Should You Buy Last Year's vs. This Year's Snowboard Model?

Trying to decide if you should buy last season's board on sale or wait for the new model that comes out this season? Read this guide before making your decision!

A snowboarder turns down a ski run.

Photo by Visit Almaty

It’s 11:30 p.m. on a chilly November day. Winter is just around the corner and that means it’s almost snowboard season. The only problem is, you don’t have the necessary snowboard gear to hit the slopes. You’ve found some gear you like but you haven’t pulled the trigger yet because you can’t decide on one crucial detail: which model year should I get?

This is a pretty common dilemma when shopping for snowboard gear and something I have certainly struggled with myself. The truth is, there’s no clear answer to this question as it’s somewhat subjective and is often based on individual needs and preferences. However, there are a few key things to consider, and we’re going to discuss in this article so that you can feel confident in your buying decision!

Price

Goggles, a phone, and some boots on a snowboard.

Photo by Adam Adams

If I'm being entirely honest here, price is one of the main things I consider when out shopping for something, and I bet the same can be said for many other people as well. As you may or may not know, snowboard gear can become very expensive and price can play a big role in what gear you decide to get. When it comes to a newer model year versus an older model year, the older model will almost always be cheaper. This is especially true for snowboards and generally the further back you go, the better of a deal you typically get. For example, I was interested in getting a Rome board and the price difference between the 2021 model year and the 2018 model year was over $100 with no major differences between the boards!

This is a super easy way to get yourself some high-quality gear that won't break the bank, but do be forewarned that it can be hard to find older model years for snowboard gear, and that you might have to do some digging through the internet to find one! With that being said, I personally think it makes total sense to go for an older model year that’s cheaper as long as it has the same key features/technology as the current model year. What do I mean by this? Read on.

Key Features

A man doing a jump on a snowboard.

Photo by Victor Rodvang

One of the most difficult parts about buying new snowboard gear is deciding what gear to actually get for yourself. There are just so many different options out there with different features and technologies! I bring this up because companies often update features in their products between model years, particularly with snowboards and snowboard boots. For example, companies may update the core or sidewall design on their snowboards between model years or the insole technology in boots between model years. It’s kind of like how car manufacturers will sometimes update the technologies within their cars between model years to create a better product.

Snowboard models can sometimes be the same year to year with just a change in a graphic. Oftentimes they can come in slightly different shapes, have different technology, or even come in different sizes (both length and width). If you’re deciding between two model years that have significantly different features, always make sure you go with the model that suits your needs best, even if it’s more expensive! The features of snowboard gear are the single most important factor to consider because you want gear that is going to suit your needs and work well for you. There’s no point in getting a snowboard that isn’t really what you want just to save a few dollars.

Warranties

A man doing a jump on a snowboard.

Photo by Alessandro Maculotti

Another consideration when deciding whether to buy the newest model or an older model is the potential for a warranty. Typically, only the newest model year will have a warranty. Personally, I’ve never paid much attention to warranties, but some brands have decent multi-year warranties which could save you if something were to happen to your gear. Just make sure to read the fine print because some of the warranties only cover certain things, and you could be out of luck if your board gets damage that is not covered by the brand warranty.

Another thing to consider is that warranties are typically (but not always) only offered by brands if you buy straight from their website or stores. If you buy through a third-party business, the warranty might not be valid. With that being said, some third-party businesses will have their own warranties on products they sell that can extend to all model years, not just the newest models. My point is that gear warranties are sometimes a gray area and you might have to do a little extra research to determine if the product you’re buying comes with a free warranty or if that warranty is even worth anything to you, and if this should play a role in your decision-making process.

Graphics / Colors

A snowboard sticking in the ground with a mountain visible in the background.

Photo by S Migajh

Even if a company doesn’t change the technology/features of snowboard gear from year-to-year, they’ll almost always update the graphic or colorway of their products. This is especially true for snowboards, as the top and bottom graphics are almost always changed from year to year of production. Now to be totally frank, I put very little emphasis on graphics when shopping for a snowboard or bindings because the features of the gear are much more important than how it looks (in my opinion). However, I don’t want to yuck someone’s yum, so if the graphic of one model year stands out to you much more than the graphic of another model year, this could certainly be a deciding factor. Again though, I would caution against prioritizing graphics/colors over features of a board/bindings. After all, you don’t want to end up with gear that looks awesome but isn’t meant for your riding style or ability level. The way I see it, at the end of the day your board and bindings are going to be covered in snow most of the time, and if you really don’t like how they look, that’s what stickers are for!

As for gear like coats, snow pants, helmets, and gloves, I think colors are a little bit more relevant to the decision process for what model year to get. Simply put, you want to look good and feel good when out on the mountain because the better you feel, the more fun you’re going to have! Of course, use common sense and don’t totally prioritize fashion over function! Even if you’re in love with the brightly colored thin coat, consider the more neutral-looking, thicker coat, because when you’re at the top of the mountain in 10-degree weather, you’re hardly going to care about how you look if you’re freezing!

A Word of Advice

A man snowboarding and spraying powder everywhere.

Photo by Mattias Olsson

Now reading through all this, you may have thought of a third option to buying snowboard gear: the used route. However, I want to give you a fair warning about doing this. Even if you find the exact model of the board you want for sale, it can be hard to know what you’re getting. It’s risky business to buy through a private seller because you just don’t know the exact condition of the gear. Sometimes there can be wear and tear or even damage that isn’t visible (for example, a crack in the core of a snowboard). While buying used is viable if you’re trying to save money, I would advise avoiding it if possible so you don’t end up with snowboard gear in poor condition.

If you’re feeling really stuck between a newer model or an older model snowboard, the Snowboard Expert on Curated can help you work through the process. I myself am one of those Experts and am happy to talk with you and help you decide on the perfect model gear for you based on your personal needs and desires. Send me a message and say hi!

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Heya! my name is Gaelen and I've been snowboarding for longer than I haven't! I was practically raised by the mountain resort industry, my mother and father were both full-time "snowboard bums" when I was young and so I've been around ski resorts since I was a kid! As soon as I was legally able to w...

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