Buyers Guide >>
The sports we do are potentially dangerous. Get some lessons from a certified instructor and invest in some decent protective gear. Children using snowboards should be supervised by an adult. We aim to stock brands whose suppliers stand by their products 100%.
THE SNOWBOARD GUIDE
Choosing the right snowboard, boots and bindings for your personal requirements is a hectic task given that your height, weight, shoe size, age, gender, riding style and ability level all need to be considered. This guide should give you a good idea of where to begin.
RIDING STYLE AND ABILITY LEVEL
Your ability level and riding style are closely linked in that if you have been snowboarding a few times you will probably have adopted a riding style or are aspiring to one. If you are new to snowboarding you might already know that you want to end up in the half pipe or the snowboard park, but most new riders will be stoked at just getting to grips with the basics and improving a little throughout the season.
Snowboarding is usually categorised according to 3 very general terms
- All Mountain Riding
- Free Riding
- Freestyle to include Street or Urban Riding
All Mountain riding involves riding the whole mountain i.e. groomed slopes, powder, off-piste and even the snowboard park or half pipe. All Mountain boards generally have a more directional shape (i.e. the nose is distinguishable from the tail, not always in width, but in profile) and is designed for you to ride in the direction of your preferred stance. Stance is described as either regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward). If you're not sure what kind of terrain you're going to like or if you already know you like it all, then go for an all mountainboard.
Freeriding is the term used for off piste or back country snowboarding where boarders carving fast down the mountain seeking out virgin powder lines and as the term defines, riding free as opposed to the confines of the piste. These boards often have a stiff flex, have a directional shape where the nose is longer and has a higher profile than the tail.
Freestyle riders tend to be found mainly in the park or pipe and focus on jumps, spins, tricks,jibbing and rail slides. The boards are generally shorter, lighter and have identical nose and tail shape called a twin as this style requires a higher level of manoeuvrability. Despite this, they are still versatile enough to ride the whole mountain and the softer torsional flex is often suited to entry level riders as it makes the board more forgiving. Then there are the guys and girls who ride even where there is little or no snow - city rails and the streets are their playground and these boards need to withstand some serious abuse so tend to be super fliexi and have tough durable extruded bases.
Unless you are having a snowboard custom made to your personal requirements (lucky so & so, and you won't be reading this anyway!), you will find that there is no such thing as the perfect snowboard. The following snowboard anatomy lesson should however help you make an educated choice and enable you to get pretty close.
Many variables come into play when deciding on the length of your snowboard so we will keep it as simple as possible. To start with, the combination of your height and weight will have a direct influence on how your snowboard will respond. In years of old, the advice was that for an average sized person, a snowboard that stands between your chin and nose was considered a good length, however your weight is a much more accurate guage of how a board will respond under your feet. However if your height and weight are out of proportion to be careful not to choose a snowboard that will be too long (if you are short and heavy), or too short for you (if you are tall and skinny) to control. In general, shorter snowboards are more manoeuvrable while longer boards are more stable yet take more energy to control.
Snowboards come not only in adult and child sizes, but some are designed to accommodate the physical requirements of women riders (see our Ladies Only section). Women tend to have shorter legs and smaller feet than men, and so may want to look for a snowboard that is lighter, softer, narrower and/or shorter. Taller lady riders may need a snowboard that's not as narrow but just as light. The same rules apply for children.
Your choice of snowboard width should be decided by your boot size. Basically, small feet need a narrower snowboard and similarly, larger feet need a wider board. When standing in your snowboard bindings (at the angles you are going to ride in) your toes and heels need to be fairly flush with or just over the edge of the board. This is so that you are able to apply enough pressure to turn. If you have larger feet and your toes or heels extend too far over the board edges, you may experience toe or heel drag and you will probably wipe out a lot! Many manufacturers make wide boards so look for one of those or try adjusting the angle of your bindings, also although not ideal, some maunfacturers make riser pads which fit between the board and bindings to give your boots clearance.
There are a few basics about the construction of a snowboard that you should familiarise yourself with, if only to sound as if you know what you are talking about! Without going into a very technical description, we've simply summarised a few basic terms.
- Cap construction: The snowboard's top sheet wraps all the way over the top and down over the edges of the snowboard to fit smoothly to the metal edge, making it easier to tilt the board at a high angle.
- Sidewall/Sandwich construction: This is a more traditional construction where the materials that make up the snowboard are layered and the edges are a separate sidewall. These boards are stronger, lighter and are easier to repair, however they can be a little more expensive.
- The Core: Most snowboards have a wooden core. Wood cores are durable, firm and responsive without sacrificing strength or lightness of the board. Some companies use foam for the core. These are softer, more flexible snowboards but they are less responsive than wood.
- The Base: Bases are usually made from polyethylene and are either sintered or extruded. Sintered bases are made of a higher quality polyethylene that holds wax longer, is more durable and rides faster than the less expensive extruded base.
Flex is the degree of stiffness that resists twisting along the snowboard's length or across the width, or simply put, the amount of 'give' in a snowboard. Softer, more flexible snowboards turn quickly and easily at low speeds and are more manoeuvrable and so are the choice of beginners, kids and park riders. Intermediate or advanced riders might prefer a stiffer snowboard which offers more control on turns at higher speeds but these types of board will require more strength to manoeuvre.
This is the amount of snowboard edge that is in contact with the snow. This is not the same as board length as the turned-up portion of the nose and tail will not carve the snow during a turn. A longer effective edge will provide more stability at high speeds and better grip in turns. A shorter effective edge makes it easier to initiate turns and spins.
This is the amount of curve along the edges of the snowboard. It's the difference in width between the nose and tail, and the waist of the snowboard. Sidecut affects the width of turns: the bigger the sidecut radius, the straighter the edges of the snowboard which produces wider turns and the smaller the sidecut means that the board is curvier and produces narrower, sharper turns.
Inverse Camber/ Banana Technology/ Reverse Camber/ Gull Wing?
Snowboard manufacturers are continually striving to progress our sport and equipment to new levels so we are now enjoying the benefits of some radical new technology. Click on the links below to learn more about the various options available:
Snowboard boots, together with your bindings, transfer energy from your feet and connect your body to your board, and largely determine how you are able to control your board. Your boots should give you maximum control over your board, protect your feet and ankles from the pressures of high speed turns, and keep your feet warm and comfortable.
Fit and Flex are the two most important aspects to consider when buying your boots. This is appreciably a difficult job to get right when buying on the internet but after trying on a few at a shop you will get a feel for what it is you are looking for.
Fit: Try on your boots with decent snowboard socks and do it at a time of day when your feet are their largest, e.g. at the end of the day or after going for a run. Your feet can swell up to half a size whilst riding! Make sure your boots are snug and comfortable. You should have a little toe movement in soft boots, but not too much as, over time, they will pack out and increase the available space around your foot. Be aware of any pressure points that rub on your foot or ankle - you can be sure that if you feel a spot nagging when you first try them on, they will be shouting at you on the slopes. Another important thing to do is make sure your heel stays firmly in place when you bend your knees or try to stand on your toes. If your heel slips around, you will have a really hard time getting the snowboard to do what you want. See our section on sizing for background information, sizing and conversion tables
Flex: Soft boots are composed of a relatively flexible outer boot, a padded liner and a deep-treaded sole. Hard boots look similar to ski boots and are designed to provide support required for racing and high speed carving on hard snow surfaces. Step-in boots are heavier and stiffer than standard soft boots and are also designed with additional support to accommodate the requirements of Alpine racing. Freestyle riders usually prefer more flexible, lower cut soft boots with loose moulded inner linings, whereas Freeriders generally require boots with a stiffer upper boot for added support and a lace-up inner lining that enables adjustment of flexibility.
Most Snowboard bindings fasten to the board in a pre-drilled industry standard binding configuration called a 4x4 insert pattern (i.e. 8 holes drilled into the top of the board for each binding). These systems allow easy changes in the binding placement and stance angles. The good news is that the vast majority of bindings are compatible with most snowboards.
HOWEVER not all bindings accommodate all boots, so make sure you get your boots first!
There are 3 main types of bindings on the market:
Strap bindings: This is the most common and most flexible set up and is the best choice for freestylers & freeriders. Strap bindings are adjustable, really secure and comfortable and any soft snowboard boot can be used with this system. They consist of a baseplate which is screwed to the board, a highback plate, and then usually 2 adjustable ratchet straps at the front. The highback is the piece of curved plastic attached to the base of the binding that supports your heel and calf and gives the rider control over their heel edge. They come in small, medium or large and which one you choose will depend on your boots and your style. Freestylers generally prefer a shorter backplate for more flexibility whereas freeriders will require slightly taller and stiffer highbacks for greater edge control); The back of the binding should not be higher than the top of your boot. Check out our range here.
Step-in Bindings: Step-in bindings were developed to allow you to simply step down and click into the binding as opposed to having to sit down and strap in, as above. These bindings usually work in combination with soft boots which are generally stiffer than those used with the strap system. Be aware Step-in bindings are boot-specific, so you'll need to buy boots and bindings together as a system and your choices will therefore be somewhat limited.
Plate/Hard boot Bindings:These bindings look similar to ski bindings are mostly used by serious downhill racers and allow really tight turns. The boots are hard, again similar to ski boots, and you will need to buy your boots and bindings as a complete system.
As cool as it looks to go boarding with a t-shirt and shorts, anyone who's done it knows it's hurts when you come off! If you are a beginner, or even more experienced and want to try some new tricks, it makes a lot of sense to get some protective kit, at some point it is likely that helmets may become compulsory on most slopes before long. Check out our range of helmets, goggles, gloves, crash pants, wrist guards etc. It's not worth paying all that money to go boarding and then end up in casualty (oh and you'd be wise to take out insurance as well). You will need to buy a leash as well to attach your board to your boot. All resorts require this safety feature for obvious reasons.
Always carry a snowboard tool with you when you ride - a small investment that will pay off over years of riding.
See our other snowboard gear guides - click on the link
SNOWBOARD GOGGLES BUYERS GUIDE
The information on this site is provided as a guideline only. It is your responsibility to learn and understand the proper techniques associated with safe participation in these activities. Boardology Ltd assumes no liability for user application of the information provided in this site and any application of the information is at your own risk. Always follow manufacturer instructions and the directions of a certified instructor.