Snow Blades vs. Skis

snow blades

Skis can come in many different lengths to match many different needs. There are many different shapes and profiles as well.

Even though many people think of skis as relatively straight pieces of equipment, slight variations can make a big difference. That is why some people ride with snow blades.

While you may not know what snow blades are, this article will examine how they operate, the way they differ from skis, and why so many snow enthusiasts choose to use them.

What are Snow Blades?

At first glance, snow blades look like really short skis. They were first created as a shorter alternative to the longer ski models that have popped up on the market as of late.

We will get into the benefits of snow blades when compared to regular skis shortly, but their main defining characteristic is that they are short.

Snow blades also have a shaped profile that’s often similar to that of a snowboard. This means they have a parabolic shape that looks much more like an hourglass than a straight ski.

They come in various lengths and widths, just as with skis, but snow blades can be anywhere from 75 to 100 cm long.

As they have a metal grip alongside a wood core surrounded by laminates, snow blades work in the same ways as skis do when on top of the snow.

In addition, if you’re using snow blades, you will also use regular ski boots. Sometimes you attach to them with regular ski bindings and sometimes you attach via special bindings made for snow blades.

Benefits of Snow Blades

The two main benefits of snow blades is that they are easy to learn on and simple to control. The shorter length means there’s less material to handle.

That gives them a feel that’s almost like roller skating or rollerblading on the snow. They are lighter than skis, which allows for easier maneuverability, and they have a smaller turning radius.

Beginner skiers who struggle with regular skis can often do better on snow blades while they learn the basics of the sport.

The increased turning radius makes it easier to traverse certain terrain features, such as moguls and trees. A smaller ski is also far easier to use in smaller spaces where quick turns are required, and snow blades are about as small as skis can get.

Snow blades can also be a lot of fun if you want to learn some tricks. With a smaller ski, it’s much easier to complete tricks like spins because there’s less weight attached to your boots.

When you wear snow blades, you’ll be able to attempt maneuvers that you might not have been able to do in longer skies.

If you’re a beginner skier, you shouldn’t attempt tricks at first. However, if you have some experience, snow blades can allow you to have more fun in the air and off jumps.

It’s a good way to learn some maneuvers because you can get a good feel for what it takes to complete the trick on smaller skis and then translate that into your attempts on full-length models.

Disadvantages of Snow Blades

While snow blades can be a lot of fun, and while they make skiing a little more accessible for beginners, they don’t perform as well as skis.

If you want to tackle big mountain conditions such as steep slopes, deep powder, or high speeds, you will be far better off on regular skis than snow blades.

With their shorter length and smaller size, snowblades don’t do well in powder conditions. You might struggle to move quickly on a moderate slope covered in over six inches of powder with snow blades on.

That’s because they have far less surface area to keep you on top of the snow. If you love skiing powder, you should stick to regular-sized skis.

Snow blades are also much slower than regular skis. That’s great for beginners because you’ll feel more in control, but if you have had a taste of what it feels like to go fast on skis, the limited speed allowed by snow blades is a definite disadvantage.

Again, this is due to snow blades having less surface area to build up speed. If you do go fast on snow blades, they will start to chatter.

Snow Blades vs Skis: Other Considerations

Many skiers enjoy that snow blades don’t require ski poles. If you’ve ever wondered what the purpose of poles are, or if you have struggled to use them, you might want to try snow blades because you don’t have to worry about using poles at all.

You still could, in theory, but with such a short ski, poles aren’t necessary.

Another thing to note is that there’s often some negative perception of people who use snow blades. This comes from regular skiers who see snow blading as a form of the sport that’s not as cool or valid.

While you obviously are free to slide down the mountain however you choose, there’s a chance you could get heckle by hardcore skiers who don’t like snow blades.

I have only seen this happen a small number of times, but it’s good to know about in case other skiers give you attention while you have snow blades on. In general, most skiers are pretty nice.

There will be times, however, where you might encounter an angry skier who frowns on your short skies.

Final Thoughts

Snow blades can be a lot of fun. Even if you don’t plan on using them all of the time, I would recommend using them at least once just so you know what it’s like to ski on them.

For a beginner, they can be a good learning tool that will enable you to increase your abilities in an easy and approachable manner.

Snow blades are unique and not as popular as regular skiing, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t as fun or rewarding as their longer relatives.

In my opinion, any day on the snow is a good day and it really doesn’t matter what you choose to put on your feet. Just get out there and enjoy it!

Have you ever used snow blades? What did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below!

17 Responses

  1. Help! I can’t find any places to rent blades from anymore and I’m addicted. My wife also has only ever been on blades too, is there a particular type of ski that I should ask for instead that would have something close to that same feel? Particularly thinking about the the back of the skis that lift up and don’t dig in to the snow when I go for a “hockey stop”.

    1. Hi Clay,

      If you get a shorter pair of twin-tipped skis with a heavy tail rocker, that might work for what you are looking for. Snowblades aren’t as readily available as they used to be, so they can definitely be challenging to find as rentals. Twin-tipped skis have tips and tails that rise up off the ground to give you a little less drag while also providing easy turning. Rocker basically gives skis a banana shape if you look at them from the side. Ask the rental shop for the shortest pair of skis with heavy tail rocker, which should get you started in the right direction.

      I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any more questions.

      Christine

  2. I learned on snowblades, then moved onto skis…and then back to snowblades. I have duck feet and on normal skis I tend to cross the skis behind me. I am 50+ and have much better control than half the people on the slope that seem to have huge problems with control. I have not encountered any snobbery due to my choice or I am just too busy having fun to care.
    I think snowblades have come of age where they are not super short anymore and maneuverable in all conditions.

  3. I found my shorties required constant turning which is more of a thigh workout. Skiing with skis flat to hill would independently drift in different directions. Also “carving” required moving down hill ski ahead of uphill ski, the angle difference between the skis defined tangents to the curve. Great for spins and ice skate like “3” point turns to go backwards and forwards.

  4. Thank you so much for this useful information about blades.
    I find the blades great fun for me as a beginner on the snow, even tho I’m in my late 40’s and a late starter to the game.
    The thrill coming down the slopes on my blades was a fantastic experience.

  5. I have blades.. just a a quiet social skier ..but the blades are a lot if fun and I vets only enjoy the lighter weight under my boots .. that’s the nice thing about skint .. all abilities catered fit .. I’m in the uk find ski enough!!

  6. I have an autistic son 30 years old. He is a little heavy , 5’7″ tall 160 lbs. Like the idea of no poles, less parts. What brands do you suggest? What would be the best type of ski boots. I don’t want too heavy ski boots that overwhelm the skis. I want the best combination. What do you recommend?
    I used to be an expert skier growing up in Stowe. I had hip replaced and haven’t skied in 12 years. I am buying new skis for myself and snowblades for Regan ( my son). Thanks

  7. I started learning to ski on blades. I feel in love with it. I work at a ski mountain and due to working a lot I don’t always get out on the slopes much in my free time. I also use my edges a lot. I picked up the stopping by turning like more advanced skiers do faster then snowplowing. The trouble I ran into is my mountain gets a lot of varying conditions regularly; regular beginner skis didn’t allow me to adapt well to that. Almost a year ago I was looking for my own equipment and found a pair of blades very cheap. I knew a little about blades but not much. I bought the blades I saw and tried them out last season. I handled those varying conditions a lot easier then I ever have in the past. I do want to be able to to do all the trails on the mountain I normally ski, but unlike most skiers I don’t want to go super fast. So personal I think I’m going to stay with blades mostly.

  8. I am in my mid seventies and find controlling my regular skis a lot more difficult for me. I ski with a closed stance usually. Can I ski that way with blades? Is your weight forward against the top of the ski boot? If you fall is it easier to get up?

    1. Rich, I’m just now reading this article about snow blades. I’ve have a set of blades but have never used them because skiers have warned me that the blades will kill me because you can’t control them. This article contradicts those statements. May I ask what your replies were on your question? Thank you Anna

  9. This is a great article! Blades are a great way for older skiers to stay active! Most people give up skiing when they get older, I feel like blades are helping me stay in the game longer. The other commenter makes a great point, it also helps when you are teaching other people how to ski or snow board. Using blades this winter will help me maneuver around my 5 year old grand son with ease! It will help me help him become confident in his abilities.

    1. Nice comment.
      I am in my mid seventies and after a long history of skiing now find myself having difficulty controlling my skis. I want to try blades. Any suggestions? I live in the East and rarely encounter powder

      1. I just got a pair of Snowlerblades from this place called Full Send Ski Co. They are a couple guys in a small shop hand making beautiful skis, and they just released this new blade model. It’s a really well built, sturdy ski that should be everything you would want out of a ski at only 110 cm. If you check em out let them I sent you.

  10. I use snow blades while teaching my littles how to ski. It is so much easier
    to maneuver around them, pick them up and guide them along. I’ve yet to use them as my boards for a whole day on the mountain and I think hitting the glades with them would probably be a blast!

  11. I have used skiis and blades and by far the blades were more fun for me. They are much easier to handle and go as fast as i need them to go. I am not a hard core competive skier. Yes, I got heckled by some more advanced skiiers but felt just fine about my short skiis and had a blast. I wore those out and will go skiing again after several years away. Looking for another pair.

  12. I am a casual skier (1-2 times a year). I own standard skis and snow blades. I enjoy them both equally.
    The snow blades, however, were very nice to use when I went with my friend and his 3 beginner kids. The snow blades made it an enjoyable time to stay at pace and maneuver with the kids.

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