How to Buy a Powder SnowboardPublished on 11/22/2023 · 11 min readSnowboard Expert Gaelen Mast explains what makes a powder board different than other types of snowboards and what to look for when shopping for a powder board!
Photo by Go Montgenevre
TL;DR: Powder snowboards are specialty snowboards designed to excel in fresh snow due to their unique shapes, stance, profile, and flex. They’re a great investment for the rider who enjoys powder and gets lots of fresh snow at the resorts they ride.
My name is Gaelen and I’m a Snowboard Expert at Curated. I’ve been snowboarding for 11 years and was an instructor for 3. I’ve helped over six thousand people on Curated find the right board for their needs. When it comes to powder, from charging through waist-deep snow in Alyeska, Alaska to weaving through trees and slashing hidden powder stashes at Mt. Hood in Oregon, I’m passionate about seeking out fresh fluffy light snow, aka pow, and bringing others into experiencing this joy!!
What Is a Powder Board?
To make the most of riding powder, every snowboarder should have a powder snowboard in their arsenal. A powder board is a snowboard that is specifically designed to excel in deeper snow (think 6+ inches), float on top of the powder, and maintain speed much better than other types of snowboards, such as freestyle or all-mountain boards. Powder boards are best suited for those deep days at the resort or in the backcountry and often contain many unique features that help them succeed at their job!
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of powder boards, what to consider when buying powder boards, key features of a powder board and how they work, and finally how to choose the best powder board for you! Let’s begin!
What to Consider When Buying a Powder Snowboard
Do I really need a powder board?
Deciding if you actually need a powder board is a great place to start. You should consider how often you actually ride powder, and how much powder you’re actually riding when you get those fresh snow days. Pure powder snowboards are considered specialty snowboards and are going to perform great in fresh snow but not so great in other conditions or on other terrain. Therefore, if the local ski resorts you ride don’t see much snowfall, you won’t get to take your powder board out too often. There are plenty of all-mountain/powder hybrids that can act as a daily driver board and also handle the occasional pow day. These hybrid boards might be considered a better option if you’re looking to have fun in powder but see little fresh snowfall in the winter.
However, if your local ski resort gets snow at least a few times a month, and especially if that snowfall is substantial (8+ inches at a time), then investing in a powder board that you only take out on these days should be considered!
How should I size myself for a powder snowboard?
Typically, it’s recommended to size up 3-6cm for your powder snowboard. This extra length provides the board with more surface area, which helps it float through fresh snow. However, this isn’t always the case, some powder boards are meant to be ridden the same as a rider’s typical board size. Some powder boards, such as volume-shifted options, which are extra wide, are even meant to be sized down 3-6cm. The best way to find the perfect powder board size for you is to check the sizing chart for individual board models, or to consult a Snowboard Expert here on Curated who can walk you through your sizing options.
Is a more expensive powder board, a better powder board?
The short answer is no. While the statement “you get what you pay for” is true for snowboard gear, it’s only true to an extent. While I don’t recommend trying to get a $200 snowboard off Amazon as it’ll almost certainly be sub-par, a $700 powder board isn’t necessarily better than a $600 powder snowboard. Oftentimes, more expensive powder snowboards will have certain specialized features, but these features aren’t always necessary for where you’re riding or how you ride. Doing your research or talking to a Snowboard Expert about what features you really need can help save you some money in choosing the best powder option for you.
Will I need to buy new bindings and boots for a powder board?
While you do not HAVE to purchase new bindings and boots, if you purchase a powder snowboard, you might be missing out on much of your new board’s potential if you’ve got the wrong boots and bindings. For a powder board, you’re going to want the most response and precision you can get while riding. Stiffer flexing bindings and boots are going to offer this extra response and precision, so it’s an important feature to consider. If your boots and bindings are considered soft flexing (classic of beginner or freestyle bindings and boots), you might want to consider upgrading to stiffer flexing gear to get the most out of your new powder snowboard!
Features to Look For in a Powder Snowboard
Below is a list of common features that powder snowboards contain, covering shape, stance, profile, and flex, as well as their benefits. While there is plenty of innovative powder-specific technology, I’ll just be covering the most important features to look for.
Many powder snowboards have unique-looking shapes that make them more practical for deep snow. They most typically have a directional shape, which means they’re best for riding in only one direction and aren’t easy to ride switch on. Some features that make these boards directional are often a larger nose and a shorter tail. A long and wide nose is quite common on powder boards as it helps them float above deeper snow (a longer and wider nose than your average snowboard that is). Additionally, shorter tails that are frequently in the shape of a swallow tail or crescent moon help the tail sink into the snow and channel the snow under the board, further boosting the nose above the snow.
- Long noses and short tails provide optimal float in deeper snow
- Uniquely shaped tails help keep the nose afloat and channel snow
- Powder board shapes make them best suited to ride in one direction only
Almost all powder boards have a setback stance, that is, the insert packs (where you mount the bindings) are moved several millimeters back. This setback stance helps you stay on your back leg when riding through very deep snow without much effort, eliminating the burning sensation in the back leg that often comes with riding powder.
- A setback stance helps riders stay on their back leg with minimal effort
- The riding experience will feel different than that of a twin-shaped snowboard
Every powder snowboard features a slightly different profile. They’re typically neither a full rocker profile nor a full traditional camber profile, rather they’re usually a hybrid. The two most common profiles for powder boards are either large sections of rocker in the nose with camber in the back, or rocker in both tips with camber in the middle, although there are exceptions to this rule.
- Rocker provides float in deep snow
- Camber offers stability and control
- Powder snowboards often use a hybrid of the two for maximum benefit
- Powder board profiles are specialized and may not be well-suited for other terrain
Powder snowboard flex patterns are all over the place. Some powder boards, such as the Jones Storm Wolf, are built with a very stiff flex, which offers stability and an aggressive ride, other powder boards, such as the CAPiTA Spring Break Slush Slasher, have a soft flex and offer a more playful and casual feel. Neither option is better than the other on its own, as flex is only one of the features in a powder board and must be considered in conjunction with all the other features in a powder board. Chat with a Snowboard Expert here on Curated for help with identifying the ideal combination of features in a board for your riding.
- A stiff flex offers maximum stability for fast riding and steep trails
- A soft flex offers playfulness for surfier riding and mellower trails
- Flex pattern on its own doesn’t determine how aggressive a snowboard will feel
- It’s important to get a properly sized board, or else the flex won’t work correctly
(if you’re over the weight range for the board, it’ll flex more than it’s intended to. If you’re under the weight range, it won’t flex as much as it’s intended to. Either way, the board won’t respond as it should).
Common Features of a Powder Snowboard
How to Choose the Right Powder Snowboard for You
Choosing the right powder board for you can be a tricky task. Now that you’ve got a better understanding of powder board specs, it’s time to consider your own riding style. Below I’ve described three riders who I’ve helped on Curated who represent three primary “rider personas” when it comes to shopping for a powder board. I’ve highlighted what they should look for based on their riding style and goals!
Jake: Jake is an aggressive rider who loves to go find the deepest powder he possibly can and ride as fast as possible right through it without stopping. He is shopping for a snowboard he would only need on true powder days and wants the best of the best regardless of price.
Features Jake should look for:
- A traditional powder snowboard with extra length for extra float in deep snow
- A board with a very large nose and short tail to help keep the nose afloat
- A board that is predominantly rocker with camber in the back for extra stability
- A large setback stance to help him stay on his back leg (20+ mm)
- A very stiff flex to provide maximum stability at speed
Lucy: Lucy likes to ride a decent amount of powder and wants to invest in a board that’s predominantly meant for powder days. However, the resorts she rides at don’t see a TON of snowfall and so she’s not concerned about riding super deep powder. She wants something nimble and playful that’s also fun on side hits and natural features.
Features Lucy should look for:
- A volume-shifted board that’s 3-6cm shorter than usual, it’ll be extra nimble
- A board with almost full rocker to provide playfulness and float
- A board with a moderate setback stance for when there is fresh snow (10+ mm)
- A soft/medium flex for a playful and forgiving feel on natural features
Todd: Todd isn’t quite committed to the powder life but his local resort gets a lot of it so he knows he needs something that can handle fresh snow when it comes his way. He’s still getting started in snowboarding and is not willing to buy a board just exclusively for powder. He wants medium versatility with an emphasis on riding powder when he can.
Features Todd should look for:
- An all-mountain/freeride powder board, which is more versatile than a true powder board
- A board that’s a directional twin, so he can ride switch but still do well in powder
- A board with a mix of rocker and camber, so it can handle all sorts of terrain
- A board with a medium flex to provide a blend of playfulness and stability
My Closing Thoughts on Powder Snowboards
To summarize, there’s a huge selection of powder boards on the market and every company has its own spin on them. While the overarching goal of a powder-specific snowboard is to be an absolute blast on snowy days, each one is going to ride a little differently and have its own unique pros and cons. In other words, just because a snowboard is labeled for use in powdery terrain, doesn’t automatically make it the best option for you as a rider, you’ve got to consider your own personal riding style, riding goals, and riding location to truly get the best experience from a powder board!
Luckily, this isn’t a task you have to take on alone. That’s because here on Curated, we’ve got hundreds of Snowboard Experts that can help you! All you have to do is fill out a quick survey that’ll get you connected with an Expert. From there they’ll ask you a couple of questions to get an even better picture of the perfect powder board for you. They then send you personalized recommendations for gear, all for free! You’re welcome to ask as many questions and the Expert will work with you to really hone in on the perfect powder board options based on your information, goals, and budget. Once you’ve found the perfect gear you can check out and purchase right from our site and have your order delivered right to your door with fast and free shipping (for orders over $49).
I myself specialize in snowboard gear and would love to help you find your next powder board or any other gear for that matter. Snowboards, bindings, and boots for any riding style are my specialty, so don’t hesitate to reach out and send me a message, I look forward to hearing from you!