4 Common Mistakes When Buying a Snowboard

In the market for a new snowboard for next season? Read through these four common yet avoidable mistakes that are often made when buying a new board!

Two snowboards sticking up in the snow.

Photo by Rideo

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Let’s face it, buying a new snowboard can be quite an ordeal. What’s supposed to be an easy purchase of a new winter “toy” can easily turn into a headache if you don’t know where to start looking. Even after spending hours looking at different snowboards brands like Burton, CAPiTA, or K2, watching countless YouTube reviews, and scouring different snowboard forums, it’s still quite easy to feel lost in your purchasing decision. Don’t be too hard on yourself—after all, there are dozens of variables that go into each snowboard, and knowing what’s super important and what’s not can be quite tricky if you’re not experienced in the snowboard industry!

To hopefully spare you from this struggle and spread some knowledge, I want to share the most common mistakes when buying a new snowboard so hopefully, you can avoid them and save yourself the headache. My qualifications you ask? Well, I've made many of the mistakes we’re about to cover while learning the ins and outs of the snowboard industry, so I guess you could say I’ve learned a lot from experience!

1. Board Length

Person stands at the top of a mountain with a snowboard. There are clouds and mountain tops visible behind her.

Photo by Naomi Hutchinson

If there’s one thing you take away from this article, it’s how to properly determine your board length because if you end up with an improper board length, it will hold you back as you learn to ride. If you're on a shorter board (as in too short for you), the board is going to “wash out” easily, meaning it will lack stability, and you’ll likely lose control and slip out easier. You also won’t be able to go as fast or have as much float as you would with a longer board. Alternatively, if your snowboard is too long for you, it can be difficult to initiate turns and just generally control your board, which means you’ll put in more effort than you should be and progress slower.

So how do you determine the proper snowboard length? Well, there’s no actual “one perfect length” per se, rather a range. In my experience riding and also selling snowboards, there is a solid range of about 5cm that a person should look to choose a board from. For reference, 5cm is less than 2 inches, so it is a small range! There are a bunch of different factors that go into determining this range such as height, weight, skill level, preferred terrain, gender, and shoe size, but to keep it simple, the main focuses are height and weight.

To start, hold a measuring tape from the ground to your chin, expand out 2-3cm in either direction, this is your range! For example, I'm 5’ 10” (178cm) and my chin measures up to 160 cm. If I were to go both up and down 3cm in either direction, I’d find my range to be about 157-163cm.

The next thing you do is consider your weight. If you’re of average weight for your height, you should look for a board right in the sweet spot of that range (in my case 160cm), if you’re on the lighter side, look for a board size that is lower within your ideal range, and if you’re on the heavier side, look for a board size that is longer within your ideal size range.

Using this method isn’t an end-all solution to figure out your perfect snowboard range, but it provides a good starting place to start searching! I would encourage you to also dig into those other small factors and you can do that by using an online snowboard-size calculator or chatting with a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.

2. Intended Purpose

Snowboarder wearing a Go Pro on his helmet shreds down the mountain.

Photo by Fede Roveda

Every snowboard is a bit different and has its own unique set of characteristics that gives the board its personality. While there are plenty of different features a snowboard can have, the two ones you NEED to know about are board flex and board profile. These two factors will play a big role in how a board will ride. If you get the wrong options for yourself, you may unknowingly be making your life harder.

Board flex is pretty self-explanatory: it’s how much the board bends when pressure is applied. You can have a board with a softer flex or a stiffer flex. Board profile is the shape/curvature of the board when looked at sideways. The main three types of board profiles are rocker, camber, or a combination of the two called a hybrid.

Given the many possibilities of different flex and profile combinations, and the fact that flex and profile both contribute to how a snowboard rides and feels, this is where things can get confusing. Each different combination provides a different type of snowboard meant for a different riding style, whether that be an all-mountain board, freestyle board, freeride board, backcountry board, etc.

Additionally, certain combinations of board flex and profile are meant for certain ability levels, which adds another layer to all this. I’m not going to go over every possible board type as that would take much too long; just make sure you do your research so you don’t end up with a board that doesn’t reflect your skill level or riding style. After all, if you’re a beginner all-mountain snowboarder, you’re not going to have any fun on a powder board meant for advanced riders.

Another consideration is the shape of the board. While most snowboards have a pretty standard shape, the main differences will be if the board is a true twin, directional twin, or directional board. A true twin shaped snowboard (such as the iconic Burton Process) is exactly what it sounds like: it’s got twin tips, which means the board's nose and tail are the same shape and size. This makes it easy for riding switch and is a common feature you see in boards that are primarily meant for tricks (freestyle boards).

Directional twin boards (such as the Burton Custom) ride similar to a twin but the stance is slightly set back, which provides more float in deeper snow. This is most common on all-mountain boards due to the versatility it offers. Directional boards are only meant to be ridden in one direction and are mainly intended for powder riding as they have a large nose and short tail. Don't stress too much about what shape board to get as it’s not a hugely important factor if you’re just shopping for your first snowboard, but the more you know the better!

3. Board Width

Snowboard leans against a wooden table.

Photo by Wok and Apix

Another subtle mistake many riders can make is buying a board with an incorrect snowboard width. A board that is too narrow for your snowboard boots can cause toe drag, which is when your toes actually catch in the snow when carving, causing you to lose control and potentially wipe out. You could also catch your heels on the snow (known as heel drag) if the bindings jut out a bit and are too big for the board. Now a little bit of toe or heel overhang isn’t the end of the world, especially if you don’t plan on carving super aggressively. But as a good rule of thumb, you want to look for boards with a minimum “waist width” of 260mm if you have a men’s boot size of 11 or bigger.

On the flip side of things, you also don’t want to get a board that is too wide in comparison to your boot size (for example, a board with a waist width of 265mm when you only have a size 8 boot). Having a board that is too wide is going to cause your board’s response time to be slower and “sluggish” as well as just plain awkward to turn.

4. Color/Graphic

A man drags a snowboard along a snowy hill. Trees are visible in the background.

Photo by Anna Shvets

I’ll be the first to admit, I want a snowboard that looks cool. I’m a huge believer in the “look good, ride good” theory, which essentially means if you look and feel good with your gear, you’re more likely to ride to your fullest potential. So to get a snowboard with a certain graphic or color scheme that you enjoy totally makes sense.

The problem is when you put the color or graphic over everything else. I’ve seen many times where someone buys a board just because they like how it looks without taking into consideration any of the other things we’ve discussed above. Obviously, this can be a huge problem if you end up with a board that’s ill-suited for you because you only paid attention to the color and not any of the other, “more important” specs. Keep in mind that your board is going to be covered in snow 99% of the time while riding, so neither you nor anyone else is going to be looking too hard at the graphic!

The Bottom Line

A man sits with his snowboard in front of him. It is gloomy outside and there is a lot of snow on the ground.

As you can see, there are plenty of “don’ts” when it comes to buying a snowboard and so many preferences to think about. The good news is you don’t have to do this alone. If you’re looking to purchase a new snowboard soon you might consider chatting with a Snowboard Expert here on Curated. Curated is an online retailer that sells snowboards and skis and will connect you with a passionate gearhead who’s an expert in the industry and can easily recommend whatever type of gear you need, even if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for! It’s an entirely free service and will make your life much easier! Why not give it a try? Send me a message, and let’s find you some great snowboard gear to make this winter epic!!

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Written By
Heya! my name is Gaelen and I've been snowboarding for longer than I haven't! I was practically raised by the mountain resort industry, my mother and father were both full-time "snowboard bums" when I was young and so I've been around ski resorts since I was a kid! As soon as I was legally able to w...

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