Before You Buy

How To Choose A Snowboard

Understanding snowboard length, flex, shape and profile.

If you’re new to snowboarding, the range of options and all the jargon involved can seem overwhelming. First thing’s first, do your research. Consult brand catalogues, retail sites and independent reviews and begin to formulate a shortlist around your riding style and budget.

Since you’re just starting out, you probably don’t want something too specific – like a directional powder board ­– so stick to models described as ‘all mountain’, ‘entry level’ or – if you’re keen to learn tricks – ‘freestyle’. A classic shape like the one below can handle pretty much any terrain.

Flex, width and length are the three most critical factors. You don’t want something really stiff, because these kinds of boards tend to be hard to control at slow speeds and will feel twitchy – a bit like learning to drive in a Ferrari!

Pay close attention to the flex rating.

A mellower board will be more forgiving and playful, so you’re less likely to catch an edge.

Softer boards are better for beginners.

Wider boards (over 25 centimetres) can be hard to turn, so make sure your boot doesn’t come up short of the edge.

On the other hand, if you have big feet (over a UK10 or US11) then you run the risk of ‘toe drag’, which is when the boot sticks out too far and catches the snow during a carve.

At the end of the day, your boots should fit across the board something like this:

Having settled on a model of snowboard, it’s time to pick the length. Longer boards are faster and more stable but will be harder to turn, whereas a shorter board will be lighter and more manoeuvrable at the cost of edge grip.

This is too long!
This is too short!

For a first board, something around chin height is about right. If you’re heavier-built, then you could add a few cm so it’s closer to your nose.

Correct approximate length

Some last words of advice: when choosing a snowboard, try not to get hung up on the graphics – the picture on the top doesn’t affect its performance!

Finally, more expensive boards are not always better. High-end boards are often full of pricey material like carbon for added stiffness, which is actually way less fun when you’re starting out or learning tricks. Save yourself some cash and get something you’ll enjoy.

Ready to buy? Check out the latest snowboards at Surfdome.


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