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Snowboard Buyers Guide

Buying a snowboard can be a bit confusing if you're not 100% sure what you're looking for. There's a myriad of shapes, profiles, and types to choose from. So, to make choosing your next snowboard a bit easier we've listed out what all the terms mean and what to look out for.

If you're looking for a bit more help just drop us an email or a call! As the UK's leading snowboard shop we're always happy to help! 
Call 01202499155 or email sales@snowtraxstore.co.uk


The Important Factors:

Height, weight, shoe size, and kind of riding you want to do.

Of the above measurements your weight is the most important. It affects edge hold and float, as well affecting the flex a little. Next is your height, which changes the centre of gravity relative to your base and your stance width.
Finally, the type of snowboarding you’d like to do defines other board characteristics like float, stability, flex, and shape.


Your weight is important because each snowboard length has a fixed amount of edge contact, or “grip”. Too much weight on too little grip makes the board feel loose and more likely to wash out. As your speed increases the force required to change direction or stop also increases, So, it is important to make sure you have enough grip for your body weight.
On the other side, if you are too light for the amount of edge your board has then you will find it harder to make the board perform the way you want it to.


Taller people need a longer base in order to make them stable in relation to their centre of gravity. Additionally, taller people have longer legs and therefore require a wider stance width. Stance widths are adjustable but taking it to the extreme will make your use of the sidecut less efficient.
Traditionally, people would size a snowboard by standing a board up and checking that it came up to the chin. In reality different riding styles and board types means that this method is pretty limited.
For example; a snowboard for use in powder snow would be sized up a bit to allow for more float while one for beginners and freestyle riders may be sized down to aid manoeuvrability and rotational speed.

Shoe size(Wide Boards):
If you have larger than average feet for your height you may need to look for a board marked “Wide” or “W”. The added width in these boards means that you won’t end up dragging your toes or heels in the snow when leaning harder into turns. If you already have a snowboard in mind but you wear big shoes you can look out for boots with reduced footprint that may allow you to keep riding on a regular width board.



Snowboard Characteristics:

As mentioned earlier you can size your snowboard up or down depending on the type of riding you want to do, but as a beginner the most important factor is choosing a size that matches your height and weight. Longer boards have more edge hold and are more stable at speed. While shorter boards have less swing weight and feel more at home in the park.

Wider boards means more float. Some powder snowboards look way shorter than their resort focused counterparts but since soft powder doesn’t need edge grip you can get away with riding shorter, wider boards that give the same float as longer, regular boards.
There is a trade-off, however. Wider boards take more time and more effort to switch between edges on hard or pisted snow. Also, shorter boards lose some longitudinal (nose to tail) stability as you are decreasing the length of base in contact with the snow.


Flex is massively important and is responsible for how a board feels and responds to input from the rider and the terrain.
As a beginner you will find it easier to use a softer flexing board. This will allow you to pedal and initiate turns with less force as well as being a more forgiving board when mistakes happen.
As you improve your riding and want to push more power through the turns you may want to go for a slightly stiffer board that can handle it and feel more controlled at speed.

  •  Soft Flex:
    Ideal for jibbing and park riding where you want to get the most out of presses and butters. As softer boards require less force to bend they are easier to perform technical manoeuvres at lower speeds. Also Ideal for beginners still learning to control the board.
  •  Medium Flex:
    Good for freestyle and all mountain riding. They have enough flex to allow for easy turn initiation while maintaining enough resistance to feel stable at faster speeds and steeper terrain. Still possible to ride park although your butters will be hard work. Medium flex is ideal for trips where you want to ride piste and powder in the same day on the same board.
  • Stiff Flex:
    Normally found in freeride and carving snowboards. Stiff flex is designed to give you better response, edge hold, and control at speed on steep and/or icy slopes. The added stiffness means that the board is able to offer much greater edge hold at speed and provides a stable platform for carving. Additionally, stiffer boards are great for riding powder as they don’t deform with the snow surface and make for a much smoother ride when it gets chopped up!



Camber Profiles:

Exaggerated snowboard camber profiles for illustration. 

Camber profiles refers to the shape of the board when looked at from the side. There are several main types to choose from and each has merits and disadvantages.

Traditional Camber snowboard:
With the tip and tail raised a camber snowboard has the contact points touching the floor and a smooth arch up between them. Sort of like a bow. When you ride a camber snowboard the shape is squashed and tries to push back which ends up creating a good even pressure along the length of the side-cut. These snowboards generate lots of pop and have great edge hold. Generally good for most types of riding.


Rocker snowboard:
When looked at side on it’s more like a banana with the tip and tail contact points both off the floor. This profile provides a much looser, surfy, feel. Pretty much the exact opposite of traditional camber, this profile excels in the park and the powder where edge grip is less important. For beginners it also allows for easy turn initiation and a more forgiving ride as there is less chance of catching edges. The disadvantage is that with reduced edge hold comes less control and stability at speed. So, while it may be easier for most park features if you are looking to ride pipe then you may want to look for a snowboard with more grip.


Flat or Zero Camber snowboard:
Usually found in park or freestyle snowboards this profile is flat between the contact points. This allows it to be catch free like a rocker board but still have a bit of edge hold more like a camber board. There are some disadvantages though as these snowboards won’t be as stable at speed as traditional camber and won’t be quite as loose and surfy as a rocker snowboard. Flat boards can be versatile and depending on the construction can maintain pop better than rocker snowboards.


Hybrid Rocker Camber Snowboards:
These snowboard profiles cover every mix of camber and rocker and all in between. They generally tend to be a combination of camber and rocker with the ultimate goal of offering the best of both worlds. While some maybe a powder profile that also works on the piste, others might be designed to offer control for kickers and pipe with forgiving properties for rails, boxes, and landing spins.
Each manufacture has their own types so definitely check the manufactures specs on these snowboards.


Powder Profile:
Designed specifically for the soft stuff. Generally, these snowboards have lots of float in the nose and either camber, rocker, or flat between the bindings. Powder riding is more rear foot dominant, so most will have back seat camber offering a bit of control near the back binding. The overall design will be specialised for specific factors depending on if the snowboard is more for side country and in bounds or backcountry and off-piste.


For Beginners:

Everyone is different in how quickly they progress and what they want to achieve, but we can apply some general guidelines for selecting you first board.
1) Use the sizing charts and go for a snowboard that is in the middle of you recommended range.
2) Look for snowboards with softer flex ratings
3) Hybrid camber, or Rocker will be the most forgiving to begin with.

Beginner snowboards tend to be softer flexing with forgiving cambers but if you want one that’s a bit different you can also look to some of the high end park snowboards that incorporate those features too! 


When buying a snowboard, it is important to think about how much time on snow you are likely to have. Going to the mountains for 1 week a year means you won’t progress as quickly compared to if you were going out for the whole season!
To get the most from your snowboard look to choose one that you can progress with and that will help you get into the areas of the mountain you want to go!


We have 30 years of experience as a leading UK snowboard shop and our team are all experienced riders who are totally happy to talk about snowboards all day! So, if you are at all confused or need any extra information just give them a call or an email!  It will probably make their day!

Click here for our full range of snowboards!


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