New Year New Gear? Need some guidance
These days snowboards come in many different shapes and sizes. Going back about 10 years there was a big revolution, or should I say evolution, with the profiles of snowboards. This came with the introduction of Rocker to the snowboarding world. In the last few years a lot has happened to the shape of snowboards.
As a beginner/intermediate/advanced rider, it is important that you find a snowboard that is in the right length and weight range to suit you. Try not to make your decision on what snowboard to buy based on pretty colours or cool graphics, as it will not affect your riding at all. We know that top sheet graphics can sell a board, but you have to ask yourself: is it really the right snowboard for you? No one on the slope will care what your snowboard looks like. Instead, we suggest that you read our advice below and then use The Board Basement search filters to find the perfect board for your needs. It is no good buying a snowboard that is not compatible with your riding abilities.
Be honest with yourself. Have you done 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 decades worth of riding? How often are you going to snowboard? Why buy a high-end park board if you’re never going to ride rails or jumping kickers? Why buy a super aggressive powder board if you are not going to ride off-piste? Use our knowledge and feel free to ask questions. Snowboards are expensive and so are the trips you have to go on to get the most out of your board. Therefore we want to help you find the perfect board at the best price for you.
There are a few important factors that you will need to take into consideration when choosing the right snowboard. If you are not fully aware of these factors, you are most likely a beginner trying to find out what board is right for you. We will go through them all below so you can get a better idea of what board to buy. If you are still not sure what board to get, you can contact us directly for a personal recommendation. We test the majority of snowboards that we hold in stock, so we have got very good knowledge of the snowboard products that we sell.
The first thing we need to establish is your skill level
WHAT IS YOUR SNOWBOARDING SKILL LEVEL?
How much experience you have on a snowboard will determine what type of snowboard you buy. At an advanced/expert level, you will require a more specific snowboard with features that won’t limit your riding. There are boards specifically designed for first time buyers/beginner riders that are really easy to progress with and will help you develop to the next level. If you are lucky enough to have an unlimited budget, you can explore some excellent boards at higher price points that can be ridden by everyone. We understand however that the majority of us don’t have that luxury. Snowboards come in a variety of shapes, styles, and sizes and you don’t have to be an expert to ride them. Take a look below to work out which skill level applies to you:
You are just starting out and you’ve clocked up a few weeks on the snow. You should be looking for a board that’s easy to adapt to that will help you progress. Snowboards for this category of riders tend to be fairly soft-flexing and are generally at low price points as they do not require as much, if any, expensive core materials. You are linking your turns and you want to snowboard more regularly. At this stage it is not necessary to splash out on a really expensive board and we strongly recommend that you don’t. One of the first steps that you will need to master as part of your learning is how to turn a snowboard. To achieve this, it is essential that you stay away from stiff boards as these are notoriously difficult to turn, especially for beginners.
Most people consider themselves to be at an intermediate level. We’ve got news for you… If you have only been on a couple of snowboard trips with your friends or family and have only racked up somewhere in the region of 16 days on the slopes – we’re afraid to say that we still consider you to be a beginner. However, if you are well ahead of other beginners and are looking to hastily progress and challenge yourself, chances are you may fall into the intermediate category. If you’ve got the budget at your disposal, you can consider treating yourself to a high spec snowboard. As an intermediate rider you have a better idea where abouts on the mountain you prefer riding and you are going down reds and blacks without any major fear for your life! Your knowledge of the slopes will likely lend to you having a personal preference to a particular area on the mountain. This will make it a lot easier to make your choice when it comes to selecting a new board.
Those at an advanced skill level are riders who have many years experience under their belts and are looking to take on any part of the mountain and challenge themselves while doing so. Unfortunately for this type of rider, the boards suitable tend to have a higher price tag, but on the other hand, the performance levels of these boards are much higher and will not place limits on your riding. Advanced backcountry/freeride boards are often a lot more expensive than advanced freestyle boards due to the materials used in the making of the boards.
One of the most frequent questions we get asked is, “what snowboard size do I need?” As a general guide, the snowboard should stand somewhere between your collarbone and your chin. Where you want to snowboard and what type of riding you are doing will also dictate the required snowboard length. If you choose a longer snowboard, it will be faster and more stable at higher speeds. Keep in mind though that a longer board will be much harder to turn with. A shorter board will be a lot easier to maneuver and spin, but not as fast or stable at high speed. Also note that a rider's weight is a key factor when it comes to choosing a board. If you are too lightweight for a board you will find it hard to control and turn. If you are too heavy you risk breaking the board and you may lose speed by sinking into the powder. Don’t always follow the size guides you find online as there are plenty of dated guides that don’t take into account the different types of material used when making a board. You can use our snowboard guide to get a rough idea of which Snowboard Length to choose.
As a beginner you should avoid getting a stiff board, as they are harder to turn at slow speeds. The softer flexing snowboards tend to be easier to control and much more forgiving towards mistakes, despite being less stable at high speeds. If you feel confident enough with your skills and want to go faster and do more carving, you should consider a stiffer board flex to give you a better response and edge hold. The flexibility of a snowboard effects it’s handling and typically varies with the rider's weight. There is no standard way to quantify snowboard stiffness, but beginners and boarders who mostly do rails tend to prefer softer flex, backcountry riders stiffer flex, and everyone else something in between. Park riders that enjoy big jumps tend to ride medium to stiff twin boards.
Please note that the illustrations of the board profiles below are not exact, just a guide to give you a better idea of the profile described.
Camber - This is the traditional shape of Snowboards; a few years back most boards had the Camber shape. The Camber shape was taken straight from the alpine and cross country ski and adapted to a snowboard.
Camber arches upwards between the bindings with four contact points near the tip and tail. This shape makes the board springy in and out of turns, which is great when carving. The camber shape also makes the board ideal for popping ollies as the board has a lot of rebound, or ‘pop’, as we refer to it. A Camber board requires a good technique, as it is easier to catch an edge with this snowboard profile as the contact points (the widest parts of the board near the tip and tail) are pressurised into the snow. The Camber shape is well suited for all-mountain carving down the mountain and the snowboarder that likes to go fast with the need for quick response and edge hold. There a many versions of Camber and these days they are often combined with a little bit of Rocker in the tip and tail.
Rocker (Reverse Camber) – This is the exact opposite of Camber. The Board curves upwards from the middle of the board, so that when laid flat the nose and tail are significantly off the ground. The upturned ends make it harder to catch an edge and also raise the nose for better float in powder.
This shape is very popular for park and freestyle riding as it is more forgiving when it comes to catching edges on landings and rails with its raised contact points. You may lose some edge hold and pop with a Rocker board, but there are ways to counter this. Board manufacturers add different types of material such as carbon, and different types of wood material to increase stiffness where you need it. There are also other construction techniques that may help, such as “Magne-traction” or “Grip tech”. All manufacturers have their own way of doing this.
Again, there are many different versions of rockered board with a flat section in the centre of the board and Rocker in the tip and tail or Rocker in the centre of the board with flat sections towards the tip and tail.
Flat Base (Zero Camber) - This board is flat from nose to tail. This keeps your entire effective edge on the snow, spreading your weight evenly across a larger part of the board. It also makes the zero camber snowboards very stable and harder to catch an edge with.
This is great as a beginner board but also remains very popular for casual free riding as well as pipe and big air jumps due to there being no curve. The flat boards still retain good pop, like a cambered board, but are significantly less aggressive and catchy.
Combined Camber - This is a combination of Camber and Rocker in an attempt to get the best of both worlds.
You can find Rocker in the nose and Camber under your feet, and rocker again in the tail or Rocker between your contact points with Camber underfoot and flat towards the tip and tail. There are many different combinations with various manufacturers each having their own methods.
Lib Tech and Nitro for example use Rocker between contact points and Camber under foot, and then Rocker again in the nose and tail. Ride differ by having Rocker in the nose and tail, with Camber between the contact points.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SNOWBOARD SHAPES? (HOW A SNOWBOARD LOOKS FROM ABOVE)
The past few years has seen a lot of development with the shape of snowboards. We are seeing more and more “Volume Shifting Boards” that allow you to ride 7-10cm shorter than your usual snowboard size. This type of snowboard has more width under foot and often a very short tail.
This shape maintains the same float and stability of a traditional board, but increases maneuverability because of the resulting lower swing weight. Another variation that is getting more and more popular is the Asymmetrical shape. This is a little more complicated and deserves a blog post of it own to fully explain the details.
The more common board shapes that you see on the market are the following:
Directional = the stance is "set-back" so you have a longer/wider nose and a shorter/stiffer tail. These snowboards are ideal for powder riding and high speeds. This is for the rider that is mostly riding in one direction.
True Twin = equal length on nose and tail, completely symmetrical so easier to ride "switch". Most park and freestyle boards come in this shape. If you have invested in an asymmetrical board, it will 9 times out of 10 be a twin.
Directional Twin = Similar to a Twin but with a slightly more flexible, longer nose, giving increased float in powder. This shape is ideal for All Mountain riding. If you like a little bit of everything, this is a good choice for you.
Asymmetrical Boards - Your can check out our blog entry about the Ride Helix where we explain the Asymmetrical shape in more detail. Just click here to read that entry.
WHAT IS YOUR RIDING STYLE?
Freestyle: Generally shorter with moderate to soft flex. Freestyle boards are typically twin-tip in shape (mirror image along the lateral axis) to enable riding both ways. Incorporates a deep sidecut for quick/tight turning. Used in the pipe and in the park on various jumps and terrain features including boxes, rails, and urban features.
Park/Jib (rails): Flexible, soft and short to medium length, twin-tip shape with centre stance designed to ride switch and regular and make easier spinning. Some boards come with detuned or dull edges to avoid catching edges on rails and for a skateboard-park-like feel on snow. A playful board designed for park riding.
Freeride: Longer than freestyle and park boards. Moderate to stiff in flex and typically directional (versus twin-tip). Used from all-mountain to off-piste and backcountry riding, to 'extreme' big-mountain descents - powder riding with raised noses and pin tail designs to aid in-float in powder.
All-Mountain: The most common board type. A very versatile board that can do it all and be taken anywhere. It is a mix between freeride and freestyle boards. If you’re only planning to buy one board and are not sure where you want to spend the majority of your time on the mountain, then this is the one for you. Commonly directional or directional twin in shape (twin-tip and centered stance but with more flex on the front or a twin with a directional sidecut).
Splitboard: A snowboard which splits in half lengthwise and allows the bindings to be quickly connected to hinges, aligning them longitudinally on the board like skis. This allows the halves of the boards to function as cross country skis. Used with removable skins on the base of the board which easily slide forwards on snow but not backwards, they allow a snowboard to easily travel into the backcountry and make ascents easier and quicker than hiking. Once the rider is ready to descend, the board halves can simply be joined back together to reform a board.
SHOULD I CHOOSE A WIDE, REGULAR OR MID WIDE SNOWBOARD?
If your boot size is bigger than UK 10.5 (EU 45 or US 11.5) you will need to choose a wide board. If you don't, your feet will be in contact with the snow and interfere with the board's ability to make turns once it is set on edge, or get hung up in the snow. This is what we call getting toe/heel-drag and you will spend most of your time falling over or losing speed. Mid wide boards are great for heavier riders and riders with size UK 9-11 to give you extra float in powder and a more stable platform to ride on. A wide board can also provide stability during big jumps but will be heavier and therefore harder to turn than a regular sized board. If your feet are size 10 or smaller we recommend a regular sized snowboard.
NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT SNOWBOARD TO BUY
So now that you have got a better idea what board to choose, why don't you take a look at some amazing snowboard deals that we have available on our website