An Expert Guide to Women's SnowboardsPublished on 07/18/2023 · 17 min readCarve your own path with our expert guide to women's snowboards. Find the perfect board that matches your style and skill level, and conquer the slopes with confidence.
Photo by Tiplyashina Evgeniya
TL;DR: Whether you’ve finally built up the courage to hit the slopes or you’re a long-time pro looking for a sweet, new ride, there are a lot of things to consider as a woman looking to buy a new snowboard. Do an honest examination of your skill level, preferred terrain, and riding style to begin narrowing down the choices. The board's length, width, and flex should match your height, weight, and aggressiveness. There are also many designs of snowboards out there, so you’ll need to choose between camber, rocker, or hybrid profiles, and of course make sure your bindings fit well on the board.
I learned to ski when I was five, and I made the switch to snowboarding when I was 12. Ever since then, I have spent every winter hitting the slopes. Getting to demo countless brands and designs of snowboards has been an amazing experience—feeling the difference underfoot of all the minute details of a board gives me incredible respect for the engineers designing them. I am passionate about the sport, as well as helping others get into the right gear to get out and play.
What Exactly are Women’s Snowboards?
A women's snowboard is exactly what you think: a board that is specifically designed and tweaked to be a better fit for women. Unlike unisex or men's snowboards, women-specific boards are typically shorter, narrower, and lighter to accommodate the average physique of women. They often, but not always, have a softer flex to match the generally lighter weight of women, allowing for easier control and maneuverability. They also usually have unique colorways not found in the other models. Of course, they still come in different styles suited for various terrains, from park and freestyle to all-mountain and freeride.
What to Consider When Buying Women’s Snowboards
1. What’s Your Snowboarding Skill Level?
This question is vital because different boards are designed for varying skill levels. As a beginner, you'll likely need a softer, more forgiving board that's easier to control and less likely to catch edges. Intermediate to advanced riders might want stiffer boards for better precision and control at higher speeds.
2. What’s Your Preferred Riding Style and Terrain?
Your riding style influences the type of board you need. Freestyle boards are perfect for tricks and jumps, all-mountain boards are good for diverse terrains, and freeride boards work with off-piste and deep snow. If you love cruising groomed runs or carving, consider an all-mountain board. If you're a park rider, a freestyle board will be your best bet. For ungroomed snow or backcountry, a freeride board would be ideal.
3. What's Your Height and Weight?
Selecting the correct snowboard size is essential for optimal performance and control. Your height and weight affect the board length and width you should choose. A correctly sized board ensures better control and balance. Shorter boards are easier to maneuver, while longer boards provide more stability at higher speeds. Always remember that some boards are designed to be ridden shorter or longer than average, based on their profile.
4. What Type of Snowboard Profile Do You Prefer?
The snowboard's profile—whether camber, rocker, or hybrid—will affect how it behaves. Do you like to make smooth, sweeping turns, or do you prefer quick, sharp ones? This will determine the shape and profile of the board you need. Camber is good for control at high speeds, rocker for flotation in powder, and hybrid combines both advantages.
5. Are Your Boots and Bindings Compatible with the Snowboard?
This ensures your board, bindings, and boots work seamlessly together for optimum safety and performance. The bindings should match your boot size and the board's width.
6. How Much Should a Women's Snowboard Cost?
Snowboards can range from around $300 to over $800. At the lower end of the spectrum, you'll find basic models suitable for beginners. Beginner boards are generally cheaper (around $300 to $400) and are built for easier handling. Mid-range boards ($400-$600), suited typically for intermediate riders, offer more durability and improved technology for better performance. High-end boards ($600+) are typically lightweight, even more durable, incorporate the latest design innovations, and have highest quality materials; these are aimed at advanced riders hitting the slopes hard. Looking at your present skill level versus your riding goals can help you make a good choice, but always remember that it's not always necessary to buy the most expensive board. Look for a balance between cost and features that suit your needs.
What Are the Different Types of Women’s Snowboards?
The types of women’s snowboards are the same categories as those designed for men. As with all snowboards, each type of board is engineered for different snowboarding terrains, styles, and rider preferences. Each type of snowboard also has benefits and downsides based on its design and intended use. Let’s unpack them one by one:
1. All-Mountain Snowboards
All-mountain snowboards are the most versatile and are designed to handle any terrain or conditions. They're ideal for riders who enjoy exploring everything a mountain offers, from groomed runs and moguls, to powder and even park laps. All-mountain boards often have a directional shape (meaning the tip is distinct from the tail), but are designed to move well in both directions. These are the best boards if you’re only going to own one board and like to dabble in all types of riding.
- Versatile for all terrains and conditions
- Good for anyone: beginners to advanced riders
Keep in Mind
- Although versatile, they might not excel in any single area like specialized boards do
2. Freestyle Snowboards
Freestyle snowboards are lighter, shorter, and more maneuverable, perfect for riders who love terrain parks, half-pipes, and doing tricks on natural features. They typically have a true twin shape, meaning they're identical at the front and back, making it easy to ride in both directions. Their softer flex also allows for easier trick execution.
- High maneuverability
- Designed for tricks
- Ideal for terrain park and half-pipe riding
Keep in Mind
- Not ideal for high-speed riding or steep, challenging terrain
- Might lack flotation in powder
3. Freeride Snowboards
Freeride snowboards are designed for off-piste and backcountry riders who prefer steep, deep, and ungroomed snow. They typically have a stiffer flex for stability at high speeds and a directional shape for better control. Many freeride boards also have a wider nose and a tapered, narrower tail, which helps the board float in deep snow.
- Excellent flotation in deep snow
- Built for steep and challenging terrain
- High stability
- The design allows for excellent carving on groomed slopes
Keep in Mind
- Not usually suitable for park riding
- Less agile due to their stiffer construction and length
- May not be beginner-friendly due to their aggressive nature
4. Powder Snowboards
Powder snowboards, as the name suggests, are specifically designed for powder conditions. They usually feature wider noses and narrower tails to improve flotation and turning in powder. Some powder boards also have a swallowtail design to further improve float and maneuverability in deep snow.
- Superior floatation in deep snow
- Smooth turning in powder
Keep in Mind
- Not usually ideal for groomed runs
- Not great for park riding or icy conditions
Splitboards are designed for backcountry exploration and uphill climbs. They can be split into two separate skis for ascending slopes with climbing skins. Once at the top, you can reconnect the two halves to form a snowboard for descending. This versatility makes them popular among riders who venture beyond resort boundaries. Only check out splitboards if you’re ready to get away from the lifts and huff and puff going up!
- Enables uphill climbing
- Allows access to untouched powder and terrain
- Versatile for ascent and descent
Keep in mind
- Higher cost
- Requires additional equipment (skins and bindings)
- Transitioning the board from split to snowboard mode can take time
- Requires more effort and knowledge to use
6. Park/Jib Snowboards
Park/Jib snowboards are a subset of freestyle boards, designed for riders who spend most of their time in the terrain park hitting rails, boxes, and smaller jumps. They have a true twin shape, and they are usually softer and shorter than all-mountain boards, for maximum maneuverability and trick capability
- Perfect for tricks, slides, and jumps
- More forgiving when landing due to their softer flex
- Durable to withstand impacts
Keep in mind
- Not designed for high-speed carving or deep powder
- Softer flex may lack stability at higher speeds
Features to Look for When Buying Women’s Snowboards
When buying any snowboard, I recommend starting with a few general features and going from there. This will make sure that you get a board that is properly sized and will provide the best performance possible on the terrain you ride the most. These general features are:
- Base material
To read more on these features and more general information on how to choose the best snowboard for you, check out this article.
For women, it’s also worth considering whether the board’s features and technologies have been guided by women-specific engineering. Many snowboard manufacturers have developed snowboards to better suit women’s average weight, height, and muscle distribution. These boards are typically lighter, have a narrower waist width, and a softer flex than men's boards. Here are some examples of these specialized features:
- Narrower Width: Women's snowboards are usually narrower compared to men's boards. This design caters to the generally smaller foot size of women, allowing for more efficient and responsive edge transitions.
- Shorter Length: Generally women are shorter than men, so most of the women’s snowboards out there will be sized down in comparison. This makes the board easier to ride and more maneuverable for a shorter person.
- Softer Flex: Women-specific snowboards sometimes have a slightly softer flex to account for a lighter weight person with less muscle mass. Generally speaking, however, you’ll still want to choose your flex based on your ability level and the terrain you like.
- Aesthetic Design: While not impacting performance, most women's snowboards will come in different colorways and feature different graphics than the men’s boards.
These features are just a guideline—if the board fits, use it! It’s still recommended to choose your gear based on your personal preferences, style, and size, rather than sticking strictly to gender labels.
Features to Avoid in Women’s Snowboards
While many features in women-specific snowboards can make the board easier to ride, there are a few things to watch out for when making your choice:
- Overly Soft Flex: While a softer flex can help beginners with maneuverability and control, a board that's too soft may lack the stability and responsiveness you need, especially at high speeds or on more challenging terrain.
- Gendered Marketing: Don’t feel obligated to purchase a women’s board. Just because a board is labeled as "women's" does not necessarily mean it's the best choice for you. Focus on the board's features and how well they align with your needs and skills—and buy what you like!
- Incorrect Size: Even if a board is labeled for women, it may not be the right size for you specifically. Avoid boards that do not fit your height, weight, and shoe size, as this will greatly impact your control and stability on the slopes.
- Low-Quality Materials: Cheaper snowboards are often made with lower-quality woods, often lack carbon stringers, and sometimes don’t have a metal edge, which can result in chips and scratches. Cheaper base materials might be used as well, which will make it glide slower than other boards and scratch easier. The board's durability and lifespan could be shortened because of this, so make sure you know what you’re buying. Look for boards with strong cores (typically made of wood or bamboo) and high-quality base and topsheet materials.
How to Choose the Right Women’s Snowboard for You
Let’s check out three different examples of some ladies who are looking to buy a new snowboard, and the thought processes that might go into their final decision.
Needs: Mary is a beginner rider who’s just getting started this upcoming winter. She’s pretty athletic and a surfer, so she thinks she’ll pick up the sport quickly, but is still unsure if she’ll love being out in the cold all day. She is 5’2” and 110 lbs. She wants a durable board that won’t break the bank and will be pretty forgiving to learn on, but that she won’t need to replace next year if she ends up loving the sport.
Features to look for: Mary will definitely need to look at the flex of the board, as she will want something a bit softer and forgiving to enjoy her time learning. She will also want to look at the camber profile—a full camber board could easily cause a beginner to catch an edge and fall more than necessary. She will want to make sure the board fits her too, being 5’2” and 110 lbs, looking in the mid-140 cm range for sizing should fit her well.
Snowboards to consider:
- Arbor Ethos: This is a great all-mountain board for beginners to learn on. It is a full rocker profile, which will be the least catchy as she learns to make turns, but it has Grip Tech to hold an edge when she needs it. It’s a soft flexing board that will be forgiving and fun to learn on, and the board comes in small sizes that will fit Mary well. The downside could be that, as she continues to progress, she may want some camber in her board to hold up at faster speeds.
- Salomon Lotus: This is a directional twin all-mountain board. It is flat underfoot with rocker at the tip and tail. This still provides a forgiving ride that isn’t too catchy for learning, but isn’t full rocker. This is a soft flexing board that has an extruded base that requires little maintenance, compared to a sintered base which Mary would need to wax much more regularly.
- YES. Basic: This is a true twin design that can be ridden in either direction equally. This board is slightly stiffer than the other two mentioned, and leans a bit more freestyle in its design, so as Mary progresses, she may want to keep this board for her park days. It has camber underfoot and rocker at the tip and tail, making it a little less forgiving to learn on, but very stable as she progresses into being an intermediate rider. If Mary thinks she will progress fast and plans to ride a lot, this could be a great choice at a good price point. It also comes in plenty of sizes to suit her frame.
Needs: Willow is a solid intermediate to advanced rider who is extremely focused on park riding. While she loves hitting the occasional box or rail, she really likes bombing the slopes to the bigger jumps. She rides a lot with her friends as well, cruising groomers and racing down the steep slopes. She is looking for an all-mountain freestyle board that provides good edge control and a stable landing for when she goes big.
Features to look for: Willow probably wants some camber underfoot to hold an edge when bombing the slopes. While she loves the park, if she’s going big, she wants enough stiffness to give her pop and provide a stable landing. A medium flex would be perfect so she can still do boxes and rails, but has the confidence to fly. Going with a women’s park board should give her all of that, but in a lighter weight package than many freestyle men's boards out there.
Snowboards to consider:
- YES. Rival: This is one of the top women’s freestyle boards out there right now, developed to go big by snowboarder Juliette Pelchat. It’s a full camber board for insane pop, has a medium to stiff flex rating for super solid lead-ups and landings to the jumps, and has MidBite in its edges for tons of edge hold. This might not be Willow’s first choice if she is wanting to do more boxes and rails, but for throwing down the big airs and bombing groomers, this will be a blast.
- Salomon Abstract: This is the board of choice for Salomon pro-rider Desiree Melancon. This board combines freestyle riding with an artistic flair for a one-of-a-kind model. With rocker at the tip and tail, and a flat/camber base, this board is forgiving in all the right places. It has medium flex, perfect for a mix of halfpipe riding, going big, and bombing groomers, coupled with plenty of skill on the rails and boxes. This board can really do it all—if Willow wants more of a unisex option that can be a one-board quiver, this might be it.
- GNU Ladies Choice C2X: This true twin board ridden by none other than Jamie Anderson has proven itself as one of the top ladies' freestyle boards over the years. This unique board not only features an asymmetrical design, but also has some rocker in between the feet, with camber on the outside to provide a playful and fun vibe. Its medium flex is perfect for riding all parts of the park, and the asymmetrical design makes it easier to turn heelside, which Willow might find helpful if she’s throwing down spins in the park. The lack of camber directly underfoot might make it the least stable at high speeds on groomers of this list, but it still has a lot of perks and comes in plenty of smaller sizes.
Needs: Jane has been snowboarding for a long time. She’s in the market for an upgrade and wants a board that can go off-piste, as well as on. She likes to go fast and drop steep bowls, but also enjoys flying through trees. Sometimes she even ventures into side-country runs that are completely ungroomed and often full of powder. She occasionally hits the groomers with friends, so she wants something with awesome edge hold, too.
Features to look for: Jane will want to look at a directional board that has a fairly stiff profile to help her stay stable at high speeds. She will want some sort of edge tech to grip into groomers, and a nose that provides good float in powder.
Snowboards to consider:
- Jones Flagship: Jones modified their classic Flagship into sizing that accommodates women with this model. This board is fairly stiff and has a beveled nose for great float in powder. It has an average sidecut radius, so it will do good at both tight turns for trees and larger swooping carves in steep bowls. Jones’ edge tech will also help Jane hold an edge on groomers. The setback option combined with the blunt nose makes this board a great all-around choice for powder and speed.
- GNU Barrett: Ridden by Barrett Christy, this board likes to bomb. It has carbon in its core, so it’s a very stiff board that can maintain stability at high speeds. If Jane is focused on speed and wide-open bowls, this could be a great match. GNU also uses Magne-Traction for great edge control, even on icy days. However, the 8+ meter sidecut radius might not be the easiest to make tight turns, so if Jane rides in a lot of tight trees, she may not love this board.
- Capita Equalizer: This board, ridden by Jess Kimura, isn’t quite as stiff as the other two on this list. The medium flex will be a bit more forgiving and playful, though. While still being an advanced freeride board, if Jane likes to couple her aggressive riding with a few jumps and windlips here and there, this board would accommodate her. It also has smaller sizes available than the other two, if Jane is on the shorter side.
Next Steps for Choosing A Women’s Snowboard
The “best” board for one person is rarely the “best” board in general. Ultimately, it’s important to look at your ability, style, and terrain preferences to get the perfect match for you! The Snowboarding Experts here at Curated are ready to help you narrow down your perfect ride, so please reach out to me or any of the other Real Experts for help with your next purchase!