Snowboard Buying Guide

Whether you’re pushing the pro-line or gliding down the greens, buying a new snowboard can be a daunting process. If you’re wondering ‘what snowboard should I get?’ and are only considering brands and designs, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. There are many different sizes and types of snowboards that are specially designed for specific terrains and riding styles. With hundreds of boards on the market, it can be difficult to select the one that is right for you.

Learning how to choose a snowboard requires reflecting on the following three questions:


1. What is my snowboarding experience level?

2. Where and how do I want to ride my snowboard?

3. What snowboard size do I need?


These three questions will ensure that the snowboard you purchase is the best possible fit for you and the purposes you want to use it for.

Knowing your experience level will help you to know what type of board is realistic for you, not just at your current level but to help able your progression. It will also help you understand what type of environment you could be snowboarding in. Different snowboards are better suited to different environments and terrains, so knowing where you will be snowboarding will impact style of riding and thereby your snowboard selection. Your weight, height and boot size will all have an impact on the size of snowboard you should get.

The snowboard will be attached to you via your boots and bindings so it’s important to see it as an extension of your body.

Distinguishing what level you are riding is paramount when buying a new snowboard. It’s important to be honest with yourself, because the last thing you want is a snowboard that you aren’t happy with or a snowboard that works against your goals. There is nothing wrong with needing a beginner or novice level snowboard, we all have to start somewhere. In fact, it is better to challenge your snowboarding gradually to aid your progression and avoid any painful situations.

Snowboarding can be challenging to learn at first, but all the falling is completely worth it once you are comfortable with the basics. The journey from rental boards to owning your own snowboard is deeply gratifying.

As you grow in experience, you’ll start to understand more about your snowboarding style. You might be comfortable gathering speed on a steeper slope or you might enjoy weaving your way through a forest terrain. Knowing your style will help you to buy a snowboard that will play to your strengths. Most boards are designed for specific purposes, so it’s imperative that you buy the right board for your style of riding.

Beginner

You’ve spent a week or two on the slopes, you’re feeling comfortable in your turns on the beginner slopes, but now you’re ready to hit some steeper groomers. You can stop yourself without falling. You can mostly link turn from heel edge to toe edge and vice versa. Your turns resemble a ‘C’ shape. On the mountains, you’re comfortable with the beginner slopes, usually marked in green.

Novice

You’ve moved away from green runs and are comfortably riding most blue runs in the resort. You can link in both directions and your turns resemble an ‘S’ shape. At this point your starting to learn how to control your speed. You’ve started attempting switch riding and want to maybe learn some freestyle!

Intermediate

You’ve mastered your turns on all the slopes; dipped your toes into a little bit of freestyle maybe smaller park features, switch riding isn’t as daunting and you’ve started progressing into faster carving turns utilising your edges more whilst riding. On the mountains, you’re comfortable with the intermediate slopes, usually marked in blue or red. You’re ready for a board that can help you progress further.

Advanced

You’re destroying the down-rails, and floating through the fresh stuff. You have no difficulty at all in powder fields You’re comfortable to do tricks in the park, and pull them off. You’re ready for a specific board that’s going to support you while you shred down the mountain. On the mountains, you are comfortable with the advanced and expert slopes marked in black or red!

Expert

Congratulations - the whole mountain has become your playground! You’re comfortable charging down black runs, finding untouched freshies in backcountry or between the trees, and have no concern about hucking a 540 off an XL kicker in the park!

Once you’ve figured out your level, along with your strengths and weaknesses, you can start to consider in what sort of environments you will be snowboarding. Each snowboard design has a different terrain in mind. There are many differences in shape and flexibility which enable specific styles of snowboarding to flourish.

If you’re wondering ‘what snowboard should I get?’, identify what type of snowboarding you’ll be doing most:

  • All-Mountain riding
  • Freeride charging
  • Freestyle / Jibbing

For most runs down the slopes you’ll be suited to All-Mountain snowboards that usually cover varied terrain and changing conditions with ease mixing it up between downhill carving or playful buttering. Whereas if you enjoy going off the groomed run finding the freshest or powder or racing at breakneck speeds, a Freeride snowboard might give you better performance. Lastly, if you enjoy going to terrain parks performing tricks and jumps, a Freestyle snowboard would be the ideal choice for you, rather than a Freeride or All Mountain snowboard.

Each type of board has a specifically designed shape and flex pattern that allows the board to perform optimally in the intended terrain. Understanding more about All Mountain, Freeride and Freestyle boards will help you make an informed decision when it comes to buying a snowboard.

All-Mountain Snowboards

You’re a jack of all slopes and soon to be a master of the mountain. All Mountain snowboards are designed for all snow conditions. All-Mountain boards do exactly what they say on the tin, they’ll take you anywhere. They perform just as well in in the terrain park as groomed runs and deep powder environments.

All-Mountain snowboards are the perfect choice for beginners who are still figuring out where they enjoy riding most. Best described as a hybrid between freeride and freestyle boards, and often adopt many of the characteristics of both, with slightly directional shapes, and marginally stiffer cores whilst still being forgiving and playful perfect for taking you anywhere on the mountain without being too specific to one area.

Common All-Mountain Shapes

Most All-Mountain snowboards will have a directional or, most commonly, a directional twin shape. These shapes encourages riding in one direction, either regular or goofy. By focussing on one direction, the board optimizes carving, speed and powder for the favored side, but can usually still be ridden comfortably switch.

99 TwinCLICK HERE TO BUY COMMON ALL MOUNTAIN SNOWBOARDS

Freeride Snowboards

Freeride snowboards are specialized for those who love trekking for tantalizing tree lines and getting waist-deep in that fluffy stuff, especially off of the groomed runs. Or alternatively are dedicated to high speed carving just on the edges done freshly groomed pistes. Freeride boards tend to be extremely stiff so they can handle high speeds and big gouging carves. These boards usually have a wider nose than tail to promote extra float in deep powder, and also have the bindings set more towards the tail of the board for ease of control at high speeds. Freeride boards are suited to intermediate and advanced snowboarders.

Common Freeride Snowboards

Most freeride snowboards have a directional or tapered directional shape. As with All Mountain snowboards, Freeride boards are designed predominantly for your favoured direction, regular or goofy. With tapered directional boards, the width of the nose will be wider than the width of the tail, the nose might also be longer than the tail in some instances.

Directional Tapered OutlineSwallow OutlineCLICK HERE TO BUY FREERIDE SNOWBOARDS

Freestyle Snowboards

You love tweaking out those tail grabs, and cruising over the kickers. Freestyle boards are versatile and built for fun. They often feature a centred stance and true twin shape, helping the rider when riding the board both regular and switch.

There are two main variations in Freestyle boards but both are generally softer flexing, almost always a true twin shape with a centred stance (this helps the rider when spinning and riding switch) and ridden smaller than traditional All-Mountain and Freeride snowboards. Most Kicker specific boards are slightly stiffer of the two options offering more pop being designed for hitting kickers and will be ridden slightly bigger to offer more support when landing big air tricks like 540’s and 720’s.

If you love grinding, buttering and bonking your way down the mountain then a jibbing board is the one for you. Jib boards tend to be even shorter and also tend to be a lot softer and more flexible than other shapes, making them more forgiving when landing on and off of rails. Lots of jib boards feature specialist technologies such a raised or durable edges to avoid hang-ups and edge catches when riding man-made obstacles.

These characteristics also make the board brilliant for beginner or intermediate snowboarders, as they are easy to progress on.

Common Freestyle Snowboards

Most Freestyle snowboards are true twin shape that is perfectly symmetrical. The nose and tail will be the same width and length and the bindings will be centred on the board. This makes it ideal for tricks and jumps.

Some “All-Mountain/Freestyle” boards will have a directional twin shaped snowboard has a nose that is slightly longer than the tail. The width of the nose and the tail is the same though. The bindings will be slightly set back, which might not be too noticeable. Although it is directional, you can ride switch just as easily with this shape.

Freestyle TwinCLICK HERE TO BUY FREESTYLE SNOWBOARDS

When sizing up a snowboard, people will often say that a board between your collarbone and nose is the perfect size, which isn't necessarily true, this is something rental companies do to quickly determine a suitable snowboard but if you are buying your own board the sizing should be more precise. Deciding how long your snowboard should be requires considering:


What type of riding you’ll be doing

What your height and weight is


By now you would have considered whether you’re looking to ride down groomed mountain runs, freerides down the mountain, freestyle in the park or jib on anything that crosses your path.

If you're going to be spending more time in the park, you'll want a board that'll spin faster than the Tasmanian devil, so go for something shorter. If you're going to be spending more time in the powder, you'll want something that has more surface area to help that float in the fresh stuff, that can mean two things either a longer board with a traditional waist width or something shorter but considerably wider.

Once you've figured out what you’re going to be using your board for, you can determine what size you'll want, the sizing chart below will help but bear in mind this is designed for All-Mountain Snowboards so adjust as necessary.

For the final answer to ‘what snowboard size do I need?’, you’ll consider your weight and height in the following order:


1. Weight

2. Height


Weight consideration is important because your weight distribution on the board will influence your balance, speed and float. A tall person could weigh as much as a shorter person, and due to their weight distribution being similar, they’ll buy a similar sized board.

Your height will impact how wide your stance is. Taller is usually wider, whereas smaller people have a narrower stance, most boards allow for a large variation in stance widths but it is certainly worth considering.

Snowboard size guide

Each person’s height and weight ratio will differ, but in general there are weight brackets per height group. The following snowboard size guide offers an easy reference point to determine how long your snowboard should be:

Rider
Weight
Rider
Height
kg<4950-5960-6970-7980-8990-9595+
ftcm / lbs<108108-130130-152152-174174-196197-209209+
<5’<152130-136136-142143-149144-150151-157154-160158+
5’1”-5’6”156-170133-139138-144144-150151-157154-160155-161159+
5’7”-6’0”170-184136-142140-146151-157154-160155-161156-162160+
6’1”-6’5”184-198142-148142-148154-160155-161156-162158-164162+
6’6”+198+148-154144-150155-161156-162158-164160-166164+

It is important to remember that any snowboard size guide is just an example of what size board might fit you. It’s best to consider whether you fit both in the same height and weight category, or if you fall over two size ratios. Each person is unique, and playing to your body’s strengths will bring the most out of a board.

Wide Boards

It is worth bearing in mind that if you have larger feet; over UK 11 snowboard boots then you may need a wide board to prevent your toes and heels from dragging in the snow when leaning over hard in the turns.

Built to accommodate women’s builds and body shapes these snowboards constructed with a softer flex pattern and thinner waist width, if you are of a petite build or have a boot size up to a UK 7 it is definitely worth considering one of these boards. Otherwise a standard unisex can still be ridden but it is always a good practice to look at the women’s spectic models.

CLICK HERE TO BUY COMMON WOMEN'S SNOWBOARDS

There are some additional features that can be considered but aren’t a necessity to know about when buying a snowboard but it is always worth having a basic understanding of the technologies involved:


Camber Profiles

Base Construction


Camber Profiles

Camber is the curvature along the base of the snowboard, there are a variety of different cambers available that are suitable to different riding styles and it is often helpful to understand the differences.

Positive / Traditional Camber

Originally taken from skis a traditional camber offers aggressive riding capabilities with superior pop, immediate turn initiate and great energy in and out of the turns, however positive camber is known to be very “catchy” and is often recommended for more advanced or old-school riders.

Positive / Traditional Camber

Reverse Camber (Rocker)

Exactly as it sounds reverse camber is traditional camber flipped upside down, offering a much more “skatey” feeling on the piste, this shape is ideal for beginners or more jib-specific riders due to its difficulty to catch edges.

Reverse Camber (Rocker)

Hybrid Camber

The best of both worlds hybrid camber was developed to offer the stable riding and fantastic pop characteristics of traditional camber combined with the enhanced floating capabilities and catch free ease of rocker. Many brands offer different variations upon hybrid camber but all offer relatively similar results sometimes designed to be optimised for different riding styles.

Hybrid Camber AHybrid Camber B

3D Camber (Triple Base)

First introduced by Bataleon snowboards a 3D profile allows the manufacturer to retain all the benefits of a traditional camber whilst raising the profile along the contact points (shown in white) for less edge catch and improved float without sacrificing edge hold.

3D Camber (Triple Base)

Base Constructions

All snowboard bases are built out of a material called p-tex for its capacity to absorb ski wax, almost frictionless glide and durability, however different brands all have different manufacturing techniques that fall mainly into the two categories explained below:

Extruded

Built utilizing a single sheet of p-tex shaped to the snowboard that is then glued to the core. Extruded bases are incredibly easy to maintain and cheaper to manufacture making them the perfect choice for beginner or freestyle boards.

Sintered

A more premium construction built by grinding the p-tex into a fine powder that is then compression molded to the core. Sintered bases are more durable, faster and hold wax much more effectively.




Now that you know how to choose a snowboard, you can feel far more confident in your purchase. Owning a snowboard will challenge you to grow and develop your snowboarding skills. Snowboarding can be tricky to learn, but it’s easy to master. Each type of snowboard has strengths from its design. Once you start to develop your snowboarding style, it can be a beautiful match of design and technique.

That’s it! See you on the slopes.

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