Snowboards – GearGuide
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.
- Ability Level
- Riding Style
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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.
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.