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

Powder snowboard:

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.

Freestyle snowboard:

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.

All-Mountain Snowboard:

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

18 Responses to How to buy a snowboard
  1. mitch
    February 5, 2013 | 10:52 pm

    hi guys,
    i went snowboarding for the 1st time ever about a month ago and i’m hooked! i’m already planning another trip and wanting to buy my gear this time instead of renting. i’m 6’1, size 13US and weigh around 100kg. i’m really keen on your thoughts about what board to get: i’ve been thinking about the lib tech skate banana (wide) but for about an extra $70, i could buy 2 boards: the k2 slayblade (wide) and the rome artifact rocker (wide)

    would you suggest just buying 1 board or is it worthwhile buying 2 boards as they’re both built for different styles of riding. i picked up snowboarding really quickly and want a board/s that i can progress really well on.

    thanks guys


  2. Jordan
    January 29, 2013 | 2:26 pm

    Hi guys, I am so grateful for everything you guys have done, your intermediate vids are always a must watch before heading back up to the slopes after a long summer.

    Anyway I’ve been boarding for 3 years now and want to buy my own board, I spend a lot of time all mountain and steeps but i’ve JUST started getting interested in park and butters, and I love it. So, I was thinking maybe a longer kind of board but soft rather than stiff, I’ve been eyeing up a Ride 158Wide (I have size UK11 feet 🙁 ) but it ems a little stiff for what I had in mind, any sugestions? Thanks so much guys

    • Jordan
      January 29, 2013 | 2:28 pm

      I was also thinking of just getting a standard size board but using risers, I’ve never used them before, what’s your opinion on them?

      • Jill
        February 1, 2013 | 2:18 pm

        It’s really going to depend on your comfort level. If it feels good and works for you, go for it. You’ll likely just adapt your style to your set-up.

    • Jill
      February 1, 2013 | 2:23 pm

      Glad you like the vids! Check out our our ‘buying guides’. Rick picked his top Mens Beginner and All Mountain boards and has a short review. Take a look and see if any of those appeal to you. Just avoid boards like the CustomX.

      • jordan
        February 3, 2013 | 4:55 pm

        Thanks a lot, Ive had a look and i really like the look and sound of the Burton Custom, only thing is the Channel system, ive got a pair of K2 bindings, will they fit? Plus ive heard that when riding hard on non Burton bindings they can slip up the channel. Thanks for you guys help 🙂

  3. Jim
    December 21, 2012 | 1:36 am

    Hi Jill & Rick

    I am a ski patroller and a aasi level 1 snowboarder. I am schedule to take the level 2 exam this next month. Do you have any suggestions, hints,? I have talked to several level 2 and they all say different things.


    • Rick
      December 24, 2012 | 4:21 pm


      The step from 1 to 2 is pretty big. In general, get better at advanced riding. Especially moguls, park and pipe. If you can teach intermediate and advanced lessons. Hopefully you school has a good trainer or two that can really help and give you feedback.

  4. Atilla
    December 5, 2012 | 8:36 am

    Hi Jill/Rick

    l just discovered your web page and l felt deeply upset because of l was to guys great.l learned how to ride to myself and now lm checking my mistakes and also my wife, she is watching your videos everyday to how to ride truely and safely.

    thank you guys and enjoy winter

    Atill ( from ?stanbul, Turkey )

    • Rick
      December 24, 2012 | 4:25 pm

      So we upset you 😉

  5. Koene
    November 27, 2012 | 4:59 am

    Hey Jill/Rick!

    I’ve recently started snowboarding here in Belgium. Sadly we only have short indoor slopes but when the season comes I’m so going to Austria to hit the mountains there. Now here comes the question. I’m looking to buy my own board but don’t exactly know what I should look out for/pick. Hence why I am asking you guys..
    I’m 194cm tall and have an Imperium size 11 boot but apparently their size 11’s are equal to an 11,5 or so I’ve heard. I tend to pick a 160 board for a rental at the moment but never tried something else (a wide board cause my boots do overhang a bit more then I’d like. Or a shorter board cause apparently that’d give me more manoeuvrability…)
    Like I said earlier we only have indoor slopes closeby where I’ll probably be spending the most of days since the nearest snowy mountain is a 5 to 10 hour drive from here. The indoor slope has a “park” bit on one side and a general straight downhill on the other and I’d like to have fun on both bits (well, as much fun as can be had indoors that is.. ;))
    With all this info in mind, what would you guys suggest for me as I’ve been browsing trought folders and online shops and CANNOT get a clear idea on what to decide on.

    PS; the beginner guides have helped me so much ontop of the lessons the instructor gave me. It’s all in the small things that people tend to forget like bending your knees inward/outward when turning. She totally forgot to mention that, no wonder I couldn’t turn..! After being on a board for about 30 hours total I’ve tried my first boardslide and jump. So eager to try more and bigger.

    Hopefully either one of you can give me some advice on what board/type would suit me best.

    Kind regards from Belgium~

    • Jill
      November 30, 2012 | 12:53 pm

      Hi Koen,

      We’ve got our favorite snowboards listed here for best ‘all-mountain’ boards. It sounds like this is the type of snowboard that would suit you.

      For sizing, you will probably need a wider model given your boot size. Refer to the manufacture’s sizing/weight guidelines for size selection.

      Hope it helps!


      • Koene
        December 2, 2012 | 4:17 pm

        Thanks for the reply Jill!

        After browsing trough your website over and over I hadn’t found a recent reply/post so I was beginning to worry that this place had turned into a ghost-town. Luckily for me it hadn’t and I’m hoping to see more videos in the future. Ofcourse having heard you 2 are busy with your family and that is very much acceptable. Family should always come infront of internetrelatedissues. 🙂

        Just wanted to let you know that I’ve bought my board! I went to one of the nearest sportshops around where after hearing me out and having seen my bootsize they advised me with a series of rocker-type boards. After hearing some specs about different boards I went for the Burton Blunt 2013 with Burton Custom 2013 bindings.
        It isnt’ a wide model which made me wonder if it’d work but apparently in duckstance at 15/-15 I’ll have some overhang but not nearly enough to catch snow when carving. I’ll probably never carve a lot since all we have around here are not so wide indoor slopes.
        If anything I’ll reply back on how my first ride with my own board went, I’m going to the indoor slope upcomming saturday!

        Yet again, thanks for the help, reply and tips you gave.

        Kind regards

  6. snwoboarding
    January 25, 2012 | 1:51 pm

    I have just started snowboarding and am looking to buy my own board. Thank you for all the great information you provide on your site!

  7. Jacob
    November 18, 2011 | 2:42 pm

    Hi, I’m going to be buying a new snowboard soon but I can’t decide what kind of board to get. Because I ride in a lot of powder, but I also like hitting jumps and doing tricks etc. So I’m not exactly sure what kind of board to get like what brand and what height. I’m 185cm tall (6’1″) And my boot size ranges from size 11 to size 12 in US. A little help please? Thanks.

    • Rick
      November 18, 2011 | 2:52 pm

      Hi Jacob,

      Based on what you are looking for, I would look in the All Mountain category. Those are the most versatile boards. If you get something with rocker, it will do very well in powder.

      Now, we don’t normally get specific with recommendations, but based on your comment, I would seriously look at the Burton Sherlock. The Sherlock was my main board last year and I have one this year too. It ROCKS EVERYWHERE.

  8. Steve
    September 7, 2011 | 4:52 pm

    Hi Jill / Rick,

    I’m purchasing my first board soon I was wondering if the Burton ICS channel system has a “default” setting for mounting the bindings?

    Also, would I be correct in assuming the angle of the bindings is simply the riders preferred stance? I ask because I’m practising riding switch more and more, so was wondering if about 12 degrees / -12 degrees will give me enough angle to have the “duck stance” you mentioned in one of your videos.

    Great site and keep up the good work!!

    P.S. The lycra outfits had me in hysterics 🙂

    • Rick
      September 8, 2011 | 2:02 am

      Hi Steve,

      Yes, the ICS system has marks for the stance width. On the marks is the reference stance width, and you can make changes from there.

      12/-12 is a great stance to start with, but go with what feels best for you.


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