How To Choose A Snowboard – A Snowboard Buying Guide
Snowledge Q&A Series: Part 2
As we mentioned in the first kick-off piece, What Size Snowboard Do I Need? Snowboard Sizing Explained, for our Snowledge Q&A Series—inspired by questions from our community—the athletic abilities, location and experience levels of our Snowledge app users range across the board (pun intended). True to the meaning of the word and our brand, we launched the series to tackle community questions by tapping the insights from our experienced network to bring you solid information to help you have your best day on the mountain. Again, please offer up any added advice we may have missed on the subject in the comments below, and feel free to submit your questions for consideration in a follow up piece!
Snowboard Selection & Buying Guide
When deciding on which kind of snowboard to choose, the very first thing to consider is the style or type of riding you enjoy. Do you enjoy ripping corduroy on sunny bluebird days, or slashing pow turns in deep snow? Do you find yourself sessioning park laps all day, or looking for those hidden, steep lines in the sidecountry? Whatever it is you’re into, there are specific types of boards that accommodate each and every style, as well as even all mountain snowboards.
Skill Set & Style
If you are a beginner-to-intermediate rider that enjoys cruising mellow groomers, you will most likely want a medium-sized board with a mid flex. Boards built with a reverse camber profile are easiest to learn on, for it allows easier turning and less edge catch. A rider who loves charging fast down steep groomers, and ripping carve turns through fresh corduroy, will most likely enjoy a stiffer board with traditional camber. Traditional camber provides great stability and edge hold at high speeds, which is perfect for carving out fast turns.
Powder boards can run in many different shapes and sizes. It used to be the bigger the better to stay afloat in the really deep stuff. That’s not the case anymore. When the rocker, or reverse camber, profile debuted in the mid-2000s, a lot of powder boards started to take on that shape. Rocker camber is shaped like a water ski, which allows boards to float on top of the snow much easier. Along with rocker, a tapered edge profile started gaining popularity in powder boards. A tapered shape means that the nose of the snowboard is wider than the tail, allowing the nose to stay above the snow more effortlessly.
The shape of the tail has also changed in some powder boards as well. A pintail or fishtail helps allow the tail of the board to sink more, which in turn helps the nose float. A pintail shape is cut similar to a spade. The end of the board comes to a point, creating a more narrow tail. A fishtail is sort of the opposite, where the middle of the tail is cut out in a triangle shape, creating two points at the end of the board, mimicking a fish’s tail. There have been a lot of experimental shapes, created by many different brands over the last decade, all trying to find the best way to keep snowboarders afloat in deep powder.
Freestyle riders that love sessioning the park all day tend to choose between a few different styles of snowboards. If it’s boxes, rails, and jibs you like, then a softer flex board with less edge catch is what you’re looking for. Some jibbers like the rocker camber since it’s less likely to catch an edge while spinning on and off of park features. Some also like a flat camber profile, meaning there is zero camber or rocker. With a flat surface beneath the feet, it is easier to lock into that rail or box when sliding down it.
If it’s the feeling of flying through the air at high speed that gets your heart racing, then a more jump-specific board is your ticket to freedom. Boards built for hitting the jump line, will be a lot more “poppy,” meaning you’ll have more rebound. Base profiles that tend to have a lot of pop would be the traditional camber, or the hybrid camber. Hybrid camber mixes together the best of both camber and rocker.
There are two different types of hybrid camber. You can think of one as having a “W” like shape, and the other having more of an “M” like shape. A board with a “W” shaped profile will have traditional camber in between your feet, then an early rise, or rocker out to the tip and tail. The opposite of that has rocker in the middle between your feet and camber directly under each foot, giving it more of an “M” shape. These shapes give you the pop from the camber with less edge contact and catch from the rocker. The hybrid shapes are popular amongst many park riders who love to jump, and big mountain shredders that love to charge while having the ability to make quick turns.
What Type of Rider are You?
With all the different shapes and experimental designs, from all the different brands out there, it can feel a little overwhelming trying to find the right board for you. By knowing what type of riding you enjoy the most, and with a little bit of research, you will definitely find the right board for you.
Snowledge brought to you courtesy of Adam Ryan, local, freeride snowboard coach and pro shop expert out of Squaw Valley, California.