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Skiing and snowboarding: What's the difference?

  • 6 min read

skiing vs snowboarding

In this article, we’ll be discussing the difference between skiing and snowboarding. And, for beginner skiers/ snowboarders or if you’re going on your first-ever trip to the slopes, we’ll give you a list of things to remember and must-haves to bring with you! Only with the proper gear to keep you warm and cozy can you enjoy your snow-filled adventure fully!

Table of Contents

  1. What’s the difference between skiing and snowboarding?
  2. Is snowboarding easier than skiing? Which should you learn first?
  3. Do skiing and snowboarding require different clothing?
  4. What should you wear to stay warm when skiing and/or snowboarding?
  5. What are the essential accessories and clothing should I have for skiing/ snowboarding?
  6. How to Layer Your Clothes to Keep Warm when Skiing and Snowboarding
  7. Conclusion

What’s the difference between skiing and snowboarding?

You can understand where the confusion comes from! While skiing and snowboarding seem similar, there are some key differences between the two. 

Skiing uses a pair of skis that you can use to glide over snow. It also makes use of poles that you can use to guide your path. Snowboarding, on the other hand, makes use of just one snowboard that you control with both your legs and feet to travel through the snow-covered ground. 

difference between skiing and snowboarding

Perhaps another notable difference between the two sports also comes with the type of footwear that each sport requires. 

While generally, the clothing for each is somewhat similar, skiing boots are harder than snowboarding boots. They also face downhill. Snowboarding boots, on the other hand, are more flexible.

Is snowboarding easier than skiing? Which should you learn first?

While both sports can be a ton of fun, generally skiing is easier to pick up and the initial learning curve is not as steep compared to snowboarding.

Skiing comes more naturally to people since their feet are not together. For snowboarding, since both feet are slipped to one board, it will take a bit of getting used to. The latter is harder to learn but relatively easier to master once you’ve got the hang of it. 

Since skiing uses two skis to move about, the challenge would be having both feet/skis move simultaneously.

Do skiing and snowboarding require different clothing?

The short answer is no. You can wear the same type of clothing whether you’re skiing or snowboarding. However, there can be some slight differences between the two. 

Ski jackets are more fitted compared to snowboarding jackets. Additionally, the latter are longer to keep you warm when sitting on the snow when you’re putting on your board.

skiers and snowboarders staying warm with proper clothes

Similar to the jackets, the fit of snowboarding trousers is looser compared to their skiing counterparts. More than anything, the baggy pants or the baggier style of snowboarding clothes has much more to do with the community’s culture - which is hugely influenced by surfing and skateboarding - rather than adding to the performance. 

When it comes to gloves, snowboarders usually opt for mittens since they don’t have to use poles. Mittens are also warmer, which is a plus since snowboarders touch the ground more often. However, this isn’t to say that you can’t use skiing gloves for snowboarding and vice versa.

What should you wear to stay warm when skiing and/or snowboarding?

In this list, learn how to layer your clothes to protect yourself from the cold as well as the essentials that you need to have with you.

essential skiing gear

Skiing and Snowboarding Clothing & Accessories Checklist

If you’re a ski or snowboarding newbie, here are the clothes and accessories checklist that you need to have for your trip. 

  • Mittens/ Gloves. Gloves are generally ideal for skiing while mittens are more so for snowboarding. But, as we’ve discussed in the previous section, you can use either interchangeably.
  • Glove Liners. These are thinner gloves that you wear under your mittens or outer gloves. Forglove liners, it is ideal to have a sweat-wicking pair and touchscreen-friendly since sweat makes you more susceptible to the cold. You’d want a touchscreen-friendy pair so that you won’t have to remove them when using your phone or touchscreen device.
  • Balaclava. A headwear to wear put under your helmet, abalaclava doesn’t just keep you warm but also protects your face, cheek, ears, and neck from windburns.

GearTOP balaclavas, for instance, provide you exactly this - and more! Choose between GT’s Rider Hood balaclava and the versatile Racer balaclava as you spend time on the slopes! Wearable in many ways, both balaclavas can serve as a cap, neck gaiter, and an open-face mask!

skier wearing the GearTOP Racer balaclava
  • Skull Cap/ Beanie. If you’re not a fan of a balaclava, opting for a skull cap or beanie might be the right fit for you! Ideally, you’d want something sweat-wicking to keep moisture and the cold at bay. 

If you’re on the hunt for one, GearTOP’s got you covered! Our selection of beanies is sweat-wicking and breathable - perfect for wearing under your helmet. Click the button below to check it out. 

  • Ski/ Snowboarding Pants. Layering (which we’ll talk about in the next section) can also be applied when it comes to your ski/ snowboarding pants. The base layer is usually made from polyester and merino wool. Then, for the outer layer, you need something waterproof while keeping you warm.
  • Ski/ Snowboarding Socks. Comfort is paramount when it comes to choosing your socks, too. We recommend buying your socks first to see how it fits with comfortable footwear. There are many factors to consider when choosing your pair. It can include the type of fabric, cushioning, fit, and length.
  • Ski Boots/ Snowboard Boots. Before anything else, it’s important to note that ski boots and snowboarding boots are not interchangeable. Snowboarding boots are more flexible. Ski boots on the other hand are harder and face downhill. Ask your local retailer when picking out the best pair for you.

Additionally, you have to pick comfortable boots! Whether you’re picking out ski or snowboarding boots, comfort should be one of the major factors that you need to consider. Otherwise, you’ll be miserable on the slopes. Stay comfy and have tons of fun on the snow despite those tumbles and falls! 

  • Shell Layer, Mid Layer, & Base Layers. Having the right type of top ensures that you stay cozy for your trip. In the next section, learn what type of fabrics are ideal for your clothes when you’re layering them. 

How to layer your clothes to keep warm when skiing and snowboarding

An important skill to learn, layering your clothes for your upper body and lower body to ensure that you have the right amount of insulation to keep you warm and cozy on the slopes. More doesn’t necessarily mean better in this case. 

layering clothes

For novice skiers and snowboarders, read on to learn how to properly layer your clothes for your skiing and snowboarding trip. 

    • Base layer. It’s the innermost layer and the one closest to the skin. The base layer wicks away moisture or sweat and keeps body heat in to keep you warm. The material used for this layer is usually made from synthetic or wool. And remember, you should stay away from cotton. Why? Once cotton gets wet, it traps moisture, making you more prone to the cold.
    • Mid Layer. The middle layer keeps you warm and can comprise one to several layers. Depending on how intensive your activities are, you can choose between different materials for the mid-layer. For skiing or snowboarding, you can opt for wool or synthetic material. For more rigorous activities, you can opt for lighter materials like natural or synthetic fabrics. 
    • Outer Layer. The outermost layer or the shell layer is used to protect you from the elements. The material used for the outermost layer should be waterproof and windproof, but also breathable enough. You should also make sure that it brings a comfortable fit over the mid and base layers.


    Whether you’re on a beginner level for skiing or snowboarding or an expert, spending time at the slopes can be one of the most exhilarating things that you can experience. But to make the fun last, you need the proper ski and snowboard gear and accessories to keep you cozy and comfortable! Now that you know what to pack, you can now make more memorable memories on the slopes to look back on! 

    If you’re an adventurer looking to complete your cold weather or even summer gear, you can check out the GearTOP collection!

    Choose from premium yet affordable sun and wind protection gear for any adventure. Or, if you prefer shopping on Amazon, our products are available on and

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