I have an M3. It's perfect for me. I'm not good enough to notice the difference between company. No shit. I'm not hucking back flip tail grabs and things either. So in my assumption, a board is just that. It goes down the hill. Yes, I'm sure someone will argue with me saying the material the weight. That will all make a difference when I get a bit more comfortable and start jumping. As for now. It doesn't mean a thing to me. You said you won't be able to go all the time, and it's a combined 8 hours of just DRIVING? Well. You have to look seriously. A set up of a board, boots, bindings, then pants, coat, golves. It all add's up. Sure you don't need nothing aside from the board, bindings and boots, but those extras are nice. You're looking at a minimum of $300 brand new. Used you may be able to come accross a deal. Better yet, if you can hold off till the end of the season, you can nab a sexy discount I'm sure. Seasonal sports always have close-out sales trying to make room for next season merch. Though, with that drive and gas prices, I don't know if you would be saving at all by getting a board. Rentals are around $20? Say you get a set up for... $400. Devide that by $20 and you get 20. That means you have to snow board 20 times on a board you own for it to have paid for itself. IMO an 8 hour trip isn't worth that, and I wouldn't be getting a season pass. How long would it honestly take you to get 20 rides? If it were me, it would probably be a good 6 years at that distance. EASY! I'm not that dedicated. By the time it payed off, I would need a new board. It would be chewed up, and oxidized. Haha. That's just me though. Snowboarding is just something I'm picking up to pass the winter. I miss my dirtbike.