Women’s boards also differ in flex pattern due to women having a lower center of gravity when riding.
A men’s snowboard will therefore often feel too stiff for a female to turn on, especially riders under 140lb. That said, heavier women may feel OK on a men’s board flex-wise.
A rule of thumb is that a woman should add +2 in flex for a men’s vs a women’s board. A large kid’s or small men’s snowboard may be a good choice for a stronger female rider, as the board will be a bit stiffer than a similar sized women’s snowboard.
Note that a while stronger female rider may be better matched to a stiffer men’s board, in some conditions a softer board will be more fun to ride, e.g. in deep powder.
Also, if you like a stiff board, an alternative to a men’s board is a board with lots of camber as it will feel significantly stiffer.
A less critical but nonetheless important aspect of choosing a men’s snowboard for a woman is board looks. Some women don’t mind the “manly” graphics on men’s snowboards. Some may actually find them more attractive than women’s designs.
A few recommended men’s snowboards for girls
- Lib Tech Orca: Lib tech makes a narrow version of their boards for riders with smaller feet
- Burton Custom: goes as low as 149cm in length and the waist width narrows by size.
- Nitro Fintwin
- Capita Spring Break Slush Slasher
- Endeavor Snowboards are unisex and come in many widths and lengths
Check out men’s snowboards with small sizes here on Evo
To recap, can you ride a men’s snowboard as a girl? You certainly can, however your edge-to-edge transitions may not be ideal unless you’re a bigger woman with large enough feet to match the board’s width and waist, and you have a strong enough build to power the stiffer flex – or you pick a softer men’s board.
Board length should be adequate for your height to achieve an optimal stance, so a smaller men’s snowboard might be a good option.