Nothing offers thrills and excitement like riding down the slopes on a snowboard, and the first time you experience it you will understand why it is such a popular and well-loved activity. But you must always choose the right snowboard for your physicality, riding preference and level of ability, otherwise the experience will be greatly diminished or you will find it difficult to learn and improve. There are a number of key things to understand before you commit to a purchase and this guide to buying a snowboard covers most of the most important details.
The most important factors to have in mind are your age, height, weight and level of ability. Then there are personal preferences like riding style and preferred riding terrain, which mostly come into play as your gain ability and experience.
These factors will help you find a snowboard that matches with who you are and what you want, and they are highly important to understand because there are naturally many different snowboard choices available.
Dimensions, Shape, Flexibility and Turn
The snowboard’s width, length, shape, flexibility and turn are what govern the riding characteristics and experience – if you check out different brands, categories and sub-categories of snowboard you will see big differences in these characteristics.
The width and the length should reflect your weight, height and boot size:
Width: The width of the board will depend on your foot size, and the width should allow the boots to hand over slightly for good leverage and control, but should not hang over too much otherwise the boots will dig into the snow was you turn; disaster!
Height: A very basic way to get the right length is for the board to be somewhere between your chin and the tip of your nose. Your weight, ride-style and preferred terrain should also have a bearing on the length.
Snowboard widths come in the categories narrow, regular, regular/wide and wide, and snowboard lengths can range from very short (128cm) to very long (over 160cm). The table below can be used as a rough guide to finding the appropriate snowboard width and height.
|Width||Rider Boot Size||Width(cm)||Rider Height(cm)||Length(cm)|
You should also think about your weight when choosing snowboard length. If you are heavy for your height then a longer board provides better stability and control, whereas if you are lighter, then a lighter board provides better control.
Board Styles for Different Terrain
There are a number of specific snowboard types each designed for different terrains and riding environments:
– All Mountain: These are the all-rounders of the snowboarding world as they are versatile and highly capable in a range of terrains, from snowboard parks to off-course exploring. The most popular choice for beginners or for anyone who can’t decide.
– Freestyle: These boards are used mostly in parks. They are usually shorter and rode in either direction (twin shape) with high manoeuvrability.
– Freeride: Freeride boards are similar to all mountain boards, but with features designed for off-course and backcountry snowboarding such as higher stiffness and longer length.
– Powder: Similar to freeride snowboards, powder boards are designed and shaped to handle deeper powder and off-piste locales.
There are many snowboards which combine the features of more than one board style, for example, the mountain freestyle, which works well in both parks and long runs. There are also splitboards, which can be separated into two halves and carried for off-course and backcountry touring.
Snowboard Characteristics and Ride
Along with the snowboard dimensions, the shape and flex of the snowboard have a big effect on the ride, handling and speed. There are lots of variables involved and each one will change the ride characteristics and the suitability for riding in different environments.
|Length||large||Higher speed. Greater stability.||Mountain/free-ride/off-course|
|Small||Slower Speed. Greater Manoeuvrability.||Freestyle/parks/Half-pipe|
|Shape||Directional||Bindings set back at one end. Stiffer tail. Stability in riding and carving at high speeds. Unidirectional.||Powder/mountain/free-ride/off-course|
|Twin||Bindings are placed symmetrically. Even flex. Bidirectional.||Freestyle/parks/half-pipe|
|Directional/Twin||Offers both stability and directionality for greater versatility.||Free-ride/freestyle|
|Flex||Soft (1-5)||Easier to turn, less stable at high speeds.||Freestyle, mountain|
|Hard (6-10)||Stable riding and turning at high speeds.||Free-ride/off-course|
Advanced Snowboard Features
There are many other important advanced characteristics affecting the ride which are more important to think about if you are an intermediate or advanced snowboarder. The profile of the board will either be flat, cambered (a slight arching), rocker (a slight dipping) or a combination of them. Camber provides pop and even riding pressure along the surface and edge, but makes the board harder to turn. Rocker provides less edge contact, reducing the edging but making the board easier to pivot.
We have covered some of the most important snowboard buying guide basics here, but there are still many other important considerations, such as board materials, boots, bindings and mounting, tail and tip widths, waist width and side-cut radius, and of-course, snowboard brands.
If you get in the know you will surely buy a snowboard that is perfect for you, what you need and what you want to experience when you are out there tearing it up in the snow!
DISCLAIMER: THIS GUIDE SHOULD BE USED FOR INFORMATIONAL AND SUPPLEMENTIVE PURPOSES ONLY. THIS IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR ADVICE FROM A PROFESSIONAL. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS HAVE YOUR SNOWBOARD BINDINGS SET AND YOUR SNOWBOARD INSPECTED AND SERVICED BY A CERTIFIED TECHNICIAN. STAY SAFE!