The SoloTravel Guide

Skiing versus SnowboardingDeciding which discipline is right for you

A Q&A with Phil Teare from The Ski Gathering

Skiing versus Snowboarding is a classic debate, and usually a pretty predictable one. Ask a skier, and they'll tell you skiing rules. Ask a boarder... well, you can probably guess. It can be hard to get neutral, well-informed advice, with evangelists from both camps passionately insisting that their chosen sport is by far the superior. So I should begin by laying out my cards.

I've skied and snowboarded in countless resorts over more years than I care to remember. I am one of the few people who do both to a pretty similar level. Most people who can do both are really experts at one and do a bit of the other. But in my case I have little personal preference or ability difference. So, perhaps for the first time ever, the unbiased guide to the ski vs snowboard question!

Skier performs a parallel turn
Single snowboarder making a smooth descent

What can you actually do on skis / a snowboard?

These days you can do everything on a set of skis or on a snowboard. There are no long-term limitations either way: on-piste, off-piste, the big tricks and jumps you see in the snow park... everything is possible no matter which option you choose. These are all long-term factors, of course: on your first holiday none of these will really be a consideration.

What about the "cool" factor?

For the fashion conscious amongst you there, really is no bias these days. An outsider's view might think that snowboarding is the "cooler" option. But to be honest that applied to the late 1990s, and the added cool factor of snowboarding is something that kind of been and gone. These things go in fashions.

So, for the fashionistas out there, if you want to bring style to the slopes, you can do whether you pick skiing or snowboarding!

solo snowboarding on holiday solo snowboarding on holiday

To boil it right down, we might say that skiing is easier to learn, but harder to master.

Which is easier to learn, skiing or snowboarding?

Your first week on snow

Skiing: Learning to ski, your first week is usually a lot of fun. Many people pick it up quite quickly and take to it well. On the first day you'll be doing your first turns on the beginner slopes. By the end of the first week you may progress to a variety of main ski slopes (graded "blue").

Snowboarding: Your first week of snowboarding is a little different. The first 2 or 3 days involve falling over, a lot. It feels like nothing is going in, as you take tumble after tumble. Do not despair though, there is light at the end of the tunnel! For most people after a couple of days it "clicks", and they suddenly start to make real progress.

It can well be worth getting some padding for your first snowboarding week. Myself, even after many years, I still use protective shorts with pads across the back and sides. Kneepads are also available.

Conclusions about Week One: If you only have one week and you really want to get the most out of it then perhaps skiing could be a good choice. By the end of the week you should be able to go off exploring and get your way around the resort. The first week of a snowboarding holiday is a bit more of an investment. For many, it's a case of getting your skills down so that next time you can really start exploring and enjoying yourself. Both of these disciplines can be learned on one of our beginners solo weeks.

Mastering Skiing or Snowboarding

Skiing is a very technical sport, and all of us spend our time trying to continually improve and master the perfect turns. Snowboarding is a much easier sport to master. A great example of the conversion to offpiste.*

For a snowboarder the conversion to off piste is quite easy. A few small changes to your technique and you are away. For a skier though the difference is huge. It feels like being a complete beginner again; like everything you've learnt on piste is entirely useless as soon as you dip a ski into the deep powdery snow!

* On piste? Off piste? Huh?

On piste skiing / snowboarding means going on the main ski pistes. These are compressed snow, flat and firm. Think of a road covered in snow after a whole load of vehicles have driven up and down and squished the snow flat. Off piste means skiing through the untouched snow. The technique required is a bit different to skiing or snowboarding on piste. For anyone interested you may want to join one of our "Introduction To Off Piste Course" weeks.

Disclaimer alert: Off piste on skis or a snowboard is dangerous and you should only go with a qualified mountain guide! Even that little bit of powdery snow not too far off the edge of the piste can avalanche.

The Comfy Factor

Here snowboarding wins hands down. Ski boots are perhaps the least comfortable footwear you'll ever try on, and walking around the town and them is quite an unpleasant experience. On the flipside snowboard boots are soft, much more comfortable, and far easier to walk in, along with the fact that you have only the snowboard to carry.


Once you're up and going to fitness required is pretty similar. For a complete beginner, though, snowboarding can be a little bit tougher. This is mostly because you'll spend a lot of time falling over and getting up again. Although skiing will still give you stiff and aching legs, it could be a good first choice if you're concerned about fitness.

Any questions, about anything at all?

Just ask! We are always only too happy to help, so what you would like to ask please do just get in touch.

More articles like this...

Empty Ski lifts shot by Solo Skier

Where to Ski Solo and Why: Best routes for solos

Some people go on singles ski holidays to get away from it all and enjoy their own space. For others, it's a social opportunity to meet new people and share the mountain. But whichever category of solo skier you are, the same ski routes stand out as the places to go this winter. And we have compiled them into one list of unmissable singles ski routes. These ski routes are all quiet, so you will have plenty of space. In many cases, they are also relatively unknown.

Read More
Solo Traveler in Uxmal, Mexico

Going solo: why so many prefer to travel alone

For many people, a first solo travel experience is often booked out of necessity rather than by choice. It might simply be that you decided to extend a solo business trip abroad; maybe it was a niche holiday which didn't interest your partner; or perhaps the rest of the gang just couldn't come along that year. But many would be surprised to learn just how many subsequent solo travel holidays are booked by choice rather than by necessity.

Read More
Group members on a singles ski holiday

The Six Concerns of Solo Skiers... and how to avoid them

No matter what the destination, the same problems always seem to crop up for first-time solo travellers. For all the many advantages there are to travelling solo, it can so often be the little things that put some people off the idea of getting out there and booking an independent adventure. Here are six of the little things that might make some people think twice about booking a solo ski holiday, and how to get around them with The Ski Gathering.

Read More
Piste-side drinks in Les Gets ski resort

Avant Ski! The web's best pre-holiday ski and snowboarding resources

Alas, it's still too soon for aprés ski, so put the Jaeger Bomb down and turn off the French reggae. But that doesn't mean you can't while away the hours chatting about pure corduroy, amazing runs and legendary wipe-outs. So cook up a vin chaud, put your goggles on sideways, and enjoy some "avant ski" online before your ski holiday. Here are some of the web's best resources for skiers and snowboarders preparing for their ski holidays.

Read More
Single skier executing a parallel turn on skis

What level of skier or snowboarder are you?

When booking ski lessons, organising ski hire, or simply choosing the right liftpass, it is important to have an idea of your own confidence and experience levels. This page provides as handy guide for anyone trying to gauge their own abilities as a skier or snowboarder. Beginner skier, novice, lower intermediate, upper intermediate, advanced skier or expert. This guide will help you decide which lessons, if any, are right for you.

Read More
A skier or snowboarder admiring the Alpine view

Skiing Versus Snowboarding: which is right for you?

Skiing versus Snowboarding is a classic debate, and usually a pretty predictable one. Ask a skier, and they'll tell you skiing rules. Ask a boarder... well, you can probably guess. It can be hard to get neutral, well-informed advice, with evangelists from both camps passionately insisting that their chosen sport is by far the superior. So I should begin by laying out my cards. I am one of the few people who do both to a pretty similar level.

Read More
An individual snowboarder mastering her new skills

All aboard: Week One as a Snowboarder

A Q&A with Phil Teare from The Ski Gathering. So you've taken the plunge and booked your first ever snowboarding holiday. Congratulations, that was a great decision - and one that will open up a whole new world of adventures for you! But what should you expect from your beginner's snowboarding holiday, and what happens next? This Q&A from The Ski Gathering will answer all your questions and put your mind at ease. Let's go!

Read More
Skis against a snowy background

The improver's guide to buying ski equipment and clothing

On a summer beach holiday, you might only pack your bathers, your passport and some currency. Not so in winter, sorry. There is a lot of stuff that goes into making ski holiday the awesome experience it is. But what should you buy, what should you borrow, and what should you hire? In this article we will break down all the essentials for you, letting you know about some of the best deals and best snowsports specialists in your local area.

Read More