In thinking about skiing vs. snowboarding, there are two main questions we're hoping to answer:
1) For those starting out: which should I choose?
2) For those who already ski or snowboard: should I switch?
While this is largely a personal decision dependent on a variety of factors, below we've laid out some basic information to help inform the decision making process. Here at Glade we have team members that ski, snowboard, and even a few that do that both, so we know that there is no right or wrong answer here!
Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Ease of learning
Skiing: The initial learning phase is easier for skiers than for snowboarders. Independent leg movement is a natural motion for humans so skiing doesn't feel that unnatural. For new skiers, it's not uncommon to graduate beyond snowplowing in only a day or two and quickly have most of the mountain at your disposal. However, graduating from greens and blues to steep blacks and trees can take much longer. A popular axiom is that skiing is easy to learn, difficult to master.
Snowboarding: There is no way around it, the initial foray into snowboarding can be rough. We strongly advise learning when there is soft snow, as your knees and wrists will take a beating for the first few days. It can feel constricting and awkward to have both legs attached to the same board without any ability to move them. However, once you are able to progress from backside to toe side turning, your comfort on the hill will accelerate rapidly. Many find that they can tackle steeps and powder much sooner than the average new skier.
Caveat: those well versed in other board sports (surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding) will find the heel side / toe side progression is much more natural than for those who are not experienced in these activities. When comparing skiing vs. snowboarding as a board sport enthusiast, it's important to keep this in mind.
Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Injuries
Skiing: Your going to run into far more leg injuries as a skier than as a snowboarder. ACL and other tears are a concern, especially now that the slopes are more crowded and advances in gear tech have resulted in people skiing faster and more confidently.
Snowboarding: Upper body injuries are more common amongst snowboarders thanks to the 'one edge' problem. Catching an edge on a snowboard is usually a lot more violent then on skis, with your wrist and collarbones exposed on the frontside and coccyx on the backside. Head injuries are a concern in these events as well.
No matter which you choose, a helmet is always the most important piece of gear to protect yourself against injury.
Skiing vs. Snowboarding: Gear
Boots: Snowboard boots are more comfortable than ski boots, hands down. You can get away with walking around town in snowboard boots, whereas taking off your ski ski boots is often the only thing you can think about after a long day of skiing.
Outerwear and accessories: Almost all outerwear and accessories are built with both skiers and snowboarders in mind. For example, all of our goggles are built for both skiers and snowboarders. The only difference here is when you start to venture into the backcountry and are looking for things like skins and leashes.
Check out our ski trip packing list post for a more thorough list of ski and snowboard trip essentials and our goggle guide for more in depth look at which goggle lenses are right for you.
Skiing vs. Snowboarding summary:
When choosing between skiing vs. snowboarding the most important thing is that you are having fun. Many mountains are built specifically with the skier in mind (cat tracks, traverses, etc.), but snowboarding is the preferred activity for many when the snow gets deep. If you're looking for a new challenge, switching can be a fun experiment at the end of the season or during mid season snow droughts. There is no right answer here, do what feels right!