How to Choose a Snowboard?

how to choose snowboard

Choosing a snowboard can seem complicated, especially if you have never purchased your own equipment before. While any board will technically get you down the mountain, there are many factors to keep in mind when choosing the best snowboard for you. 

I’m a certified snowboarding instructor who has decades of experience in the snow. I’ve helped many of my students select their first snowboard, and I know what to look for and think about when selecting a quality option. 

In this post, I’ll show a few of the most important things to keep in mind when picking out a new board. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience, these tips still apply. 

Let’s get rolling. 

1. Length

The length of your board is one of the most important things to think about when choosing a snowboard. Length plays a significant role in how the board will perform on the mountain and is snowboarder-specific depending on your height and ability level. 

You can find the best size for your board in a few ways. A simple rule of thumb is that a properly sized board should come up to your mouth when you stand it up in front of you. You could go a little lower down to your chin or up higher to your nose. 

A snowboard size calculator can also help you figure out the proper length of a board if you don’t have it physically in front of you. Snowboard lengths are always listed in centimeters, and you can see available sizes on a product’s description page. 

snowboard size calculator

Longer boards will have more surface area and can be faster. As you improve your ability levels, you’ll probably want to get a longer board. Shorter boards are lighter and easier to maneuver, so they are better for beginners.

You might find that you want a particular length of board that doesn’t line up with any of these suggestions. The length of your board is ultimately a personal preference choice, so it’s always essential to get an option that works for you the best. 

2. Type of Snowboard

Snowboards come in a variety of styles. Keeping this in mind can help you find an option that works with your preferred riding style. If you are new to the sport and don’t know your preference, this information is still good to know. 

  • All-mountain snowboards can do a little bit of everything. They come with versatile performance features that can handle different conditions all over the mountain. This style of board can work for all ability levels. 
  • Freestyle snowboards are designed for the park and other situations where you hit features like jumps and rails. They have a softer flex and come with a more symmetrical shape that allows you to ride switch very easily. 
  • Freeride boards are awesome in the backcountry or for more technical on-snow situations. They have a more aggressive design that makes them very capable of handling steep and deep terrain. These are better for intermediate and advanced riders. 
  • Powder boards are designed for the deep stuff. These are often wider, so they will give you a fantastic float and a surf-like experience. If you are an avid snowboarder, having a powder board lying around is recommended when the flakes start to fly.  

You can also choose a style of board based on your ability level or body type. Check out my recommendations for beginners, intermediates, women, and big guys if you want an option more suited to your body type. 

If you are just a beginner, I recommend an all-mountain board so you can explore everywhere on the mountain and decide what style you like the best. If you are an intermediate or advanced rider, you will probably want more than one board. 

3. Profile and Shape

On a more technical level, you should consider the profile and shape of a board when choosing the best option. These factors will help you know how a board will perform in different types of situations. 

The shape of your board is a personal preference and comes down to what style of riding you like to do.

A twin shape (often called a true twin) is a board that has a symmetrical shape on the tip and tail. These boards will give you the same performance whether you ride regular or switch and are preferred for park and freestyle riding.  

Directional shapes are better for higher speeds and more technical big-mountain terrain. These boards can cruise really well in your regular stance direction. Freeriders usually choose a directional board. 

You can also find directional twin shapes that use a little bit of both of the shape designs. Many all-mountain snowboards have this shape and are versatile and effective all over the mountain. 

Profile can be thought of as the shape or bend of a board when looking at it from the side. The main terms you will hear relating to profile are camber and rocker. 

A rockered board will have a banana-like shape with the tip and tail very rounded and a flat section underfoot. This is a good shape for the park or when riding powder because you will have more float. 

Cambered boards will have an elevated bend underfoot. This provides you with extra pop and power to ride faster and harder. Camber is good for going fast and is a profile better suited to experienced riders. 

4. Width

The width of your board is another factor to keep in mind when selecting a good option. This isn’t quite as important as length but still holds importance in how a board will perform on the mountain relating to a rider’s size. 

To select a proper width, you need to have your snowboard boots in hand. You can use them to measure how wide your board should be. Ideally, you place your boots on the board and want them to be just about as wide as the board, maybe slightly longer by a centimeter. 

If your board is too narrow, your boots and bindings can dig into the snow and cause you to wipe out. If your board is too wide, you can have a hard time with edge control because you won’t have enough weight to bite into the snow properly. 

Width is also a bit of a personal preference, and these sizing suggestions are rough guidelines. Some powder boards are extra wide to give you more surface area to float over deeper snow—some riders like a more narrow board. 

If you don’t have a preference, make sure to choose a width that matches your boot’s size or is just slightly smaller. Snowboard widths are generally measured in millimeters (mm) and should be listed in the technical specifics on a product listing. 

5. Flex

The flexibility of a board can also help steer you in the right direction when selecting an option to match your style or ability level. This relates to how much bend a board will have from front to back and side to side. 

Softer flex boards are suitable for beginners because they are easier to control and generally more forgiving. This means that they will respond quickly when you initiate a turn are less likely to catch an edge. A soft flex is also good for park and freestyle riding. 

A stiffer flex is ideal in more technical situations where you want extra bite and control. A stiffer board takes more effort to control but ultimately delivers better performance on a wider variety of terrains and conditions. Advanced riders usually prefer a stiffer flex. 

The flex of a board often comes on a scale from 1 to 10, with lower numbers being softer and higher numbers being stiff. Most boards come with a flex rating between 3 to 7, and you won’t find options are the far end of the rating. 

All-mountain boards with all-around versatility will have a flex of 5 or 6. This is a good flex number that most riders will prefer. It’s a medium flex. Beginners should go with an option that is 5 or under so they don’t get an aggressive board. 

Keep in mind that flex ratings aren’t universal and can vary from brand to brand. They will be slightly different but still in the same ballpark.  

Final Thoughts

After reading through this guide, you should have a better idea of how to choose a snowboard. Getting a board that meets your needs and preferences is important because it can help you better experience the mountain. 

If you still can’t quite decide after reading through these tips, go to your local snowboard shop and talk to the techs there. They are experts and can help you figure out the best board for you. 

The more experience you get out in the snow, the more preferences you will have with the shape and style of board. You might not know what board you want today, but you’ll be pretty picky after a few seasons in the snow!

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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