Snowboarding 101: How to Purchase the Perfect Beginner Snowboard

Published on 12/28/2023 · 16 min readStart your snowboarding journey right! Our Snowboarding 101 guide helps you purchase the perfect beginner snowboard for a smooth, fun experience.
Brit Bruhn, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Brit Bruhn

Photo by Nickolya

tl;dr: As someone looking for the best beginner snowboards on the market, there are three main components you should prioritize: a soft flex for easier turn initiation and maneuverability, a centered stance, and a hybrid profile or full rocker snowboard profile (these provide ease of turn initiation, and catch-free turns). While there are many factors that go into a beginner snowboard, if you prioritize these three, you’re off to a great start in finding a new board to hit the slopes with!

Choosing the right snowboard as a beginner is one of the crucial parts of learning to snowboard, and I should know! For the past decade, I’ve ridden at many different ski resorts and have been spreading the stoke of snowboarding to beginner riders as a snowboard instructor—a job I began a decade ago in junior high school. I’ve given hundreds of beginner snowboard lessons and the biggest thing that either makes or breaks a rider’s experience is their gear; mainly having a snowboard that’s appropriate for their skill level. One of my goals at Curated is to make snowboarding more accessible by educating people, especially beginners, on how to choose the best snowboard for them. I’m hoping I can do the same for you with this article!

What Is a Beginner Snowboard?

A beginner snowboard is an introductory snowboard that’s designed to be easy to ride, even for those who have never stepped foot on a board. They typically have classic beginner features such as a soft flex, a twin stance, and a forgiving profile such as rocker or hybrid rocker. While not every beginner snowboard will follow exactly the same formula, there are some trademark features of a beginner snowboard that snowboard novices should consider looking for in their next board. Along with those features, we’ll also talk about some other features that aren’t necessary but will make learning to snowboard easier! But first…

What to Consider When Buying a Beginner Snowboard?

How much will it cost?

As a beginner in any sport, you might find that you don’t even like the sport once you get started, so it’s a good idea to be careful about how much you invest upfront. You don’t want to drop a fortune on gear that will end up catching dust in a closet somewhere. Luckily for newbies, beginner snowboard boards are usually less expensive and can hopefully be resold when you are done using them. From my experience, both in working with Curated and being a snowboarder for a long time now, most brand-new beginner snowboards will run about $300 to $450 (USD). Other great options for beginner snowboards are checking out second-hand shops and looking around on your local classifieds. If you don’t live in a ski town those options might be tough but still worth a shot.

Does the shape of the board matter?

The shape of the snowboard is not the most important factor, but for beginners, I would recommend going with a true twin shape.

  • True Twin: A true twin shape is a board that is symmetrical, meaning the measurements in the nose (the front half) and the tail (the back half) are going to be the same. You could cut this board in half and when you put the pieces together, both halves will be the same—same flex and everything. Being perfectly symmetrical makes the true twin great for learning because you can set your snowboard stance upright in the center, figure out if you prefer leading with your left foot or your right foot (goofy), and have great balance.
  • Directional: A snowboard that is directional will have a nose and a tail that look significantly different. Oftentimes, in addition to being a different shape, the nose will also be much larger than the tail. These boards are designed to go one direction and excel in riding in fresh snow or powder. However, riding a directional board switch (backward) is typically more difficult and should be avoided by beginners who may still be figuring out which foot they prefer to lead with.
  • Directional Twin: A directional twin snowboard typically closely resembles a true twin board with the nose and the tail being the same shape. However, there will be a slight setback stance causing the nose to be slightly larger than the tail. You can read more about what a “setback stance” means in this article about snowboard stances.

These boards are meant to do well in fresh snow but also work well when there is no fresh snow. While they’re more appropriate for beginners than directional boards, they should still ideally be avoided by beginners as beginners will often end up riding with both feet and their lead while learning. The slight asymmetry of these types of boards will put beginners at a disadvantage if they’re consistently switching their lead foot and find themselves riding the board backward often.

Does it matter if it's a gender-specific board?

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 with 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!

Photo by Brit Bruhn

Features to Look For When Buying a Beginner Snowboard

Profile

First and foremost with a beginner snowboard, 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 until you’re a more experienced rider), 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:

  • 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. This type of profile is sometimes referred to as reverse camber or simply as rocker.
  • 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, edge hold and carving abilities that are lost when you have a pure rocker board.
  • 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 in the midsection, which will give it a looser feel and help with keeping it floating 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, it's very tricky! If a snowboard has mostly camber or has aggressive camber (typically known as a traditional camber board), it will not be great for a beginner and is meant for riders with a higher experience level. The same goes for Hybrid Rocker profiles. These boards have camber sections that give them decent stability, but they will have rocker beneath the feet, which can give the board a looser feel and some riders don’t like that.

Expert Tip: 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.

Flex Rating

Another important factor when looking at beginner snowboards is the flex. When you are a beginner snowboarder, you are going to want to look for a medium-soft flex. Most snowboards will have a flex 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.

Length

Most people don’t think the size of a snowboard is a huge deal, but they are wrong. The size of a snowboard is extremely important. Even if you get the right flex and profile for your skill level, but get the wrong size, you could be in trouble. Using a snowboard that is too long can cause issues with turning, maneuvering, and just delay the process of learning. At the same time, having a board that is too short can cause you to lose stability, which is also a no-go while learning. More importantly, these problems will take a lot of the fun out of snowboarding.

Photo by Brit Bruhn

If you are looking for a board at a shop a good place to start is to look for a snowboard that is between your chin and nose; however, this is a very general rule of thumb based on the assumption that you’re an average weight for your height. If you’re on the lighter or heavier side for your weight, you should consider sizing down or up a few centimeters respectively. 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.

Expert Tip: Another great tip for beginners is that it's always good to size down about 3 cm from a “standard all-mountain” length as a shorter snowboard is always going to be easier to control!

Width

As with length, the width—specifically the 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.

What Are the Different Types of Snowboards? And Which Are Best For Beginners?

There are a lot of types of snowboards and they all perform differently based on riding style and terrain preferences. Let’s touch base on these.

All-Mountain Boards

Photo by Dennis van de Water

All-mountain snowboards are great for riders who like to ride all over the mountain on all terrain. They’re typically going to be true twin medium flexing boards with hybrid profiles containing both rocker and camber, and they’re made for any level of rider from beginners all the way up to advanced snowboarders!

Benefits:

  • These boards are Incredibly versatile, meant to ride any and all types of terrain.
  • Allows beginners the freedom to explore and figure out what sort of terrain they like.

Be Aware:

  • These boards are good at everything, but not the best at anything.
  • Because they’re made for all different ability levels, it’s crucial to choose a beginner-friendly one.

Powder Boards

Photo by Dmytro Vietrov

Pow-specific boards are best used in deep-pow days. These boards are typically directionally shaped, stiff flexing, and contain large sections of rocker in the nose. They’re often built with intermediate/advanced riders in mind.

Benefits:

  • These boards perform better in deep/fresh snow than any other type of board.

Be Aware:

  • These boards are typically stiff and not beginner-friendly in the slightest.
  • They typically don’t perform as well in groomed conditions as other boards.
  • You’ll likely l want to purchase a longer board as more length will provide better powder float

Freeride Boards

Photo by Sergey Furtaev

These boards are going to shine in ungroomed terrain, a more off-resort style. They’re typically medium/stiff flexing with a directional twin or directional shape. They come with many different profiles but most commonly a combination of rocker and camber or full camber, and they’re meant for intermediate to advanced riders.

Benefits:

  • These boards can handle aggressive riding and powder.
  • They’re more versatile than powder boards as they handle groomed conditions well.

Be Aware:

  • These boards are typically stiffer and most aren’t intended for beginners.
  • They don’t perform well in a terrain park setting compared to other boards.

Freestyle Boards

Photo by Merkushev Vasiliy

Freestyle boards are designed for doing tricks in the terrain park and on the rest of the mountain. They’re typically true twin boards with a soft or medium flex and they come in every profile under the sun. The most common profiles on these boards are either a combination of rocker and camber or full camber. They can be used by any skill level from beginners to advanced riders (depending on the type of freestyle board).

Benefits:

  • These boards are designed to excel in a freestyle setting.
  • They’re typically soft flexing and therefore beginner-friendly.

Be Aware:

  • These boards typically don’t handle terrain outside the terrain park well.

Splitboards

Photo by Lilkin

Splitboards are made for backcountry riding where there are no chairlifts. These boards are stiff flexing and have directional or directional twin shapes. They usually have a profile that’s some combination of rocker and camber and are meant for advanced riders only!

Benefits:

  • These boards make it easier to access backcountry terrain.
  • They can be used to ascend ungroomed terrain.

Be Aware:

  • Backcountry is difficult and dangerous and beginners should absolutely avoid purchasing a splitboard as their first snowboard.
  • Splitboards are generally the most expensive type of snowboard on the market.

How to Choose the Right Beginner Snowboard for You

Sam

Sam is brand-new to snowboarding and is looking to try it out for the first time but doesn’t want to rent because they’ve heard having your own board makes the learning process much easier. They’re looking for something budget-friendly and easy to learn on.

Features Sam should look for:

  • A soft flexing board for easy maneuverability with minimal effort.
  • A full rocker or flat-rocker profile for catch-free turns and a forgiving feel.
  • A twin or directional twin board so they can explore riding in both directions as they learn.
  • An all-mountain style of snowboard so they can explore different terrain.

Board examples: Rome Royal, Roxy Dawn, DC Focus, Arbor Foundation

Michael

Michael has been snowboarding a dozen times, is comfortable on the bunny hill and has decided he wants his own gear. He’s still mastering his turns but already starting to do little airs off bumps and even hit his first box! Needless to say, he’s very interested in terrain parks and would like to purchase a beginner-friendly snowboard that’ll also work well as a park board.

Features Michael should look for:

  • A soft/medium flexing board for easy maneuverability AND freestyle performance.
  • A hybrid profile that’ll provide playfulness from the rocker and pop from the camber.
  • A twin board so he can switch on or off terrain park features.
  • An all-mountain/freestyle board that satisfies the above requirements so it can be used in the terrain park and on the rest of the mountain decently as he’s progressing.

Board examples: Lib Tech Skate Banana, Ride Manic, Burton Process Flying V

Bridget

Bridget has been snowboarding for one season and while she still classifies herself as a beginner, she’s confident on greens and easy-going blue trails. She lives in Colorado and regularly rides in fresh snow so she knows she wants her new board to do well in powdery conditions but also ride the rest of the mountain decently as well.

Features Bridget should look for:

  • A medium flexing board which will be progression-friendly but stable at speeds and in variable terrain.
  • A hybrid profile with rocker in the tips for powder float and camber for stability.
  • A directional board with a longer nose for increased powder float.
  • An all-mountain/freeride board that satisfies the above requirements so it will do well in powder but work as a daily driver for any terrain or conditions.

Board examples: Nitro Drop, Capita Navigator, Jones Dream Weaver

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:

Make sure you’ve got all this gear before your first day of riding this season as it’ll make the experience much more comfortable!

If you’d like to see more recommendations for beginner boards, check out this list of the 10 best snowboards for beginners. And, if you need more help, chat with me or one of my fellow Snowboarding Experts here on Curated for free advice and recommendations. We would love to get you ripping the entire mountain on some awesome gear!

Happy riding!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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