How to choose the your first snowboard for beginners?
Before you plunge hundreds of dollars into your first snowboard, here’s what you should consider apart from how pretty the board is. Because you don’t just want a board that looks good, it’s how great the board makes *you* look. Substance over looks, people.
As a beginner, you want a snowboard that helps you to turn easily while keeping balanced over it without much effort. A correctly sized snowboard will help you reduce the chances of loosing balance or catching an edge – something all snowboarders know about and dread. Check out the pointers below to find the most ideal snowboard type to help you link your turns quickly and start cruising down the mountains!
Here are the basic things to consider when you are choosing your first snowboard:
How to pick the right snowboard length
Your Height & Weight
As a rule of thumb, if you place a board standing upright on its tail (bottom end), the nose (top end) of the board should reach somewhere between your nose and chin. To simplify things, a snowboard that stretches above your nose might be too long for you while a board that sits lower than your chin might be too short for you. Of course, this is over simplifying things and there are many more considerations to take note of before determining the ideal snowboard length – we will mention more of these considerations below.
How does the snowboard’s length this affect your riding? A board that is too long for you will make initiation turns more difficult for you, and you’ll require more effort to linking your turns smoothly. A shorter board will help you turn alot easier (great for beginners) but tends to be less stable at higher speeds and you often will experience more chattering – an undesirable vibration between your snowboard and the ice below.
It is always a good idea to check the size charts and recommended rider weights to help you choose the right snowboard length. Brands have different sizing charts depending on the make of their snowboards, so be sure to check them out & compare before you decide!
If you are above the average weight, consider a longer or wider board, this will provide more stability when riding. You can tell that a board is too short for you when feel your board chattering under your feet as you pick up speed or you when you start to lose balance riding over the smallest bumps. If you find yourself in deep powder, a shorter board means less surface area and less float to keep you on top of the snow. Overall, a board that is too short makes you much less stable and not perform to the best of your abilities.
Male or female – does it matter?
Generally, women’s snowboards have a narrower waist width and softer flex while men’s boards have wider waist widths and stiffer flex. A narrower snowboard allows you to initiate your turns with less effort and also makes it easier to transition from heel edge to toe edge. Wider snowboards on the other hand will give you more stability but requires more effort to control. Choosing the right snowboard width is important as if your board is too wide for you, you will experience some difficulty transitioning from one edge to another and this movement will be slow and sluggish. If the board is too narrow though, you will often unintentionally drag your toe or heel of your boots in the snow when turning. This slows you down, interrupts the flow of your turns and also damages your snowboard boots. Most frequently, “toe drag” occurs and this can be both irritating and dangerous when attempting turns at higher speeds.
For smaller, lighter guys, you might find it useful to consider women’s boards. Likewise for the taller ladies with shoe sizes above 8, you might find a suitable board in the men’s category. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different boards to find the perfect fit for yourself.
Main types of snowboards for beginners
For beginners, freestyle or all-mountain snowboards are what we would recommend because these boards would usually have a centred stance which is great for beginners to start with, and they are usually of soft to medium flex.
We recommend beginners who are still learning what terrain they like to go for all mountain boards so you are not boxed into a particular riding style. All mountain boards work well on any terrain, so versatility is the key factor here. You can use it on groomers (aka on piste), un-groomed (aka off-piste), freestyle park & pipe.
If you’re thinking ahead when you start progressing, there are 2 main riding styles you can venture into: freestyle and freeride. Freestyle boards are light, shorter in length and & softer in flex – they are ideal for jibbing, buttering, ground tricks and popping spins.
For those thinking about venturing off-piste in search for better snow conditions, freeride boards will be your thing. These boards are usually stiffer in flex, have incredible edge hold for carving and are stable at high speeds on un-groomed, bumpy terrain. If you’re a beginner, stay away from these for a while because it will only hinder your progress!
Flex & snowboard profile
The flex rating of a snowboard tells you how playful or stable a snowboard is. Most snowboards will have a flex rating between 1-10, 1 being the softest & most playful, with 10 being the stiffest & most stable.
Soft flex (flex rating: 1-3):
These are great for groomers, buttering, flat-land tricks, spins, and overall fun and breezy stuff. Very forgiving for beginners, lighter riders and park rats but not so good for icy and bumpy conditions & going at higher speeds.
Medium flex (Flex rating: 4-6):
Also great for beginners, medium flex boards are still soft enough to making learning easy while still maintaining enough stiffness to be stable at higher speeds as you progress and ride faster and harder. Medium flex snowboards are ideal for beginner to advanced riders and freestyle focused riders looking for an all-mountain board to take on groomers (on-piste) and into the terrain park.
Stiff flex boards (rating: 7-10):
We do not recommend these for beginners! Stiff snowboards are very stable at high speed and uneven, icy snow conditions but they require good technique and a strong rider to really enjoy.
So camber or rocker?
Well, in our opinion, this is not the most crucial factor at this stage of your snowboarding career. Most people out there would recommend a rocker profile for pure beginners to reduce your chance of catching an edge and this allows you to practice your C and S turns comfortably. While this is a popular opinion, it is not absolutely necessary to start with a rocker profile, as we find that many beginners progress very quickly once you are able to link your turns, and you would quickly switch to a camber profile board. Camber boards have more edge control, more responsiveness when turning and going faster. These will improve your snowboarding tremendously.
PRO TIP: While it is tempting to get a snowboard that you want to grow into, such as a high-end advanced to expert level snowboard or directional powder boards, getting a board above your riding ability can actually cause your progress to slow down. These snowboards require strong riding fundamentals and good technique to really perform on these boards. For most of us, we only have a few days a year on the mountains and that means we will be at the beginner & low intermediate stages for awhile – at least your first 2-3 trips. So keep this in mind when deciding on your first snowboard. Be sure to use the right equipment to help you get the maximum out of your time practicing and quickly progress on your turns.
If you’re looking to buy your first snowboard, The Ride Side’s long awaited retail and fitting studio will open its doors in Singapore coming September 2019. If you want to be the first to check it out, subscribe to our newsletter to be in the know.