Snowboarding is no longer a fringe sport turned to by those rebelling against the conservative sport of skiing. Snowboarders are showing up at mountains across the country, both the young and more mature slicing through the snow on a lone snowboard. Interested in joining them? Pronto’s Snowboard Buying Guide will help you navigate through the potentially confusing process of buying your first snowboard.
A snowboard with a high center arc, known as a camber, will be more flexible than one with a low camber. The effective edge of a snowboard determines how quickly it can turn; long effective edges provide more stability while short effective edges are best for quick turns.
Freestyle snowboards are lightweight and very flexible, making it easier to pull tricks in a half-pipe. Heavier, less flexible freeride snowboards are the best choice for all-around use and beginners. Racing snowboards are the longest and heaviest type and deliver speeds that are best suited to downhill boarding.
As a rule of thumb, a snowboard should measure somewhere between your chin and your nose and offer enough width to leave your feet near its edges. Women of average height should choose a women’s snowboard. Heavier riders should look for longer snowboards with less flex, and lighter riders should choose smaller snowboards with more flex.
If you’ll be boarding on manmade snow, look for a snowboard with features that minimize vibrations. Those who snowboard on natural snow should choose a board with a little extra length and width to get extra lift on loosely packed surfaces.
Buy your boots before you buy your snowboard. Spend the extra money on boots to get the comfort and support you need.
The bottom surface of a snowboard, which makes contact with the snow when you ride.
The arc in a snowboard, which can be seen when you place it on a flat surface. A high camber indicates a board with greater flex.
The materials used in the center of a snowboard, between the top and the base. Cores can be made from wood or from polycarbonate fibers that reduce weight and add flexibility.
The length of the metal edge of a snowboard that makes contact with the snow during a turn. Longer effective edges offer greater control while shorter effective edges allow tighter turns.
The ability of a snowboard to bend.
A longer, heavier snowboard with a directional design that can be used for tricks or general riding.
A lightweight, highly flexible snowboard with a symmetrical design that can be ridden in either direction, making it ideal for jumps and tricks. These snowboards are also smaller than free ride or racing boards.
A longer, heavier snowboard that provides superior control at high speeds. Some alpine racing snowboards may have a split tail for better high-speed turns.
Taking its inspiration from surfing and skateboarding, a snowboard is a single piece of wood or polyethelene with bindings that lock on to your feet. The bottom of the snowboard is known as its base, the front is called the tip and the back is called the tail.
A snowboard is curved, with contact points at the front and back and a camber in the center, which can be measured when you put the snowboard on a flat surface. A high camber indicates a snowboard that’s more flexible.
Snowboards also have metal edges that aid in turning, with a toe edge at the tip and a heel edge at the tail. The amount of contact a snowboard’s edge makes with the snow is known as its effective edge. Longer effective edges give a snowboard more stability, while smaller effective edges allow for quicker turns and more maneuverability.
There are generally three types of snowboarders: those who ride the half-pipe and snowboard park (Freestyle), those who want to ride all over the mountain (Freeride) and those interested primarily in racing (Race).
Freestyle snowboard riders often have backgrounds in other board or extreme sports, such as surfing, skateboarding or BMX riding. Freestyle snowboards are lighter than Freeride or Race boards so that the rider can get higher on jumps and maneuver more easily. These snowboards aren’t as quick on the downhill, so you may not want to take them all over the mountain. Thanks to a twin-tip design (meaning the nose and tail have the same dimensions), a Freestyle snowboard can be ridden forwards and backwards.
Most people fall into the Freeriding category. Freeriders snowboard the whole mountain, and the label includes everyone from beginners to the experienced. Freeriding snowboards are the easiest to learn on and are the most versatile of the snowboard types. Unlike the Freestyle board, a Freeride snowboard is directional, with the tail narrower and flatter than the nose. A downside to this is that the snowboard is meant to be ridden in one direction, but the directional design helps transition from edge to edge. Another benefit to Freeride snowboards is that you can find them at almost any price range.
Racing boards are also known as Carving or Alpine snowboards. Many expert skiers transition to this type of snowboarding. These snowboards are generally for an advanced boarder, as their size and speed make it difficult for a beginner to learn snowboard control and technique. Racing snowboards are built to go fast, and their long, narrow shape gives you more control on quick turns.
Snowboards are measured in centimeters. One well-known guideline to determine the size of your board is how tall the board is compared to your own height. In general, the board should measure between your chin and your nose.
A more accurate way to find the right snowboard length is to use your weight. A rider who is heavy for his or her height may have difficulty maneuvering a snowboard, especially at a higher speed. On the other hand, riders who are too light for their snowboards board may have trouble with turns. Heavier riders should look for longer snowboards, while lighter riders should choose a shorter snowboard.
The width of your snowboard is important as well. When standing on your board, your toes and heels should protrude just slightly over the edges. Any more and your feet will drag in the snow, which is known as toe or heel drag. Too much space between the edge of the snowboard and your foot will give you trouble with turns
Flex is how much give a snowboard has. If you’re a beginner or light for your height, stick to a snowboard with greater flex, which requires less muscle to control. A more advanced or heavier rider needs a snowboard that’s a little stiffer. Although it requires more energy to turn, it will respond more quickly to its rider’s body.
Women should look for snowboards that take into account their height and weight variance rather than buying men’s boards. Women’s snowboards have taken great strides in recent years and are a legitimate option even for experienced boarders. Women’s snowboards take into account smaller foot sizes and lower center of gravity, delivering better response and control. If you’re a tall woman, you’ll prefer a snowboard sized for a man a little shorter than you are with extra flex.
Where will you be snowboarding? On the hard, man-made snow that is commonly found in the Northeast or the natural snow of the West Coast and Rocky Mountain resorts?
Snowboarders on manmade snow require features such as a rubber dampening foil, which will control vibrations as the snowboard glides over hard and sometimes icy snow. A core made of a combination of wood and carbon fiber will also ease vibrations, although it makes for a heavier board than a pure-wood core.
For those riding snowboards on powder, a longer snowboard is beneficial. As a snowboard increases in centimeters, it adds lift, keeping the board from sticking in layers of fresh snow. A snowboard ridden in soft snow should also be a little wider.
Many experts advise buying snowboard boots first, then the snowboard. This is also the place to spend a few extra bucks. Since your boots will be in direct contact with you all day, you want them to be as comfortable as possible.
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