What To Look For
Snowboarding has rapidly grown so that on any given mountain, almost half of the riders are boarders. If you are new to boarding, choosing from the dizzying array of boards can seem a monumental task. Before going shopping, first consider the style of board you want. Snowboards roughly fall into park/terrain boards known as freestyle, all-mountain boards that are good for most intermediate and advanced terrain, known as freeride boards, and alpine (freecarve) boards, used for speed and racing. After deciding what category you want, look at the stiffness. Beginners might prefer a softer, more forgiving board, while intermediates and advanced boarders prefer something stiffer. If you are beginner who thinks you will advance quickly, consider a medium flex.
What length and width to get is one of the most difficult parts of buying a board. If speed is your goal, or backcountry powder, go for a longer board that will be more stable and provide better flotation in the snow. If your primary goal is playing in the terrain park, a shorter board has more maneuverability and will be easier to do tricks on. For a width, take the board and put your feet on it in the approximate position of your normal stance; the boots should be about even with the edges of the board if it is sized correctly.
Where To Buy
Almost any mountain and ski shop will have a diverse selection of snowboards. Some online dealers offer good deals on snowboards as well.
Snowboards for adults can cost anywhere from $300 to $700. Kids' snowboards are cheaper, starting at $120 and running up to $200 (2010 prices).
Because they are shorter and generally a little softer, freestyle boards, designed for park and pipe, are often best to learn on. Examples include Burton Custom ICS ($560), the Never Summer Legacy ($499) and the Ride DH 2 ($499). On the lower end, the K2 Anagram ($310) is a good basic board. Some popular women's boards include the Never Summer Infinity-R ($449) and the Burton Troop ($320).