For most of us winter is right around the corner and a lucky few have already begun shredding. The beginning of a new season means checking over your gear, admiring the new equipment that’s out and maybe even investing in a new board. Whether you need a quick refresher or you’re buying for the first time, picking a board can be tricky. We’ve put together a guide to help.
Types of Snowboards
From freestyle to powder and all-mountain to splitboard, there are a variety of board designs best suited for specific conditions and activities. All-mountain boards are made to be the most versatile, tackling all types of terrain, while splitboards are for the experts looking to speed the steeps of the backcountry. Freestyle boards are light, short and great for the park and powder boards are best at crushing speedy runs on fresh snow.
The flex of a board is a crucial factor in how it rides and most boards will come with a rating to give you an idea of how stiff they are. Softer flex boards are forgiving on turns and landings and easier to control, making them a good fit for beginners, riders who weigh less and those looking to tackle the park.
More rigid boards are stable and better at high speeds, but are not as forgiving. Typically heavier riders, more experienced riders and those looking to take on big mountains with a lot of speed will want a more rigid board.
Most boards will list a recommended weight for the size of the board—it’s a recommendation, not a requirement. When it comes to the length of the board, with the tail on the ground, the top should reach somewhere between the rider’s chin and nose. The length, too, is a recommendation as park riders might want a shorter board and speedy riders might want a longer board.
Width is an important factor too; you’ll want to ensure your feet fit on the board. While the slightest bit of overhang is fine and will help with control, too much overhang could make riding tough.
Riders choose shape based mostly on the terrain they ride. Directional boards are designed to be ridden one way and are great for powder hounds. True twins are symmetrical and can be ridden both forward and backward, which makes them great for the park and pipe. Directional twins are solid all-mountain choices.
Camber and Rocker
Camber and rocker refer to the profile of a board, essentially how it’s shaped when you look at it from the side.
Camber refers to the upward curve of the board and rocker refers to the dip in the board’s body. There are many different configurations out there and board makers come up with their own configurations all the time. The most general way to explain is that camber typically provides stability and responsiveness on fast downhill runs, while rocker with upturned tips and tails excels in the park.
Hybrid boards use rocker and camber patterns in unique ways and flat boards are stable, like camber boards, but are also fairly unforgiving.
These general tips should point you in the right direction and give you basic knowledge for shopping around, but it’s always wise to consult a professional and, if possible, test the gear before you commit to owning it. Many people rent gear until they know what they’d like to buy, so keep in mind season-long rentals are another reasonably priced option. Whichever route you decide to take, there’s no wrong option as long as you’re out enjoying the snow.