Guide to Buying Snowboards

Going shopping for a snowboard can be very confusing and intimidating. Snowboards come in several different shapes and sizes. The boards are also designed for different riding styles: all-mountain, freestyle, freeride, powder and splitboards. Although it seems logical to simply select a snowboard by length, this is not the case. Many experts put more importance on selecting a snowboard which is designed to perform well with your physical weight. The waist (width) of the board is also very important. You should select a snowboard which is compatible with your snowboard boot size. A snowboard too wide will be harder to turn. A snowboard too narrow will feel unstable and might let your heels and toes drag in the snow. Snowboard manufacturers and online stores usually provide sizing-charts for proper sizing in regards of your weight and boot size.

Directional or Twin

A directional snowboard will have an off-centre foot stance which is closer to the tail of the board. These snowboards are usually very good for carving all around the mountain in one general direction. You can ride switch (on the other side), but some directional boards may feel a little awkward or clumsy while riding switch. A directional snowboard is often considered a better ride in deep powder as the tailward offset helps the nose float on top of the snow.

A twin snowboard is perfectly symmetric from the nose to the tail of the board with a centred foot stance. You can easily switch and ride both sides of a twin snowboard. Twin's are often preferred for freestyle riding.

A directional twin snowboard is a compromise between both types. The offset is near centre, usually small when compared to directional boards. These snowboards are often good for all-mountain riding, since they perform well while carving up the mountain and doing freestyle tricks in the park. Although all-mountain snowboards can perform well under most conditions, they might not perform as well as boards specifically designed for freeride or park. An all-mountain board must compromise between riding styles.

Camber

Camber refers to the base curvature of a snowboard board.

Traditional Camber

Traditional Camber

Traditional camber is an upward curvature from the nose to the tail of the snowboard. Traditional camber boards are popular with professionals since they are highly responsive with lots of pop for jumps and they are stable at high speeds, providing great edge hold in hard and compact snow. Traditional Camber snowboards are usually not recommended for beginners.

Rocker or Reverse Camber

Rocker or Reverse Camber

Rocker and Reverse Camber is the exact opposite of traditional camber: it is a downward curvature from the nose to the tail of the snowboard. Rocker snowboards are often recommended for beginners, they are more forgiving (won't catch an edge as frequently) since the have less edge contact with the snow. This camber profile is loved by freestylers and jibbers because of its forgiving nature when landing tricks. Freeriders also like this camber profile since it can provide floaty surfing feel riding in powder.

Flat Camber

Flat Camber

Flat Camber boards are flat from the nose to the tail of the snowboard. Somewhere between traditional and rocker, the boards can have forgiving and floaty qualities while retaining some edge control for hard pact snow. This camber profile is also loved by freestyle riders.

Hybrid Rocker/Camber

Hybrid Camber

Hybrid camber snowboards attempt to combine benefits of traditional, rocker, and flat snowboards. Hybrid profiles can vary greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer. It is best to read the manufacturer's description of the riding style intended for the board. Some hybrid profiles can be a good choice for beginners, they can be a little more forgiving than traditional camber while keeping some responsiveness and edge hold for hard pact snow.

Spitboard

Splitboards can be separated and converted into two skis. The boards are good for tackling mountains in backcountry terrain. Applying climbing skins to splitboards helps to ascend slopes.

Summary of Common Board Specs

Whether you are shopping in person or online, the a summary of the board specs are often available on the board itself or the website to help you choose your board.

Rider Ability Entry Level/Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced I recommend starting with entry level to intermediate boards.
Type Allmountain, Freeride, Freestyle/Park, Poweder, and Splitboard You may want to start with an allmountain so you can do a little of everything with your first board.
Camber Traditional Camber, Rocker or Reverse Camber, and Flat Camber Traditional camber tends to be for experienced riders. Choosing a camber profile such as the rocker, or hybrid which are more forgiving (less prone to cause falls by catching an edge), will provide a more enjoyable learning experience.
Shape Directional, Directional Twin, True Twin, and Asymmetrical Directional often preferred for allmountain and freeride. Twin is usually preferred for freestyle and park.
Flex Soft, Medium, and Stiff Soft flex boards will be more forgiving for a beginner. Stiff boards are more stable at high speeds. However, ensure the board is for your physical weight range.
Waist Width Narrow, Regular, and Wide Ensure the proper board waist width for your boot size.

Last update: May 02, 2019, by Michel Desmarais.