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Choosing the right snowboard can depend on a variety of factors, ranging from your personal characteristics such as gender, height and weight all the way to your personal preferences. You also need to take into account exactly what type of boarding you hope to be doing.
There are a variety of different types of snowboards available, so you’ll need to account for your overall ability level and all of your characteristics before narrowing down your choice. You’ll also want to bear in mind the various snowboard designs available. All of this means that there is plenty to consider, but we’ll narrow it all down for you here.
There Are Three Different Types of Snowboards
There are three different kinds of snowboards available. They each have their own unique shape, material, flex pattern, size and construction, which can help snowboarders determine which is best for them.
There is no right or wrong selection when it comes to choosing your type of board. It really depends on a few different factors including your weight and height as well as your riding style and overall preference.
Those who ride snowboards professionally make their determination on the type of snowboard they’ll be using based on the terrain they plan to ride and the current conditions. This means that they often switch up their board from day to day or even from ride to ride. You aren’t likely to invest in multiple boards when just starting out. So, you’ll want to think about the best snowboard you plan to use most of the time.
Of the three different types of snowboards, the all-mountain snowboard is by far the most popular, especially with beginners. This type of board maintains its level of performance regardless of where you are boarding on the mountain. You can be snowboarding on backcountry, pipe and park, or groomed runs. The board floats really well on powder snow and offers a great deal of versatility.
That versatility is what makes an all mountain snowboard a great option for beginners. This type of board has a directional shape. That means that its tail is different from its tip. In general, the tail is shorter, narrower, and flatter than the tip of the board.
This shape allows for better balance near the board’s tail. It is also possible to ride these boards backwards. So, you can point the tail in the direction in which you want to go. The added balance you get from these boards is a great confidence booster for those just starting out with boarding.
This type of snowboard is most known for its flexibility. Freestyle boards are short and light and they are a great option for those boarders who want to take part in performing tricks. They work well on halfpipes and in terrain parks. Most beginners don’t plan on performing tricks right away but if you really get into the sport, you might eventually want one of these.
A freestyle snowboard won’t offer great stability when traveling fast or when turning. This is due to their limited edge grip. Some of this style of board have either direction-twin tips or twin tips. The tail and tip on the twin-tip snowboard is symmetrical with a centered stance. This allows even beginners to right both backward and forward.
The directional twin version of the board, however, has the difference of a tail that is stiffer than the board’s tip.
When compared to the other two snowboard types, the alpine board is narrower. It isn’t intended to for use in performing tricks. Instead, it works well for carving and riding downhill. Its narrow design is accompanied by a stiffness and a bigger length. This helps with cleaning carved turns and moving at a faster speed.
This is the board to choose if you want stability while moving at a high speed as well as when you are making quick turns. It is both asymmetrical and symmetrical. It has a shovel only on the tip. This is different from the other types of boards, as they have shovels on both ends. You are intended to ride an Alpine snowboard in just one direction. This is a big difference from the other two kinds of boards.
This YouTube video explains types of snowboards even further:
Snowboard Camber and Rocker
There are some other features to keep in mind when selecting one of the snowboards styles. The camber of the board is one of these. This is the bottom contouring of the board. By applying pressure, and then releasing it, the camber flexes from your weight, initiating edge contact that is continuous.
Prior to the introduction of the reverse camber, the traditional camber offered a curved rise coming from the tip and tail’s contact points. There was an apex right at the midpoint.
A rocker board is just camber turned upside down. Its side profile is just the opposite of a camber snowboard.
There is often a great debate of rocker vs. camber with every snowboarder making their preference known. Every snowboarder style is different. Over time, the snowboard’s camber has evolved to include several different variations.
Cambers have really changed over the years, but there was once a time that all snowboards had a traditional camber profile. There are now different kinds. They each produce varying amounts of contact with the edges along with varying degrees of pressure on the snow. This changes how the board turns as well as how it feels under your feet.
That difference in feeling is part of why most boarders have their own camber preference.
The shapes and contours on the bottom of the board react differently to the terrain and ridings styles. The traditional camber just offers the apex at the board’s midpoint and a slight curve from the tip and tail.
The flat camber is flatter at the midpoint of the board than the traditional camber. It is flat from close to the board’s tip to close to the board’s tail. It essentially splits the difference between a full rocker and a full camber. A flat camber board also allows for more turnability than a cambered board as well as a higher level of precision than a rockered board.
A board with a flat camber helps you to make quicker turns and increases float. It also will give you maximum feel under your feet while you do so.
Rocker and Reverse Camber
The tip and tail with a rocker and reverse camber is far more upturned than the other two versions. The design of this board works really well in powder, rails, and jibbing.
Mixed or Modified Camber
This version has seen an uptick in popularity as of late. There are several different variations available, each of which is intended to work on some performance feature for the rider.
Those riders who are trying to tweak their ability in one area will usually gravitate toward a mixed or modified camber that will help them with their issue.
Snowboards by Gender and Age
There are distinct differences between boards designed for the different genders, as well as for different ages. Because there are often significant size differences between men and women, there are boards designed with each sex in mind, taking into account those differences. However, it is still possible for men to use women’s boards and vice versa. In reality, the differences between the two relate mostly to size, weight, and foot size.
For children, there are the same considerations related to size, but there are other things to keep in mind as well.
Snowboards designed specifically for women offer shaping that suits a smaller person. They offer a narrower waist width, for example. This is to accommodate for the often smaller stance and frame that women tend to have. It also accommodates for smaller feet.
These boards also tend to offer a softer flex as well as a slightly lesser camber. This is a deliberate difference and accounts for the way a woman, considered to be smaller than a man, would drive their energy into the snowboard.
Men who are smaller and lighter might also benefit from a board designed for women. The opposite is true for women who are taller. For those women who have a boot size that is 9 or up, it is often recommended to look at snowboards that men would use. The differences between boards for men and women really just relate to the size of the rider. Because women tend to be smaller, the women’s boards offer features for smaller people. Those people could be men or women.
There is one very important thing to keep in mind when shopping for a child’s snowboard, aside from the obvious size considerations. While it is tempting to buy a snowboard that is either slightly or significantly bigger than the child, this a big mistake.
Children grow so quickly that parents often want to buy a board the child will eventually grow into using over time. However, those larger boards can be completely unmanageable for the child. In fact, they can be detrimental to the overall skill development of the child. In addition, the child may ultimately get discouraged in their snowboarding and decide they no longer want to take part in the sport.
If in the market for a snowboard for a child, you’ll need to purchase one that fits the child now. That ultimately means that you’ll be buying more as the child grows. Depending on the child’s age, you could end up buying a new board every year or couple of years. If your child likes the sport, however, the investment is likely worth it.
There are snowboards designed for each level of ability. Factors considered include shape, flex, length, materials, construction, design and overall use. If you are a beginner at snowboarding, finding the right board for your ability and preferences can make all the difference in whether you stick with the sport.
If you are comfortable, the experience will likely be more enjoyable. So, narrowing down your selection and finding the right board is imperative for your success.
There are a few concrete things to keep in mind when choosing your beginner board:
- Type of snowboard: such as all-mountain, freestyle or alpine
- Camber and Rocker: If you are going to be riding on groomed trails, a cambered board might be the best option. However, if you want to ride on soft snow, you might want to consider a rocker, flat, camber/rocker or flat/rocker snowboard.
- Snowboard length: When you stand the board on its tail, its nose should be somewhere between your chin and nose.
- Width: If you choose the correct width for your snowboard, your boots should extend just a little bit over the board’s edges. If they are hanging over too much, you could cause some dragging which would make it hard for you to control the board.
- Shape: For high-speeds, you want a directional board. For use with a pipe, you’ll want a twin board. Finally, for all-mountain riding, you’ll want a directional twin board.
- Other features: There are other things you can take into account as well, such as base material, radius, and board flex.
Beginner's board also needs solid quality boots for snowboarding and also top-rated snowboard bindings to keep you safe and let you control the board. Finally, don't forget a pair of quality snowboarding goggles!
As the name suggests, power boards love powder. A powder snowboard is intended for use in snow that is deep. Think of freshly fallen snow. That love for powder is obvious given the shape of the tail and nose of the board along with its flex and binding inserts location.
A lot of powder snowboards also offer rocker so that there is even greater flotation. Keep in mind that these boards won’t give you the highest level of versatility. They really are only for use in powder. With that said, you can have a really great time with a powder board.
Bear in mind that if you invest in a powder board, it will likely last you for quite a long time. You’ll be lucky to use it even 10 or 20 days a year. On those days, though, your snowboarding will feel more like surfing.
A splitboard is quite unique. It is intended for use when climbing. The board actually splits right in half to give you two individual skis. This makes it possible to climb any untracked slopes in the backcountry.
You can then reconnect the two skis to put your board back together, allowing you to then ride right downhill. These boards are really useful for those boarders who like to explore the backcountry and check out slopes that are unpatrolled. The boarders who usually invest in these are those that are a bit more seasoned. Those snowboarders tend to like to investigate unpatrolled, ungroomed trails.
With these boards, you also need a split kit and climbing skins. These accessories are typically sold separately from the actual snowboard. If investing in one of these, you probably won’t use it all the time.
You’ll likely only use it occasionally, when you are able to move away from the well-traveled and groomed trails.