For snowboarders, choosing the perfect board is not just a necessity – it’s an art form. If you’re someone who loves hurtling through fresh powder on your favorite mountain, then you know how important it is to have a ride that fits your style and skill level.
But with so many different types of boards available in the market, selecting one can be a daunting task. From shape and flex to length and width, there are countless factors to consider when deciding which board will help you shred like a pro.
“Choosing the right snowboard can make all the difference between a thrilling day on the slopes and a frustrating experience.”
Luckily, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to help you pick the best snowboard for your needs. Whether you’re new to the sport or a seasoned veteran, this guide has everything you need to know about assessing your ability, understanding the differences between various styles of boards, and finding the perfect fit.
In this post, we’ll cover every aspect of choosing the ideal snowboard, from analyzing different snowboard designs to determining what size snowboard is best suited for your body type and riding style. By the end of this guide, you’ll feel prepared to make an informed decision about which option is right for you. So let’s get started!
Determine Your Riding Style
Before buying a snowboard, it is essential to determine your riding style. Snowboards are designed differently for different styles: freestyle, freeride, all-mountain, and powder riding.
Freestyle riding involves doing tricks like spins, jumps, and rails in the park or halfpipe. If you enjoy park rides, then look for a board that has a shorter length as it makes turning easier. Boards that have a symmetrical twin shape and feature fatter edges can help you have better control while attempting tricks. Wider profiles beneath bindings can increase your ability during landings, and sharper side cuts can aid in sharper turns. Soft flex helps provide more maneuverability when practicing ground moves, but too much of it might pose hurdles on hitting giant kickers.
“The best advice I can give young riders is to stay true to their style and stick with it.” -Shaun White
If going down steep slopes and making big jumps makes your heart pumps faster resulting into an adrenaline rush, then freeride may be the right label for you. Looking for directional boards with full camber underneath will make boards quite stable regardless of any incline or declines. A full wrap steel edge provides powerful momentum, and incorporating stiffer torsional flexes in the board gives them superior support needed to excel ski racing effortlessly. Tapered shapes offer radius lines balances between front heads when intensively cutting deeper through fresh powders.
“My top priority was getting my own boots fitted perfectly—it’s so important because if they’re not comfortable, your feet get cold.” -Lindsey Vonn
Choose The Right Board Size
Height and Weight Considerations
Your height and weight are important factors when it comes to choosing the right snowboard size. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re shorter and lighter, you should opt for a smaller board; if you’re taller and heavier, you’ll need a bigger board.
If you’re unsure which size to choose, use a snowboard size chart as a guideline. These charts take into account your specific height and weight measurements and suggest an appropriate snowboard length based on that data. Keep in mind, however, that these charts do not necessarily take into account other personal preferences such as riding style or terrain.
Riding Style and Terrain Considerations
In addition to your height and weight, your preferred riding style and the type of terrain you’ll be skiing are also important considerations when selecting a snowboard size.
If you prefer a freestyle style of riding, which involves doing tricks and jumps, you’ll want a shorter board than what’s recommended by your standard snowboard chart because this offers more maneuverability. On the other hand, if all-mountain cruising is your favorite terrain choice, you might want to go slightly longer than what’s suggested.
The type of snowboarding you plan to practice can also help determine what type of board you should buy. A powder board will require a different size and shape from a park-oriented or racing board. It’s best to consult with someone at your local ski shop for guidance and recommendations regarding what type of snowboard would fit your specific needs and skill levels.
“The most important factor in choosing a good snowboard is making sure that it matches the rider’s skill level.” -Sia Mucci, owner of Endless Turns Ski and Snowboard Shop
Using the correct size snowboard will help to optimize your riding performance and make sure that you get the most out of your snowboarding experience. Consider all these different factors, but always go for what feels best for you personally.
Consider The Board Shape
The directional shape is the most popular style among snowboarders as it offers more control and stability when cruising down a hill. This type of board has a longer nose, which provides better float in deeper powder while having a shorter tail that makes turning easier. It’s perfect for riders who want to go fast and carve down groomed runs or tackle steep slopes.
If you’re an advanced rider looking to hit some backcountry terrain, a directional board with a rocker profile will be your best friend. A rocker profile allows the board to quickly pivot and turn in deep snow without any edge catch. Keep in mind that a directional board may not allow for switch riding (riding backward) since it’s designed to move forward.
“A directional board will give you more speed, control, and precision when going downhill than other shapes.” -The Snow Pro Courses Team
A twin-shaped board is symmetrical along its length, meaning the tip and tail are identical. This type of board is versatile and gives riders the ability to ride both regular and switch easily. Since there isn’t a designated front and back on a twin board, it’s also perfect for park riding and freestyle contests. Twin boards usually have a centered stance that offers balanced weight distribution, making tricks easier to execute.
Keep in mind that if you mostly enjoy groomed runs and carving down mountains, then a twin-shaped board might not offer the stability and power needed. Its symmetrical design can make it feel less predictable and require more work from the rider to stay stable at higher speeds.
“If trick riding and park fun sound like your thing, consider investing in a twin shaped board.” -Snowboarding Profiles
The shape of a snowboard isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing a model. Other factors like riding style, size, and terrain preferences are crucial in picking the ideal board for you. A beginner or intermediate rider should look at shorter boards as they’re more maneuverable and easier to control.
If you’re taller or weigh over 185-195 pounds, go for a longer board (around 160-165cm) that’s stiffer and can support your weight better. If you enjoy jumping off big cliffs or hitting rails, then choose a flexier board since it will absorb shocks better and prevent painful landings.
“It’s the perfect time now to invest in yourself with equipment that is comfortable, functional, and helps push your focus away from any limitations.” -Derrick LaBuhn, Professional Snowboarder
- Riding Style: think about where you most enjoy boarding – park, backcountry or groomed runs on a mountain?
- Board Size: pick a length that works well for your height and weight range.
- Flexibility: consider what makes sense for your priorities, speed junkies might want less bend but jumps or powdered tricks need something more forgiving.
- Terrain: where you plan to ride most often, whether its powder, ice or somewhere in between can impact your board purchase as well.
The shape of a board largely depends on the type of terrain you prefer and how you like to ride. The directional shape provides excellent stability for those looking to bomb down steep ridges while twin boards offer greater versatility and trick capabilities. Remember, other critical considerations in choosing a board also include your riding style, size, and personal preferences. Choose the right board for you, so you can make the most of your snowboarding adventures.
Look At The Flex
If you are wondering how to pick a snowboard, one of the important factors to consider is the flex. Flex refers to the amount of give that a snowboard has when pressure is applied to it. Here, we will discuss the two types of flex and help you decide which type of snowboard flex is right for you.
“A softer board may be more comfortable and easier to maneuver at slower speeds.” -SNOWBOARDER Magazine
A soft-flexing snowboard refers to a snowboard that can easily bend. This is usually desirable for beginner riders since a snowboard with a softer flex is generally more forgiving and allows for mistakes while learning to turn, ride switch or progress in general. A soft-flexing snowboard also provides better shock absorption and a smoother ride over rough terrains such as bumps, ice, and slush. However, don’t let the term “beginner” fool you. Soft-flexing snowboards can still pack plenty of performance punch, depending on the materials used by their manufacturers.
“More aggressive riders tend to prefer stiffer boards because they provide additional edge hold and stability.” -The Snowpros
On the other hand, if you’re an experienced rider looking to go fast and carve precise turns, a stiff snowboard could be your best option. Stiff-flexing snowboards have great energy transfer from the rider’s movement onto the snowboard itself, making them ideal for advanced carvers and jumpers who need to respond quickly. A stiff snowboard also delivers excellent edge control, providing maximum precision and power in steep terrain such as powder circuses or half pipes.
It’s good to remember that snowboards with medium-flexibility, that bridge soft and stiff in different degrees depending on the brands’ offers can satisfy a wide range of riding styles. As such, it’s always best to go to your local snowboard shop or browse online reviews to find the perfect flex for you.
The answer depends on what kind of rider you are and what type of terrain you plan to tackle. If you’re new to snowboarding and just want to cruise down the mountain at your own pace, then a softer flex board would be better suited to your needs. Intermediate riders may want to experiment with both types of boards and choose somewhere in between, promoting their progress but remaining comfortable while doing so. And if expert-level speed and aggressiveness are what you seek, then a stiffer board will likely feed your hunger for performance.
Remember that when discussing snowboard flex, there is no “right” or “wrong” choice – only optimized gear for specific techniques and conditions. When trying out boards, take some time to think about where and how you like to ride and have fun finding the perfect fit for you!
Decide On The Camber Type
Choosing the right camber type is essential in finding the best snowboard for your riding style and level. A board’s camber refers to the shape of its base when laid flat on the ground. It affects the way a board flexes, carves, and turns, as well as its stability and control on different terrains.
The traditional camber has an upward curve from tip to tail with a downward bend at the center. This classic design provides maximum edge hold and pop, making it ideal for hard carving, aggressive riding, and high-speed cruising. Its camber profile also delivers excellent snap and response, giving skilled riders full control over their movements.
“If you’re still learning or just getting into the sport, I’d recommend going with a true camber board. You can learn how to ride switch easier and when you get better, you’ll be able to power through turns and jumps that much faster.” – Hannah Peterson, Burton Snowboards Pro Rider
A rocker camber, also known as reverse-cambered, has the opposite profile of a traditional camber. It curves upwards towards the nose and tail but dips down underfoot, creating a “banana” shape. This makes it more forgiving and playful, perfect for freestyle riding, park laps, and powder days. Rocker cambers provide a looser feel while offering greater floatation due to having less contact points with the snow.
“Rocker and hybrid boards are great for folks who may not have perfect form yet or who aren’t looking to blast down groomers super fast. They can help make certain situations (like taking off and landing switch or buttering) much easier.” – Liz Mellon, K2 Snowboards Pro Rider
If you’re looking for a balanced ride that’s versatile and stable, you might want to consider a flat camber board. It has no upward or downward curvature from tip to tail, creating a completely flat base. This design provides greater stability at high speeds while still allowing for freestyle tricks and jibbing. Flat cambers also deliver consistent edge-to-edge transitions and smooth turns in almost any terrain.
“I love riding my flat-cambered snowboard because it gives me perfect balance between pop, control, and float. I can take it cruising down the mountain one day and deep into powder the next without having to switch up boards.” – Kelly Clark, Burton Snowboards Pro Rider
- Things to Consider:
- Your skill level (beginner, intermediate, advanced)
- The type of terrain you’ll be riding on (park, groomers, backcountry, etc.)
- Your preferred riding style (freestyle, freeride, all-mountain, etc.)
- Your height, weight, and foot size (which will affect board size and flex)
- Your budget (as different types of camber come in varying price ranges)
Picking your ideal snowboard can be overwhelming with many factors beyond just the camber type to consider. However, by understanding what each type offers regarding performance and matching it with your preferences and experience, you’ll soon find the right board for yourself and enjoy an amazing time on the slopes.
Check The Board’s Material
When it comes to picking a snowboard, the material that the board is made out of should be one of your primary considerations. Different materials have different characteristics and impacts on the performance of the board. In this section, we will discuss four common snowboard materials: wood core, fiberglass, carbon fiber, and aluminum.
A wood core is a popular choice for many snowboards due to its flexibility and responsiveness. Wood cores are typically constructed from lightweight woods such as poplar or bamboo. Poplar is often used because of its ability to absorb shock, which can make it more comfortable to ride over bumpy terrain. Bamboo, on the other hand, is known for being very light and strong, giving the board added durability and strength.
If you’re looking for a snowboard with a traditional feel, then a wooden core could be an excellent option. These boards tend to offer smooth turns and easy maneuverability in powder. However, they may not perform as well at high speeds as some of the other materials on this list.
Fiberglass is another commonly used material in snowboard construction. This material adds stiffness to the board and also helps to transfer energy from your movements directly to the board. Fiberglass is typically layered over the top of the wood core in order to achieve these effects.
If you’re someone who likes to ride fast and aggressively, then a snowboard with fiberglass layers could be an excellent choice. The added stiffness makes the board responsive and stable at high speeds, allowing you to carve through turns with ease. However, if you’re a beginner or prefer a more relaxed riding style, a board with fiberglass may feel too rigid and unforgiving.
Carbon fiber is similar to fiberglass in that it adds stiffness to the board. However, it is much stronger and lighter than fiberglass, making it an ideal material for high-performance snowboards. Carbon fiber is typically more expensive than other materials, but can be worth the investment if you’re a serious rider looking for top-of-the-line performance.
If you want a snowboard with lightning-fast response times and incredible precision, then carbon fiber could be exactly what you need. These boards are designed for expert riders who demand the best possible performance from their gear. They offer unparalleled stability at high speeds and allow you to make sharp turns with ease.
Finally, aluminum is another popular option in snowboard construction. This material is known for its durability and strength, making it ideal for freestyle riders who need a board that can handle some serious abuse. Aluminum boards tend to be heavier than other materials on this list, which can impact your ability to maneuver the board in certain situations.
If you’re someone who likes to ride rails or hit jumps in the park, then an aluminum snowboard could be a great option. These boards will hold up well under the stresses of freestyle riding, allowing you to land big tricks without worrying about damaging your gear.
“The right snowboard material can make all the difference when it comes to finding a board that suits your needs as a rider.” -Whitelines Snowboarding
Frequently Asked Questions
What size snowboard should I choose?
The size of your snowboard depends on your weight, height, and riding style. Generally, a longer board is better for taller and heavier riders, while a shorter board is easier to control for beginners and freestyle riders. Consider your skill level and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on when choosing a size. It’s always best to consult a sizing chart or speak with a professional at a snowboard shop.
What type of snowboard is best for me?
The type of snowboard you choose depends on your riding style and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on. Freestyle boards are great for park riding and tricks, while all-mountain boards are versatile and can handle a variety of terrains. Powder boards are designed for deep snow and backcountry riding. Consider your skill level and the type of snowboarding you want to do when choosing a board.
What flex should my snowboard be?
The flex of your snowboard depends on your weight, riding style, and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on. A softer flex is easier to control and better for beginners and park riders, while a stiffer flex is better for advanced riders and higher speeds. Consider your skill level and the type of snowboarding you want to do when choosing a flex. It’s always best to test out different flexes before making a purchase.
What shape should my snowboard be?
The shape of your snowboard depends on your riding style and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on. Directional shapes are better for all-mountain riding and powder, while twin shapes are great for freestyle and park riding. Hybrid shapes combine the best of both worlds and are versatile. Consider your skill level and the type of snowboarding you want to do when choosing a shape.
What should I look for in snowboard bindings?
When choosing snowboard bindings, consider the type of riding you’ll be doing, your skill level, and your personal preferences. Look for bindings that are compatible with your boots and board, and that have adjustable straps and highbacks for a custom fit. Consider the materials and construction of the bindings to ensure durability and performance. It’s always best to try on different bindings before making a purchase.
How important is the base material when choosing a snowboard?
The base material of your snowboard affects its glide and durability. Sintered bases are faster and more durable, but require more maintenance. Extruded bases are easier to maintain and less expensive, but are slower and less durable. Consider your skill level and the type of terrain you’ll be riding on when choosing a base material. It’s always best to consult a professional at a snowboard shop.