Great Value: The 6 Best Budget SnowboardsPublished on 06/13/2023 · 7 min readShred the slopes without breaking the bank with the 6 best budget snowboards. Enjoy great value without compromising on performance and fun!
Photo by Azbotaa
Hello! My name is Gaelen, and over the past 11 years, I’ve dedicated my winters to snowboarding. I’ve been able to snowboard 50+ days yearly in locations such as Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. During this time, I’ve tested many different snowboards and have gained extensive knowledge about snowboard technology. I’ve also been lucky enough to share this knowledge with thousands of customers online at Curated.
Time and time again, I’ve encountered customers searching for budget-friendly snowboards, and I don’t blame them. Snowboarding can be expensive! However, when you’re looking for snowboards at lower price points, things can get tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want something that’s going to empty your wallet, but on the other hand, you definitely don’t want to waste your money on the cheapest board as it likely won’t work well at all. That’s why today I’m going to cover what I believe to be three budget snowboards for men and women riders that offer the best value for the price.
What Makes a Good Budget Snowboard?
Snowboard prices can be all over the place depending on the brand and specific model, but many companies will offer an entry-level (the cheapest option) snowboard in the $400-$450 range. However, a good budget board is much more than just a low price tag, though. It also has to be a snowboard with solid durability and versatility, making it a good investment over multiple seasons and for a variety of terrain.
With that said, the boards I’m going to cover are still entry-level boards from these companies, so they’re most appropriate for a beginner/intermediate ability level. If you’re a more experienced rider, these boards may not suit you, and you should check out this list of the best all-mountain boards. However, without further ado, the top six budget snowboards for men and women riders:
Nitro Prime Raw (Men’s) / Nitro Lectra (Women’s)
The Prime Raw and the Lectra are the same. They contain all the same technology and are essentially the same exact board except for different graphics and the Lectra being made in smaller sizes specifically for women riders. These boards are very approachable for the beginner or even the brand-new snowboarder but also suitable for casual intermediate riders. While they’re not going to be the best at freestyle or powder or any other specific type of terrain, they’re a great budget choice for green circle and blue square resort riding.
Both boards have a partial rocker profile (sometimes called reverse camber), with the rocker extending from the tips to the binding inserts and then a flat section between the bindings. This hybrid profile goes by many names, but what’s important is that it’s well-known to be very forgiving. Riders using this board are less likely to catch an edge and fall.
This is great for beginner riders as it builds confidence, but as I mentioned, this isn’t a “beginner-only” snowboard. That’s because this board also has a directional shape and medium flex. The directional shape will allow more experienced riders to explore terrain other than just groomers, and they’ll get a decent float in powder while doing so. These are by no means pow boards, but they will do better than your average true twin shape snowboard. The medium flex also will provide more stability and edge hold than other boards like the Nidecker Play/Elle, which we’ll cover next!
- Long-term investment: good for beginner and intermediate riders
- Off-piste friendly due to directional shape
- Not the best for switch riding due to the directional shape
- Not a hard-charging board meant for extreme terrain
Nidecker Play (Men’s) / Nidecker Elle (Women’s)
Much like how the Nitro Prime Raw and Nitro Lectra were the same board targeted at two audiences (men and women riders), the same is true for the Nidecker Play and the Nidecker Elle. These boards also contain a rocker-to-flat profile, just like the Nitro boards, but that is where the similarities end. These boards are softer flexing than the Nitro boards and have a directional twin shape instead of a directional shape.
This means that the Nidecker Play and Nidecker Elle cater more towards the beginner crowd who mainly stick to groomers and don’t need a versatile ride. The forgiving flex means that the board is incredibly forgiving for lower-speed riding, but it will experience a lot of chatter (vibration) at higher speeds. For this reason, I’d only recommend this to riders who spend most of their time on green circle trails and are still cautious and slow on blue square trails. Riding switch on this board will be easier than the Nitro boards as a directional twin is quite easy to ride in either direction, and riders may not even notice the asymmetry of the deck.
The Nidecker Play/Elle is also a fun board for beginner/intermediate riders interested in freestyle riding. The soft flex means that butters (pressing your snowboard) will be a breeze, and while it may not be a super poppy board (boards with a camber profile will have the most pop), it would still be decent for doing basic tricks in the park.
- Beginner-oriented due to profile and soft flex
- Decently easy to practice switch riding due to the directional twin shape
- Good entry-level option to freestyle riding
- Not a good option for any type of high-speed riding
- Will not feel stable on terrain other than groomers
Salomon Pulse (Men’s) / Salomon Lotus (Women’s)
The fact that the Salomon Pulse and Salomon Lotus are essentially the same boards packaged with different graphics and size offerings for men and women riders should come as no surprise if you've followed the theme of this article. In fact, these boards are quite similar to the other boards on this list in many ways; they also have a rocker-to-flat profile and feature a soft flex with a directional twin shape. On paper, they have the same tech as the Nidecker Play and Nidecker Elle; however, there are a few key differences here. Firstly, Salomon is a well-known brand with a reputation for producing professional quality snowboards for all levels of riders. I would argue that they’re more well-known than either Nidecker or Nitro, and their reputation exists for a reason.
Secondly, while the Salomon Pulse and Lotus are designed for beginners (and can be used for low-level freestyle) just like the Nidecker boards, they also include “bite-free edges,” which are detuned edges that come straight from the factory, something the Nidecker boards don’t have. This makes these boards even less likely to catch on the snow by accident, resulting in less time on the ground and more progression. It should be noted, though, that these detuned edges won’t grip the snow nearly as well, so this is the least suitable board on the list for advanced riders as it won’t hold an edge well at speed.
Thirdly, the Salomon Pulse is produced in several “wide” sizes. These are special sizes of the boards that have more width than the other sizes (denoted with a “W” next to the size) and are more accommodating to riders with larger boots. Strengths:
- Most beginner-friendly boards on this list due to “bite-free edges”
- Easy to learn and practice switch riding on
- Decent option for entry-level park riding
- Unstable and uncontrollable at high speeds
- Not a good option for deep snow
- Easy to progress out of
Choosing the Right Budget Snowboard for You!
Although this article exists to give you a starting place for your budget board research, this doesn’t have to be the end. That’s because here at Curated, you can connect with one of my fellow Snowboarding Gear Experts or me for free. You can message back and forth until you find the best board. We can answer snowboard gear-related questions and send you recommendations; the whole process takes just a few minutes. It’s the easiest and most efficient way to prepare for your next snowboarding adventure!