Ripsticking and snowboarding. Are they two faces of the same coin? One is a summer sport and the other a winter endeavor. Do they share any similarities, and can ripsticking in the summer help put an edge on your snowboarding skills for winter?

How can ripsticking be like snowboarding?  There is no edge to carve riding a ripstick. There are no bindings or boots.  Are there enough similarities between ripsticking and snowboarding to make ripsticking crossover to snowboarding?  Yes, there are.

The Similarities that Make Ripsticking a Help with Snowboarding

It shouldn’t be a surprise that ripsticking and snowboarding share a lot of similar concepts and skills. Both involve balance, coordination, and a certain set of shared skills. Examining some of these shared skills and requirements helps understand how ripsticking in the summer can sharpen snowboarding skills for the winter.

Two Feet, One Board

Both snowboarding and ripsticking put two feet on one board. Typically, on both, the dominant foot is at the rear for the board.  Snowboarding puts your feet in a fixed position when your boats are attached to the bindings. Ripsticking requires the rider to position their feet correctly without bindings. Finding the correct foot position can be difficult for some people just starting to ripstick.

The Ripstick Motion – Getting in the Groove

Snowboarding is all about the edge. Carving an edge is the means of controlling a snowboard and is the entire reason many people find snowboarding so intoxicating. Ripsticking uses much the same motion as carving an edge to move the ripstick and control the direction. 

Much like a snowboarder going down a slope, ripsticking requires a sweeping motion with the hips loose to create what looks like an almost effortless ride. In fact, accomplished ripstickers can move a board in almost the same ways that a snowboard carves a line down a slope.

Getting Yourself Centered

One of the key skills in snowboarding and ripsticking is the ability to center on the board and maintain your balance. Centering involves foot placement and keeping your center of balance over the board’s centerline for good control. 

The concept of centering is essential to both sports and translates from one to the other easily.

The Tricks of the Trade

Once comfortable on the ripstick and having found the right foot positions, accomplished ripstickers can perform most of the same tricks as snowboarders.  For example

  • Manuals are accomplished in much the same way on a ripstick as on a snowboard. You can perform a manual on a ripstick of either the back or front foot.
  • Ollies are a cross between a ripstick and a snowboard. Performing an ollie on a ripstick allows the rider the choice of moving the front foot or leaving it in place.
  • Ripsticking also allows nollies with much difference from a snowboard.
  • A ripstick can be buttered just like a snowboard
  • Blockstalls, Rails, and kickflips, all snowboarding mainstay tricks, are possible with a ripstick

It is easy to see that the similarities in riding and the possible tricks on a snowboard and ripstick crossover easily. Having the opportunity to practice the same sorts of skills and tricks on a ripstick helps translate those skills to the slopes on a snowboard.

Rising the Line without Pushing

Unlike skateboards or longboards, Ripsticks don’t require pushing to keep their forward momentum. Instead, motion is produced on the ripstick with the feet in a back and forth motion. The movement of the hips and legs is much like what snowboarders use to control speed and direction.

This aspect of a ripstick causes the rider to choose lines in a skatepark that are like the lines a snowboarder adopts on a slope. Ripstick riders soon learn to choose lines that use the skateboard park to maximize their speed. Watching a skilled ripsticker work around a skatepark looks a lot like a snowboarder carving edges on a slope.

Same Challenges in the Beginning

Just standing up on a snowboard is a challenging skill for many first-timers. Mounting a ripstick for the first time is much like learning the basic skill of standing on a snowboard. Both involve a lot of falling and restarting. The ripstick probably requires more balance to mount than a snowboard. Both usually involve some frustration and some pain.

That Feeling of Floating

Both snowboarders and ripstickers rave about the intense feeling of freedom when on a long run. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you are experiencing cold air and the feeling of snow on your face or a warm wind and sunshine, the emotional state of pleasure is the same. Riders who are adept at both snowboarding and ripsticking say the feelings are much the same. 

Where the Similarities End

As much as the two sports have in common, there is a limit to the similarities between the two. The biggest difference is, of course, the seasons in which each of these sports usually happens. Differences in equipment and the associated costs are other areas of dissimilarity.

Summer Versus Winter

Unless you live close to an area that experiences year-round snowfall or happens to have a glacier, snowboarding is an almost exclusively winter sport. However, Ripsticking can happen even in the winter months if the weather is mild and dry. The truth is, in most climates in the US, you will get more days that allow ripsticking than days on the slopes with a snowboard.

The Investment – Wait it Costs to Get Started

RIpsticking gets the upper hand in this category as well. A good beginner’s ripstick often costs no more than $100 to $150. In most places, skate park admissions are free, and the sidewalk in front of your house is as well.

Snowboarding requires some significant upfront costs. If you chose to rent your equipment, expect to spend $60 to $80 per day for beginner-level equipment. This cost doesn’t include your clothing fit for a day on the slopes in cold weather or lift tickets at the ski area. 

Taking the Plunge – Buying Your Gear

If you want to invest in your equipment, you will need boots, a board, and a helmet at a minimum.  Boards can cost from $200 to $400. Boots will set you back between $50 and $300 depending on the condition (used or new) and the brand. You will need bindings on the board for about $150 and a helmet for about the same amount.

In total, you can expect to spend about $450 to $1000 for a complete snowboarding setup. Snowboarding costs are much steeper than the cost of a good ripstick under any circumstances. Renting is a good option for beginners to decide if they want to continue with the sport and purchase their gear.

Ripsticking Easily Transitions to Snowboarding

It always pays to listen to those who have gone where you are going. In this case, hearing what those who both ripstick and snowboard have to say can give you insight that you can’t get otherwise. 

  • Many snowboarding instructors report that new snowboarders with experience on a ripstick seem to pick up the snowboarding skills faster.
  • Balance and centering skills learned on a ripstick translate directly to snowboarding.
  • Practicing skills and tricks on either one helps with the transition to skills and tricks on the other. It works both ways.

The essential skills of snowboarding and ripsticking a not the same. However, many riders of both see the benefits of the skills learned when tackling the new sport. 

Carving on Snow or Carving on Concrete

The location may be different, and the climate on extreme ends, but the skills and techniques are close enough that you will probably benefit from each sport. Ripsticking can make learning to snowboard quicker and easier. Off-season ripsticking can also keep your snowboarding skills sharp or help you acquire new skills and tricks. The benefits should be obvious.