How to Buy a Beginner Snowboard
Snowboard expert Brit Bruhn shares the most important things to look for when shopping for your first snowboard.
Learning to snowboard is one of the most rewarding and stressful feelings out there. Being a beginner at any sport can be daunting but once you strap into your snowboard for the first time, that feeling of excitement kicks in. Walking into a snowboard shop or even just browsing online can be overwhelming since there are many different snowboards with different profiles out there. Don’t worry, I am here to help!
Shopping for a beginner snowboard should be fun, not overwhelming and if you check this guide out, I am sure you will feel more relieved when shopping around and hopefully get the best beginner board for yourself. You can also always get connected with an expert like me here on Curated and we will be sure to get you set up with the best possible snowboard.
In this article, I am going to talk about the most important things to look for when shopping for your first snowboard. When you are learning a new sport, you want to make sure you have the best gear possible for your ability level and I am here to help. Let’s dive on in!
1. Camber Profiles
First and foremost with a beginner board you are going to want to look for a board that has a profile that says Flat to Rocker, Hybrid Camber (don’t want too much camber), or Hybrid Rocker. These profiles are going to provide more stability, ease of turn initiation, and catch-free edges to help you start linking those turns.
Now, let’s break down each of these profiles to help you understand what these camber profiles even mean:
- Hybrid Camber Profiles: This type of profile is going to have rocker between the feet with camber sections under the foot extending from the rider’s feet towards the board's contact points. This is going to help bring back stability that is lost when you have a pure rocker board.
- Flat to Rocker Profiles: This type of profile is going to have rocker sections before the contact points. It has a flat section underfoot, which will make it stable and give you a catch-free ride and help with initiating turns.
- Hybrid Rocker Profile: This type of profile will have camber towards the tip and tail, which will help with the pop you get from an all-camber board. You’ll have rocker between the feet, which will give it a looser feel and help with keeping it float above the snow. This profile also allows for easier turn initiation.
When looking at snowboards and reading the descriptions about each of them you will notice that not all Hybrid Cambers are the same. I know, very tricky. If a snowboard has mostly camber or has aggressive camber, it will not be great for a beginner. The same goes with Hybrid Rocker profiles. These boards have camber sections that give it decent stability, but it will have rocker beneath the feet, which can give it a looser feel and some riders don’t like that.
There are two profiles I would completely avoid for a beginner, and those would be completely flat profiles and also Traditional Camber Profiles. These boards won’t have catch-free edges and will be harder to learn on and link turns.
2. Flex Rating for a Snowboard
Another important factor when looking at beginner boards is the flex. When you are a beginner snowboarder, you are going to want to look for a softer to medium flex. Most snowboards will have a scale that is 1-10 with 10 being the stiffest. I would say beginners should stay under 4 when looking at the flex scale. The reason for this is when you have a softer flex, it will be easier to maneuver the board and will also be better while linking turns at slower speeds.
- Soft Flex (1-3): A soft flex board is going to be great for beginners! This type of flex is also great for park riders and will be super fun to ride and play around on. This type of flex is not going to be great at high speeds or icy conditions.
- Medium Flex (4-6): This flex rating is also great for beginners and intermediate riders. This level of flex is going to be great for when you start progressing and want to pick up more speed. This level of flex is also great for more park riders who also want a board that can handle more than just park riding.
- Siff Flex (7-10): Beginners stay away from this level of flex! This level of flex is great for having stability at high speeds for more advanced riders.
3. Size of the Snowboard
Most people don’t think the size of a snowboard is a huge deal, but they are wrong. The size of a snowboard is very important. Even if you get the right flex and profile for your skill level, but get the wrong size, you could be in trouble. Having too big of a snowboard can cause issues with turning, maneuvering, and just delay the process of learning. Having a board that is too short can cause you to lose stability, which is also a no-go while learning.
If you are looking for a board at a shop you should look for a snowboard that is between your chin and nose. If you happen to be browsing online for a snowboard, there are great resources to check what size snowboard is good for your height and weight.
Another great tip for beginners is that it's always good to size down about 3cm from a “standard all-mountain” length.
4. Why Buy a Beginner Board
Since I began as an expert with Curated, I have found that most customers want a longer board so they can “grow into it,” or they know they will pick it up after a few tries. So why not just get a more advanced board? This might sound great but learning on a board that is not suited for beginners might make you quit pretty early. A more advanced board is not designed for learning on or having the ease of turning. Getting a board that is longer will do the same thing, it will make it tougher and who wants to make things tougher than it has to be, not me!
When you are shopping around, all boards will have a recommended ability level and you should follow that. I would recommend looking at snowboards that say, “beginner” or “beginner to intermediate” snowboard.
Also if you do pick up snowboarding really fast and realize you need a new snowboard that same season, you can sell your beginner board! Most likely the board will be in great shape and you can sell it to a friend who wants to learn. Beginner boards are pretty easy to resell since they don’t get banged up nearly as much as the more advanced boards do.
5. What is a Good Price Range for a Beginner Board?
As a beginner in any sport, you might find that you don’t even like the sport once you start. You don’t want to drop a fortune on something you don’t know if you will love. Luckily for you beginners, beginner boards are usually on the less expensive end and you can hopefully resell when you are done using it. From my experience working with Curated and being a snowboarder for a long time now, most beginner boards will run about $300 - $450 (USD). Another great option for beginner boards is checking out second-hand shops. Also, look around on your local classifieds. If you don’t live in a ski town those options might be tough but still worth a shot.
6. Shape of the Snowboard
The shape of the snowboard is not the most important factor, but being a beginner, I would recommend a True Twin Shape. This means the snowboard is perfectly symmetrical. A True Twin is great for learning because you can set your stance upright in the center and have great balance.
- True Twin: A True Twin shape is a board that is symmetrical. Meaning everything is going to be the same. You could cut this board in half and both halves would be the same, same flex and everything.
- Directional: A directional shape board will have a set back stance and a slightly longer nose than tail. These boards are designed to go one direction, so switch riding usually isn’t the best with these. These boards are similar to directional twin boards, but these boards will be more directional than a directional twin.
- Tapered Directional: A tapered directional shape snowboard has a major difference from the others. These boards have a tail that is smaller in width than the nose. The tip and tail are completely different with these boards.
- Directional Twin: A directional twin snowboard looks like a true twin board but will be a little directional. These boards are going to have a set back stance and a nose that is slightly larger than the tail.
7. Female & Male Snowboards
I get this question a lot, “I really like this men’s board, would it work for me?” The answer is most likely, yes it will! Generally, women’s snowboards are going to have a narrower waist width (I talk about this in the next section) and softer flex, while a men’s board will be the opposite, wider waist width and usually a stiffer flex. Having a narrower snowboard will allow you to turn with less effort and also makes turning way easier. On the other hand, having a larger waist width will allow for more stability. So now you are thinking, do I want to turn easier or have more stability?
If you have wider feet, you need to double check and make sure you aren’t going to have toe or heel drag when you initiate your turns. Generally, if you are a woman and have a boot size 8+ you can get away no problem with rocking a men’s board. As for men, if you are a smaller, lighter guy, you might want to check out some women’s boards!
8. Waist Width
Waist width is pretty important when picking out a snowboard. The waist width is going to be the width of your snowboard where your boots and bindings are going to go. You want to make sure you have enough room so you won’t have toe or heel drag. Having toe or heel drag can cause your turns to be slowed down, ruin your boots and most importantly, can be super dangerous if you get going at high speeds. Below you will find a great chart to check out board sizes and waist width.
9. Type of Terrain for Each Snowboard
All snowboards are going to have what type of terrain is best for that board. As a beginner, we have covered that you are going to want a softer flex for easier turn initiation and maneuverability. When you are searching for a board you are going to want to look for freestyle or all-mountain snowboards because these boards are usually going to have a centered stance (like we talked about in section 6) and have a softer to medium flex (refer to section 2 for more information on flex.) All-mountain boards are great because these boards are designed for any terrain, which is great for figuring out where you will like to ride the most!
10. Base Types of Snowboards
When talking about bases for snowboards, we have two different types: extruded and sintered bases. Now I know you are thinking, what does that even mean? I got you!
The best base for a beginner board is going to be extruded and here are some reasons why I think that:
- This type of base is going to be easier to maintain, meaning you won’t need to wax this board as often as the other base. This is great for a beginner because you might not have a waxing setup, but any shop at a mountain can wax your board if needed.
- This type of base is cheaper to make meaning snowboards with an extruded base should cost less. Yay!
- As a beginner, you don’t want to be flying down the hill because you might not know how to stop just yet. That’s where an extruded base comes into play. This type of base is going to make the board a tad slower.
11. Types of Snowboards
There are a lot of types of snowboards and they all perform differently and are built for different terrain. Let’s touch base on these.
- All-Mountain: These boards are great for riders who like to ride all over the mountain on all terrain.
- Powder: Pow-specific boards are best used in deep-pow days.
- Freeride: These boards are going to shine in ungroomed terrain, a more off-resort style.
- Freestyle: These boards are designed for more park riding.
- Splitboard: These boards are made for backcountry riding where there are no chairlifts.
12. Edge Hold
Snowboards have metal edges that dig into the snow to help with control while turning the snowboard. The snowboard's effective edge is the edge that will actually touch the snow. This edge will be shorter than the length of the entire snowboard.
- Having a longer effective edge will help with stability while you turn at higher speeds and when you are in icy conditions.
- Having a shorter effective edge will help riders turn easier.
13. Other essential gear
Now that we have gone over everything about snowboards, let’s touch base on other essential gear you will need to be comfortable on your first day on the hill:
- Snow Pants
- Snowboard Boots
- Face Mask
14. Time to Buy a Snowboard
I hope you guys enjoyed reading this blog on how to pick out the best beginner board for yourself. If you circle back to this list when it’s time to purchase, you will be golden and get a great board.
Also, if you need more help, chat with me or one of my fellow Snowboard experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. We would love to get you ripping the entire mountain on some awesome gear!