Purchasing a new snowboard is fun and thrilling, but it’s also a big investment. When faced with several hundred bright, shiny new snowboards brands like Quiksilver Snowboard and Globe Snowboard. Choosing the right board can seem almost impossible but this article helps you understand the types of snowboards out there and how to make a wise optimal.
Other snowboard-selection factors in a nutshell:
Choose Boots First
If you’re going to show, show on boots. Boots play a major role in a rider’s comfort. It’s usually best to choose boots and bindings first, then find the perfect deck.
Directional boards are made to go downhill only.
True twins go both ways and are the right choice for pipe and park riding.
Directional twin boards are good for people who ride all over the mountain, from groomers to the park.
Camber or Rocker?
Camber delivers a lively, stable ride and provides pop and responsiveness on hardpack or groomed runs, especially when powering out of turns. Experienced, speed-oriented riders favor cambered boards. Camber is also known as positive camber.
Rocker (aka reverse camber) creates upturned noses and tails. The design excels in powder and when jibbing or riding rails in the park. Rockered boards are softer than cambered boards and often appeal to novice riders. Experienced riders, though, can still coax powerful rides out of them.
Mixed camber (or, modified rocker) has exploded in popularity, and manufacturers have hatched lots of rocker variations to address specific performance attributes.
A few examples are shown here:
Length: Stand a board on its tail. Its nose should reach somewhere between a rider’s nose and chin. Fast, aggressive riders often prefer a longer board. Park riders eager to hit lots of jumps and twists may want a very short board.
Weight: Recommended rider weights are listed in the spec charts of individual boards on their Mens Cruiserboards product category.
This term describes the curve of a board’s edges.
Deeper sidecut (lower numbers, in centimeters): These boards have narrower waists, so they turn quickly and easily. Good for beginners and park riders.
Shallow sidecut (higher numbers): Because they have wider waists, these boards float more easily on soft snow. They do a good job of handling high speeds and powering through crud.
Snowboards have metal edges that bite into snow to provide control and steering. A snowboards ”effective edge” (measured in centimeters) is the edge section that actually touches the snow or ice throughout your descent.
A longer effective edge provides stability at high speed and good grip in turns or when descending icy slopes.
A shorter effective edge creates a board that is easier to turn and spin.
”Multi-radial” edge designs also exist, another variation that snowboard makers offer to make their boards stand out. Usually it means they offer better control on ice.
Edges need to be routinely sharpened for optimal grip while riding groomers or in the pipe. Deliberately dulled edges are best for jibbing and rail riding.
Snowboards all offer some type of binding interface.
Some popular examples:
4×4: Holes spaced 4cm apart vertically (nose to tail) and horizontally (edge to edge).
2×4: More vertical holes, spaced just 2cm apart, for more stance options.
3D: Found only on Burton boards. Opinions vary on whether this approach offers any benefits over rows of holes.
Channel: Burton-only design uses slots instead of bolt holes. The objective: Make finely tuned, customized stances possible.
Between a snowboard’s topsheet and base are layers of wood, woven fiberglass and sometimes proprietary materials (to boost performance). Slanted sidewalls enclose the finished package. This is known as sandwich construction.
Cap construction excludes sidewalls and simply wraps the topsheet around a board’s edges. This is a less-expensive method, and it may produce less-exacting results.
Three primary construction factors influence a snowboard’s performance characteristics and price:
- The flex of its fiberglass weave.
- Core materials.
Flex refers to a board’s give, its receptiveness to twisting. It’s determined by the fiberglass weave used inside the board. Biaxial (2-way) weaves are more flexible; triaxial (3-way) and a few quadaxial (4-way) weaves are stiffer.
A board can flex 2 ways:
Longitudinal flex: along its length (most important to most boarders).
Torsional flex: flex across its width.
How to correctly test flex at a store:
Longitudinal flex: Place a board’s tail on the ground, preferably on carpet. Boards have 2 binding mounts. Place an arm around the higher mount, as if wrapping an arm around a friend’s shoulder.
With the board at about a 45 degree angle, use your other hand to press down on the lower mount.
The idea: Mimic the pressure feet apply to a board. Don’t grab a board by its nose and push on its center. Lots of people do this, but no one rides on the center of a board.
Torsional flex: Place both feet on the tail. Grip the nose with both hands and firmly twist in opposite directions. Realise, though, that maxing a board’s torsional flex requires more force than most people can apply in this manner.
What the tests tell you:
Soft (easier to flex): Forgiving and easy to turn. Usually preferred by beginners, riders with lower body weights and park riders.
Stiff (harder to flex): Provides more grip when turning; holds speed better than a softer board. Can better hold an edge when descending fast. Usually the choice of freeriders.
Wood (beech, poplar, even bamboo) is used in virtually all high-quality boards. It is long-lasting, lively and proven. Wooden cores can be reinforced with different types and weights of fiberglass, carbon fiber, aramid fibers or metals to achieve various performance characteristics. Stiffness, for example. Manufacturers are often secretive about their core technologies.
Two types of polyethylene (PE) are used in snowboard bases:
Extruded bases (if PE was cheese, extruded bases = spray-can cheese) are:
- Less expensive.
- Relatively easy to repair.
- Low maintenance (nonporous surface won’t hold wax).
- Sometimes vulnerable to warping.
Sintered bases (in the cheese analogy, the equivalent of a block of fine cheddar) are:
- Faster on snow.
- More durable.
- Used on more expensive boards.
- Need waxing (tiny pores hold wax for smooth, fast runs).