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GUIDE TOP BUYING SNOWBOARDS
The snowboard world is filled with a number of marketing terms, feature jargons, and technologies. The amount of information on offer is sparing the buyer no time to get the best out of this saturated market. The number of snowboards on the market is overwhelming and unless you have a solid background information there is no way you will make a wise buy.
We have come to your rescue with this comprehensive guide to help you avoid those uninformed and confusing purchases. We have broken all those technical waffles and given you the best way to rigorously inspect the myriad of snowboard options.
Everyone with some experience in snowboarding will attest to the fact that buying a deck that matches your personal preferences and riding styles requires a lot of board scrutiny. This is because snowboards come in different constructions and shapes which affect the riding style in one way or the other. Every snowboard is designed for a specific terrain, therefore, before you commit your cash there is a number of guiding factors you need to follow. Whether you like cruising hammer chutes, float through powder, ride the rails or groomed runs, you have a daunting task before you land the best snowboard.
Things don’t have to be complicated like many people perceive, you just need to arm yourself with a good selection criterion and all boxes will tick. Whether you are a slope veteran, first-time rider, or are in between, this guide will offer great help.
TYPES OF SNOWBOARDS
Each snowboard is designed to take unique construction, shape, flex pattern, and size. The materials used are not the same and one fascinating fact is that no single board can fit all riders. The type of snowboard that fits you best depends on your riding style, height, weight, and preference. If you are hunting for you first board go the boards that stand on the tips leveling about the chin. On the other hand, professional snowboarders have learned the art of buying boards based on the terrain and conditions.
Here are the types of snowboards you will likely find on the market:
Are you beginning your art as a snowboarder? Then you will find this board to be completely versatile, it the best way to discover which terrain is best for your riding style. This board is the most popular and as the name suggests it performs incredibly well in on all parts of the slope.
This snowboard is designed for all riding aspects and can as well float perfectly on powder. It comes with conspicuous directional shapes with a tail that is different from the tip. Its tail is basically shorter, flatter and narrower than the tip. These features aid the position on the board making it balanced towards its tail. The board has a slight setback and its side cut is slightly deeper, this makes it easier for the board to handle all the slopes well.
This is the type of board designed to aid fast riding. If you liking heading down the slope as fast as possible then you should invest in the freeride snowboard. The setback of this board is obvious and they have its nose is more than its tail.
Its side cuts are designed to support turns and initiate comfort during sharp exit. This type of board is popular for use in the backcountry, slashing the powder, or riding steeps.
These snowboards are made with special materials to become flexible, short, and light. Their design is best suited for riders who enjoy performing turns and tricks in half-pipes and terrain parks. Because of the limited grip, these snowboards are not stable and therefore not good enough for traveling fast and carving turns.
You will find some freestyle boards with directional-twin or twin tips. Those with the twin tip have a tail and tip that are symmetrically shaped and their stance is centered. This design is perfect for beginners who like riding irregular forward and backward motion. The directional twin has the feature of the twin tip but the tails is stiffer than its tail.
Of all the type of snowboards, this is the narrowest and is designed for carving downhill. The board is not the best for performing tricks, but it’s stiff and narrow design helps make cleaner carved turns at high speed. If you are looking for a board to that is stable at high speed and can deliver quick edge turns, then the alpine snowboard is the best.
The board is both asymmetrical and symmetrical with a shovel on its tip. This means, unlike the other board the alpine board can only be ridden in one direction.
This type of boards is designed for riding boxes, nipples, walls, and rails. If you liking riding on conditions that are not snowy this is the board for you. The boards are basically twin shaped and give you the freedom to attack your rail or wall from all the ways. They also allow for easy pressing out thanks to the soft flex. Besides being shorter and effective, sometimes the edges of these boards are reinforced and their bases are often low-maintenance.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING A SNOWBOARD
Whether you are a newbie or an experienced snowboarder you will have to consider the factors that affect you directly as a rider. These are the factors about yourself that influence the type of board that is best for you. Some of these factors include:
What is your experience level? If you are honest with yourself you must be able to sum yourself up depending on your riding level. Defining your riding level is of paramount importance because most of the boards on the market are designed to suit a specific level. In order to get the best board based on your experience level, plan with the future in mind. How fast are you progressing? This will help you to avoid outgrowing your snowboard too quickly. There are three levels/groups of snowboarders based on the experience; beginners, intermediate, and advanced.
A beginner can be described as someone who has never been on a snowboard or a person who is still finding it difficult to navigate their way down. If you are still trying to master the first steps into turning, riding, stopping or even jumping you can be classified as a beginner.
If you are still at the initial stage of your riding career then go for less expensive snowboards that are softer enough to make your learning process easy. The initial learning of almost all riders is steep and it would be wise to consider buying a board with higher specs (but not an advanced board). Such a board will cater for your daily improvements and ensure you never outgrow it too quickly.
At the intermediate level, you are able to remain solid on your feet, heel edges, and comfortable riding toe. You are also able to ride at moderate speed and are starting to do some tricks or ride switch. At this stage, the stiffer boards will be best for you because they help you cope with the aggressive riding. The board should also have special specs for reduced weight, added liveliness and pop, and a higher speed.
You will qualify as an advanced rider when you gain sound confidence and are able to adapt to all conditions you come upon. Experts are riders who feel it more comfortable to ride down the steepest terrain and still managed to put everything under their control. In fact, some of the advanced riders find it more comfortable to ride on a snowboard than to walk on their feet.
One of the most important character to consider as a rider is your weight. It’s of paramount importance to consider your weight because you ideal snowboards can only perform optimally only when subjected to the right weight. The manufacturer will set the right weight a particular board can carry if you buy a board that is short and cannot hold your weight it will end up performing poorly. On the other hand, you will have trouble initiating turns and controlling the board if you are below its stated weight. Purchase a board that can match your riding style and is within your age bracket.
The riding style is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a snowboard. It’s one of the determining factors to the type of the board that will perform best in your situation. All the boards are designed to suit a specific riding style.
If you are a freestyle rider, you definitely involve a lot of tricks around the mountain and the terrain park. You are bound to jump boxes and riding rails, and also the halfpipes. This is an ideal board for this riding style is the short and soft flex type since it makes it easier to maneuver and control.
Freeride style is more of a leisurely affair than freestyle riding. If you are this type of a rider you enjoy long deep carving, cruising around natural terrain and runs, riding at higher speeds etc. to successfully enjoy your ride you require a board with a positive camber since they provide better pop and control from one edge to the other. Directional shapes will also work well with your riding style.
All mountain riding is a combination of the freestyle and freeriding. If this is your style, then you will be spending more time in the mountains than the terrain park. The best board for this style is the twin directional shape and those that are considerably longer. Other specs of the board may be leaned towards either the freestyle or freeriding depending on which you like most.
The last riding style is the powder hounds. If this is your style, then am pretty sure the backcountry is your favorite place. You have a keen eye on the avalanches and you enjoy dominating mountain lines. This type of riding is only reserved for more advanced riders or only under the supervision of a pro rider. The best board for this style of riding is the one designed to offer total control and better float, preferably longer and stiffer boards. Go boards with special cambers that designed for powder riding
The foot size is often overlooked but it should be considered when buying a snowboard. If your foot is bigger than the width of the snowboard it will prevent proper turning by digging into the ground. On the other hand, if your foot is too small for the board, you it will affect your stability by making the board feel harder to turn and sluggish. Before buying any snowboard always consider the size of your foot in relation to the waist width.
How much are you planning to spend? This should be a factor of consideration because it influences the type of board you will get. The best thing with the snowboard market is that there are many boards of varying designs, sizes, technologies and even materials. All the products are offered at different price points and it is easier to find a board that will suit your riding style and is friendly to you in terms of its price. Obviously advanced designs and use of quality materials will translate to a higher price, but this doesn’t always mean that the board will perform excellently. Just know that finding the best a blend of quality laminate, quality base materials, and durable core materials on a board at a reasonable price is all you should focus on.
FEATURES TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A SNOWBOARD
It’s always good to learn more about the features of the ideal boards. This will help you to make the wisest choice as you buy a snowboard. The following are the crucial features that you must consider before buying a snowboard.
Picking the right snowboard will be very easy if you consider the most relevant factors. Different riders are suited by different board lengths based on their weight and their riding style. Traditionally the right board size was determined by just standing next to you ideal board, if the board was close to your nose or chin then it was deemed perfect. This method didn’t take into account the weight of the rider which is a very important factor to consider when deciding on the best board length. The style of riding of the rider was also ignored and this led to many riders missing out on personalized boards.
Before picking any board length it’s good to consider your style of riding and then your weight. This will be the most important guiding factors, for example, if you are a freerider you require more stability and speed which can be offered by longer boards. For freestyle riders, you require a tool that will be easy to maneuver and pin, this can be offered by small-sized snowboards.
Nowadays, most manufacturers have come up with length and size charts that are meant to help you pick the right board length based on your weight.
Consider these factors to be able to pick the right board length for you.
- For park or freestyle riding go for a board that is shorter.
- For all mountain, freeriding or powder riding pick longer boards.
- In case you are above the average weight then pick a longer board.
- For newbies, a shorter board is recommended.
The best snowboard width is picked in relation to the size of your foot. The most appropriate board width will allow heels and toes to overhang it edges by approximately 1.5cm. If the overhang is more than this the effectiveness and performance of the board will be hugely trimmed.
Generally, wider snowboards give you a better and more stable surface to land on and known for floating better in powder. The narrower boards are faster and quicker from edge to the other. If your foot size is longer than US size 10, the narrow boards might not be an option.
Other factors that determine the best width of your boot include the profile of the boot. Boots with low profile have shorter outsoles that allow riders to enjoy riding on narrow boards. The ramp angle of the binding can also influence the width you pick. More ramp angle allows the boot to sit higher, hence they fit on narrower boards.
The shape of the snowboard can be classified into the following categories:
This is the most popular shape for all mountain and free-ride snowboards. These boards are designed to be ridden in only one direction, they are often softer towards the tip/nose and have a stiffer tail. The features make them very stable even when carving at very high speed. The binding inserts of these boards are often set back (fixed closer to the snowboards tail).
This is also known as the true twin shape. This type of boards is completely symmetrical and both the tip/nose and the tail are identical. Their binding inserts are mounted at the center of the board. These boards are mostly designed as freestyle boards and are ideal for terrain parks since they can be ridden in both directions. The board can also be used on marble ledges at your favorite shopping mall and because of their symmetrical flex and shape, they are also ideal for riding switch.
Most of the modern snowboards are designed with asymmetrical cores, sidecut profiles or both. The idea of asymmetrical boards in inspired by the asymmetrical shape of the riders’ body from its front to the back. These boards make it easier to ride and offer more fun thanks to their shorter heelside, softer heelside cores, and longer toe-side sidecuts.
DIRECTIONAL TWIN SHAPE
This is a combination of the directional and true twin snowboards. These boards have similar tails and shapes where the tip is softer than the tail. That is, they are symmetrical and have a directional core. They are mostly popular as freestyle or allmountain snowboard.
The camber profiles in the market can easily confuse first-time buyers. You should not that no camber profile can be describe as perfect, each yields its own advantages and disadvantages. Depending on your riding characteristics you will be able to find a snowboard that will suit your riding conditions. But just before you decide on the best camber profile you can try these types and see which one works best.
This is also known as the reverse-camber, it’s simply a camber that has been turned upside down. This profile helps loosen the board thereby providing a ‘skatey’ feel. The board offers less edge contact and is smoothly curved downwards. The features make the board turn easily and quickly, and are recommended for flat ground tricks. Additionally, the boards allow you the freedom to easily float in powder.
v Easy to press
v They are forgiving
v Easy turning
v Floats well in powder.
v Less stable
v Washes out easily
v Less pop
This is the most tested and tried camber profile. It’s most popular for being the traditional snowboard profile. Though its dominance has declined it has remained the best option for pipe and high-level park riders since they offer extra pop, stability, edge hold, and maximum energy. When unweighted, they have smooth touches and arch underfoot, but once you are on the board they offer an evenly pressured surface and edges. Until the recent past, all the snowboards were camber boards.
v Stable at high speed
v Great for carving
v More pop
v Offer maximum energy out of turns.
v Require more energy to turn
v They are less forgiving
This is referred to as the zero camber, and is somewhere between the rocker and camber snowboards. They offer the advantages of both, they are versatile and are often preferred for park boards. The flat surface of these boards offers a stable surface that is perfect for riding rails.
v Excellent for rails
v Can give a damp or dead feeling.
1ST HYBRID CAMBER
This profile is the best profile for quality snowboards. This type of snowboards has two camber areas that are flattened once you are on it. This design yields sturdy and pressured carving areas between your feet thereby retaining the carving precision and pop at its tail and tip.
The key benefit of this profile is its versatility since it provides looseness thanks to a rocker which is between your feet. For this reason, the board is also able to float well in powder and offer edge hold.
v Provides a loose feel
v Easy turning
v Float perfectly in powder
v Better edge hold
v More pop
v Not stable at full speed
v Can be unstable on rails.
2ND HYBRID CAMBER
With this profile, the camber is between two rockers. Just like the first hybrid camber this boards are versatile and offer edge hold, and more pop thanks to the camber being between the feet. The contact points are brought in by the presence of the rockers at the tail and the nose. This makes turn initiation easier and quicker than a fully cambered board. The positioning of the rocker makes pressing easier thereby providing better float in powder.
v Offer more stability
v Has a looser feel
v Provide additional float
v Feels washy at its tail and nose
This is a profile that is specifically meant for powder and free-ride boards. Most boards with this profile utilize a setback stance and a rider stance at the center of the camber section. This adds more stability to the underfoot and its rockered nose offers superior float in powder.
The section flattens once you exert force via the camber section, this force the nose of the board to lift up thereby increasing the float in powder.
v Excellent performance in powder
v Provides stability underfoot
v Not versatile.
The flex of the snowboard impacts on the way it rides. The rating of this feature is not standardized but it’s good to consider it before buying any board. The flex of a snowboard can either be described as stiff or soft. Many manufacturers will give the board a flex rating ranging between 1 and 10. With 10 being the stiffest and 1 being the softest board. There are two types of flex
When shopping around you must consider the longitudinal flex or the board in relation to your weight. If you are light, go for a soft board since it easier to control and is highly reactive to the ride. This makes riding in bumpy snowy and ice conditions easier and less dangerous. This makes softer boards the most ideal for jibbing, landing jumps or freestyle riding.
If you get a stiffer board that is with the recommended weight it will be ideal for groomed slopes for the way they effectively hold the edges.
This is the measure of how soft or stiff a snowboard is from the toe edge to the heel edge. Softer snowboards make it easier to initiate turns and are highly responsive to your input. If you are planning to ride on soft or bumpy snow softer boards are highly recommended. The torsional grip should be considered if you want better edge grip, especially when riding on deeper powder and groomed slopes.
In general, softer boards are ideal for beginners, park rides, or light riders. On the other hand, stiffer boards offer better edge hold and are the best for advanced and high-speed riders.
All snowboards make varying degree of turns based on their rocker, side cuts, and the waist radius.
When the rocker of your boards is positioned near the tail or the tip it makes it easier to initiate your turns. This type of rocker is also known as the catch-free rocker, it leaves less of the board edge to catch when turning.
Sidecut radius is described as the radius of the circle the board would make if the curves of the edges were extended out. The smaller the radius the smaller the circle.
On the other hand, the waist width is the width of the board measured at the narrowest point in millimeters. A narrower waist width means the snowboard can be rolled easily from edge to edge. An ideal waist width should correspond to your boot size.
Your progress as a rider is affected by even the smallest detail of the snowboard. The inserts are often overlooked when purchasing the snowboard but you need to give them a serious consideration if you are to get a perfect tool. The stance you select for your new ride will certainly impact the way you ride. Check and confirm how the stance of your ideal board is designed and inspect how it will affect where you attach your bindings. Determine your preferred positions of the inserts. Inserts can be classified as either 2by4, 4by4, Burton’s three hole or sliders. Incremental change is critical especially if you are an advanced or intermediate rider, select a board that will give the freedom for tinier adjustment so as to enjoy the full benefits of the board.
The combination of your riding style and snow depth determines which between a slightly offset or centered insert will be more effective. Consider where you will be riding, is it deep powder, groomed slopes, or in the park?
A zero setback is the case where the binding inserts are set at the center of the snowboard. At this setback, it is easier tom initiate turns and control the board. Other boards will have inserts that are scooted back so as to offer more leverage, the makes it easier to make aggressive turns, float better in deeper powder, and Ollie higher. Do not try the boards with scooted setback if you are just beginning your trade, this is because it will require a lot of backward leaning to control the board. Instead, try a board where the inserts are scooted about 2 inches from the tail. Such a board will help you to have a relaxed stance and eliminate the worry of a sudden nose-diving when riding in deep snow. On the downside, inserts that are set back at about 2 inches make the board ideal for beginners because they make turn initiation very difficult.
CONSTRUCTION AND TECH
The technology and the construction of the snowboard define the difference between high-dollar and the budget-friendly boards. You will realize that manufacturers use varying technologies and materials so as to reduce damp vibrations, weight and maximize control, durability, and the pop.
The high-end snowboards are usually lighter, have faster bases, fancy laminate additives, and stronger cores. The laminate additives most used include basalt fiber or carbon and they make these boards more responsive and feel livelier. However, these boards are pricey and you should not be confined to them in the assumption that they will deliver exceptionally.
The features of a high-performance board like the flex, shape, profile and the construction should be in harmony for it to qualify as well-designed. The performance is not hinged on the price and it’s easier to find a board that will deliver excellently depending on your style of riding.
TOP SNOWBOARD BRANDS
The number of brands in the snowboard industry has increased enormously over the past years. This can be attributed to the growth of snowboarding popularity. Due to numerous brands, it can be very difficult to pick the best especially if you are a new rider. But worry not, the following brands rules the industry by producing the high-quality snowboarding gear. These brands are committed to innovation, quality, and style, and most of their products shine through with unbeatable reputation.
#1. BURTON SNOWBOARDS
BURTON is one of the best pioneers of the snowboarding industry and has been making high-quality snowboards since 1977. This brand is the most popular in the industry and their commitment to development, research, design and innovation has propelled to the top. Burton has a wide range of snowboard selection and is known for making boards for young riders, women, and men of all riding levels. Besides, they make other snowboarding equipment like helmets, clothing, bindings, boots and other accessories.
#. K2 SNOWBOARDS
K2 is ranked amongst the best snowboards brand having been in the industry since the early 1990s. This company was initially a ski only brand having been in the ski industry for over 50 years. But since they entered the snowboard industry they have continued to impress riders with quality snowboards. Successful have its way after applying its award-winning experience in the production of ski products in making of snowboards.
K2 is based in Seattle, USA and besides snowboards they also specialize in the production of other snowboarding gear like boots and bindings.
#3. RIDE SNOWBOARDS
RIDE has been in the snowboard industry for over 19 years. Since it launched its product in the market it has continued to wow riders and has never disappointed them. This company has built a reputation of producing only the best snowboards and other riding gear.
The company has a team of professional riders who adorn their gears only and they have been in constant testing and bringing new innovations. They stand by their motto “for the people” and they are always extending the limit for snowboard technology by producing quality boards for backcountry, groomed slopes, and parks.
#4. LIB TECHNOLOGIES
LIB TECHNOLOGIES is well known for the production of quality boards that include a highly innovative design. They have brought a number of performance-enhancing improvements like banana rocker shape and magne-traction edge technologies to their boards. Their focus is inclined towards changing the experience of riders of different level of experience, and they have remained on track for all the time of their operations.
#5. ROME SNOWBOARD DESIGN SYNDICATE [SDS]
The Rome SDS is has carved a niche for it’s by producing high-performance snowboard despite being in the industry for less than 20 years. The company launched its first three snowboards in 2001 and since then they have diverged to making other products like gloves, bindings, boots, and other snowboarding gear.
They have been taken over the industry through their clever way of listening to the opinion of an everyday ride and factoring it in improving the quality of their boards. This way they have continued to show excellent customer satisfaction and an incredible commitment to quality. This has propelled them to the top and today they are a highly regarded company in the industry.
#6. JONES SNOWBOARDS
Jeremy Jones is regarded as one of the best back-country snowboarders. He has an unwavering passion for snowboarding and has shown incredible commitment by extending far beyond riding. Jones launched the Jones snowboards and since they first hit the market they have remained to be among the best.
Jones is well-known for being one of the best in the production of high-performance snowboards. It’s regarded as the best line of split boards and great backcountry riding gear.
This is a line of the ARBOR COLLECTIVE, they have specialized in the production of environmentally-conscious snowboards since they first entered the market in 1995. They have been focusing on the production quality boards using sustainable products without compromising the overall performance and experience.
GNU is among the pioneers of the industry and they have produced snowboards since 1977. Their boards are predominantly handmade and have managed to keep a hardcore snowboarding sensibility. The company has endeared the snowboarding mainstream fans and have earned a good name among serious riders.
GNU was started by Mike Olson, an enthusiastic rider and his passion and commitment for riding led to one of the best and most progressive companies. GNU is currently owned by Mervin manufacturing, but despite the change in ownership, they have maintained its old-school hardcore fashion.
#9. NEVER SUMMER INDUSTRIES
NEVER SUMMER has been in the snowboarding industry since 1983. Their unwavering focus on the production of durable high-performance boards has remained on course and through their experience, they have continued to make quality handmade products.
#10. CAPITA SNOWBOARDING
CAPITA snowboarding has remained near-perfect snowboards. They use earth-friendly materials and long lasting materials in the manufacture of their boards. This company is known for their use biodegradable top sheets, 100% recycled ABS sidewalls and environmentally conscious inks in producing high-performance boards.
This is a top brand that outshines the other by combining versatility, quirky graphics, top-quality materials, and supreme craftsmanship.