How to buy a snowboard.
The right snowboard equipment can maximize your on-hill experience and help you improve your skills. Instead of just picking your snowboard based on what graphics you like best, use the following guidelines to help buy a snowboard that’s right for you:
1. Terrain: consider the terrain you want to ride—powder, park or all-mountain.
2. Snowboard size and flex: consider your weight, ability level and boot size when selecting a snowboard model, stiffness and length.
If you are looking for a recommendation on what snowboard to buy, consult our top-picks on the best snowboards for your goals, style and ability: Best Beginner Snowboards, Best All Mountain Snowboards and Best Kids Snowboards
Pros: You can ride powder with just about any snowboard, but to make the most of it, you’ll want a snowboard with a wider tip and bindings that are set back to help you stay afloat. This shape will make riding powder easy and smooth.
Cons: While powder boards are awesome in 12 inches of fresh snow, they aren’t quite as versatile for the rest of the mountain. They aren’t as smooth on groomers, are terrible when riding switch and don’t do well in the park.
You should buy a powder snowboard if: you snowboard at a mountain resort, get tons of snow, are an intermediate to expert snowboarder and want to spend all day in trees and back bowls.
Pros: Terrain parks now have features for just about every ability level. Park boards tend to be a little more flexible, shorter, have a centered stance, and a twin tip shape, meaning that they ride just as well switch. Since they have a softer flex, they are more forgiving on sketchy landings and easier on rails and boxes.
Cons: Park boards perform pretty decent on groomers and powder, but they tend to be a little soft for high-speed, aggressive carving and the centered stance can make deep powder a lot more work.
You should buy a freestyle snowboard if: you are advanced beginner to expert ability level and want to spend your time riding switch, hitting jumps and grinding rails.
Pros: All mountain snowboards are versatile – they’re good in the park, good in powder and excellent on groomers. Most riders are content on this board, since its versatility allows exploration of the whole mountain. They’re fun carving snowboards, stable at high speeds, and generally good for most riders—including beginners. All-mountain snowboards tend to be stiffer than powder or freestyle boards, have a directional shape (meaning that they are designed best riding forwards), and have a stance that is typically set just slightly to the back of center.
Cons: In the park, you may not ride as fluid switch and you won’t be able to lock onto a rail as easily. In powder, you’ll have to sit back a little to keep the tip up. Since all mountain boards come in a variety of models, beginners should go for a more flexible, forgiving snowboard. Advanced riders can go with a stiffer snowboard.
You should buy an all-mountain snowboard if: you are a beginner to expert ability level and want to explore the whole mountain. Since they are forgiving and versatile, all-mountain snowboards are great if you’re just starting out or don’t know what disciple you want to specialize in.
How to pick the right snowboard size.
Once you select your terrain preference, you’ve got to determine the best size snowboard. While many people still think the board should come to your chin, snowboard size is really determined by weight, boot size and riding style.
Step 1—Your weight Check the manufacturer’s size chart to find the right length range for you (most people can ride 2, 3 or more sizes of the same model).
Step 2—Your boot size You want to make sure your heels and toes don’t hang over the snowboard. If you’ve got big feet (over a US mens’ 10.5), you should find a snowboard that’s wider underfoot. Try to get the narrowest board your boots will fit on.
Step 3—Ability level and flex Once you find your size range, narrow it down based on your ability level. It’s better for extremely aggressive riders to go up to a little longer size or a stiffer board. This will give you more snowboard to work with and ultimately, more stability. Beginners will be better off with the shorter length and softer flex, since it will be easier to handle.
Once you select a snowboard, check our shopping deals section for a coupon and save yourself a little money. You’ll need it to buy sweet bindings that match your new deck.
Next step: How to mount your bindings