It look and acts a lot like snowboarding, but overall the vibe, the environment and the experience is one that’s all its own. We take a firsthand look at sand boarding equipment and get up close and personal with the sand that comes with it.

1) The board

These are hard wooden boards. Venomous Sandboards of Florence, Oregon, pioneers of modern sandboarding, use maple, with a directional shape that is slightly rocker – you know, like a banana. The nose and tail lift from the ground. Think more along the lines of a stretched out and shapely long board skateboard, although some are even longer for speed.

Outside the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Alamosa, Colorado, sandboard promoters Kristi Mountain Sports recommend aspiring dune riders get set up with a versatile all-around size: about 100 centimeters. A little different – more nimble – than their snowboard kin.

“The board itself is a lot shorter, more maneuverable,” said Enrique Salcedo with Kristi Mountain Sports. “In that sense, it’s very different.”

2) The bindings

If you have ever ridden a wake board, then the binding interface will feel like home. If not, they feel a little loosey-goosey.

Take your shoes off and get used to it.

In short, it’s a foam stomp pad for you foot, with a slight adjustable and sturdy Velcro strap that acts as the actual binding interface (in snowboarding, this is the bone-out strap.) In place of the high back, where the lower calf leans against a snowboard binding for support, is a kind of heavy-duty band around the Achilles tendon.

“It’s a big rubber heel strap,” Salcedo said. “You can change the binding depending on your strap.”

Th strap can flip from one side to the next to arrange the stance for regular, left foot forward, or goofy, right foot forward.

With proper sand boarding equipment, any board sport aficionado would capture the same feeling as with other board sports, and for the first time sand boarder, the right gear will make all the difference.