Snowboarding offers a connection with the mountain that can only be compared to a good wave on a surfboard. Carving a clean line in fresh powder while the crisp air hits your face is something you'll remember all summer long. Here are some pointers to help you decide on a good piece of wood.
The right snowboard for the right conditions
There's more to choosing snowboards than great graphics. Hopefully, your idea of snowboarding fits into one of these three options.
If you picture yourself carving down the slopes or looking for hills in the backcountry, then freeride snowboards will serve you best. Freeriding is all about using gravity and your board to get down the mountain.
You know the kids in the park, jumping over stuff, spinning in air, and sliding down rails? These guys are the freestylers, and if you want to shred with them, this is the type of board to get.
All Mountain Snowboards:
Somewhere between freeride and freestyle lies all mountain snowboards, a do-it-all snowboard that lets you ride from the top of the mountain right down through terrain park obstacles and into the playground.
Snowboard features & benefits
The type of riding you choose will determine the flex, sidecut, and direction of your board. In case you need a refresher, here are some explanations.
Snowboards come in varying levels of stiffness. Freeride snowboards are the stiffest, all mountain snowboards have midrange flex, while freestyle snowboards take the wet noodle award. A stiff snowboard gives you more control over your edges, but is harder to learn on. The very flexible freestyle boards are more forgiving of less-than-perfect takeoffs and landings, and are easier to learn on. Match the snowboard to your weight; the more you weigh, the stiffer the snowboard should be.
The sidecut is the curved shape of a snowboard between the nose and the tail. The deeper the sidecut, the quicker and tighter a board will turn. Freestyle boards have a deeper sidecut, which makes them turn quicker in tighter spaces. All-mountain and freeride snowboards have a shallow sidecut for graceful carving on the hill. The sidecut also varies according to the direction of the snowboard.
Directional, Directional-Twin, or Twin-Tip - What's the Story?:
Freeride and all-mountain snowboards fall into the directional snowboard category. You normally ride with your front leg facing downhill; directional snowboards are softer in the front to float over the bumpy stuff, and the stance is set back an inch or so. Freestyle boards may be twin-tips, where the front of the snowboard is identical to the back, or a directional-twin, where the stance is centered but the front of the snowboard remains slightly more flexible
Snowboard bases are either extruded or sintered. An extruded base is fairly durable, easier to repair and more affordable. Also, it holds less wax and isn't as fast as a sintered base. A sintered base offers the best speed and durability, and thus graces higher-end models. It requires more frequent waxing and maintenance in order to keep performing at its optimum level.
Selecting the right width
If you wear a U.S. men's size 11 or larger, you should look at our wide boards. Wide snowboards stop your toes from catching on the snow while making turns. Look for "wide" in the name of the board.
Selecting the right length
This is the final choice you'll need to make. Most snowboards come in different lengths; a longer snowboard has more surface area and will support greater weight in the snow. Flotation varies among brands and board models, so follow the guidelines in the size charts to get the best fit for you.
All the boots, snowboards, and bindings sold by Eastern Mountain Sports are compatible with one another. If you're looking for performance in a freeride or all-mountain board, get a stiffer pair of boots and bindings. The product description will give you an idea of how stiff a binding is.
Finally Stick With It
Snowboarding has a steep learning curve, but if you're prepared to nurse the knocks of the first few days, you'll find a whole new range of trails opening up in a very short time. A few lessons will go a long way. And don't forget your brain bucket!