How to Pick a Snowboard

How to Pick a Snowboard
Choosing a snowboard can be a difficult decision, especially for a first-timer. On one hand, it's a significant expense. On the other hand, it's going to greatly affect how well you ride and learn. Purchasing the wrong board could make riding more difficult and less fun. The bottom line is that you want to make the right decision and find the perfect board.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Decide on a snowboard type. Some of your choices will be freestyle, all mountain, freeride and powder. As a beginner, the best bet is to go with something flexible and easy to turn like a freestyle or flexible all mountain board. Freeride boards are going to be a bit stiffer and less forgiving and won't be a great beginner option, and powder boards are pretty specific to powder and not an all around option.
Step 2
Consider flex. Flex is basically what it sounds like, how flexible the board is. A more flexible board will be easier to maneuver and perform tricks on and will be helpful in the learning process.
Step 3
Consider sidecut. Sidecut refers to how deep the snowboard is cut along the sides, giving it a concave shape. Sidecut helps in turn initiation and a deeper sidecut will make turning easier, while a shallower sidecut will make initiating a turn more difficult, but increase stability and speed. As a beginner you want a board with a deep sidecut that is easy to maneuver. Sidecut may be denoted by how far the board is cut inward or by how large the sidecut radius is (larger = shallower sidecut). Most men's snowboards have a sidecut radius between 7 meters and 9 meters.
Step 4
Read reviews and look for boards in your price range. As a beginner, you don't need the most expensive board out there and should consider purchasing a moderately-priced board. Check manufacturer websites, snowboarding forums and reviews on retail sites.
Step 5
Test out the board(s). Once you have a board or two in mind, consider demoing it out. Now, to be honest, this step isn't going to be helpful if you've never ridden a snowboard before and don't know what you're doing or how the board should ride. However, if you have some experience, riding a board is the best way to see how well it works for you. No review can tell you as much information as the board itself.
Step 6
Go to the shop. Even if you don't intend to demo a board, check it out in person, get a feel for it and discuss it with shop staff to get further insight.
Step 7
Get the right size. Size is important to providing the proper balance and riding characteristics. Each board is designed differently, so check the manufacturer suggested rider sizes. A prevailing rule is the board should come up between your chin and your nose and can be slightly shorter for beginners. However, you should also consider your weight--if you're tall and skinny, you don't want too long of a board, and if you're short and heavyset, you don't want to short of a board. Use manufacturer guidelines for suggested heights/weights.
Step 8
Don't forget width. Also consider board width. If you have large feet, over size 10, you may want to consider a wide board. Rather then getting into numbers, simply size up your boots on the board to make sure that they fit across without hanging over the edge.

Tips & Warnings

Use shop staff as resources and don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions. These guys have the inside scoop on the gear from experience and training, so get all the information.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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