How to Buy a Snowboard

It is time to buy a new snowboard, but you are overwhelmed by the many features and options. Before you make your purchase, there is some general knowledge you should be aware of that will make buying your new snowboard from The Ski Bum exciting and fun. This article will help you decipher all of the information so you make an informed purchase that ensures you will enjoy your time with your new board.

Ability Level

The first step to choosing your new board is determining your ability level. Snowboards are designed to accommodate people of all skills, so buying a snowboard that is above or below your ability level can be a major hindrance to your performance. Snowboarding skill levels are commonly split into three groups:

  • Beginner - This level is for those who have rarely, if ever, gone snowboarding.
  • Intermediate - This rider is comfortable on the board and can accomplish some basic tricks. Intermediate riders can handle some tougher trails and have a good feel on different terrain.
  • Advanced - Proficient riders can easily navigate powder, terrain parks, and the entire mountain. Most advanced riders can land some tricks with ease and are adept in any conditions.

It is important to note that snowboards are not specified via skill level. As we delve deeper into the nuances of snowboards, you will see that certain boards are more geared towards beginners, while others are for advanced riders.

Width

The next step is determining the width of your board. The width of your board is measured (in cm or mm) across the thinnest section and correlates with your foot size. If you have the proper width, your toes and heels will slightly hang over the board, allowing you to control your balance. However, if your boots extend too far off the board, carving on edges will be nearly impossible as your feet will drag in the snow. Below is a general chart for choosing your width:

  • Narrow (240-245 mm) - Men’s Size 7.5 <
  • Regular (246-254 mm) - Men’s Size 8-10
  • Mid-Wide (255-265 mm) - Men’s Size 10-11.5
  • Wide (265mm +)- Men’s Size 11.5 >

Wider boards are slower and heavier, but are very stable and perform well in deep snow. Narrow boards are quicker edge to edge, and therefore easier to turn.

Length

The length of your board will be related to your weight, your riding style, and where you predominantly ride. Board lengths are measured in cm, and different lengths are designed for different styles. Start by measuring your height in cm, then you can select among these 3 general sizes:

  • Shorter - A shorter board will reach just below your chin. These size boards are easier to maneuver, so they are great for beginners or for those interested in terrain parks.
  • Average - These boards usually come up to your eyes. Average boards are the most versatile and will perform well in most conditions. These are good for intermediate to advanced riders who like to explore the entire mountain.
  • Longer - Longer boards extend slightly over the top of your head. Longer boards are made for riding deeper snow or riding at higher speeds. So if you are interested finding some untracked snow or carving at high speeds on big mountains, you might want to invest in a longer board.

If you are a little heavier, then you should consider adding a few cm to your board as well. Lighter people should have shorter and more flexible boards, as a longer board will pose many control challenges to a lighter rider. Also, your aggression level will influence what board length you should purchase. If you attack steep hills with speed and power, a longer board will help you carve. If you are a slower rider, than a short board should be your choice as it will be easier to turn.

Snowboard Types

Another important factor when selecting your new board from The Ski Bum is your riding style. Different snowboards have distinct characteristics that work best in particular terrains, conditions, and styles.

  • All-Mountain - These versatile boards work well in most environments and snow conditions. If you are a beginner or are unsure of exactly what you need, you should buy an all-mountain board because of their adaptability.
  • Powder - If you love hitting the powder, this is your board. These boards often feature rocker in the tip of the board, allowing the board to float above the snow. Powder carving is not easy, so these boards are for experienced riders.
  • Freestyle - Freestyle boards are great for landing tricks in a terrain park. Since these need to be easy to maneuver, freestyle boards are usually shorter in length and are usually twin shape. They as well will mostly feature some type of rocker allowing them to be more catch free and allowing for some margin of error when pulling off tricks.
  • Freeride - Similar to powder boards, freeride boards are for those who like to venture off the groomed paths. They usually have a directional shape so they can navigate quickly in one direction through the natural terrain.

Again, the most important thing is choosing the type that fits your needs. It will be a waste to buy a board that will not work properly, so be cognizant of your skill and typical terrain. If you want to experiment with different conditions while snowboarding, then an All Mountain board will be the safe choice.

Shape

Another factor in your riding style will be the shape of your new board. There are four main shapes of snowboards that you can choose from:

  • Directional - Directional boards are meant to be ridden mostly in one direction and are common with freeride and all-mountain boards. Constructed with a wider nose than the tail, they provide balance when carving down the hill.
  • True Twin - On this board, the nose and tail are symmetrical, allowing you to smoothly ride in either direction. This makes the twin board perfect for terrain parks and freestlye riding.
  • Directional Twin - This is a mix of the directional and the twin. Although the tail and nose are similar, the nose is generally slightly more flexible and the tail is stiffer. This allows the rider to ride backwards/switch if need be but will give more pop out of the tail to power out of turns or to give more snap in tricks when riding regular.
  • Tapered - This board is designed like a directional board, only with a much wider nose than tail. This gives the board even more control in thick powder, allowing you to float easily across the snow when you venture off the trail.

Once again, you should select your shape based upon your predominant riding style.

Flex

The flex of your new board is also very important. Flex is measured on a scale ranging from 1-10, with 10 being the stiffest version. A good rule is that 1-3 is soft, 4-6 is medium, and 7-8 is stiff, and 9-10 is very stiff.

  • Softer Flex - A softer flex is better for beginners and for most freestyle riders, as the soft flex makes the board easier to control.
  • Medium Flex - As you can guess, the middle flex option is the most well-rounded. It is good for all-mountain boards, as you can partake in different types of riding.
  • Stiffer Flex - This flex is built for higher speeds and hard charging because of the increased stability a stiffer board gives the rider.

This is obviously a lot of information, but it is all very important when you are purchasing your new snowboard from The Ski Bum. Be mindful of your skill level and your preferred style of riding, and in no time you will have a perfect new board that fits your specific needs. With your new snowboard in tow, you are ready to go enjoy the mountains!