Before you plunge hundreds of dollars into your first snowboard, here’s what you should consider – apart from how cool the board’s graphics are. Because you don’t just want a board that looks good, you want a board that makes you look good. Substance over looks, people.
As a beginner, you want a snowboard that helps you turn easily while keeping balanced over it, without requiring too much effort. A correctly sized snowboard will help you reduce the chances of losing 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 points to consider when 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 affect your riding? Selecting a snowboard on the longer side for you will help you achieve a more stable ride but it will require much more effort when it comes to initiation your turns. As a result, it will prove to be more difficult to successfully link your turns smoothly. On the other hand, a shorter board will help you turn a lot easier (great for beginners) but tends to be less stable at higher speeds and you will often experience more chattering – an undesirable vibration between your snowboard and the ice below. As such, selecting a snowboard properly sized for you is very important to achieve a stable ride that helps you turn effortlessly.
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 you feel your board chattering under your feet as you pick up speed or 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?
Check out the Bataleon Global Warmer Snowboard 2021
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, making you movements slow and sluggish. If the board is too narrow though, you will often unintentionally drag your toes (toe drag) or heel (heel drag) of your boot 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 or 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 you should look out for 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 and exploring different terrain, 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 softer boards are great for beginners to take onto the groomers (on-piste), as well as freestyle riders for 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 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 and into the terrain park.
Stiff flex boards (rating: 7-10):
We do not recommend these for beginners, stay away for now! Stiff snowboards are very stable at high speed and uneven, icy snow conditions but they require strong fundamentals and good technique to fully enjoy what the snowboard has to offer.
So camber or rocker?
The popular opinion in snowboarding is that a rocker profile for pure beginners will reduce your chance of catching an edge and this allows you to practice your C and S turns comfortably. While this makes it easier for you to progress at early stages of snowboarding, it is not absolutely necessary to start with a rocker profile. Many beginners progress very quickly once you are able to link your turns on green and red slopes, and you would quickly switch to a camber profile board to take your riding to the next level. Camber boards have more edge control, more responsiveness when turning and stability when going faster. These factors will improve your snowboarding tremendously.
So if you are looking for an absolutely smooth ride at the start of your riding journey, go for rocker profile snowboards with a flex rating of no more than 4/10. If you would like to stretch your dollar and start incorporating higher level turns in your progression, then look out for snowboards with beginner to low intermediate ratings and flex rating of not more than 5/10 to ensure that your snowboard will last you for the next 2 to 3 years.
PRO TIP: While it is tempting to get a snowboard decked out with the best graphics and technology, 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 leisure riders, only getting a few days a year on the mountains means you will be at the beginner & low intermediate stages for awhile – at least for your first 2 or 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 for a beginner snowboard, check out these great boards to start with.