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It’s that time of year again. During late summer and early fall, board companies start rolling out their new snowboard decks and updates to old pro models. And with a little stimulus money leftover, you have the cash to buy a new snowboard (or two).
In order to guide your next purchase, we’ve crafted a quick and easy snowboard finder. Read on to learn more.
First, start by answering some questions about your riding.
What kind of terrain do you ride? Guesstimate the number of days you spent riding the park, all over the resort, or touring the backcountry. The goal is to build out a snowboard quiver based on how much you are realistically riding in the aforementioned categories.
For example, if you evenly split your time between those types of terrain, it’d be wise to have a snowboard for each occasion (A quiver). However, if you ride park sparingly at best, you don’t really need a park snowboard.
Next, check the snowboard finder for your size.
We highly recommend you read our post, 5 Things You Need to Know About Snowboard Sizes. Based on the terrain and size(s) you actually ride, assess what’s available. You can also refer to our Snowboard Size Chart to help choose the best snowboard for your height and weight.
Park snowboards will have a mid-range flex (i.e. 5 out of 10, sometimes less), enabling you to press, pivot, and butter. This helps with sliding boxes and rails but is not always ideal for jumps and pipe.
If you are an occasional park rider, it’s worth adding a dedicated park board to your snowboard quiver. Though park riding has grown out of favor in the past decade, and it certainly becomes more difficult as you age, it keeps your riding sharp.
If you do prefer the halfpipe and jumps, but forego rails entirely, you can get away with skipping a park snowboard in favor of an all-mountain twin. The former requires pop and usually something a little stiffer.
This is an unfairly broad category encompassing a great number of decks, including:
Larger, more directional boards for big mountain riding. These can be potentially terrible for the wrong rider. They require a significant amount of lower body strength and technical ability, making them the go-to for expert snowboard freerider. For some, this is a powder-day-only board, or a location-dependent board, something you might ride at Snowbird, Taos, Arapahoe Basin.
However, for others, it’s remarkably unforgiving due to the lack of flex and twisting ability.
Slightly less aggressive directional or twin boards for riding bumps, trees, steeps, and groomers in the resort. This is a popular go-to option for people who ride all over the mountain and want one board to be able to do that. In part because of the growth in backcountry freestyle, twin all-mountain boards are also increasingly popular. They are preferable to straight directional for people who enjoy riding switch.
Stiff, sometimes painfully stiff boards that, yes, are “all-mountain” but are really built for riding groomers. Groomers unfairly get a bad rep, particularly in the Wasatch mountain range where powder days abound. However, they are fundamental for dialing in turns throughout your snowboarding career and prepare you for bigger, more technical descents. Additionally, as you age, and your knees crumble to dust from too many cased landings, you’ll appreciate the ability to turn on corduroy. That said, there’s a pretty solid case to be made for adding this to your quiver if you’re a mature rider.
Powder snowboards are usually heavily tapered (wider nose than tail), sometimes feature a swallowtail shape, and vary greatly in sizes depending on the latter two factors.
The major benefits of a powder snowboard are twofold: first, the taper and/or swallowtail create a flotation experience not unlike surfing; second, you do not burn out particularly your back leg in order to create said floating experience.
When you review any snowboard finder, you’ll notice powder snowboards will range in stiffness and size. A great many people prefer smaller swallowtail boards, which ride quite a bit bigger than they actually are. They also are incredibly nimble.
If you live in the Midwest or the East Coast, you do not need this deck. Save your money.
If you live anywhere in the Pacific Northwest or California, a powder snowboard is mandatory for cruising the wet, dense maritime snowpack on powder days.
Despite the attractive novelty of having a quiver of powder boards, which most riders over 30 seem to possess and grow with great intensity, you can get away with riding an all-mountain deck on those six-inch powder days in the Intermountain West. However, it is still arguably mandatory to have a powder board for deeper days, i.e. a foot or more.
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