When looking at buying a new snowboard there are several factors you should consider. All of these will have an effect on the type of snowboard suitable for you and it's very important to find the correct board for your snowboarding. Whether you're learning to ride in a snow dome here in the UK or flying off abroad to seek some fresh powder the right board can make the difference between a sore bum or the best trip you've ever had!
Decision 1 - Your ability
This is the first thing you need to consider, which of the following best describes you?
You're just learning to get up on your feet, learning edge control and beginning to link turns. You're on some gentle slopes and you starting to negotiate the mountain, easily getting on and off of lifts and learning fast.
You've got past the wobbly leg stage and you're off exploring the mountain and taking on new challenges. You can now confidently carve on all pistes and may even try out some switch riding and off piste.
Confident at riding fast and fluid on any piste and able to take on whatever the mountain throws at you. Able to conquer powder, tree runs and take on the bigger kicker and rail lines in the park.
Decision 2 – Riding Style
Now you have picked your ability level it's time to consider what style of riding you do, or would like to do. This choice will determine which shape of board will be best suited to you and your riding.
There are 3 main styles of riding, these are as follows:
Freeriding is the total exploration of the mountain, riding all pistes but really looking for fresh powder lines and searching for those elusive powder runs. Freeriding specific snowboards are directional boards, with a longer nose than tail with a setback stance and waist (the narrowest part of the board). This means the board will be better in softer snow as the nose will float out of the powder better. Freeride boards are also stiffer giving a more stable and more responsive ride at high speeds. Freeriding is usually a discipline for more experienced and mature snowboarders, those who are at the intermediate or advanced ability level.
Freestyle boards are built specifically to help you do tricks; they are twin in shape meaning that if you split it across the middle the nose and tail are exactly the same in length and build. This is so that when you are riding switch in and out of tricks the board will ride and respond exactly the same. They combine a softer flex with increased stability so you can reduce the length of board, reducing swing rate (better for spins) and increasing manoeuvrability and press-ability (better for jibbing rails and boxes). Freestyle riding is suitable for all ages and abilities with most snow domes and mountains offering freestyle environments with kickers and jumps for all abilities. The soft flex and twin shape is also great for beginners looking for a fun forgiving board.
The most versatile and varied discipline of snowboarding is All Mountain. This is the do everything, all day long discipline. A mixture of Freeriding and Freestyle, All Mountain riding combines on and off piste riding mixed in with some tricks in the freestyle park. This is the discipline that most people will do whilst on holiday each year.
All mountain boards are typically directional, or directional-twin (sometimes called twin-ish) in shape. This Directional Twin shape can either be a twin shape board with setback binding mounts, or a directional shape with a twin core construction.
Either way both are excellent designs making the versatility All Mountain boards more appealing for your holidaying snowboarder. That said, there's nothing stopping you riding a Twin shaped freestyle board all over the mountain, but you may find it holds you back in powder or isn't as stable at speed on the piste.
Decision 3 - Board Size
The board size is mainly dependant on your size and weight, but you also your need to consider your riding discipline as you may like to ride a slightly shorter board for Freestyle, or a slightly longer board for Freeride. Your ability and knowledge of your own riding will play a key part in this decision. If you need any help in this area our experienced staff are always on hand to help out, via phone or email.
You should also consider the width of the board you need, whether you will be ok on a standard width board or will need a wide specific board. This is determined by the size of your feet, and to some degree, your boots. Those with size UK10 or UK11 feet and higher should consider looking at wide specific boards as an option. But remember, the outer of some boots will be short than others, even enough to ride a 'none wide specific board'. This will all depend on your boot length, but also the width of the board. Some boards with a wider waist such as All Mountain or Freeride boards will naturally have a wider base at the binding mounts enabling you to get away with a standard width board.
If you have any worries regarding boot size and board width you should always speak with one of our trained board experts who can help you through this decision.
Here is a chart to help you decide on the best length board for you.
Decision 4 - Board Camber
One last thing you might like to consider is the camber of board you might like. Over the last few years more and more board companies have been experimenting with different cambers in their snowboard construction.
This design was taken directly from ski technology when snowboards were first being developed, what this did was to provide boards with "pop". Pop is a term used in describing how much spring is in the board when it is flexed on its nose or tail. This pop is also used to help hold an edge and to roll from edge to edge whilst carving.
So let’s run through all the main types of camber that are available on the market:
Camber boards are your traditional snowboard shape, camber is manufactured into the board in order to give it pop (springiness). This is to aid when carving your board down the mountain as it helps to transfer from edge to edge and to push the edge of the board into the snow and make a turn. It also gives you pop in order to 'ollie' the board.
Rocker boards came about a few years ago with the development of such boards as the 'Lib Tech Skate Banana' and the 'K2 Gyrator'
These boards literally turned the shape of a traditional snowboard upside down and made the base of the board more a kin to a surf board shape. This helped with 'float' when riding through soft snow and powder and snowboard more of a surf style feel.
With the development of Rocker boards from nearly every board company out there many different shapes and styles of Rocker have been created. Everything from "Catch-Free" rockers to aid beginners, to "Jib" or "Chillidog" rockers to help freestyle riders to tweak they're trick in the park.
This invention of rocker boards has also brought about an increase in hybrid board shapes such as "Flat" or "V-Rocker boards" which are detailed here.
Flat base snowboards are a middle ground between the traditional camber board, and a rocker board. A flat base board is completely flat between the nose and tail of the board. This is to give the board a solid base that will be good for landing jumps whilst still giving it that playful feel you get from a rocker board.
Following the development of rocker boards, snowboard companies have been looking for the best middle ground between the edge hold and ollie power of a camber board and the playfulness and tweakability of a newer rocker board. A combination of the two, rockered between the bindings, but cambered slightly under the binding mounts and out towards the ends of the board in order to provide extra edge hold and pop aim to give you the best of both.
There are a couple of easy ways to determine which board is which; the first is to lay it on the floor:
If the centre of the board is off the floor by 10mm or more it is a 'Cambered' board.
If the centre of the board is flat on the floor but the nose and tail lift off the floor (this might not be very much) and generally point upwards then it is a 'Rockered' board.
If the board lays completely flat it’s a 'Flat' board.
And if the board's middle touches the floor but the nose and tail are lifted but pointing slightly down or horizontal then the board has a combo rocker.
The second is to hold the nose of the board close to your own nose, close one eye and to look down the side of the board at the profile of the edge of the board, you will be able to see the different ways in which different boards bend and are shaped in order to give you the best ride possible, some are quite elaborate in their shape.
Any more questions please give us a call or send us an email.
Contact Number: 0800 316 8812