Snowboards come in different styles and prices. Freestyle boards designed for park and pipe riding are the most flexible and forgiving boards, which are easier to turn and initiate spins and tricks with. Freestyle boards are good for beginners. At the other end of the spectrum, freeride or big mountain boards are stiffer and less forgiving, designed for speed and stability. In between, all mountain boards offer a compromise between freestyle and freeride and are a versatile option for those that like to ride a little of everything on one board. Split boards are designed for backcountry use, in which you need skis to skin up the mountain. These boards break into two individual ski sections, then lock together when you're ready to descend. As the sport progresses, many companies continue to integrate new design technologies and offer even more specific boards, so consider exactly the type of riding you'd like to get into.
Often considered the most important piece of equipment, snowboard boots serve as an essential interface because it transfers your energy onto the board and helps you initiate those turns and tricks. Boots need to fit snugly on both your feet and into the bindings. Boots should be comfortable and provide the support you need. Stiffer boots are better for freeride applications, but softer boots allow for more flexibility and comfort needed in freestyle. Your main considerations should be fit and comfort. Hard boots used for carving were once a main option; however, their presence is quite marginal in today's snowboarding scene.
Bindings come in a number of different styles, largely related to how they're fastened. Strap bindings are the longtime standard and usually feature ankle and toe straps to secure your boots into place. Flow-in bindings use a retractable high back that opens and allows you to slip your boot in from the heelside. These bindings allow you to set the strap once and get the same custom fit every time you ride. Step-in bindings were once popular but are much less prevalent today. These bindings and boots feature a simple metal locking mechanism that clicks into place when you step down into the binding. Like boards and boots, stiffer, more supportive bindings are designed for freeride/big mountain, whereas more flexible, active bindings are aimed at freestyle riders.
The three pieces of gear mentioned are the primary pieces of snowboarding equipment needed regardless of the type of riding that you'll be doing. Other gear is more optional but may be needed depending on the type of riding you intend to do and where you do it: helmet, leash and avalanche gear (probe, transceiver, shovel). Certain snowboarding clothing and accessories like goggles, hat and gloves are also important to have.