So, you want to buy a snowboard? Good deal. We like that. That’s why we’re here. We put together a little guide to help you in the process of picking out your first board. Before you can pick a board to buy, you need to know the different factors that play in board selection. Below is a run-down of different riding styles, snowboard and snowboarder characteristics that all play a role in making sure you end up the snowboard you need that should help you chose the right snowboard for you – not the right snowboard for a salesperson.
Riding Style, after price, is the biggest factor in determining the right board for you. So what’s your riding style? The two biggies are Freestyle and Freeride, so we’ll discuss those below. Additional riding styles include Big Mountain, Alpine, and Freecarve.
Big Mountain is usually for the big boys – big backcountry steeps, heli-riding, snow-mobile shuttling – basically getting-to, and shredding the big chutes and runs no one else rides. While Eternal carries Big Mountain boards – longer, more taper-shaped boards or swallow-tail style boards, we don’t carry many as use for this shape is limited. If you’re looking for a big mountain board because you need a big mountain board, you know what’s up and which board to get. Otherwise, you’re probably OK heading out into the backcountry on board from our Freeride/All-mountain selection.
Alpine and Freecarve are very close in style and equipment, and both are basically dying off – noted aspects of Alpine and Freecarve setups are hard boots and ski-Esque bindings. We don’t stock Alpine or Freecarve gear because we like to tear up the whole mountain – steeps to park, and Freestyle and Freeride boards typically handle the whole mountain with ease – Alpine or Freeride boards – no so good for the park and jibs.
This type of rider is most often found on the terrain park or hitting street rails and other jib-tastic goodness. While the equipment specific to this type of rider excels in park and pipe riding, it can also be very versatile across the whole mountain.
Technical freestyle boards
- This type of board is perfect for the snowboard park and working on your spins and tricks
- Many technical freestyle snowboards are”signature” series boards
- Signature series boards are made to the specifications of a pro rider
- Usually found at the highest price points,”signature” series boards combine cutting-edge graphics with the latest in hi-tech manufacturing
- Extremely light board weight is the most common characteristic of these board.
While an overused term in snowboarding, freeride is still the best way to describe the majority of snowboarders and soon-to-be snowboarders. As it suggests, freeride describes a user who intends to utilize the whole mountain. These riders enjoy everything about snowboarding: the amazing feel of carving a turn on freshly groomed slopes, the sense of flight obtained at lift-off from the big-air jump, the creativity that can only be understood descending the half-pipe, and the feel of freedom one gets floating in fresh powder.
- This board is designed for boarders who want to ride the whole mountain including the park and pipe
- Freeride boards can be found at EVERY price point from all snowboard manufacturers
- Each board has a unique characteristic which is a derivative of its construction technique and materials, shape, flex pattern, size, and graphics
- For the most part, there isn’t a “bad” board on the market – but what Eternal carries are the best of the bunch.; )
- Even the least expensive board produced today can out-perform the “signature” series boards of just 5 years ago
- This is the best type of board to learn on and can be used anywhere on the mountain
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- When purchasing snowboard equipment, it is important to consider the rider’s age
- If the rider is still growing, it is to be expected that the purchase be made with growth considerations in mind
- For the most part, age is not a determining factor in any snowboard equipment purchase (board, boots, and bindings)
- The effect of age is a factor in the final sizing decisions
- Weight used to be the most important rider characteristic in determining board size – with current snowboard technology weight still plays a role in board selection, but is simply among characteristics of consideration
- A snowboard acts like a leaf spring, in that it has no clue how tall the person standing on it is, but it does know their weight
- When a heavy rider purchases a board that is too short, the board will have a tendency to “wash out” or perform poorly, especially at higher speeds
- A lighter person on a longer board will usually have problems controlling their board and initiating turns
- There is a major misconception in the general public that height is the single most important factor in determining board size. As stated above, your board can’t tell how tall you are, and how tall you are doesn’t determine what size board you need
- Height usually comes into play when the rider’s height and weight are not proportional; and foot size is key – taller people usually have wider feet – wider feet need wider boards
- An unusually tall rider that is relatively skinny may opt for a longer board. The leverage they gain from the added height will help offset any loss of control they may encounter.
- The same holds true for a heavier/shorter rider. They may benefit from a bit shorter of a board, due to the loss of leverage from their height.
- Snowboard boots are sized the same as regular shoes and sneakers, therefore, your shoe size will be the same as your boot size
- The fit of a snowboard boot should be snug and your heel needs to stay in place when flexed, so if you are between sizes go for the smaller size
- Foot size plays a big role in snowboard selection (for guys). For foot sizes up to 10 (8.5 for the ladies) – you’re ok on just about any board. Foot size 10-11, consider waist width when looking at boards. Size 11 and up, you’ll probably need at least a mid-wide snowboard, depending on the specific board you’re looking at, and how your stance sits
- As with weight, gender is a critical factor in determining the appropriate equipment for the rider
- As a rule, a women’s physiology differs from a man’s in three main ways: foot size, center of gravity, and body mass- all of which affect the way a snowboarder interacts with their equipment
- Women typically have a smaller foot and a lower center of gravity
- Female riders of all abilities can find boards and boots specifically tailored to their physiological differences
- Women’s boards are designed to take into account the riders lower center of gravity, smaller foot size, and lighter weight
- A rider with extensive experience in other skate/board sports (surfing, skateboarding, skiing, in-line skating, etc.) will probably want to invest more in their equipment since they will more than likely “take” to the sport very quickly
- At the same time, someone with little outdoor sport experience, or certain fears that might limit their aggressiveness, might be best to keep their equipment purchase more conservative to start
Hard Pack and Machine-made Snow
- Hard pack and machine-made snow is usually prevalent among eastern resorts that are required to make snow since mother nature cannot be depended on to supply natural snow
- Your snowboarding equipment should contain more vibration control materials, such as a rubber dampening foil, which will provide for a smoother ride across hard snow
- Groomed and natural snow can be called powder or freshies
- This type of snow is usually prevalent among western and Rocky Mountain resorts where natural snowfall can be dependable and deep every year
- Most riders would benefit from a longer board in powdery conditions. The extra length adds additional lift and helps the rider float through the snow like a surfer
- Anything other than powder and hard-packed man-made snow can fall into this category
- Most boards today are designed to excel in variable conditions
- Resist the temptation to buy a real shortboard if your riding will take you into various conditions
- A longer board is generally preferable unless you are looking for a board strictly for technical freestyle riding or are just learning
- As with the purchase of any sporting goods equipment, budgets are an important consideration. A rider does not have to have the best/most expensive equipment to become a good rider and enjoy the sport, but they MUST have the appropriate equipment.
- Usually, the boot is the one piece of equipment in which the price should not affect the purchase. The purchase of the most comfortable boots that are appropriate for the rider will lead to days, weeks, months, and even years’ worth of enjoyable riding. There is nothing more distressing than a rider’s day being ruined by uncomfortable snowboard boots.
- With board &bindings, it is usually okay to save a few bucks, either by buying last year’s model or a brand with less marketing clout
- While die-hard riders may scoff at this being a deciding factor, let’s not kid ourselves
- Anytime someone spends a good deal of money on something, they need to like what they see
- Part of the experience of snowboarding is the holistic environment, and board/boot/binding graphics play a role in that
Buying a snowboard is not as easy as it might seem and the main question should certainly not be: ‘How will this cool board look with the rest of my gear?’. You need to know quite a few things about yourself, about snowboards and about riding styles before you can choose a board that will fit you and your riding style. This guide will help you through the basics.
Before you can learn snowboarding, you will first need to learn about its primary piece of equipment: The Snowboard. You will need to know what a snowboard consists of and what the different elements are before you can choose which snowboard is best for you and how you should use your snowboard.