If you plan to buy a new snowboard, the first question you need to answer for yourself is what you think you’ll be doing with the board. What kind of rider are you? Do you just like to session in the park, rip down groomers or slash pow. And if you don’t know what the hell the previous sentence was about, you’re probably new to snowboarding and perhaps you don’t know what kind of rider you are.
For each person and riding style there is a perfect board, as long as you find our what you want. But how do you choose the board that is best for you. We’ll first look at various aspects you can consider, and at the end of this article formulate our advice for first time snowboard buyers.
When choosing a snowboard, the choice will be a consideration between a number of aspects and how they are combined: Shape, Profile, Length, Width, and Flex. But before looking at functional aspects, so the question: who are you as a boarder (your ability level) and what kind of riding do you want to do? We’ll start with a quick advice per ability level and then look at the aspects of a snowboard that affect what kind of board will suite you.
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Ability level advice
To begin with, you have to take a quite honest look at yourself. Are you a beginner, have you ridden on a rented board a couple of times, or do you have more experience, with still lots of room to improve? Or are you already a pro mofo who’ll shred everything he sees? What ever your are, don’t be the boarder who overestimates himself, who bombs down the slope, heading for a epic skier spray only to drill the steel edge of his board into numerous pairs of knees. Do not be that guy. So, that being said, generic advice following below:
When you really start, the first challenge will be to make turns. Before you have done that, you will have had a lot of falls, bruised knees and a painful ass as a painful result. You’ll start on beginner slopes and pistes that enable you to practice your skills. (All the technical terms used, are explained later in this article).
Shape; choose a twin. This is a symmetrical board that will have you balanced and centered above the board.
Profile: Choose a profile that tends more to rocker, it makes initiating turns a lot easier.
Length: You can start with a board that is slightly shorter than the length that will fit you the best and depends on your height and weight. (Size chart included below) The longer a board, the more difficult it will turn; so a slightly shorter board helps you with those turns. As your skill improves and your speed increases, there will be a moment you’ll want for a longer board.
Width: Not too wide, make sure it fits your shoe size. Broader boards turn with more difficulty.
Stiffness: A board with more flex (less rigidity) again turns more easily and is a lot more forgiving if you slip up a bit.
You’ve been riding for a couple of weeks in total, having experienced a few seasons. You will feel comfortable with different level slopes. You’re done with rental boards and starting to experience their limits. You begin to develop your riding style and preferences. Perhaps you’re looking to do off-piste work, you really want to tighten your carving skills. Or, maybe you want to hit the fun park, improve your buttering skills, do rails and boxes, send off some kickers.
Loving the groomers?
Shape; You could go for something more “directional”, most of your runs will be with your preferred foot forward, but you’ll ride switch if necessary.
Profile: If you can enjoy your turns, you can look for more of a camber profile (or a hybrid profile). Camber provides more stability at higher speeds and grips the pist in those mad carves you want to make.
Length: Choose a length that fits your build, more length means stability at higher speeds. Not too long though, or you’ll really feel initiating turns and going edge to edge will be too much work.
Width: Not too wide, make sure it fits your shoe size.
Stiffness: A stiffer board makes for a more direct transfer of power from your body to the snow. Also it will hold the edge in turns that much better. At higher speeds a your board will be more stabile.
Shape; Again, and nice directional, your stance setback more. Especially because your off-piste work will be mainly aimed at riding powder. Riding powder you’ll benefit from having your body weight set back more because otherwise the nose o your board will dive into the powder.
Profile: Off-piste you will want to make wider turns, grip isn’t difficult to find in powder. You want to search for profiles with rocker towards tip and tail like you can find in hybrid profiles or a “flat” profile so you can keep floating on the powder.
Length: As said, you want to keep float on the snow. A longer board has more volume to carry you, though there are boards that are just shorter but wider and provide the necessary volume. Once you get used to that volume shift these boards can be amazing.
Width: See the previous point. Float volume is key.
Stiffness: medium flex, if the board is too flexible it can bend through too much in the powder, but too stiff is also not necessary. A stiffer board will be less responsive; you don’t want to use too much power riding powder.
Shape; choose a directional twin. A symmetrical board that easily drives front and rear. You want to drive as easily as possible and stand firmly on your board for your butters.
Profile: Rocker is your thing, your board must be able to run on a dime. Although, the pop that gives you a camber helps in launching a kicker.
Length: Your board does not have to be too long, compact and spicy.
Width: Not too wide, make sure it fits your shoe size.
Stiffness: A flexible board helps in practicing your skills. It will respond swiftly and sharply to what you do.
You already know what you want. You are going to look at the finer details of your board, the radius / sidecut, inserts, your exact position on your board, used materials, and so on. Look carefully at more extreme shapes and profiles, stiffness, aggressiveness and so forth. Real powder boards, super stiff piste weapons of mountain destructions.
The shape of a snowboard is the way a board is designed, cut and the symmetry between “nose” and “tail”. Simply put, what is the predominant direction the board will want to travel in.
Below are the three most common snowboard shapes and the “riding style” for which they are suitable.
Onderstaand de drie meest voorkomende snowboard shapes en de “riding style” waarvoor zij geschikt zijn.
Note: The names can vary by manufacturer. Everyone gives his own name.
Twin or True Twin
This means that the snowboard is completely symmetrical. Identical tip and tail measurements. There is no difference in shape, whether you’re regular (left foot front) or goofy (right foor front) rider. Ideal for anyone who wants to be able to ride left or right foot forward just as easily. Twin snowboards are used mainly for freestyle riding.
Twinish or Directional Twin
Almost equal to the Twin, except that the “nose” is usually a little longer. Twinish boards are meant for both “switch” and “natural” boards. Especially for freestyle riding, but can also be used for all-mountain riding.
The “nose” of the snowboard is considerably longer than the “tail” of the snowboard. You won’t be riding switch too much, but normally choose for your front foot. The back of your board will be stiffer than the nose.
The above shape descriptions are indications. For example, there are many boarders who prefer to board freestyle on a directional board.
There have been many developments in the shapes of the boards in recent years. You will hear the words “Camber and Rocker” thrown around a lot when people talk abosnowboardsrds and these are, actually really important to understand as they have a huge impact on what your board is going to be good at.
(see profile 1 in picture) – Camber is the slightly convex or arched shape of a horizontal surface. In a snowboard it is used between the “tip” and the “tail” to create a surface with a certain tension. When there is pressure on the board the camber will be compressed, building up tension in the material. When pressure is released, the material will return or “pop” back to its original shape. This “pop” will add extra energy/speed when you exit a carve or when you send off a jump/kicker.
In addition the longer the camber, the greater the length of the edge of the board that will bite into the snow when you go into turns. This is called the effective edge of a board. These boards work well on hard-packed piste snow. Going into a turn the g-forces and your body weight will push into the board and pressure will increase on the edge. The more grip the edge has, the more radical your carving can get.
The drawback of this shape is that transitioning from edge to edge to initiate turns is just more difficult. That’s what rocker shapes are much better at.
Rocker / Reverse camber
(profile 2) – this is between the “nose” and “tail” in the middle (between the bindings) buns. The convex shape is upside down. The board won’t pop back because your weight follows the shape. Also it will give you a shorter effective edge, so less suitable for long fast carves at high speeds.
But when it comes to being agile, slipping easily from edge to edge, turning on a dime and being forgiven for small errors as you ride, the rocker is perfect. flatland tricks and parks is where rocker boards excel. This board will also perform well in powder, where especially the rocker in the tip will help you float over powder. And seeing as grip is much more easily available in powder, the shorter effective edge is not that much of an issue.
(profile 3) the profiel of the board is almost flat. That means it will have good contact with the slope, easier from edge to edge than a camber, but less grip than camber. Less pop on jumps, it bit less suitable for high peed groomer shredding, but then again also very good for the powder riding.
(profiles 4.5 and 6) – using a combination of rocker and camber profiles many manufacturers have looked for combining the best properties of these profiles in one board. With grip at high speeds, agility and maneuverability as well as float in powder.
Profile 5 is a good example: adding rocker in the tip helps float in powder, and with camber between the bindings the effective edge becomes shorter that a pure camber monster, but is still enough for those beautiful carve turns on the piste.
There are many combinations of the camber and rocker possible, and there are constantly new variations on the market. As a rule of thumb:
More camber: more grip, more control at higher speeds, harder work for turning, less manoeuvrability.
More rocker: more agility, easier turns, more float, more flexible, easier for park and powder.
One of the most frequently asked questions is “How long should my snowboard be?” The length of your snowboard is determined by your weight. A heavy person on a very short board sinks away in deep snow and loses edge grip faster in a turn. A light person on a long board has too little mass to initiate turns easily and for him / her the board will feel unresponsive and slow.
The stiffness of the snowboard also determines the length: with a stiffer board you can ride the board with a shorter length than with a flexible board.
The following table gives you roughly an indication of the weight of the correct snowboard lengths:
Length is important, but the right width of your board as well! The width that suits you depends entirely on your shoe size. Be sure to have your foot well measured.
The width a.k.a. the waist widthd is always measured at the narrowest point of the board, in the middle between your board’s bindings. If your board is not wide enough for your shoe size, your toes and heels will extend too far over the sides and “toe drag” and “heel drag” will bother you a lot. The nose and heel of your boots hit the snow in turns, which will slow you down or even make you fly face first into the snow.
In your board is too wide, the pressure points which you use to initiate turns (the ball of your foot and your heel) are too far away from the steel sides. This makes for a much slower edge change, your board will be slow to turn. It may sound strange but every centimeter counts.
As a “golden rule”, your boat may protrude up to two centimeters per side.
The sidecut of a board has a big influence on how your board rides and turns. The sidecut is the extent to which the sides of the board are cut. You could also call it the waistline of your board. If you were to draw a (huge) circle along that line, then that circle has a radius. The larger the radius the less deep the board is cut, the smaller the radius the deeper the cut is. A deeper sidecut (small radius) allows you to make easier and sharper turns, a larger radius allows you to make wide turns and helps stability at higher speeds.
Stifness and flex
The stiffness describes the flexibility of your snowboard. Snowboards always have two types of “flex”: about the length of nose to tail (longitudinal) and across the width from side to side (torsive flex). The extent of this flex, in other words how easy or difficult it is to be bent is called “stiffness”.
Generally, beginning snowboarders are best helped with a more flexible snowboard because they are less susceptible to problems of bad technique and mistakes while riding. They’re more forgiving. Less stiffness makes the board easier to steer at lower speeds. As a beginner, you are also working on improving your technique and your turns and just a less rigid board is much more forgiving. Also for your first freestyle tricks, this will be all right!
The stiffer the flex of the board is, the more stable it stays at high speeds and in carve turns. That’s good news for an advanced snowboarder who really wants to send it, but if you only have a few weeks of experience and you want to buy your first board then a somewhat softer, less rigid board is a better choice.
A possibly less noticeable part of the board, but with great influence on performance and price is the base of the board, that is, the bottom that is in contact with the snow. You actually have two types: “Extruded” and “Sintered.” The base material is made of polyethylene pellets(P-Tex). A part of the difference is the way that the wax with which the board is treated (crucial for smooth running over the snow) is absorbed by the base.
Extruded: P-Tex is melted under high heat, causing the polyethylene pellets to melt together. This creates a flat and smooth material. There are no pores and its a bit harder for the wax to be absorbed by the base. It is more durable and easier to repair. So, if your budget is smaller, or you know you’re going to be banging up your board jibbing in the park then an extruded base might be the best choice for you.
Sintered: P-Tex is compressed under extremely high pressure. This creates a strong and durable base with pores. The pores allow the wax to be absorbed really well. Boards with this base are much faster but more expensive to buy and more expensive in repairs. Do you have space in your budget, do you really want to bomb down the mountain and are sensitive to how good a board runs, then the sintered base is for you.
There is not much better in the whole world than a first line in fresh powder. And seeing as that is not always available in resorts, you might have to go into the back country to reach the white gold. If you do, always consider the risks and dangers of going there, take avalanche saftey gear with you, and if you are not familiar with the area, hire a guide who is. And after you have done that, consider using a splitboard.
Nowadays, almost every snowboard brand has one or two splitboard models in their line-up. This makes lugging your board on your back with snowshoes under your feet, a thing of the past.
A splitboard is a commonly sized freeride board with a cut over the length of the board. In a few simple steps, you can slide off the bindings, click the two halves apart, reattach the bindings on the two halves in the longitudinal direction and you have two short skis. On the base of the “ski’s”, you will attach skins, the same kind that is used in tour-skiing but cut to size for your board. These skins have little bristly hairs pointing backwards which allow you to walk up the mountain. With most models, it is important to switch the two ski’s around: the middle of the board is on the outside of your feet.
[vc_video link=”https://youtu.be/BqYyt6Enwhs” title=”Verschillen boardshapes en profielen”]