Buying Your First Snowboard? Here’s What You Should Know
Snowboarding is one of the most exciting extreme sports that more and more people are picking up. While renting is recommended for your first trip, once you’re hooked to snowboarding it’s best you buy your own board to save money in the long term. But buying a brand new snowboard is a big investment that can cost you several hundred or even a few thousand dollars. Plus, it takes a lot of careful consideration to choose the right one, which is why many people are turned off by the idea and keep renting. However, as long as you know what you should look for when shopping for snowboards, it can be a pretty straightforward process.
Types of Snowboards
There are a few different types of snowboards that vary in construction and thus affect the way they perform. The best type of snowboard for you will depend on the type of terrain you’ll be riding on, your personal preference and your ability level. An all mountain board is generally recommended for beginners, as they’re designed to work well in all types of terrain and conditions. An all mountain board will feel right at home on powder, groomers, park runs and everything in between. If you’re just getting started, this is the type you want. Freestyle snowboards are another popular option, especially if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in terrain parks. These boards are shorter in length to allow for more maneuvers. Freeride snowboards are for riders who are looking to spend most of their time in varied, off groomed terrain. They have a stiffer flex and are longer in size than their freestyle counterparts. Lastly, there are powder snowboards that are made for fresh and deep snow. These have a wider nose and a narrow tail.
The length of the ideal snowboard for you will vary based on your weight and the type of riding you intend on doing. Up until recently, the most common way to measure the ideal snowboard length was to just stand next to it, and if it went up to your chin, it’s a good fit. While that may be a decent starting point, things like weight, board construction and ability level are also important factors to consider.
For instance, if you’re going to be freeriding most of the time, consider getting a longer board for more speed and stability. If you’re going to be freestyling, consider a smaller sized board for easier maneuvering and spinning at the half-pipe or terrain park.
The ideal snowboard width will depend on the size of your boots. The boots should only slightly hand over the edges of the board, without actually hitting the snow when the snowboard is on edge. Extending the heels and toes slightly over the snowboard will allow you to apply leverage and modulate pressure. If your boots are far over the edge, they’ll hit the snow when you turn and cause you to fall. Snowboard boots can differ in size between brands, and even by model within a single brand’s line. Some boots are built with a low profile, which allows riders to ride narrower boards
How much a snowboard can flex varies significantly between different models. They aren’t standardised across the industry, so if you see two boards with a medium flex, it will still differ from brand to brand. Most manufacturers will specify the flex with a number from 1-10, with 1 being the softest, and 10 being the stiffest. That being said, 1-2 flex rated boards are considered soft, 3-5 medium, 6-8 stiff and 9-10 very stiff. Freestyle and all mountain boards have a softer flex, making them more forgiving and easier to maneuver. A soft flex is better for beginners and riders with lower body weight. Further, a softer flex provides a soft buttery feel at slower speeds but tends to be looser at high speeds. Freeride and backcountry snowboards are usually stiffer, and they provide a better edge hold, making them more stable at higher speeds. Additionally, stiffer flex boards can be tough for lightweight riders to ride and flex properly
There are four snowboard hole patterns, including 2×4, 4×4, Burton Channel and Burton 3D. The Burton Channel and 3D technologies are found only on Burton boards, but some manufacturers have also started licensing the Channel technology from Burton. 2×4 hole patterns are a variation of the 4×4 hole pattern that allows for more mounting options. A while back, there was a universal disc that most bindings came with, so you could attach any bindings to any type of board. That being said, always check to see if the bindings you’re looking at have the universal disc or a mini disc. If you have an older 4×4 hole patterned board, mini discs won’t be compatible.