There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your board. Two major factors which must be determined before making a decision are your ability level and the terrain you will be riding.
Go to the next step to establish your ability level and follow the rest of the guide so you know exactly what to look for when purchasing your snowboard.
Snowboarding is split into three main skill levels. The type of board you can use will depend on how experienced you are so getting this part right is crucial.
Beginner / Novice: This is if you're just getting into the snowboarding scene. From first-time riders to those with a few days worth of experience, beginner riders will be on slopes which are supervised.
Intermediate: If you're already honed in on the basics and will be comfortable on most gradient slopes and terrain, you're at intermediate level. Riders at this level need to be on the snow quite frequently, more than just a few days a year on the mountain or snow dome.
Advanced: You're an experienced, proficient rider who spends a good, consistent amount of time on the snow. You need to be expert in riding most terrain and feel completely comfortable and confident on a snowboard.
What are the different types of snowboards?
Different types of snowboards are designed for different styles of riding, which is also dependent on your skill level.
In the following sections, we'll break down each style, explaining the type of riding the board is designed for and hopefully give you a good indication on what style will suit you.
Entry level snowboards are best suited to beginners. They have a soft flex which makes them easy to manoeuvre and perfect for those just starting out. These boards are predictable in terms of how they steer and function making them perfect for picking up and nailing those basics before moving on to a more advanced board.
Freeride snowboards are specifically designed for those who like riding powder (deep snow) or off-piste. These boards typically have a stiffer flex and usually feature a directional shape. Their directional construction means the tail sinks and the nose goes up making them great at floating through deep snow.
All mountain snowboards will work well on any terrain. They are designed to handle all snow conditions and can be ridden everywhere, from park to powder and everything in between. These versatile boards are suitable for all rider levels and are a great choice for those looking to ride all over the mountain or those who want to try out new terrain.
Freestyle snowboards are usually slightly shorter in length than other boards. They tend to feature a true twin shape (identical tip and tail) which makes them easy to ride in either direction and perfect for terrain parks and pipes. Inspired by snowboarders who started implementing skateboard tricks into their sessions, these boards are easy to manoeuvre and light enough to perform airs.
Jib snowboards are engineered to work best on rails, in the park and with other park features. These boards are shorter in length and tough enough to handle the onslaught of terrain parks and jibbing. With a softer flex, these boards offer excellent manoeuvrability and are easy to perform tricks and get perfect landings.
Split snowboards (aka Splitboards) are designed to aid backcountry snowboarders on the hunt for untouched snow. These freeride boards split in half to become two separate components, similar to skis. These are then used with climbing skins (removable pieces of grippy fabric) to make ascending slopes easier and to expand backcountry range. The two pieces can then be reconnected to form a regular snowboard for downhill riding.
Width: The waist width of the board you choose is determined by your boot size. Ideally, your heel and toe should sit ever so slightly over the edge of the board. This will maximise pressure and allows you to apply leverage to the board for turning and carving.
Be careful to ensure your boots do not overhang the board too much. Too much overhang will result in dragging while the board is on edge and hit the snow during turns which causes you to fall.
Rider Weight: One thing to remember is that your snowboard doesn't feel how tall you are, it feels how heavy you are. Choosing the right board length for your weight is essential. If your board is too short for your weight you will put too much pressure on it. This causes problems when turning and controlling your board at speed. If your board is too long for your weight then it will feel cumbersome and heavy and will be difficult to turn when it doesn't need to be.
Directional Shape: Directional shaped snowboards are predominantly designed to be ridden forward (downhill) and are therefore popular with freeride and all mountain boarders. They are usually stiffer in the tail and softer in the nose to provide stability at high speeds.
True Twin Shape: True twin snowboards are completely symmetrical in shape. With identical tip and tail measurements and a balanced flex pattern, these boards can easily be ridden both forwards and backwards making them perfect for terrain parks and freestyle riding.
Directional Twin Shape: Directional twin snowboards are a combination of both twin and directional shapes. Most directional twin snowboards have a symmetrical flex pattern and a longer nose than tail. This design offers great flexibility for freestyle riding and floatation. Other directional twins may have an identical tip and tail (just like a true twin shape) but an asymmetrical flex pattern. These boards feature a stiff tail for turning and a soft nose for floatation in powder and stability.
Camber: Traditional camber snowboards (aka. positive camber) are shaped with a slight upward curve in the middle of the board. The rider's weight applies downward pressure to the concave shape resulting in a springy resistance and extra 'pop'. These snowboards are lively, responsive and work brilliantly on hardpack or groomed snow.
Rocker: Rocker snowboards feature an upward curved profile with a raised nose and tail (a bit like a smile). This curved shape is great for floatation in powder and offers an overall looser, more forgiving ride. These boards appeal to those who like jibbing or riding rails in the park as they tend to be easier to manoeuvre and less likely to catch an edge.
Flat: Flat snowboards have no curve in the profile meaning the bottom of the board sits completely flush with the snow apart from the tip and the tail. Their flat shape means these boards distribute pressure evenly on the snow and create a 'loose' and 'catch-free' ride. These boards are stable on rails and better for on-ground tricks like presses and butters compared to traditional camber profiles.
Hybrid: Hybrid camber boards take on a subtle 'M' or 'W' contour. They fuse elements of both rocker and traditional camber profiles giving them the advantages of both styles. These boards provide stability at high speed, improved carving and extra 'pop'. Hybrid camber snowboards will float in powder and provide easier turn initiation making them great for butters and presses.