Choosing the Right Snowboard in 5 Easy Steps


Choosing a snowboard can be difficult, especially if you don’t have any idea what to look for. Lots of information is floating around the internet regarding the snowboarding industry, but choosing the right snowboard can be overwhelming.

Choosing the right snowboard depends on many factors such as one’s ability, skill-level, and required snowboarding style. Various snowboarding styles are; powder boarding, free-riding, all-mountain, free-style, and park riding. It’s also important to analyze one’s ability level; beginner, intermediate, or advanced—research about picking the right snowboard length, the proper snowboard width, and flexing the right snowboard is also essential for making the right choice.

After researching these things, you will be on the right track of choosing the right snowboard to suit your needs, have fun with, and increases your progression. This guide will explain in five easy steps how to select the right snowboard for you.

STEP 1: Pick a Snowboard Style

Every snowboarder has its unique style, and according to that style, they choose their snowboard and matching gear. Every boarder has their own personal preference for how and where on the mountain they want to ride. There are different snowboard styles to be explored in this incredible sport for which you’ll need a suitable snowboard with its unique style. 

Here are some of the different snowboard styles: 

Powder Boarding

Powder boarding basically means that snowboarders want to float on their board in deep snow on ungroomed and steep terrain. To powder board, you’ll need a stable snowboard that provides a smooth, fast ride in different snow conditions. Snowboards designed for powder boarding have a firm flex, which means less board chatter and improved edge hold during high-speed curves.

If a snowboarder wants to make powerful turns on the steepest terrain under any snowy condition, powder snowboards are best. In the snowboarding industry, recent powder snowboard technology has drastically improved the rider’s experience and ability to float and turn remaining in a balanced and natural snowboard stance.

These snowboards have big noses, tapered tails, and a significantly set back rider stance. Most of them are broad and short, with a retaining surface area while offering better agility for a faster reflex when riding in the trees and other tight spots.

Free Riding

This snowboard style is all about freedom. Boarding on unmarked slopes, off-piste, basically being one with nature doing your own thing. No rules, no marked territory, just the independence and freedom to ride, carve, jump on any terrain when you want it and the way you want it. Whether you prefer extreme, big mountain riding, doing some jumps, or just chilling while riding down a slope, you decide. Pretty awesome, right? 

If you are a beginner, you can adopt this riding style easily as it only focuses on the rider’s enjoyment rather than technical stuff.

The free-riding style is most common among snowboarding styles. The snowboard you’ll need for free-riding has a directional shape and is meant to be ridden primarily in only one direction. 

These boards are usually relatively soft and maneuverable enough for beginners but stiff enough to hold a fast turn in hard snow. This type of snowboard bridges the gap between free-riding and Alpine carving. However, it isn’t as stable as a carving board, and it isn’t as agile as a free-style board.

Other equipment usually used with a free-riding snowboard is soft snowboard boots, plate bindings, and strap or flow-in bindings. Freeriding snowboards are longer with a narrower width and deeper cut.

All Mountain

All-mountain snowboards are designed especially for those riders who need one snowboard to handle a broader range of terrains and riding styles. However, an all-mountain snowboard will not perform well and efficiently in deep powder as a powder specific snowboard does.

These snowboards are specialized niche boards, and snowboarders can ride them on the entire mountain in all sorts of conditions.

All-mountain boards typically have a soft flex that allows them to carve and hold an edge. It also helps it to float in powder decently. A snowboarder can ride these snowboards in both directions and perform better with the rider’s preferred front foot pointed downhill.

All-Mountain Free-Style

All-mountain free-style snowboarders are versatile riders. They are all-mountain riders but lean more towards free-style and free-riding. All-Mountain Free-Style snowboards have various flexes from soft to stiffer and camber profiles and are also characterized from rail specific to jump specific.

Rail specific all-mountain free-style snowboards have a softer flex, while jump specific boards have a stiffer flex and provide a responsive and fun way for heavy landings and hard impacts.

Freestyle & Park

Free-style and Park snowboards have an asymmetric design, and they perform equally well whether riding, taking off, or landing in either direction. These snowboards contain a soft to medium flex that allows more expressive free-style riding tricks. Most of the time, they are built with bomber edges and base construction that withstand easy spins impacts.

These snowboards come in various flexes and camber profiles and are also characterized from rail specific to jump specific. Rail specific boards have a softer flex, while jump specific boards have a stiffer flex and provide a responsive and fun way for heavy landings and hard impacts.

STEP 2: Experience Level

The second step in choosing the right snowboard is to select a snowboard according to your experience level. The three different snowboarding skill levels are; beginner, intermediate, and advanced/pro.

Let’s start with beginners, then intermediate, and finally the experienced and advanced snowboarders. I’m sure the experience snowboarders can pick their own to be honest. The beginner level can be further divided into four groups:

Beginner Level 1

Or, to put it in other words, a “snowboarding virgin.” This beginner-level is the very first day someone is standing on and riding a snowboard on any kind of terrain. Here a snowboarder starts learning how to control speed and get some distance down a slope without bailing out or falling.

Beginner Level 2

On this level, a snowboarder is already relatively comfortable with the snowboard and controls the slope on the same edge. A snowboarder probably starts to try linking turns but maybe not every successfully. We’ve all been there, right?

Beginner Level 3

A beginner level three snowboarder can link turns in both directions (from heel edge to toe edge and toe edge to heel edge) but only on gentle slopes and probably with lots of falling. 

Beginner Level 4

A snowboarder at beginner level 4 can link turns in both directions (from heel edge to toe edge and toe edge to heel edge) on green beginner slopes and intermediate blue slopes. The riding goes smooth, and less falling occurs.

Intermediate Level 1

On this level, a snowboarder uses more dynamic movements (extending and flexing) to make turns on easy red runs that also help perform various turns shapes and sizes, even on slightly bumpy terrain.

Intermediate Level 2

A snowboarder’s riding has a purpose and style on all red runs; carving and switching on blue slopes come with ease. For intermediate level 2, 180s are a go-to trick on easy kickers and side hits, plus a range of grabs and flatland combos are ever-increasing, which is really awesome.

Advanced

When at this skill level, a snowboarder is confident and enjoys riding various terrains, including powder, but also needs coaching to iron out bad habits. A snowboarder attempts 360’s in the park and hits the blue kickers, starting to get air in the superpipe and rotating in a smaller tube.

Side on rails and 180s on/off boxes are all in the bag, along with more complex features and technical flatland combos.

Ride switches become more comfortable, and advanced snowboarders willingly try such stunts, pushing the boundaries regularly.

Expert/Pro

An expert or pro snowboarder has been snowboarding for years, and they are comfortable when asked to ride on almost any terrain. They can make adjustments in snowboarding to allow for changing conditions while moving. They have experience snowboarding around trees, moguls, powder, choppy snow, ice, and any other conditions the mountains can throw up, even if they cannot always ride it with style.

STEP 3: Picking the Right Snowboard Width

Picking the right snowboard width is essential when choosing a snowboard. Like other factors, width is a crucial factor to consider while selecting the right snowboard and is often ignored. If the snowboard’s width is too wide for your boots, it can make turning the board more complicated, and if the board is too narrow, then a snowboarder risks getting boot drag.

Defining the Right snowboard Width

There are two different views in the snowboarding industry that define the right width to choose the right snowboard:

First Point of View:

The first viewpoint on width defines the right width where boots overhang over the heel edge and toe edge by anywhere between 1 and 2 centimeters (1/4 to 3/4 inch).

Second Point of View:

On the other hand, others believe that the best width is when the feet are roughly precisely the snowboard’s width at the inserts (where the feet will be on the board), are where the bindings are.

In other words, if you are bare feet, then the heel will be right on the heel edge and toes on the toe edge at the acute angles.

But which point of view is right? Well, both are because both say essentially the same thing.

The Importance of Snowboard Width

Any snowboard width will work fine as long as it is not too narrow for boots or binding size. Knowing about the width of a snowboard is essential because it influences the snowboarder’s performance.

Selecting a wider width will prevent a lot of falling and frustration from the heel and toe drag that occurs when the snowboarder’s boots are too large for a snowboard. One should avoid a wide snowboard as a general guideline if wearing a size 10.5 boot or below. Too much boot overhang will cause toe and heel drag but too little will make the board difficult to lift and edge to edge.

However, if someone wants to carve hard on a regular snowboard with soft boots, ride powder, or is a bit overweight, they may benefit from some extra width (boots ending at 0.5 cm before edges or 0.5 cm after advantages). Otherwise, a thinner snowboard (boots out of the edges by 0.5 cm to 1.5 cm) and the lightest possible without causing toe/heel drag (boots sticking out the edges 1.5 cm) will do the trick.

What is a Wide Snowboard?

A wide snowboard usually has size 158W and 160 W and is marked with a ‘W’ following the size mentioned on the board’s specification.

Does the Width of a Snowboard Influence The Rider’s Performance?

Yes, the width of a snowboard definitely influences the rider’s performance. Less width means an easier turn initiation, a quicker edge change, and a more fun ride but at the cost of risking some toe/heel drag in sharper turns.

However, more width is welcome when riding powder (more floating capacity) and carving hard jumping from arc to arc. (no toe/heel drag at all, ever), It may feel steadier at higher speeds and help you keep your line, at the cost of slower edge changes and more energy-demanding turn initiations.

STEP 4: Picking the Right Snowboard Length

Picking the right length of a snowboard is equally important, just like choosing the correct width. It is generally considered that the right snowboard length is the same as the length from the ground up to your chin. 

The following factors mainly influence the length of a snowboard:

  • Snowboard Length and Riding Style
  • Weight
  • Skill level 
  • Height

Snowboard Length and Riding Style

Snowboard length influences the riding style of the rider. If someone is a free-style rider, then he/she should go for a snowboard between 3 and 6 centimeters shorter (depending on preference). And if you’re into free-riding only, then go for a 2-4cm longer snowboard (again, this will also depend on preference as some riders like to go more or less extreme than this).

Snowboard Weight

Weight is one of the critical factors in determining the length of the snowboard. The snowboard rider’s weight is more important than the rider’s height.

The Importance of Weight and Your Snowboard

A snowboard is designed with specific flex that is also influenced by its rider’s weight. If the rider’s weight and flex do not match then, it can be problematic. If a rider is too heavy for the board, then the snowboard will flex more than it should be. Or if a rider is too light for the board, then he/she can’t apply enough pressure to make the board flex properly.

Considering all these factors, the importance of weight while selecting a snowboard can’t be denied. A snowboarder should try to fit within the weight range for the given snowboard.

Skill Level and Snowboard Lenght

The skill or experience level of a snowboarder can also influence the length of the snowboard. For example, if you are a newbie, then go for a shortboard (3 to 5 cm more straightforward). Anyone with an intermediate level could neglect the ability level when determining their snowboard length.

A snowboard with a long length is more difficult to control. Therefore, it is recommended for beginners to choose a slightly shorter snowboard, and if someone is at an advanced and expert level, then he/she could go for a longer snowboard. 

The Right Snowboard Height

The height factor is not as important as weight, but still, height is a factor to consider. A taller snowboarder weighs more than a shorter rider. And a taller snowboard rider typically has a wide stance.

If a taller snowboarder rides a snowboard that is too short for his stance width, it would be hard for him to ride and perform well. Likewise, if a rider ends up with a longboard, he might feel like he has too much board outside the inserts.

Step 5: Picking the Right Board Flex

The last and final step in choosing the right snowboard is picking the right board flex according to the rider’s style and ability level. Knowing about snowboard flex is essential because it tells how flexible a snowboard is. In the snowboarding industry, there is considerable variance in snowboard flexibility depending upon its design. There are different types of flex and different flex ratings that manufacturers use.

Snowboard flex is categorized into two different types:

  1. Longitudinal
  2. Torsional

Longitudinal Flex

Longitudinal Flex is the flexibility of a snowboard lengthways (from nose to tail). In the snowboarding industry, manufacturers usually refer to longitudinal flex when they generally talk about snowboard flex. This type of flex is progressive or continuous, which means that the flex in the middle of the board, the nose, and tail could all have different levels of flex like;

  • Consistent flex between the bindings and in the tip and tail.
  • Soft flex between the bindings with stiff flex tip and tail.
  • Stiff flex in the tail and soft flex in the nose (usually not the other way around, though).
  • Stiffer flex between the bindings with softer flex tip and tail.

Torsional Flex

Torsional Flex is the flexibility of the snowboard width ways (from edge to edge). This type of flex is usually not considered by snowboarders when purchasing a snowboard, and even manufacturers don’t mention it in their specifications.

Flexes of snowboards are generally divided on a scale of 1 to 10 or from soft to stiff.

If rated 1 to 10, then:

  • 1-2 translates to soft flex.
  • 3-4 means medium-to-soft flex.
  • 5-6 means medium flex.
  • 7-8 means medium-to-stiff flex.
  • 9-10 means stiff flex.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the frequently asked questions when looking to choose the right snowboard are:

What Should I Look For When Buying a Snowboard?

There are several things to keep in mind when buying a snowboard. Like snowboard length, types of snowboard, snowboard camber and rocker, snowboard width, snowboard shape, and some other snowboard features.

What is The Right Snowboard Lenght

Snowboard length is one of the factors to be considered before buying a snowboard. As a general rule, if a snowboard rider stands on the board on its tail, then the board’s nose should reach somewhere between his/her nose or chin. However, a size chart helps in getting the right snowboard length.

Size Chart:

RIDER HEIGHT (IN)RIDER HEIGHT (CM)RIDER WEIGHT (LB)SNOWBOARD SIZE (CM)
4’10”147110 – 120128 – 136
5′152115-130133 – 141
5’2″158125-135139 – 147
5’4″163135-145144 -152
5’6″168140-155149 -157
5’8″173150-165154 -162
5’10”178160-175159 -167
6′183170-185160+
6’2″188180-195160+
6’4″193190-205160+

Types of Snowboards

There are different types of snowboard like all-mountain, free-style, free-ride, powder, and split boards. Each style needs a specific kind of snowboard for the sort of terrain and snow conditions you plan to ride in.

Snowboard Camber and Rocker

There are different types of snowboard camber and rocker profiles from which you can choose a snowboard. If you plan to ride at high speed on groomed slopes, then a cambered snowboard is the best choice. But if you prefer to ride on soft snow, then a flat rocker, camber/rocker, or flat/rocker board is preferable.

Snowboard Width

Snowboard width is also important to consider. With the correct width, your snowboard boots will extend slightly over the board’s edges.

Snowboard Shape

If someone wants high-speed carving, then a directional snowboard is best. And a proper twin snowboard is best for park and pipe use.

Other Features

Other snowboard features that one should consider before buying a snowboard are; sided cut radius, effective edge, board flex, and base material.

What Size Snowboard Should I Get as a Beginner?

If you are a newbie when it comes to snowboarding, we recommend going with a 155 to 157 cm size snowboard if you prefer free-riding.

Should a Snowboard Be Up To Your Chin?  

Snowboard length is usually measured in centimeters that range from 129 centimeters to 165 centimeters. It is commonly said that when a snowboard is in a standing position, then its tip should rest between the rider’s chin and nose. However, we recommend looking at our size chart, which is mentioned above in this article, to determine the right length for you.  

How Long Do Snowboards Last?

If we talk about snowboards’ life span, an average snowboard lasts between 150 to 200 days of riding. The durability also depends on the board’s usage and how a rider handles and takes care of the board.

If a snowboard rider is a park rider who hits jumps and big drops all day, there’s a decent chance that he/she will crack snowboard in half within a season. However, if someone only rides gentle slopes and groomers all day, a snowboard could last many, many seasons.

Is it Harmful to Snowboard Without Wax?

Snowboard wax lessens the snowboard’s risk of damage from the harsh snow conditions, park obstacles, and base burn. That is why it is not recommended to snowboard without wax. Professional snowboarders recommend wax snowboard at regular intervals. This will also increase the durability of the snowboard.

However, one can snowboard without wax but at a higher risk of board damage.

Are Used Snowboards Worth It?

Buying a used snowboard can be worth it if someone wants to save money. But the trick when buying a used snowboard is to thoroughly check that it has no damage. If it has some damage or wear, check if it is repairable. 

However, there are essential things to look out for before buying a used snowboard:

  • Cracked or damaged sidewalls
  • Sidewalls splitting/separating from the base or top sheet
  • Die-cut separating
  • Core damage
  • Cracked edges
  • Split topsheets
  • Damage in the base, scratches, and core shots

What’s a Good Price for a Snowboard?

Snowboarding is not a cheap sport, and it can be tough for beginners to search for their first snowboard to start their snowboarding career. Snowboards have a variety of price ranges depending upon their specifications. One can get a good quality snowboard for under $500. If you want a high-end snowboard, be prepared to pay between $500 and $1000.

Can A Woman Ride A Man’s Snowboard And Vice Versa?

Snowboards are categorized into men and women boards according to their abilities. Men’s snowboards are usually bigger, wider, and heavier than women’s snowboards but can women ride a man’s snowboard and vice versa?

The main difference between men and women snowboard is:

  • Width: Men’s snowboards usually are wider than women’s snowboards because their boots are more oversized in size.
  • Length: Men’s snowboards are more extended than women’s snowboards because men are heavier and taller than women.
  • Stiffer: Men’s snowboards are more rigid than women’s snowboards because men are heavier in weight than women, and they tend to ride harder and faster.

Coming back to the question, can women ride a man’s snowboard and vice versa? Well, yes, they can ride each other’s snowboards. It is sometimes hard for taller, bigger women to find a snowboard for women that fits their needs. In cases like this, those women can go for a men’s snowboard.

The same when it’s the other way around; smaller, lighter men, especially with little feet, face difficulty finding their board size in the men’s department. Men’s snowboards are usually broad, which may not fit shorter men fit. In this case, smaller men can go for a women’s snowboard with smaller widths and lengths.

Conclusion

Choosing the right snowboard is not an easy task, especially when you’re new to this super awesome sport, but if you follow these five easy steps, this process can be less challenging than you’d think. Please don’t let the cool graphics on a board fool you and persuade you to buy a board because it looks great.

Cool design will not affect its performance. Always choose a snowboard according to your ability or experience, riding style, and experience level. Most high-end snowboards are full of pricey materials like carbon for added stiffness. If you are a beginner, don’t go for expensive boards because they are not always better for you at a beginner level.

When choosing the right snowboard, we recommend considering the following factors:

  • Your Snowboarding Style
  • Your Experience Level
  • Snowboard Width
  • Snowboard Length
  • The Right Board Flex

Good luck with choosing and buying the right snowboard, and enjoy it!

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Ruben Vee

I'm an aged skateboarder, but I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago and I'm out there whenever I can.

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