Snowboard Buying Guide: How To Choose The Right Snowboard
Snowboard Sizing Chart
Get the right size and fit for your needs
With the array of snowboard shapes and profiles available nowadays, it can be hard to make a sound decision. Luckily, we have very knowledgeable and experienced staff on hand for our local and visiting customers, but for everybody else, finding the right snowboard can be dreadful when looking for direction and relevant information online.
THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS THAT COME INTO PLAY WHEN PICKING A NEW BOARD:
- Riding/Ability Level
- Snowboard Width
- Snowboard Length
- Riding Style and Preferred Terrain
While many snowboards are designed for specific types of terrain and riding styles, others are made to serve a more generalised purpose, kind of a “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of boards. But regardless of your needs, there is a perfect snowboard out there for you and this user-friendly guide will help you narrow it down and pick your next weapon of awesomeness!
What is the right snowboard length for me? You may have heard that the proper board should be at least as high as your chin, but no higher than your eyes. And while this rule of thumb is still a good starting point to this day, it doesn’t necessarily mean perfect fit anymore given the variety of shapes and profiles available. Both weight and your riding style are to be taken into consideration when trying to choose the right length, as they will affect the range of boards you should be looking at.
For example, if you are a heavier rider, you may want a slightly longer board than recommended for someone of the same height, given that you would require more support from said board. If you spend the majority of your time on the hill off-piste, you may also want a longer board, as it will provide more float and stability in rougher terrain and deeper snow. On the other hand, if you have a more freestyle approach to you riding and prefer the terrain park, a shorter board will allow you to maneuver more easily when doing tricks.
See the chart below for reference. Please note that every size overlaps by a couple of centimetres, as those are recommendations and are subject to personal preferences.
Snowboard Size Chart
As you can see, there is a range of sizes for each rider, the reason being that depending on your build and terrain preference, you may want to go up or down in size.
PLEASE CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING FACTOR WHEN SELECTING YOUR BOARD SIZE:
If you are stoked on riding park or aspire at spending more time perfecting your bag of tricks, you may want to choose the shorter board in your range.
If you like to ride everywhere on the mountain and will never spend time on the groomed runs when there is fresh snow, you may want to select the longer board in your range.
If you are slightly heavier than the average rider of your height, consider longer.
If you are still at the beginner level, consider shorter.
What is my riding level? It is important to be honest with yourself when assessing your riding ability in order to select the right board. It doesn’t matter how great of a board it is or how good the people riding it are, if it isn’t a good fit for your build and your riding style, you won’t progress and more importantly, you won’t be having fun riding it.
Snowboard Width vs Boot Size
Luckily, snowboard width, unlike the length, is not a matter of preference or ability but more so a matter of proper fit and this depends solely on your boot length. The sad news is that not all models are available in mid-wide or wide. Therefore, if you are a big footed fellow, you might find yourself a little bit more limited in terms of options. The good news is, that most brands now have quite a few wide options in their line of boards and that once you know what category you belong to, you start enjoying the benefit of the right fit and you start shopping accordingly.
Riding Style and Preferred Terrain
As we touched on in the first paragraph, some snowboards are designed with a specific use in mind and others meant to be suitable everywhere. While every snowboard can be ridden the way you want, anywhere you desire and in all snow conditions, picking one that is built to suit your needs will increase the likelihood of having a good time and progress into a better rider.
Here are descriptions which should help you shed some light on the various board categories:
Once again, the all-mountain snowboards are the “Jack of all trades, master of none” type of boards. They will perform equally as good on fresh snow, groomed runs and in the park. Nothing is quite as versatile and is usually the most popular choice for the majority of snowboarders. The reason being, that not everyone wants a board for every type of terrain nor for every snow condition.
Freestyle snowboards or Park boards are designed to hit man-made and natural features such as; jumps, rails, tree jibs, halfpipes and anything that will get you off the snow. They are also made to ride switch (other foot forward) with ease, as they are often true twin, meaning exact same shape and length on both ends. Some hybrids are qualified as All-Mountain Freestyle. Designed as a directional twin, with a symmetrical shape and a slightly longer nose. Those snowboards are designed to be versatile and playful at the same time, as well as to be ridden on the shorter end of the spectrum.
Freeride snowboards are designed with a stiffer flex and are meant to be ridden in a slightly longer fashion. They are best suited for snowboarders who seek fresh snow and tend to spend all their time on the hill off the groomed runs. Freeride boards are often directional and have a longer nose.
Powder snowboards are, well, designed for powder surfing! They are often seen with funky features such as short, swallow/fish tails and wider/tapered nose. The stance (mounting points) is set back and the tips are rockered to allow better float in deeper snow. This renders a short effective edge but will ensure turning ease and a no catch feel in fresh powder.
Splitboards are built to access zone that would otherwise only be accessed by snowshoes. The upside being weight and versatility, given that you don’t have to carry your snowboard on your back while climbing. Splitboards also float much better than snowshoe in deep snow and allow you to climb steeper ascents due to the climbing skins. Splitboard bindings are required, as well as other touring and safety equipment. Despite having all the appropriate equipment, your most important tool when touring the backcountry is your knowledge. Please visit our friends at BC Ski Guides for more info on getting proper training for your future backcountry outings.
Found mostly in the freeride, all-mountain and powder snowboard category, the directional shape is meant to be ridden majoritarily in one direction. Its design offers a slightly longer and softer nose for better float and maneuverability in fresh snow while having a shorter and stiffer tail for a more nimble feel and added carving ability.
True Twin Shape
The name refers to its identical/twin tips, meaning that both the nose and tail are symmetrical with the same length and flex. This snowboard shape is most often found in freestyle/park boards and is intended to be mounted in the center of the board in order to react and perform the same in either direction.
Directional Twin Shape
Directional twin can be two things, either a directional board with a longer nose and shorter tail with a twin flex core. Meaning that the flex would be more similar in both tips. Or, it can be a twin shaped board with progressive flex in the nose and stiffer tail. Either of these models will be found in all-mountain/freestyle boards, providing a playful feel on a more versatile platform.
A new wave of snowboards now offers asymmetrical sidecut profiles, core/flex and other unusual features. The idea is that unlike skiing where you should be symmetrical in your edge to edge movement, on your snowboard your flow and amount of weight distributed from your heel to your toe edge is different. Therefore, your board should be shaped and adapted to handle accordingly.
Camber is the traditional and most popular profile in snowboarding. It offers the most amount of control in the park and on groomed runs as is has the longest effective edge and most amount pop a board can pack. You can recognize a camber board by the arch it creates when put on the ground without any weight on it.
Rocker or reverse-camber, is self-explanatory, being the opposite of the regular camber. This profile offers a looser feel and better float in powder. It does not provide as good of an edge control given its shorter surface contact with the upside being that it is more forgiving and playful than the regular camber.
The flat profile is the middle ground between regular camber and rocker board. It offers a better edge hold and precise edging than rocker, but is more forgiving and playful than the regular camber.
The rocker/camber/rocker is intended to offer better control than rocker board, by having an effective edge running from one foot to the other and with both tips leaving the ground early for a more nimble/shortboard feel. It also encompasses the value of rocker in the tips, offering better float than regular camber, by having rockered tips for ease in deep powder. The best of both worlds can be found in the increasingly popular profile found in freeride boards.
This variation is another middle ground trying to offer a better edge hold with a poppier feel whilst remaining looser and more forgiving than its full camber counterpart.
Camber/Rocker/Camber is a profile found mostly in freestyle/park boards. It is designed to offer both the looser feel of rocker boards and the solid edge hold of a camber profile. This profile is most often found in freestyle/park snowboards.
Even though the amount of flex may vary from one board to another and from one company to another, most manufacturers offer a flex rating ranging from 1 to 10, in order to guide customers through the selection of the proper board. Generally, 1-2 is rated as soft, 3-5 medium, 6-8 stiff and 9-10 as very stiff.
Softer flex snowboards are usually more forgiving and easier to maneuver at low speed with the downside of not providing as good a board control at high speed. It is ideal for beginners, lighter riders and park riders with a soft spot for rails.
On the same angle, stiffer flex boards bring more control at high speed and are usually best suited for freeride and backcountry. Stiffer flex will be harder to maneuver easily at low speed, mostly for lighter riders, making the selection of a proper flex for your next board rather important.
Hole Pattern and Binding Compatibility
Four different snowboard hole patterns are currently used in conventional snowboard building. 4x4, 2x4, 3D and Channel. Refer to the diagram below for compatibility. Please note that Channel specific bindings designed by Burton are called EST. While most other binding company make disks that compatible with the Channel system, the Burton EST bindings are designed specifically and only for Channels.
Up until a few years ago, snowboard companies made only the one variety of boards with smaller sizes and pretty graphics to entice the women rider demographic. Fast track a few years in the future and women snowboarding is one of the fastest expanding alternative sport with growing numbers worldwide. Women bodies have different attributes and mechanics, and therefore should benefit from equipment designed specifically to accommodate those needs.
Even though we would all love for our kid's gear to last more than a season or two, it is important, even more so when learning, to find a board that is well suited for the person’s build. Consider that if snowboarding is your passion, you’ll definitely want to increase the odds of your child enjoying the process while learning the ropes, to ensure you get to share more of those precious moments on snow in the future. It will not only help the fun factor but will also make him/her progress faster.
Durability and Price Range
As price is a decisive factor for most when shopping, it is important to know when it is appropriate to look for deals and when it would be better to wait and save up for something that is worth it. At Comorsports.com, we have a plethora of board selection with the best quality and prices. That being said, depending on your snowboarding needs and preferences, we might be inclined to suggest a variety of different products. The type of wood, laminate, base material and edges are all factors that influence not only the price but the way a board will ride, feel, as well as its durability. If you only find yourself on snow a handful of times a season, you may not find value in spending a lot of money on a high-end board. But again, if you find snowboarding to be more of a passion, something that brings you happiness when you’re down or even your reason for everything, it might be wise to spend a little more on a piece of equipment that will not only last longer, but will feel so good that it’ll make you forget that you are attached to it when gliding on frozen water, letting you enjoy the freedom of the winter wonderland in the way it was designed to. All we can do is ask the questions and you make the decision.
Although feedback and rider reviews are a great way to gain more knowledge, nothing will ever beat demo days where you get to actually ride a board before spending your hard earned money on it. We hope this was helpful and do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any snowboard related questions and one of our dedicated specialists will be happy to assist you.