It’s important to choose the right snowboard for your style, ability and your physical characteristics.
But there’s one more thing that you should take into consideration. And that’s the snow conditions that you ride in.
This post will discuss choosing the right snowboard based on different types of snow.
How Much Should I Base my Snowboard Choice on Conditions?
In my opinion choosing for your physical characteristics, style and ability level are still slightly more important but there are some situations where conditions are more important.
Choosing for your conditions is more or less important depending on the snow conditions you ride in.
And you can still choose for your style and ability and the right board for your weight and height when also choosing for snow conditions.
Some mountains will have a real mixture of different snow conditions depending on the season and the time of year and if you are going to have only one snowboard then conditions don’t play as big a part because you might get a bit of everything.
But if your most frequented mountain is known for certain conditions at one end of the scale – like being icy, or having lots of powder, or being like concrete – then your snowboard choice should reflect this to get the best of your season.
Time of Year You Ride
The other thing to think about here is the time of year you ride.
Again if you ride fall, winter and spring then you’ll want a board that can ride all seasons.
But if you only ride in the spring for example, then getting something that’s good in slush might be worth considering.
The Different Types of Snow
O.K. let’s look at some different types of snow and see what specs you may want to have if you ride those snow conditions regularly.
The dreaded ice!
Not my favourite snow type (and not many would say it is) but if you get it a lot around where you live you’ll want a snowboard that can perform well in icy snow.
Often people use the term “ice” but you’ll never actually ride on ice (thankfully!) but “ice” refers to snow that has melted and then frozen to form a layer of icy snow on top.
This ice is slippery, hard and unforgiving when you land on it.
If you find yourself in icy snow conditions regularly this is when you definitely want good gripping edge-hold.
Try to look for a snowboard that has magne-traction or some variation. Magne-traction is basically like the edges of your snowboard are serrated – this serration on the edges gives you more grip in hard conditions and icy snow.
Other things such as flex and camber profile can also affect edge-hold. A continuous rocker, for example, profile probably isn’t going to be the most effective on ice.
But don’t fret if you have a board without edge-tech or without a good camber profile for ice. Just make sure your board has sharp edges. If you’ve been having trouble in icy snow go and get your edges sharpened and see if that helps.
Detuned edges will perform poorly in ice.
Check out the video below that’s all about an experiment that the house.com has done with different boards riding on ice.
Though, since this test was done on ice and not “icy snow” you can only draw so much from it. After all, we seldom actually ever ride on ice.
Also check out the link below to see the article all about the testing they did called “Ice Breakers”
Now, the opposite of icy snow is powder.
In contrast to “ice” most riders love powder.
But you still want to have the right board specs to ride powder. Even powder can be hard work without the right board or if you aren’t experienced at riding in powder.
You can easily sink your nose into powder and wipe out – and if it’s pretty thick it can be hard to pull yourself out of. But if you can float over top of it, it can be one of the best snow types your likely to encounter.
Best Board Specs for Powder
You definitely want to have a board with a setback stance if you are going to ride in powder a lot.
Yes you can still ride powder with a centered stance but it takes more conscious effort to keep the nose out of the snow than with a setback stance.
The other thing that’s nice to have is some rocker somewhere in your camber profile. Preferably some of this rocker would be towards the nose of the snowboard too but even if it’s between the bindings it will help with float too.
So that only really rules out completely flat camber profiles and traditional camber.
Cascade concrete is named after the cascade ranges in the North Western United States and Southern BC, Canada.
It’s named “concrete” because the snow conditions in the cascades is often heavy, wet, sticky snow. So think of “unset concrete” not hardened concrete!
If you sometimes ride in these conditions often you’ll know what I mean.
Best Board Specs for Cascade Concrete
There are a couple of things that can help riding in concrete-like conditions.
Firstly, because these conditions are slow it’s good to have a board with a fast base. So going with a sintered base is your best bet. Or something equivalent that is fast.
And for this same reason it’s a great idea to keep your base well waxed.
The other thing is to try to get a board with a bit of a setback stance. Of course whether you go with a setback stance (and how much of a setback stance) or centered stance will also depend on your style.
If you are riding the park a lot or like to ride freestyle on the rest of the mountain then a centered stance is better. But if you are venturing through some heavy sticky powder it might just be a little harder work to keep the nose up out of it.
Groomed – Soft Packed
The groomed soft packed conditions – groomed trails with some nice fresh snow on top, are pretty much suitable for most boards.
Some boards with super edge-hold might get grabby (in this and in powder) but in general you don’t really have to worry about specs when it comes to conditions if you mostly have groomed soft pack.
Your board choice should then come down completely to style and ability.
Groomed – Hard Packed
Groomed hard packed conditions are faster than soft packed conditions and require more edge-hold.
Like icy conditions it’s nice to have sharp edges in hard packed and some edge-tech can be good too (but not as necessary as in icy conditions).
And like icy conditions certain flex (don’t want anything too soft) and camber profiles (some camber or flat between the feet is good) will be better suited as well.
But you’ll still want to be more focused on style and ability, if these are the conditions you encounter the most.
Thanks for reading
I hope this post has helped you to decide on a board based on the most common snow conditions you encounter.
Of course a lot of mountains will give you a combination of conditions depending on the weather and time of year.
What do you usually ride in? Anything that I’ve missed here? Just leave a comment in the comments section below.