Now when you’re looking to buy your first (or third) snowboard, the sheer array of boards on the market can be somewhat overwhelming. Powder hoons, piste cruising, park laps? Whatever your poison, let us break down the “chat” to help you select your perfect partner in crime.
The bad news is, there are hundreds of boards out there waiting to be your mate, with nearly as many different profiles, technologies and styles.
The good news is however, that by buying the right snowboard your experience on snow will completely transform from feel good to totally mind blowing. So you can have the frothiest of snow trips.
The extra good news is, we’re on hand to equip you with every bit of know-how you need to pick the right snowboard for your riding style and ability. So listen up (and maybe take some notes)…
Having your own snowboard will help you progress much faster than a rental board. You can befriend your snowboard and get to know it. This will help you understand how your snowboard responds to your movements. Increasing both your enjoyment and proficiency of riding. Winner winner.
Flex, shape, length and construction are all factors that influence the type of ride. Easy and smooth, or advanced and responsive. When you’re looking to buy a snowboard, most will give an indication of suitable rider level.
If you’ve only been on one snow holiday, it’s unlikely you’re an advanced rider. Be realistic when assessing your own ability. You’ll be grateful of your honesty when your ride is perfect for your ability and you progress more quickly.
Snowboard length will vary based on your height, weight and the type of riding you want to do.
Generally, shorter boards will be easier to manoeuvre and therefore good for beginners and park riders. Shorter snowboards are perfect for spins and tricks in the terrain park, rail garden or half-pipe.
Longer boards create great stability at speed and will also help you float more effortlessly in fresh snow. For this reason, longer boards are great for freeriding and backcountry. If you’re riding mostly all mountain, choose something a little longer. You’ll be stoked with it on piste and freeriding, and notice it less in the park than the other way round.
Head to brand websites to find their size charts to give you a starting point for what size to buy. But don’t get super hung up on the length of your board, at the end of the day it’s all personal preference and down to what you enjoy riding. If you’re happy with the length you’re riding and it doesn’t match the recommended spec, don’t worry!
Now this might not seem mega important. But the last thing you want when riding is your boots hanging too far over the front and back that they catch on the snow when you’re turning. That’s just a recipe for disaster.
Ideally, you want your toe and heel to hang just slightly over the edge of the board without hitting the snow. This will allow you to efficiently leverage the board for turning whilst modulating pressure more easily with your ankles.
Don’t forget to take account of the angle you like to ride your bindings. If you’re straight up alpine style you might get more overhang than a traditional even stance. Also think about the build of your boots as some will have larger exterior construction than others. Some snowboard boots are made with low profile outers for exactly this reason, so be mindful of your whole set up.
Preferred Terrain & Riding Style
What do you like to ride? Where are you trying to progress? These questions can give you an idea of what type of snowboard would best suit your style. Whilst you can ride all boards on most terrains in most conditions, some are better suited to certain riding than others. To get the most out of your snowboarding, research what’s on offer and buy something that fits your style.
All mountain – If you want a board that can attack everything, you want an All Mountain snowboard. These are designed to work work well in all conditions and terrain. Piste, park, powder, pipe.. the All Mountain is the the king of versatility. These are the boards that most riders go for, especially if you want a one board quiver.
Freestyle – Made for rail lines, kickers, tree jibs and street stunts, Freestyle snowboards are shorter to help you get creative with features. Here true twin profiles are ideal for riding into features or landing in switch (non-dominant foot forward). This makes them great for park riders looking to add to their trick bag.
Freeride – Hucking cliffs and charging lines? You’ll want a Freeride specific board for that. Stiffer and longer than freestyle boards, these are great for varied terrain. Most likely directional in profile, Freeride snowboards are for attacking downhill and tearing up powder.
Powder – Is all you care about powder? (No we don’t blame you). If so, you’ll want something longer and wider for stability at speed and more float in powder. You’ll find the binding inserts set back on powder boards to help the nose float through deep snow. Big rocker (rise) at the nose of the board is also typical of powder specific snowboards for the same reason.
Splitboard – If you want the freedom to go anywhere on your snowboard, it’s a spiltboard you want. Perfect for backcountry riders who want to access out of bounds areas on foot. These boards split in two (as skis) for uphill travel with the help of skins that grip to the snow. Once at the top of your line, simply remove bindings and skins, reconnect the two halves and bindings, and ride down normally, away from the crowds!
Remember, to splitboard you must also have competent avalanche skills, knowledge of the terrain, weather, conditions, risk and appropriate avalanche safety equipment.
True twin – True Twin is symmetrical in shape. It has identical nose/tail measurements and flex pattern through the profile. This shape is popular in Freestyle boards as it makes riding in both directions easier; great for park, indoor domes and street snowboarding,
Directional – Frequently used in Freeride and All Mountain snowboards, Directional snowboards are predominately ridden in one direction. Usually, they are stiffer in tail and softer in nose to create stability at high speeds and during carving. This profile is easier to turn and float in deeper snow, ideal for piste and pow riding. Binding inserts on directional snowboards are normally set back towards the tail of the board to help maintain float.
Directional Twin – Does what it says on the tin. The Directional Twin is a combination of the true twin and directional shapes. Directional twin is most common in All Mountain and Freestyle snowboards. They usually have a symmetrical shape and directional core, with tip and tail similar sizes and a softer tip than tail. However also come the opposite way round with directional shape and symmetrical core. This shape provides the best of both worlds!
Camber – The traditional freestyle profile, camber creates a rainbow shape in the board to give maximum energy and pop. Without riders weight, the board will touch by tip and tail, but arch off the ground underfoot. When a rider stands on it, an evenly pressured surface and edge is created for stable riding and edge hold. It will also pop an ollie easier than other profiles, proving its popularity by park and pipe riders. As camber is very reactive to rider’s movements, it is better for experienced riders.
Rocker (reverse camber) – Rocker profile rises from the centre of the board to tip and tail evenly creating a subtle U shape (upside-down camber). Rocker snowboards are much easier to control, float well in powder and are less likely to edge catch, so are great for beginners. On the flip side, edge hold can be challenging at high speeds, so it’s not as good for advanced riders wanting to charge.
Flat – Flat profiles have zero camber. They are flat from near the nose to near the tail. A flat profile creates even weight across the snow. It is very stable, providing less edge catch than camber, making it good on rails. However, Flat profiles still have more edge capability than full rocker.
Hybrid – A straight up mix between camber and rocker, this profile gives a relaxed ride but can still hold edge when you need it to. Hybrid snowboards are typically camber under foot with rocker between the feet and at either end of the board. There are many different types of hybrid boards, so it’s best to check the individual board specs for more specific details.
Rocker/Camber – A mix of the two, Camber underfoot provides good turnability whilst mellow rocker towards tip and tail gives good float in powder. Making Camber/Rocker profiles great for Freeride snowboards.
Rocker/Flat – A little more edge hold and pop than a traditional full rocker board on harder snow. A Rocker/Flat profile will also keep an ease of turning and float in soft snow. This profile is somewhere between full rocker and flat board in performance.
Camber/Rocker – Stable and poppy, this board is a more forgiving version of full camber. Great for intermediate riders, weight on the camber creates a strong pressured carving zone at the feet with carving precision at the tip and tail.
Soft Flex – Better for freestyle. easy to turn at low speed, and more forgiving if you make mistakes. Soft Flex is great for beginners and freestyle riders as they are easier on you when you make mistakes. They also feel soft and buttery at low speeds, so are favoured by freestyle riders. However, carving hold is more difficult as they are not as stable at high speeds. Riders with lower body masses should consider softer flexes as they’ll get more response.
Medium Flex – Awesome for All Mountain snowboards, this flex pattern is versatile enough to ride piste, park or powder. A really good board for beginners and intermediates as well as people that only want to buy one board to ride everything.
Stiff Flex – With hard edge hold and more stability at high speeds. Stiff Flex is for advanced riders going for high speed turns or charging freeride or backcountry. Should be noted that this flex is not great for lower weight riders as its harder for them to flex it properly during turns.
Sidecut Radius – The arc cut out along the side of the board indicates the turning radius of your board if the edge curve was extended to a circle. The sidecut radius is one factor that will determine how the board turns and behaves – along with camber, flex and shape. For this reason a smaller number sidecut radius would make a smaller circle and therefore a smaller turning radius. Usually sidecut radius is between 6 and 10 – the smaller radius will turn sharper, whilst higher radius will make smoother and longer arc turns.
Waist Radius – this is the waist width at its narrowest point. Because snowboards can be rolled edge to edge quicker with small waists, this is a huge factor for carving snowboards. Your waist width should also correspond with the size of your feet and boots as previously mentioned. You want your toes and heels as close to the edge of the board as possible.
Rocker – Rocker will influence the way your board turns simply because rise in the nose and tail will make it easier to turn. It also creates less edge catching.
Women’s bodies and mechanics are different to men. They turn different, they generally have a lower body mass and smaller feet than a man of the same height, and so have different requirements. Women specific snowboards usually have narrower waist widths, thinner profiles and softer flexes to account for their geometry.
It used to be that mens snowboards were shrunk and covered in flowers. Not anymore! Check out our huge women’s specific range from all the top snowboard brands.
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