Snowboard Buying Tips

So, you’ve tried out snowboarding and decided that you like it. You are looking to buy some gear to save money over time compared to renting. Heck, you just wanna have your own gear. How do you get started? Check out these tips, and you’ll be sure to get the board & bindings you need, not just the one that some dude in the shop is trying to clear out of inventory.

  • Do you want to ride freestyle or freeride? This is the big question for most beginners. Freestyle boards are more flexible and better at landing tricks. But stiffer freeride boards are better for carving down the slopes. Read’s previous article about the types of snowboarding to learn more about which type you might prefer.
  • Check your weight, not your height! This is a big misconception: that you need a certain length of board just based on your height. It’s more accurate to say that you need a longer board based on higher skill, and a longer/stiffer board based on more weight. Generally taller people are also heavier, so the height comparison is not SO bad. But if you’re super tall and skinny, or short and stocky, you might have to pay more attention. I once bought a ladies’ snowboard (as a guy) because I am so light, I needed a more flexible board. Lighter people need a softer board so it gets more grip on hard snow, or so it still flexes nicely when they land a trick. Conversely, heavier folks need a stiffer board so it doesn’t flex too much when doing those same things.
  • Buy the right bindings! What bindings are right for you depends on your style. Freestyle bindings are softer – making it easier to land tricks. Freeride bindings are harder, and give more control for putting power to the edges for carving down the slopes. If you want quick-release bindings, consider the different types and pick one that’s easy for you to use in the store. But be aware that some quick-release types allow a lot more flex than strap bindings, so you might have trouble with freeriding on groomers. Quick-releases can also be hard to operate in deep snow, depending on the mechanism. When trying it on in the store, just think about how it might work if you had a pile of snow around your foot and stuck to your boots.
  • Watch out for yer big feet! If you have large feet, consider buying a “wide” or “fat” board. This will prevent your toes from hanging over the edge of the board, which can make it difficult to carve nice turns. It’s no fun if your toes dig into the snow on every curve.
  • Boots can be a bit tight. You should take your thick boarding socks when trying on boots. But they might still feel a wee bit tight; this is okay. The boots will “pack in” after a few days of riding, as the insert conforms to your foot. Also, when you are strapped into a board and lean forward, your toes pull back a bit from the front of the boot. Still, the boot should not be ultra-tight or crush your toes – it has to be comfortable. You just want to avoid getting a boot which is loose, because it will only get looser, and you’ll lose fine control of the board when your feet are sloshing around inside too-big boots.
  • Get a “stomp pad” to rest your rear foot when you’re in the lift line. It’s not 100% required, but helps keep your boot from sliding off the bare board. I always go for a clear one to see the board’s pattern through it.

Alright, now head out and choose your gear. Guys, make sure your board’s design has skulls and fire, not flowers and butterflies. Girls, vice versa. 😉