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Don’t Buy Gear Before Asking Your Expert These 4 Questions

Published on 10/16/2023 · 7 min readWant to make the snowboarding gear your Curated Expert recommended is the right fit you? Ask these four questions before hitting that purchase button!
Gaelen Mast, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Gaelen Mast

Photo by Elena Rudakova

With a quick chat discussing your needs, wants, and any preferences you might have, our Snowboard Experts can use this information to recommend the best possible gear for you specifically. We pride ourselves in being able to tailor our recommendations to every rider’s unique shopping experience and snowboard journey. You can also use your one-on-one time with your expert as a learning experience to comprehend snowboard technology better.

We love chatting gear and providing recommendations, but we also want you to understand why we recommend the products we do. So here are four questions you can ask your expert before purchasing gear that will help you do just that!

Questions to Ask Your Snowboard Expert

1. What Type of Rider Am I?

Photo by Lukas Gojda

Knowing what type of snowboarder you are is perhaps the biggest question! Understanding this shapes what kinds of snowboards, bindings, and boots will be best for you.

There’s a common misconception that there’s a universally “best” snowboard for different price brackets, but this isn’t true. So many factors go into making a snowboard, from its shape to its profile to stiffness (flex), and there isn’t one snowboard to rule them all. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, so the goal is to find one with strengths that suit you and weaknesses that don’t bother you, which, of course, will entirely depend on what type of rider you are.

Still, this question is very subjective so each Curated Expert may approach it slightly differently. There are three main areas your expert might consider: your skill level, riding style, and terrain preferences.

Skill Level

A good rule of thumb is that if you’re only comfortable on green circle trails, you’re a beginner rider; if you’re comfortable on blue square trails, you’re an intermediate rider; and if you’re comfortable on black diamond trails, you’re an advanced rider. This is a very rudimentary and easiest way to think about it.

All snowboards come with an intended “skill level” rating, so understanding your skill level will help you and your Curated Expert choose a board that suits you wherever you are in your snowboard progression.

Riding Style

Just because two people can ride a blue square-level trail doesn’t mean they will thrive on the same board. After all, there are many ways to ride a blue square trail. For example, do you like to ride as fast as possible or make your way down the hill more casually? Do you like to dip into the trees or stick to wide-open trails? Do you like to hit little natural features and catch some air, or do you prefer to stay grounded?

How you ride a trail is just as important as what level of trail you’re riding. For example, a more conservative and casual rider will be better suited with a board that has a board with a rocker profile or hybrid camber profile, a softer flex, and maybe even a shorter board size for maneuverability. In contrast, someone who loves carving aggressively and charging down the mountain will want a cambered board, a stiffer flex, and maybe even a longer board for stability. Understanding your riding style will help you and your expert choose which type of profile, flex rating, and shape you might benefit most from.

Terrain Preferences

Boards also have an intended “terrain use” rating. Snowboards are typically classified as all-mountain boards, which are good at everything but not the best at anything; freestyle boards, which excel in the terrain park; freeride boards, which are boards that excel off-piste; and powder boards, which excel in fresh snow.

All these board types have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, freestyle boards are typically true twins, which means they are great for riding switch but terrible for float powder; however, this probably isn’t an issue for freestyle snowboarders as they spend their time in the terrain park, not in the backcountry looking for powder. The same case can be made for any type of snowboard, so understanding your terrain preferences will ensure you get a board that has strengths that suit you and weaknesses that won’t hinder you.

2. How Did You Determine This Was The Best Snowboard Size for Me?

Photo by Ljupco Smokovski

“Just find a board that’s about up to your chin.” This used to be the typical advice for choosing a board length, and it’s still a technique used in some shops today, but unfortunately, it’s an inaccurate one. Weight is now the most important factor for choosing a board. Each snowboard model comes with a specific weight range; the goal is to choose a board size that you fall within the weight range of. The catch here is that just because two boards are the same size, they won’t automatically have the same weight ranges, which is why your expert will tell you there is no “perfect size” for you, and their recommendations may have varying sizes.

In addition to board length, determining the proper board width can be just as important. If you have a large boot size, you need to choose a board that has a “waist width” (the term for how wide a board is at the narrowest point). If your board isn’t wide enough for you, the toe and/or heel of your boot can hang over the edge and result in the dreaded “toe rage” or “heel drag,” which is when your toes or heels catch the snow when you’re carving and cause you to lose control and wipe out. This is an unpleasant experience, but it can become downright dangerous if you ride at high speeds!

Understanding why a certain board length and width is ideal can give you the peace of mind that you’re getting the gear that suits your uniqueness best and can help you with future snowboard purchases.

3. How Should My Snowboard Boots Fit?

Photo by Irina Green

It’s normal to feel nervous about purchasing a boot online. The good news is that most brands design their boots to fit the same as standard sneaker sizing. You should ask your expert if the brand of boot you’re considering fits true to size or if the brand is known to run on the smaller or larger size.

Once you determine what you believe to be the right size for your new snowboard boots, all that is left is to order them. But let’s discuss how they should feel when you first put them on because knowing how a boot should fit right out of the box will help you determine if you should stick with the size you purchased or exchange it for a new size.

When you first put your new snowboard boots on, you should be able to feel your toes at the end of the boot; a little bit of pressure there is fine. The reason is that snowboard boots “pack out,” which means the inner liner gets bigger as you use them. This process typically takes 5-8 days of riding, and as they pack out, they’ll become more comfortable/feel like they fit better. If the boots fit perfectly as soon as you try them on (and your toes aren’t touching the end), they will be too big for you once they pack out, causing you not to have optimal board control and making it harder to ride.

Additionally, once the boot is fully tightened down, your heel should feel snug. If it’s lifting significantly (more than an inch), the boot is too big and will become even bigger once it packs out.

4. How Can I Make My New Gear Last As Long As Possible?

Photo by Dmytro Vietrov

You’re about to make a big investment monetarily and into your snowboarding journey, so it’s only natural to want your new gear to last as long as possible. Bindings and boots don’t require any upkeep; however, your snowboard will fare best if it receives maintenance such as edge sharpening and waxing. Every board should receive both of these treatments. Still, your expert can help you determine how frequently you should sharpen and wax your board, as your riding style and frequency will determine how often the edges need to be sharpened. The type of base on your snowboard (either an extruded base or a sintered base) will determine how frequently it needs to be waxed.

How to Find the Ideal Gear for You

Photo by Oleksandr Rzhanitsyn

Our experts aim to determine what gear you need and provide recommendations that fit you. We welcome you to use any/all of the questions above and ask even more of your own to ensure you are truly getting the best gear for you. After all, we’re all about meeting you whenever you’re at! Contact one of our Snowboard Experts for free, personalized advice today.

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