With winter fast approaching, snow-capped mountains are on many of our minds. But whether you plan to head to an indoor slope, or fly to exotic powder-filled destinations, buying a board is key to get the most out of your riding experience.
There’s hundreds of makes and models out there, all which promise their specs are better than everyone else’s. But the truth is, if the board isn’t right for you then you’re getting nowhere on the mountain. And if you want me to say; “Just choose a colour that matches your suit, or a design which will make you look cool on the slopes,” then sorry – doing that could not only hold you back, but also can cause injury to you or others. If it’s too big/fast/small/stiff/flexy, then you could find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong board.
Here’s our guide to a few things you should think about in a board…
Riding level and style
Beginner – you’ve been on the slopes once or twice, or just at the snow centre.
Intermediate – can control turns on the slopes, comfortable up to reds, some blacks, and beginner freestyle.
Advanced – comfortable at high speeds on and off piste, as well as in the park
If you’re a beginner, don’t get an advanced board, and the same the other way around. Before you buy a board you also need to think what you will be using it for.
Freeride boards – cruising all over the mountain, on and off-piste – generally stiffer for high speeds
Freestyle boards – fun for playing in the park, tricks, and are useful for beginners as are usually more flexible so easier to manoeuvre. Just not so secure at speed.
There’s no definitive guide for length of a board but it is one of the most important factors to consider. The longer the board the faster it will be, but if it’s too long then you won’t be able to control it easily. The length is measured from the tip to the tail, and can start from about 100cm up to about 180cm. Most girls’ boards are around 140-152cm whereas most guy’s board range from 150-160cm. But it does depend on your weight too. The lighter you are, the shorter your board will generally be as bigger boards will be harder to control.
Shorter boards are easier to manoeuvre and generally learn on, as well as good for pipe and park riding. So for snow centres and freestyle, stick shorter, but for freeriding and deep powder (as your nose will need to be kept in the air) you will need longer boards for speed and stability.
General guide – short board goes up to around your collar bone, medium boards just above your chin, longer boards up to your eyes.
Consider width too – if you have big feet, choose a wider board as you don’t want toe drag.
If you’re a beginner, stick to more flexible boards with higher torsional flex. They are easier to gain confidence and learn to turn on. If you like the park or are sticking to the snow centres, then more flexible boards are best for freestyle as are lighter and easier to twist and spin.
For backcountry, piste-riding, speed, or powder, stiffer boards will give you more control and speed.
Top 5 tips
- Try before you buy – how a board feels may be very different from the brand blurb
- Many brands hold test days early winter – check out your local snow centre or mountain
- Looks aren’t everything – Don’t just buy a board because it’s pretty/colourful/sweet graphics
- Speak to stores – many store sellers have tested boards and experience on the mountain, and will be sure to give you advice. If they just try and sell you the most expensive board then go somewhere else – sometimes the cheaper boards are best for your needs.
- Shop around – brand blurb can often be deceptive – look up some reviews online, see what others say about how it rides.