How to buy a Snowboard

So you are looking for your first snowboard; whether it is your first board or the 5th one in your quiver, nothing is quite has the same combination of excitement and being overwhelmed. There are so many choices out there, how do you know what boards will work for you? This blog entry is designed to make the decision process a little less over whelming and to just add to the excitement of your purchase.

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself when selecting a snowboard; what size boots/shoes do I wear, how much do I weigh, and what kind of riding do I want to do. Answer each one of these honestly and you are on your way to choosing the perfect board.

Snowboard Width

The first question to ask yourself is, “What size boots (or shoes) do I wear?” I understand that this may sound like putting the cart before the horse but there is nothing worse than getting totally stoked on a particular board, only to find out that it doesn’t come in a wide model. Most companies target their wide boards for riders whose feet are a size 11 or larger. Some boards are consider mid-wides and they are designed for that tweener 10-11 ½ rider (usually in freeride snowboards). Mid-wides are not quite narrow waisted and not quite a wide board.

If you get on a board that is too narrow (a size 12 on a narrow board), what happens is you get a lot of toe and heel drag. This will hinder the performance of the board, handicap the rider, and make for some pretty wicked spills.

If you get on a board that is too wide (a size 9 on a wide board), the board becomes too stable of a platform and causes the rider to have to over commit to get the board up on edge. Think of an ice skate tipping from one edge to the other, compared to if your shoes were nailed to a 3′ wide piece of plywood. To get the plywood to go up on its side, you would have to lean way over (using a lot more energy) before the opposite edge would come off of the ground, meanwhile it is almost effortless on the ice skate.

Snowboard Size

The second question is, “How much do I weigh?” This is a pretty simple and straight forward question that will get in the “size range.” Remember a board can only feel how much you weigh and not how tall you are (there are exceptions to this rule; short heavy guys and tall skinny guys). Every model of every brand will have a weight range for each size board (an generic size chart can be found here). For example, I weigh 160lbs. (size 8 boot) and I am looking at getting the new Burton Custom V-Rocker, the size chart tells me that I can ride the 151, 154, 156, 159, and 163…that is every size! How did that help? That is when we move on to the next question…

Style of Snowboard

Answering, “What kind/type of riding do I do?” will help you narrow down the board/brand’s size range. If the park is where you ride size down and fit yourself to the top of the weight range (151 or 154 Custom V-Rocker). If you are looking to do it all and kick it freestyle/all-mountain, stay in the middle of the weight range (156 or 159 Custom V-Rocker). Or if you are wanting to slaysh some big mountainy/freeride lines and have that extra float in the fresh, stay to the lower end of the weight range (163 Custom V-Rocker).

This is the hardest question to answer because of the “gray” areas, just remember: shorter equals less swing weight/more control at park speeds and longer equals more stability at speed/more float in powder.

Along with where you ride, the other factors that will help determine the size board that you get into will be is; board stiffness, level of riding, and height/weight anomalies. A stiffer board will handle speed better but it tougher to turn and manipulate at slow speeds and therefore can sometimes be ridden shorter. Novice riders can always benefit from having less swing weight or edge hold, a shorter board will help them learn board feel and turning. If you are tall and thin, you may consider sizing up just to balance out the amount of leverage that you will have on the board. Conversely if you are shorter and heavier, you may want to size down a touch so that the board is not too long and too hard to control.

Choosing the Right Length for Your Snowboard

Snowboards shouldn’t be picked on cool graphics alone. Choosing the right size snowboard is often the difference between flying down the mountain and falling down the mountain. Among the many factors that should be considered when purchasing a snowboard is your weight.

The length of the snowboard is the most important factor when it comes to shopping for snowboards. In general terms, the heavier the rider, the longer the board needs to be. This is because heavy riders invariably apply more board pressure during turns. The added length provides the additional support that these boarders need. If a heavy rider buys a board that is too short, he or she will run the risk of washing out during turns.

Lighter riders require shorter boards because they are easier to maneuver. A board that is too long will be difficult for light riders to turn. For similar reasons, lightweight boarders should look to purchase a more flexible board as well. In contrast, a stiffer snowboard offers the additional strength required for heavier riders.

So what exactly is too long for a light rider and too short for a heavy rider? If you are of average weight for your height, a general rule of thumb is that the snowboard should reach between your chin and nose when stood on its end. If you are heavyset, you’ll want the board to extend above the nose. Lighter riders will likely feel more comfortable on a board that reaches between the chin and collar bone.

To assist in the buying process, many manufacturers include height and weight recommendations for each snowboard they produce. Adult snowboards range in size from approximately 140 cm to 168 cm. Here is a general recommendation for size based on weight:

Snowboard Sizing Chart

Remember these are just guidelines and other factors such as riding style and skill level will also play a factor when picking the right snowboard. Check out our boards from Burton, Flow, Forum, K2, Nitro, and Ride.  If you are unclear on which board is right for you, feel free to give us a call at 866-786-3869.