A Guide to Buying the Perfect Snowboard

By Khai Johannes Nov 16, 2021
The quest to finding your perfect board can be a daunting task. Breaking down what makes a snowboard can help you understand which board is meant for you.
A Guide to Buying the Perfect Snowboard

King Arthur had Excalibur, Schmiegel had his ‘precious’ and that guy in “The Notebook” had that girl. You’re looking for something special in your life. Something to bring completion to your world. You want your perfect snowboard. This is an achievable quest, but you’ll need a guide. King Author had Merlin, Schmiegel had unhealthy and unchecked impulses, that guy from “The Notebook” had his hormones and you’ve got me! Let’s begin this journey.

Length & Width
Before we complicate things, here’s the easiest rules of thumb:
-Standing the board up on it’s tail the nose should reach somewhere between your upper chest to your nose
-The board’s width should be able to fit the entirety of your boot to avoid toe or heel drag
-The board’s length and width are tailored to the rider's height and weight. See Rossignol's size chart for more.

Now… let’s complicate things. While your height and weight do play a large role in what size board to buy, so does the board’s purpose. Shorter boards (like Rossignol’s Sushi) compensate for its short length by making it wider. In contrast, slalom boards are going to be much longer than a standard board and to bring balance to the ride, and they are much skinnier. Before we leave this deceptively complicated subject, one important thought we do need to keep in mind when purchasing a board is that a board's length and width will be impacted by the rider's height, weight, skill level and the board's purpose.

Our quest now lands us in the village of characteristics. Snowboards manipulate four different characteristics to help the board thrive in the terrain and the riding style it’s designed for. 

1. Flex:
Snowboard flex is based on a scale from playful to stiff. It can also be determined on a scale from 1 - 10; 1 being most playful and 10 being most stiff. A board with a more playful flex is going to provide riders with a much more manipulative and responsive ride at slow to medium speeds. At higher speeds, playful boards may give a lot more chatter. Stiffer boards, on the other hand, will give a more stable ride at high speeds. 

2. Rocker/Camber:
This describes the profile of the board. The first era of snowboards featured only camber, which resembles a mustache or elongated ‘w’ on the boards toe or heel side. Cambered boards have more pop and hold an edge very well. Fast forward and rocker profiles were introduced. This style looks like a banana or unenthusiastic ‘u’. Boards with this profile float much better in powder and initiate turns easier. These days, most boards now include a mixture of both and understanding the two can help decide the profile of your board-to-be. 

3. Shape:

Twin: These are boards have a nose and tail that are mirror images of each other. If you were to fold a twin-shaped board in half, it would lay over itself perfectly. Twin boards are great for riding switch (non-dominate foot forward). These boards are also centered stance meaning the rider’s weight is in the middle of the board.

Directional: These boards have a wider nose than the tail and the stance often shifts the rider's weight further to the back of the board, making the tail shorter. This is advantageous for keeping the board floating on deep days. This also implies the board is a one-way ride (not ideal for switch).  

4. Sidecut:
The sidecut on a snowboard is how much or how little your board tapers in at the middle. The more narrow the side cut, the faster and more agile the turns. Great for quick turns in tight trees or the park. The wider the sidecut, the larger and more drawn out the turns are. Larger sidecuts make for beautiful, drawn-out carves and stability through them.

With those powers combined they create; boards with a purpose. Here are a few examples from our partners at Rossignol.


The Beginner

Rossignol Circuit (Women’s comp: Gala)
Flex: 3 (1 soft - 10 stiff)
Profile: Patented AMPEK AUTO TURN (10% rocker in nose, 80% underfoot, 10% rocker in tail)
Shape: Directional

All these traits are tailored towards beginners and their progression. With a softer flex and rocker camber, this board is going to allow those new to the sport to initiate their first turns with ease. The Circuit’s softer flex is going to offer a gentle grip on edges, keeping the ride catch-free. This board would thrive in open groomers like Park City’s High Meadow and continued to Chicane when you’re ready.


The Surfer

Flex: 6
Profile: Mostly camber between the feet with rocker in extremities
Shape: Directional

Considering it's named after dead fish, this board has a lot of life and is tailored to specific snow enthusiasts. A short tail, wide nose and volume-shifted stance will keep this surf-shape floating on the deepest days. Offered in a 144 length with a side cut of 6.8, the sushi will whip through the tightest tree runs. Perfect for the rider who enjoys that surf style, with big slashes. While this board can rip in a ton of places, it will really shine in tree runs like those accessed from Brighton’s Hard Coin or Pioneer or in deep powder anywhere.


The Mountain Goat

XV (Women’s comp: After Hours)
Flex: 7
Profile: Camber between the feet with rocker in tip and tail
Shape: Directional

This is the quiver killer for the rider who wants to charge hard. Designed for the aggressive free-rider, the XV has a larger sidecut for deep carves. It also features a serrated edge that’s going to help you maintain your edge on steep or windblown terrain. The stiffer flex is going to offer a stable ride at high speeds with the ability to plow through chunder. If you’re the rider who is willing to hike for fresh snow down steep chutes, like Snowbird’s West Baldy you’ve met your ideal riding partner.


The Park Rat

Flex: 7
Profile: Camber
Shape: Twin
Featuring a full camber, this board will offer that timeless pop camber profile is known for. This board has the optimal flex for a park board; soft through the tips and stiffening up towards the middle. This board is as straight and to the point as you wished your last tinder date was. If being airborne through Woodward’s park is your ideal way to spend an afternoon or evening, grab a Retox!

As our journey comes to its final act, it's time for some self-reflection to help understand what board is right for you. When you’re planning your day on the mountain, where are you finding the most joy? Are you needing steep and deep to get you going or is it more the airborne life with rails and boxes? Deciding on your board’s purpose will help narrow down the type of board to look for. This is more of a guidance than rules set in stone. The best way to see what works best for you is to get out and ride! Reach out to your favorite ski shop and book a demo before you arrive.