You’ve finally saved up enough money to buy a new snowboard! Great! So how do you pick a snowboard that’s right for you?
To choose a snowboard, you’ll need to decide on 5 main areas: Size, Flex, Width, Shape & Camber. Don’t worry if you don’t understand these words, I’ll explain each term in this guide as well as tell you which types work best for what.
Remember that as you get more experienced, personal preference will play a bigger role in what you’ll prefer, these are only starting points. There are no set rules on what you have to snowboard with.
1) Picking the right snowboard size
Size is basically the length of your snowboard.
Everyone buying a snowboard always gives their height and weight and asks what size they need. It’s not that simple. How flexible or strong a board is, will change the recommended weight for that board’s size.
Example: A 154cm snowboard might usually have a recommended weight of about 65kg but if this particular snowboard is really flexible and built with lighter but weaker materials, the snowboard might instead have have a recommended weight of about 60kg.
Also: Don’t pick a snowboard based on height. Rarely ever does height play a big role in the size of snowboard you need. This is a common mistake that even many snowboard shop employees will make. Some companies have already caught on and have updated their sizing methods. Eg – K2 only lists weight ranges on their information charts for each board
Always pick your size based on your weight and what you want to ride. Many snowboard companies will have a ‘weight range’ listed on the back of their snowboard. If it’s not there, you can ask the store for a copy of the recommended specs or check the company website.
What is average recommended weight? Example: The ‘Believer’ 157cm snowboard from K2 has a recommended weight range of 130-210 pounds. So the average recommended weight for this board is about 170 pounds.
What size works best with what terrain?
I’ll be basing these recommendations on whatever the average recommended weight for a particular snowboard is.
- All mountain / ride everything – You’ll want to be at roughly the average recommended weight range.
- Powder – Longer than average. How long is up to you but you’ll want to size up as much as you are comfortable with to help you float over the powder.
- Park / Freestyle – Slightly shorter than average. The exception here is if you’ll be hitting larger jumps, in this case you’ll want an average to slightly longer board for your weight range
- Rails / Urban Freestyle – A lot shorter than average.
2) Picking the right flex
This is how flexible your snowboard is. Companies usually have some sort of chart saying the flexibility or a number system. Lower numbers usually mean more flexible and higher numbers mean less flexible.
Eg – A 5 would be average flex, a 1 would be super flexible and a 10 would be insanely stiff.
In general, beginner riders will prefer a more flexible snowboard because it’s more forgiving for bad technique and mistakes.
What flex is best for what type of riding?
- All mountain / ride everything – Medium flex or slightly stiffer. About a 5 to 7 out of 10.
- Powder – Stiff! 8 to 10.
- Park / Freestyle – Medium but go stiffer if you ride bigger jumps. 4 to 7.
- Rails / Urban Freestyle – Super flexible. A 2 or 3.
3) Picking the right width
This is how wide your snowboard needs to be. Snowboards usually come in regular width or wide. Usually, you’ll only require a wide snowboard if you have large feet.
The best way to make sure you’ve got the right width is to bring your snowboard boots when you buy a snowboard and put them where your bindings would be. If the toe and heel of your boot hangs out more than about 1 inch on each side, you may need to consider a wide snowboard.
Some snowboards may be slightly thinner than average so you may not need a wide snowboard but rather, you might just need to pick a different snowboard.
4) What’s shape and what shape do I want?
Shape is exactly like it sounds. It’s how the snowboard is shaped and how symmetrical the nose and tail of the snowboard are. In simple speak, it’s basically asking you which direction will you be riding most of the time? Regular, Switch (riding with your back foot leading first) or some mix of both.
Here are the 3 most common shapes and what they are good for:
Note: Companies will have different names for them but you’ll be able to tell which is which by the description.
Twin – Your snowboard is shaped completely symmetrical. There’s no different in shape whether you ride it switch or regular. Great for someone who constantly rides switch. Typically used for freestyle & tricks.
Twin-ish – Nearly a twin but usually just a tiny bit longer / larger in the nose area (the front part of your snowboard). Meant for riding both regular and switch. For those who do a lot of freestyle but might want to venture out of the park once in awhile.
Directional – The nose (front part) of your snowboard is longer / fatter than your tail (back part) by a little bit. Designed for someone who rides regular more often.
Remember, these shape recommendations are not set in stone. For example, you’ll find A LOT of very good riders who do freestyle on a directional board.
5) What is camber? Which type do I want?
Camber is the direction which the bottom of your board curves. There are 4 types of camber: Regular, reverse, hybrid, flat/zero camber.
Think of a banana.
- Regular camber – The banana is curving down
- Reverse camber – The banana is curving up
- Hybrid camber – Your banana was curving down but you broke the tips of the banana to point up
- Zero / Flat camber – You somehow made the banana completely straight.
What cambers works for what type of riding?
- Regular camber – Performs the worst in powder but offers great stability for riding fast and hitting big jumps
- Reverse camber – Great for powder. Also great for freestyle that’s focused on rails and boxes
- Hybrid camber – Used for all situations depending on the type of hybrid. See below explanation on hybrid camber.
- Zero / Flat camber – Used as a middle ground. A jack of all trades but master of none. Great for an all rounder.
Hybrid Camber: To confuse you even more, companies have taken a liking to hybrid cambers. They’ve now got hybrid cambers that are meant for freestyle and a different hybrid camber for powder. I’d say that at least 75% of snowboards are now hybrid camber.
Snowboard companies have many names for their hybrids camber so you’ll need to look at the description carefully and try it out for yourself before you buy. Every hybrid camber is a little different.
Just remember that choosing a snowboard is a lot of personal preference. There is no set rule on what you must have.
To name a notable exception: Torstein Horgmo. He landed the first frontside triple cork on film. Instead of a longer snowboard, he prefers a short snowboard for hitting big jumps because he says it makes it easier for him to land. Personal preference wins here.
I hope you found this guide helpful. It’s a very simplified guide because I wanted to make this less confusing for beginners.
If you have any questions or need me to clarify something, just ask me in the comments below and I’ll be happy to help!