Everyone who gets a new snowboard asks the same question, do new snowboards need waxing? They don’t. Snowboards come pre-waxed from the factory and they should be good for at least 3-5 days out on the trails.
With that being said, all snowboard bases aren’t the same so we are going to touch on which the types of snowboard bases, compare how they are different from each other and which snowboard base to get.
Why Does a Snowboard Need to Be Waxed?
The first thing to educate yourself on is why a snowboard actually needs waxing. A lot of beginners think they can just go without waxing their board but it simply isn’t the best snowboarding practice. Mr. Miyagi would say different – wax on, wax off.
Snowboards work by melting the snow under the board when you stand on the board and apply pressure. A small layer of water skims under the board so it can fly downhill. The wax acts as a coating to repel snow off your board.
So what’s that mean? No waxing means a sticky board, slower ride and ultimately more damaging to your base over the long run. It is just like protecting the paint on a car and keeping the water off. The same theory is applied here to snowboard bases although different wax.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the two main types of snowboard bases.
Key Takeaway: Waxing your snowboard base shouldn’t be overlooked no matter what material it is made out of. It is good maintenance to wax your board for increased speed and longevity.
What Types Of Snowboard Bases Are There?
There are two main types of snowboard bases that likely came with your new board. Extruded or sintered. Both have their own pros and cons so don’t just run out and grab a snowboard without knowing them first.
Extruded Snowboard Bases
Extruded snowboard bases are often found on lower-end boards. These bases come on lower-end boards because the materials and processes to make the bases are cheaper. Extruded bases are often very common on a lot of park snowboards.
When an extruded base and a sintered base are both unwaxed, the extruded base will be faster.
The polyethylene pellets are melted together into a solid base because the molecular weight is low. Extruded bases are easier for snowboard manufacturers to make compared to sintered snowboard bases. When an extruded base and a sintered base are both unwaxed, the extruded base will be faster since the polyethylene is melted together and makes for a smooth, no pore surface. An example of an extruded base board is the Salomon Sleepwalker.
If you are someone who doesn’t plan to wax your board often then extruded bases can be the better option.
- The cost of snowboard is cheaper
- Extruded snowboard bases are faster than sintered when both aren’t waxed
- Better option if you don’t plan to wax often
- Comes on lower-end snowboards
- Slower than sintered snowboards when both are waxed
- It takes dings and damage easier
- Lower molecular weight
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Sintered Snowboard Bases
The second type of snowboard bases is sintered bases. These come on intermediate to higher-end boards and cost more for manufacturers to make. The reason they cost more is because of the process to make them.
Sintered bases are still made of polyethylene but it has a higher molecular weight that needs to be pressed instead of melted. The forced pressing gives the board tiny little pours which make it amazing for accepting wax. Also, this makes the base more durable over the long run.
A waxed sintered snowboard will be faster than a waxed extruded snowboard all the time. Sintered snowboard bases are only good though if you plan on frequently waxing your board and giving it the upkeep that it needs. An example of a sintered base board is the Burton Process.
- Faster than extruded base when waxed
- More durable than extruded snowboard bases
- High molecular weight
- More expensive than extruded bases
- Needs frequent waxing to ride at it’s best
Different Grades of Polyethylene in Snowboard Bases
Just because you get a sintered base, it doesn’t mean it is the same as all others. The polyethylene pellets come in different grades. You may see it stamped 2000, 3000 or 4000. Usually, the higher is better by a rule of thumb. The higher the numbers means the snowboard base will hold wax better. Not all boards are marked though.
When you get into the really high-end snowboards like the 600+ range, the manufacturer even get more advanced with their snowboard bases. K2 makes the alchemist for example where they put carbon in for extra pop and a bit of strength. It also helps repel water and reduce friction. The sky is the limit when it comes to high-end snowboard bases.
Extruded Vs Sintered Snowboard Bases: What’s The Difference
Extruded vs sintered snowboard bases is a great debate but at the end of the day, sintered bases usually take the cake if you plan on riding a lot. The major difference between the snowboard bases comes down to construction, durability and how well they hold wax.
Should a beginner rush out and buy a high-end board with a sintered base? No need. It doesn’t matter what you get into snowboarding with as long as you have a board and frankly extruded bases are more friendly to beginners who don’t want to wax.
Final Thoughts: Do New Snowboards Need Waxing?
Should you wax your new snowboard? Ideally yes. But do you have to? The answer is no. As we touched on, both extruded and sintered snowboard bases come pre-waxed from the factory which should last a few days. If you made it this far, please take a quick second to follow us on Twitter, Instagram our sign up to our emails above if you haven’t already!
Just be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to your board though as some may still suggest a wax before your first runs. If you want to start waxing at home, pick up some gear, it is easy to learn. Otherwise, start making friends at the shop if you are riding a lot because waxing a snowboard shouldn’t be overlooked!