Choosing a Snowboard
There are loads of different things to consider when choosing a snowboard, such as length, flex, camber and where on the mountain you are going to ride; but as this is a beginner guide I’ll stick to the fundamentals.
The length of a Snowboard is measured from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. The length is usually measured in centimeters.
Finding the appropriate length snowboard used to based on your height, while holding the board on its end, you were told the board should reach somewhere around your chin. This is simply not true; it should be based on weight.
A snowboard acts like a leaf spring – it has no clue how tall the person standing on it is. It does however know your weight, so your body weight should be the main factor.
If you had to generalise it would appear; lighter people should have shorter, more flexible boards as a lighter person on a longer or stiffer board can sometimes struggle initiating turns.
The heavier the person is, the longer and stiffer the board can be.
Snowboard width is directly related to your foot size and to some extent, the type of Snowboard binding you will use.
The width of the board is measured across the skinniest section, from edge to edge. This is measured in either centimeters or millimeters.
To find the appropriate board width for you, stand on a board that is flat on the ground. With your boots on, step into your bindings, or place your feet exactly how you would have them when you ride. Standing in a riding position, your snowboard boots should be as close as possible to the edges of the snowboard. If your toes and heels don’t come close to the edge, you won’t be able to apply proper pressure to your edges during a turn. If, on the other hand, your feet hang too far over the edges of the snowboard, your toes or heel may catch in the snow while turning and send you reeling.
Narrow snowboards are easier to manoeuvre, initiate turns and are quicker. Conversely, wider snowboards are more stable, respond well in deep snow and are slower.
Flex is the flexibility of the snowboard. Without getting too caught up in this area just yet, beginner riders should ride on a more flexible snowboard due to their ability to be more forgiving on mistakes and bad technique.
Bindings attach your boots to your snowboard, but unlike skis, snowboard bindings are not designed to release when you crash or fall over.
Find a flat area with your snowboard and put your front foot into the front binding. When first stepping on to your snowboard, always strap into the front snowboard binding first. Remove any loose snow from the binding as this could prevent it tightening up fully. If you have traditional strap snowboard bindings, push your heel into the heel cup, buckle the ankle buckle, then buckle the toe strap last.
Make sure the straps are tight, but not too tight as to restrict blood flow!
If you need to skate to the chair or drag lift, leave your back foot free; otherwise strap your back foot in too.
If you’re strapping both feet in, make sure your snowboard is facing across the mountain or you’ll go zooming off down the mountain as soon as both feet are on the snowboard!
Tip: Beginners find it easier to put their snowboard bindings on while sitting down and you will gradually progress to the point where you can do it standing up.
Where to Ride
As you are a beginner you probably haven’t decided which part of the mountain is going to be your area of choice. A good all mountain board is a safe bet, this way as you can venture all over the mountain before making your decision on which specific type of board you want to progress with.