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Home > Gear Guides > Snowboards and Snowboard Bindings

Snowboards and Snowboard Bindings

So you’re looking for the skinny on what makes a snowboard the right snowboard for you. No worries — you’ll get all the info you need here to make a solid choice that will put the best board on your feet this season. We’ll also help you choose all the right accessories, including your snowboard bindings. There’s lots of good information here, so be sure to read through it all before you begin buying.

So first, the basics. We’ll split this up into a few simple categories. If you’re a beginner but also pressed for time, you can jump to the Quick Beginner’s Guide.

Snowboard Buying Guide

Choose from:
Kinds of Snowboards
All About Snowboard Flex
Snowboard Width
Snowboard Length
Snowboard Bindings
Snowboard Core (what the board is made of)
Snowboard Quick Beginner’s Guide


Kinds of SnowBoards

There are 4 main snowboard styles:, Freeride, All-Mountain, Freestyle, and Racing/Carving. The way you ride determines the kind of board you buy.

Freeride Snowboard - These tend to be good in multiple places, like groomed runs, a little powder, or even floating through the trees. They are directional (the nose and tail are not the same size or stiffness) which helps with speed and stability. A freeride board can move fast because it is stiffer and larger than a freestyle board (which is made for doing tricks). Freeride boards are good for riders who know they want to go fast.

All-Mountain Snowboard - Meant to give you the most options, these boards come in many lengths, are less directional than a Freeride board, and are designed to let your ride wherever your heart desires. Like the name implies, these boards are great for riders who love all kinds of conditions on all kinds of mountains, and want the best of all worlds.

Racing/carving Snowboard - A racing/carving board tends to be rigid, long, and asymmetrical for a simple reason: they’re built for speed and for turning at high speeds. These boards tend to be the most rigid to provide stability when the rider reaches very high speeds, and usually require stiff boots to protect the ankles and to help in turning.

Freestyle Snowboard - These boards are for those riders who’d rather be on the half-pipe than the side of the mountain. They’re lightweight, are centered (the nose and tail are the same so that you can ride in any direction), and flexible. Freestyle boards tend to be less fast downhill and less stable at high speeds — something to consider.





All About Snowboard Flex

Flex is very important in a board. Generally, Freestyle boards have the most flex, then Freeride and All-Mountain boards, then Racing/Carving boards.

Beginning riders want a board with a decent amount of flex, because a softer board takes less muscle to control and is far easier to command — which means you’ll spend less time on your rump and more time on the runs. As riders get more experienced, they tend to get boards with less flex.

Tall/heavy riders often do better with a stiffer board because the added weight of your body will put more strain on the board. So if you’re taller or heavier than the average person, consider a stiffer board.

Regardless of what kind of rider you are, the more flex the easier it is to maneuver but the less stability there is at high speeds. As you gain more experience, you’ll need less flexibility (which lets you cut and turn faster and more precisely).





Snowboard Width

The width of a board is directly related to control — boards ridden in powder need to be wide enough to provide float, but not so wide that you can’t turn when you hit a groomed run. Too wide means a board can be too hard to turn; too narrow a board may turn too quickly (which means you do a lot of face-plants). Your board needs to be wide enough for your feet. So it’s pretty easy — if your feet are average length, you can stick to the average width board. But if your feet are on the small size (less than 8 for men or 5 for women) or large size (over US size 11), be sure you get a board that’s is the correct width.

Snowboard Width Guide

Most men ride boards in the 24-25cm range. Riders with larger feet (US size 11+) may have problems with narrower boards, and their feet may hang over — not good. Big feet means you should get a wider board.

Women tend to ride boards in the 22-24cm range. If your feet are smaller than US size 7, you should make sure the board isn’t too wide. Feet larger than US women’s size 11 might need 25cm or so.





Snowboard Length

The length ensures that your board is short enough to keep you moving fast, but long enough to give you control. The longer the board, the more stable it is at high speed, but also the tougher it is to control. Another factor riders consider when selecting length is the type of riding it will be used for — Freestyle boards are shorter than All-Mountain boards.

Snowboard Length Guide

Most adults ride within the 140-165cm range. (for people roughly 5’3” to 6’ tall). Very tall or very short people should look for extra short or extra long boards to make sure they have the right length.

An easy and fast guide is your board when standing should come to somewhere between your chin and your nose.


Snowboard Sidecut

Sidecut refers to the hourglass shape of the board. The more of an hourglass shape the board has, the deeper the sidecut. All-mountain and freeride boards tend to have more modest sidecuts, which provides stability.

The sidecut determines how easy your board is to turn, and beginners boards should have fairly deep sidecuts.





Ski & Snowboard Bindings Guide

In the past ski and snowboard bindings were real simple: put one foot in the base of each binding, and then bend down and buckle two or three straps across your foot. Presto! You are now securely bound to your board — until you have to get on the chairlift again. And then it’s buckles off so you can push with one leg.

Step-in bindings do kind of what skis do so well — let you ‘snap in’ by just pushing your foot into the binding. So which one is for you?

Turns out it’s not an easy answer — there are pros and cons to each.

Step-in:
  • Fast and convenient on the slopes — you’re in and out of them fast
  • Stiff boots can give fast response, but can limit flexibility
  • Step-in bindings must be purchased with step-in boots! The fit of your step-in boot is really important since all support comes from the boot, not the binding (again, this makes Step-ins more like ski bindings).
Strap Systems:
  • Boot and binding sold separately — which means any soft boot can go with just about any binding (that means tons of choices)
  • Overall, they tend to be less expensive
  • Somewhat time-consuming to strap in every single run
Cross-over skiers might feel more comfortable with step-in bindings, since they’re already used to stiff boots. But it really is a matter of taste — both Step-ins and Straps are really about which one feels best on your foot.

The vast majority of snowboarders still prefer straps over step-ins, but that might change.

Hybrid:

There are some binding systems that seek to combine the convenience of step-in systems with the control levels attainable with strap-ins.





Snowboard Core (what the board is made of)

Most boards have wood cores, which are durable and lightweight. Wood cores absorb vibrations well and give the board a snappy feel.

Cores may also blend wood with something like carbon fiber so it will last longer — these are called "blended". Blended cores tend to have better energy transfer (what you want to do happens more easily), and tend to absorb vibration better than all-wood varieties.





Snowboard Quick Beginner’s Guide

You’re eager to get a board on your feet and hit the slopes — and aren’t the kind of person who likes to read the instructions (we get it). So here’s a quick overview of what you need to know to get a board and get going — fast.
  • Kind of Board — go for a Freeride board if you like speed, or an All-Mountain board if you want to get the best of the whole mountain.
  • Flex — you want more flex as a beginner — trust us.
  • Length — place the board on the floor — it should come between your nose and your chin. If you’re buying on this website and can’t see the board, no problem — it needs to be between 140-165cm (if you’re shorter, go towards the shorter side; if you’re taller, go towards the longer side). If you are very tall, you need to consider extra-long boards.
  • Width — men generally want between 24-25cm; women between 22-24cm. But…if you’re feet are on the small or the large size of most people, then you’d better pick a more narrow or more wide board, respectively.
  • Bindings — Strap-on bindings give you the most choices, but cross-over skiers might like Step-ins, which use more rigid boots (the boot, not the binding, protects the ankle in Snap-ins).
  • Core — wood or blend, it’s up to you. Blends tend to last longer and provide more control, but wood cores can be great, too.
  • Better yet, why not call us? One of our experienced staff members can walk you through this as easy as 1-2-3 right over the phone, and get you the right board for your height, weight, and experience.



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