So you've decided to buy a snowboard. Awesome! The following guide will break down how to pick the perfect snowboard that's right for you and the type of terrain you ride.
How to choose a snowboard
To choose a snowboard, you’ll need to decide on 5 main areas: Size, Flex, Width, Shape & Camber
. Don’t worry if you don’t understand these words, I’ll explain each term, as well as tell you which areas work best for what.
Remember that as you get more experienced, personal preference will play a bigger role in what you’ll prefer, these are only starting points. There are no set rules on what you have to snowboard with.
Part 1: Snowboard Sizing
Everyone buying a snowboard always gives their height and weight and asks what size they need. It’s not that simple. How flexible or strong a board is, will change the recommended weight for that board’s size.
For example: A 154 cm snowboard might usually have a recommended weight of about 65 kg, but if this particular snowboard is really flexible and built with lighter but weaker materials, the snowboard might instead have a recommended weight of about 60kg.
Also: Never a snowboard based on height. Rarely ever does height play a big role in the size of snowboard you need. This is a common mistake that even many experienced snowboarders will make.
Always aim to pick your size based mainly on your weight and what you want to ride.
Picking a snowboard size based on weight
Below is a list of some very rough weight ranges and their matching snowboard sizes. Remember that certain snowboards may be built slightly weaker or stronger, which will alter their weight range.
If you’d like a more exact weight range for a particular snowboard, you can ask any good snowboard store for a copy of the recommended specifications given to them by the snowboard brand.
Alternatively, you can email the company directly and they should be able to give you the exact recommend weight range for their snowboards.
Rough weight ranges and recommend snowboard sizes
100 to 120 lbs (45 to 54.5 kg) = 140 to 145 cm
120 to 130 lbs (55 to 59 kg) = 140 to 150 cm
130 to 140 lbs (59 to 63.5 kg) = 145 to 150 cm
140 to 150 lbs (63.5 to 68 kg) = 145 to 155 cm
150 to 160 lbs (69 to 72.5 kg) = 150 to 155 cm
160 to 170 lbs (72.5 to 77 kg) = 150 to 160 cm
170 to 180 lbs (77 to 81.5 kg) = 155 to 160 cm
180 to 190 lbs (81.5 to 86 kg) = 155 to 165 cm
190 to 200 lbs (86 to 91 kg) = 160 to 170 cm
200 to 250 lbs (91 to 113 kg) = 165 to 180 cm
250+ lbs (113+ kg) = 180 to 190 cm
Recommended snowboard sizes change depending on the terrain you’re riding
Besides the above recommend sizes, you should also choose the size of your snowboard based on the type of riding you’ll be doing.
All Mountain / Ride Everything
- You’ll want to be at roughly the middle of the recommended size for your weight.
- Large! Aim for as big a snowboard as you feel comfortable with riding. Bigger snowboards help you to float better in powder.
Just be aware that a huge snowboard may be fun in powder, but won’t be ideal for any other types of riding (and if you intend to ride in the trees you may not want too big of a snowboard).
Park / Freestyle
- You’ll want a slightly smaller sized snowboard than average. A smaller size helps you to spin and move your snowboard with less effort.
The exception to this rule is if you’ll be riding on very large jumps. If so, you may want an average to slightly longer sized snowboard for greater stability.
Rails / Urban Freestyle
- A lot shorter than average. If all you’ll be riding is rails, you want a really short snowboard to make it easy to spin and perform rail tricks
Part 2: Picking the right flex
Flex describes the flexibility of your snowboard. Companies usually have some sort of chart saying the flexibility or a number system. Lower numbers usually mean more flexible and higher numbers mean less flexible.
Eg – A 5 would be average flex, a 1 would be super flexible and a 10 would be insanely stiff.
Note: This is FAR from a foolproof way to figure out the flex of a snowboard, so take this with a grain of salt because snowboard flex isn't just about how much you can bend it horizontally, but the torsional flex as well.
In general, beginner riders will prefer a more flexible snowboard because it’s more forgiving for bad technique and mistakes.
What flex is best for what type of riding?
All Mountain / Ride Everything
– Medium flex or slightly stiffer. About a 5 to 7 out of 10.
Powder / Freeride
– Medium to super stiff, 6 to 9 out of 10
Park / Freestyle
– Medium, but go stiffer if you ride bigger jumps. Aim for 4 to 6/7 out of 10.
Rails / Urban Freestyle
– Super flexible. This will make it easier for nose and tail presses and jibbing/butters. Look for a 2 or 3 out of 10 (just don't expect it to be that stable on jumps and at speed).
Part 3: Picking the right width
This is how wide your snowboard needs to be. Snowboards usually come in regular width or wide. Typically, you’ll only require a wide snowboard if you have large feet.
The best way to make sure you’ve got the right width is to bring your snowboard boots when you buy a snowboard and put them where your bindings would be. If the toe and heel of your boot hangs out more than about 1 inch on each side, you may need to consider looking at a wide or mid-wide snowboard.
Some snowboards may be slightly thinner than average so you may not need a wide snowboard but rather, you might just need to pick a different snowboard that has a slightly wider width without needing to go to an actual wide sized snowboard.
Part 4: Picking the right shape
Shape is exactly like it sounds. It’s how the snowboard is shaped and how symmetrical the nose and tail of the snowboard are.
In simple speak, it’s basically asking 'Which direction will you be riding most of the time?'
Do you spend your time riding regular, switch (riding with your back foot leading first) or some mix of both.
Below are the 3 most common snowboard shapes and the type of riding that they are best suited for:
Note: Companies will have different names for them but you’ll be able to tell which is which by the description.
– This means the snowboard is shaped completely symmetrical. There’s no difference in shape, whether you ride it switch or regular. Great for someone who spends a lot of time riding switch.
Twin snowboards are typically used for freestyle and terrain park riding.
- Nearly a twin, but usually just a tiny bit longer / larger in the nose area of your snowboard. Twin-ish snowboards are meant for riding both regular and switch. They're designed for those who spend their time doing a majority of freestyle riding, but with a little bit of all mountain riding as well.
- The nose of the snowboard is longer / fatter than the tail of the snowboard. It's designed for someone who rides regular a majority of the time.
, these shape descriptions are just recommendations and are not set in stone. For example, you’ll find A LOT of very good riders who do freestyle on a directional board.
Part 5: Picking the right camber
: This is a basic look at camber, for a more detailed guide to camber I'd check out our separate stickied thread on camber profiles.
Camber is the direction which the bottom of your board curves. There are 4 main types of camber (and a billionzilliontrillion sub types of hybrid camber):
Regular, reverse, flat / zero camber and hybrid camber.
Think of a banana.
– The banana is curving down
- The banana is curving up
Zero / Flat camber
– You somehow made the banana completely straight.
- This is some sort of mix between regular and reverse camber. One common form of hybrid camber is regular camber in the middle with reverse towards the ends of your snowboard, but you'll find many different types of hybrid camber.
What camber works for what type of riding?
Note: These are general guidelines of how a type of camber tends to act, but sometimes you'll find a board which performs very different from how you'd expect it's camber to behave.
– Offers great stability for riding fast and hitting big jumps
– Great for easy float in powder. Also great for freestyle riding that’s only focused on just rails and boxes due to being easy to press and play around.
Zero / Flat camber
- Used as a middle ground between regular camber and reverse camber.
– Can be used for all situations depending on how the hybrid camber was built. By mixing regular and reverse camber, companies are able to make many different types of hybrid cambers. This means you can have one hybrid camber that's been built for freestyle and another that's been built for powder.
Snowboard companies have many names for their hybrid camber combinations, so you’ll need to look at the description and shape and often ride the actual board to figure out how many hybrid camber boards perform.
Every hybrid camber is a little different because every company builds it a little bit differently.