Choosing and buying your first snowboard
In the time, when I started snowboarding and wanted to buy my first snowboard, I had no idea, which one to choose. I did not even know, how many different parameters one snowboard can have and all I knew, was that there are smaller and bigger snowboards and that some are meant for men and some are meant for women.
My first decision was wrong - as I found out later, my snowboard was meant for already experienced snowboarders and for high hills and high speeds. Hopefully the people, who read this article, will have a better overview and make a better decision!
The most important qualities of a snowboard to take into consideration
Snowboards have many parameters and qualities, but while choosing and buying the first snowboard, it is quite hard to take all of them into consideration and remembering them all. Also, since you probably do not have much experience, you do not know, which snowboard and which features exactly suit for you.
However, the following are the most important features that you'll have to think about:
- Length - snowboards that suit you can have very different lengths - it depends on your snowboarding style.
- Flexibility - affects the handling of the snowboard, depends on the snowboarding style and also on your weight. Usually, with a stiff board it is harder to initiate turns, but a very flexible board lowers high speed stability, yet is easier to maneuver at small speeds.
- Width -this is measured at the waist of a snowboard. The width is correlated to the size of your boots (and foot size). If you do not have really small or really big feet, finding a board with a suitable width should not be a problem.
- Directional/Twin-tip - a twin-tip snowboard is 100% symmetrical - it does not matter which direction you ride it. Twin-tip boards are mostly used for riding in snowboard parks. Directional snowboards usually have a longer nose and are meant to be ridden in one direction. These are best for riding at high speeds and in deep snow, where a shorter nose could dig itself into the snow and cause a crash.
- Board's shape profile - The most common snowboards are camber snowboards.
How to choose a snowboard?
If you have already snowboarded some times and know, what kind of style suits for you, it is already much easier to choose your own board. If you have not tried, it is a good idea to rent a snowboard and try it before buying, but you should also rent a suitable snowboard, otherwise your first experience won't be enjoyable
- Length: it is easier to learn snowboarding with a shorter board - they are easier to handle. The first snowboard should reach between the base of your neck and upper part of your chin. Also, if your weight is over the average, you should choose a bit longer and less flexible board and if your weight is under the average, you should choose a bit shorter and more flexible board..
- Flexibility: it is easier to learn snowboarding with a more flexible board - again, easier to handle and usually meant for riding in snowboard parks. Snowboards can basically be divided into freestyle, freeride and all-mountain boards. Freestyle boards are more flexible (used for jumps, boxes, terrain features etc). Freeride boards (used mainly for high-speed riding in various snow conditions) are usually very stiff. All-mountain boards usually tend to have moderate flexibility and are designed to perform well everywhere. If you are a beginner, you should probably get a freestyle or all-mountain board with good flexibility.
- Width: you should try, if your boots are not too big or too small for the snowboard, toes and heel should not be too much over the snowboard. Freeride boards are usually narrower and freestyle boards wider. Average boards for men are about 24-25 cm wide from the waist.
- Directional/twin-tip - in the beginning, it is easier to learn to ride with a specific foot facing forward, so it does not really matter if you choose a directional or a twin-tip board. But if you already know that you prefer high speeds and mountains, choose the directional, and if you prefer snowboarding parks, choose the twin-tip board.
- Board's shape - since the camber snowboard has more stability, it is better to start with.
For example, lets say, there is a 180 cm guy, weighing 90 kg and would like to snowboard everywhere from high mountains to the snowboard park.
- Since he is 180cm tall, a 154-156 cm men's snowboard with good flexibility is a good all-around choice, but because he weighs 90kg - probably more than average, a 156-158 cm all-mountain board with moderate to good flexibility is better for him.
Another example: lets say, there is a 170cm girl, weighing 57kg and she does not know yet, where she would like to snowboard.
- Since she is 170cm tall and about average weight, a 144-146cm women's all-mountain snowboard with good flexibility is a wise beginner's choice..
Buying a snowboard
If you have already found out, what kind of snowboard you need, you will have to find the exact model of the snowboard and then buy it. The most convenient and easiest way is to buy and find the snowboard online. You can not try riding the snowboard in the shop anyway, so you could just order online. For example, one of the places, I have bought a snowboard myself, is Blue-Tomato Online Shop - good prices, possibility to return the product. E-bay and Amazon are also good choices, after you have found the right model name - probably a good way to save money.
So - since you already know, what kind of snowboard you need, you can choose the specs and find a snowboard! It is a good idea to buy a last season or older snowboard - you could save a lot of money (E-bay and Amazon are great for this).
If you want to go and buy from a shop, remember, that different shops sell different brands. That means that you probably have to visit a lot of shops to find a suitable board. You can also check online first, what kind of snowboard you would like, and then find the shop that sells the products of that snowboard brand.
After buying the snowboard
Now you have a snowboard! What next? First, buy snowboard bindings suitable for your boots and snowboard and then - start snowboarding. And keep the following things in mind:
- You should wear some protection - the most necessary things are helmet and knee protections. You are probably going to fall a lot and probably on your knees! And this is going to hurt afterwards! A lot! Helmet is also really important - you might fall and hit your head against ice or a rock etc. For example, one of my acquaintances was just sitting down and someone came from back and hit his head with a snowboard while riding! Was not pleasant at all.
- You should take care of your snowboard. Wax it, to keep its base in good condition. Try not to store your board in wet conditions - edges can rust.
- If you have not snowboarded at all, it might take some time to learn. It goes a lot faster, if someone shows you the basics - turning and stopping! If you are in a snowboarding resort, ask and people are happy to show you!
Enjoy the snow(boarding)!