A Quick Guide on Choosing a New Snowboard
Deciding on a snowboard’s ideal length isn’t complicated. When you position a snowboard up on its back end, the top should bop you roughly between your nose and chin.
This system of measurement is a great way to rule out boards that are absolutely outside your range. It certainly makes the shopping process faster. However, once you have a general benchmark, it’s time to get detailed.
Many newbies assume it’s your height that impacts the desired length of your snowboard. Nope! It’s your weight.
A snowboard will provide the smoothest ride when it’s able to spread your weight evenly across the snow’s surface. As such, the greater your weight, the longer your board has to be.
Your weight also affects your general size, so choosing a board that can accommodate your specific girth will help you maintain balance. Imagine a full grown man balancing on a kid’s board! Hilarious, but ineffective.
For example, a snowboarder weighing between 150-200 pounds will usually be alright on a snowboard that’s 158 centimeters in length.
Most shops provide you with weight-to-length charts, so be honest when you start shopping; it’ll result in a more enjoyable ride.
Camber and Rocker
When deciding what degree of camber or rocker you need, pay attention to these details:
- Camber: High camber boards offer stable rides. Camber is essential in responsive boards. If you prefer to ride on hard-packed snow or groomed slopes, you need a board with a fair amount of camber in its build. Camber will also make your ride significantly faster – so speed demons rejoice, but newbies beware.
- Flat: Flat boards, comparatively, are boards with no camber at all or as little camber as possible. You can use a flat board to make quick turns and to easily increase your float.
- Rocker: These are also known as reverse camber. You can identify a rocker board by noticing its smiley-face tips and tails. Boards with a significant rocker are best for trick parks, as the upturned tips will give the board the extra power it needs to maneuver quickly through tight turns. These boards are softer than their cambered cousins. Their ease of use makes them ideal for new riders; however, if you have more experience under your belt, you can still unlock their potential at your nearby park.
- Camber/Rocker: Cambers and rockers are sometimes combined, merging the upturned tips of rocker boards with the bow of camber boards. This style of board can turn on a dime, but they’re made with individual people in mind. If you’re interested in a customized snowboard, speak to your manufacturer and decide the specific degree of rocker or camber that suits your riding style.
- Flat/Rocker: Flat/rocker boards have a long, flat section in their middle and the rocker’s smiley-face tips. These kinds are great in soft snow, as they can provide easy turns and excellent float. Similar to camber/rocker boards, you can speak with a snowboard manufacturer to find the balance and ride that best suits you.
Snowboards come in a number of different sizes. When choosing yours, look for one that allows the toes of your boots to extend ever so slightly over the board’s edge.
Too much overhang can result in uncomfortable drag while on the slopes, but just enough can provide an extra dose of control while turning.
- Directional: These are meant to be ridden in a single direction. As such, there is a definitive front to the board and a definitive back. You shouldn’t be attempting any fancy shifts in direction – or else risk a pretty nasty fall. If you’re looking for speed, however, these boards are among the best for you. You’ll be able to use your directional board to carve far more effectively and to soar down a mountain at great speeds. Most all-mountain boards and a number of freeride boards are carved in the directional style.
- True Twin: These don’t have the directional’s distinct front and back. Instead, the two ends of these boards mirror each other, so you can ride on them backward or forward without issue. As a result, you’re far more likely to see these boards in parks or while riding pipes. Freestyle and park snowboards are most often designed with a true twin shape in mind.
- Directional Twin: These are generalized boards for riders of all types. You can ride on a directional twin board whether you’re on the side of a mountain, on a set of groomed slopes, or tearing your way through a trick park. Just make sure that you keep other board elements in mind if riding on a directional twin board. While they’re more generalized than the other two designs mentioned here, you still need to optimize your board for the best shredding experience.
You should also test the flex of your ideal board before purchasing it. Snowboards can flex along their length, called longitudinal flex, and their width called torsional flex.
- Soft Flex: These boards flex more than others and, as a result, are easier to use. If you’re looking to make turns without a great deal of resistance, this design will suit you best. Riders with low body weights or who are brand new to snowboarding will benefit from the docile and near-effortless maneuverability. Park riders, too, can take advantage of a soft flex board’s forgiving nature.
- Stiff Flex: These are a little more difficult to handle, but maintain their speed better than a soft flex board. If you’re looking to race or keep up a fast pace, this design is ideal. However, make sure that you only purchase a stiff flex board when you’ve developed solid experience. They don’t turn easily and will require skill to manage. Nothing’s worse than zooming along, only to realize you have no control!
Note that your snowboard should only flex in two directions. If its flexing in more than that, you’re probably in trouble.
Last but not least, consider a snowboard’s edge and the way its radius is going to impact your ride.
Riders use the term “sidecut radius” to describe the cut of a snowboard’s edge. By listing this detail, manufacturers can specify whether the board you’re looking at can make tight turns or broader ones.
A sidecut also affects the accuracy of your turns, as this will determine your ‘edge hold’ – or the amount of ‘grip’ your board is able to get on the snow during a turn.
Since it’s the difference between tumbling or looking awesome, pay attention to this detail.
- Tapered Waist: Boards that have a tapered waist – that is to say, a middle that’s narrower than either end – will be able to make tighter turns.
- Non-Tapered: Comparatively, boards with a chunkier waist will be more equipped to make sweeping turns.