Choosing the right snowboard can be a difficult process if you don’t know what to look out for.
By following these 4 simple things you will be on the right track to picking a board that will be enhance your enjoyment and progression.
What are the 4 things?
Choosing the best snowboard for you involves getting:
- The right board for your style
- The right board for your ability
- The right width of board; and
- The right length of board
Let’s break it down.
Thing 1: The Right Style of Board
O.K. this one is important. If you plan on being in the park all day you don’t want to end up with a stiff flex, set back, tapered directional board – it’s just not going to function in the way that you want it to.
So you need a board that suits your particular style. If you’re not sure of your style check out this article defining 6 different styles – from Freestyler to Freerider. There is a board made for every style, even if you like to do a bit of everything.
You can check out the following posts to learn what specs are most suitable for your particular style.
- What Flex is Best for What Style
- Camber Profile Characteristics
- What Shape is best for What Style
- Sintered vs Extruded Base
Broadly speaking the styles range from Freestyler to Free-rider.
The freestyler wants a board that fears well in the park and isn’t too concerned with the rest of the mountain. The freestyler’s choice of board usually has a softer flex, a true twin shape and a centred stance. The board is designed to ride switch well perform on jibbing obstacles such as boxes and rails, and handles jumps and any airborne tricks with ease.
The free-rider wants a board that will ride fast down the mountain, handle steep and uneven terrain, carve up the snow and thrive in powder. Typically these boards have a stiffer flex, a set back stance and a directional or tapered directional shape.
Then there’s everything else in between. See the linked articles above for more details.
Thing 2: The Right Board for your Ability
Different boards are made for different abilities. Watch out for this on the board’s specs when you’re choosing.
For example, some boards are designed to be easy to learn on. Often times, this means that they might be lacking in some aspects that might assist you in more expert endeavours.
If you are a beginner, this is perfect but if you are an expert the board may not be very good at doing what you need it to do.
Similarly, the board designed for the expert is not appropriate for the beginner. The things that the expert can do in his/her sleep are difficult for the beginner and the beginner needs the board to assist in making learning the fundamentals easy and enjoyable.
There are generally four levels you will see when choosing your board – Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced and Expert. Often times the boards will show a scale of levels – e.g. Beginner to Intermediate or Intermediate to Expert or Advanced to Exert and so on. Check out the link below for a more detailed explanation of the different abilities and where you fit.
Thing 3: The Right Width of Board
Choosing the right width is important. There is some leeway in this but a reasonable degree of accuracy is important.
Why? Because if your board is too narrow for your size of feet then there is going to be a lot of boot overhang. Too much boot overhang will cause your boots to catch on the snow when you turn causing you to wipe out.
However, if your board is too wide for your feet then it will be less responsive. This will make it hard to initiate turns and generally make it harder to make the board do what you want it to do.
The closer you can get to the right board width the better. That said, you certainly do have some leeway. 1-2cm of boot overhang is ideal. This will generally mean that your feet are covering the width of the board. You won’t notice a few millimetres either side of ideal and it shouldn’t affect your riding.
For a detailed discussion on snowboard width, plus tables to get your sizing right check out my snowboard width sizing post.
Thing 4: The Right Length of Board
The length of board that you ride will depend on a few things – your height, your weight and your riding style and your ability level.
The traditional way to measure a snowboard was to stand it up next to you and if came up to your chin you were golden. This is old school and technology has developed a lot since that was a viable method.
In reality there are a few factors that determine the perfect board length – one of those being personal preference if you have any.
Generally speaking the more you weigh, the longer you want the board to be but height, style and ability comes into it as well. If you are tall but have a slim build you don’t want the board to be as long as someone who is tall and has a heavier build. For example a 6 foot tall rider that is 170lbs (77kg) might be best suited to a 160cm board whereas the 6 foot rider who is 220lbs (100kg) would want to go longer – around 164cm.
Click here for more details on snowboard lengths – including weight/height charts to help you find your best length.
Your style also comes into play for board length as well. For example if you are more of a freestyle rider you will probably be looking for a shorter length board as it is easier to manoeuvre for tricks. If you only want to ride powder then you will want a longer board as it will cut through the snow better.
For example I am 6 foot and 180lbs (81kg). This would put my board length at around the 161cm mark. However, I am leaning more towards freestyle these days so I went with a 158cm board. I probably could have even gone a couple of centimetres lower but I still want to ride the mountain and not just the park.
Finally, ability level will also play a part in board length. If you are a beginner then a shorter length board will be easier to learn on. So if you are looking for a board and you are a beginner take a few centimetres off your board length. For example if your length came out at 160cm and you are a beginner you might want to go with something anywhere from 155cm to 157cm.
There are plenty of other things that you will see in the specs and a huge amount of jargon and technical stuff. These are extras you don’t need to worry too much about.
Typically these technical aspects just explain how the board is engineered to be for particular styles and abilities – but it makes them sound flash and is a good sales pitch! You may have your own personal preferences when it comes to camber profiles, shapes, flex, side-cuts, brands etc but these are things you learn as you ride.
Get the style, ability, width and length of board within an appropriate range and you will have a board that will perform extremely well for you on the mountain.
If you know your style/ability then check out one of my top 10 posts to see if any of those boards will fit within your height and weight specifications. Just click the link below and select the appropriate category – e.g. women’s beginner, men’s beginner, men’s freestyle etc.
Any questions or comments? Just leave a comment below and I’ll reply quick as I can.