Sandboarding borrows much of its technologies and techniques from snowboarding, but it’s also often referred to as sand surfing and it can be practiced with a sled or toboggan. This unique emerging sport is a blend of many arts and it is quickly discovering itself and evolving accordingly. But does it feel any different from gliding on snow?
5 reasons why sandboarding is different from snowboarding
1. It feels more like surfing
While sandboards are aesthetically more similar to a snowboard than a surfboard, dune sledging really feels more like surfing than snowboarding. Sandboarding does not require a weight-forward stance and just like when you surf, being able to catch a good “slope” is what really makes or breaks your ride. In sandboarding, your location determines how fast you’ll go – the steepest the dune, the more exciting the ride. There is a reason the sport has gained so much popularity in countries like Peru and Argentina where you can surf on some of the highest dunes in the world.
2. You need very little equipment
Snowboarders need to dress heavy for winter weather and will usually stack up on helmets, goggles, knee pads and what not – in the realm of sandboarding, most of these are optional. Sandboarding is a low-effort sport with minimalist gear and only two “musts”: a sandboard and some wax to go with it. If you are dune surfing at the beach, you can even go barefoot and bare chest – the need for protection gear is limited to the steeper slopes of high desert peaks. And don’t forget to bring plenty of sun screen.
3. Snow melts, sand doesn’t
Snowboarding is a winter sport and as such strictly seasonal. Due to global warming, the number of glaciers is shrinking and there soon may not be any places left for snow sports in Peru. Meanwhile, sandboarding is here to stay, and it can be practiced all-year round, although there are still elements of seasonality that may make it best practiced at certain times of the year. In some areas, for example the Negev Desert in Israel, the sport is best practiced in winter when the sand shifting from the nearby Sahara makes the dunes taller. And sand sledding in Los Angeles is limited to the winter season (with few exceptions), because that’s when artificial sandhills are built to protect the shores of SoCal from floods and that’s where all the sledging fun is at. That said – if you are planning to go sandboard in Dubai it won’t make much of a difference whether it’s August or January.
4. Hiking up a dune can be painful
Here’s where snowboarding wins – winter resorts offer ski lift to take you back on top of a mountain after your ride, which sadly won’t happen when you are in the middle of the desert. The only sandboarding facility equipped with a lift is Monte Kaolino in Germany, while everywhere else you will have to hike up the dune on foot (while carrying your sandboard). This can be a deal breaker for some, but it’s easily avoided if you have access to a dune buggy as part of a group or tour.
5. Falling on sand is more fun (most of the time)
Expect sand, and lots of it. Falling from your sandboard happens but it’s usually a fun experience, unless the sand is very hot (in which case you really should protect yourself with adequate sandboard clothing). Just make sure to keep your belonging safe and avoid pockets whenever possible – or you’ll end up scooping up sand for weeks to come!