Published in Whitelines Magazine Buyer's Guide Issue, Winter 2010-2011
Snowboards vary hugely depending on what they’re designed to do. It used to be said that boards fell into two general categories – freestyle boards (for park riding) and freeride boards (for piste or powder cruising). These days however, so many riders do a bit of both - and so many boards are designed to do a bit of both - that the old distinction is almost meaningless. So in our board directory we’ve been more specific and divided the boards up into five types. And here, we’ve produced a handy flow chart to help you work out what type will suit you and your riding style best.
Let’s hope you’re a woman. While you can ride boards built for blokes, to get the most out of snowboarding you really need a board that’s specially designed for your smaller stature. Women’s boards tend to be shorter than men’s, and have smaller waist widths designed for smaller feet. Girls also have a different centre of gravity and shift their weight differently from guys when turning, and women’s boards are designed to reflect this. Because the female-specific snowboard market is smaller, we’ve put all the woman’s boards together in a single section. So whether you’re a total beginner or an expert shredder you’ll be able to find something to suit you in here. Regardless of the type of rider you are, shredding on a womans-specific stick will beat riding your male mates’ boards every time. Turn to page 110 for the womens boards.
You’re heading off snowboarding for the first time, and you fancy getting off to a good start on the right equipment. Alternatively, you may have spent a few weeks learning on rental boards and you’re sick of the blunt edges, the lack of control, and the fact that the French ski-rental people are totally clueless. Either way, this is likely to be the first board you have bought. You want a board that’ll help you improve quickly. Progressive boards tend to have a softish flex that makes carving easy. Some have rocker profiles, making them forgiving. They often combine this with a directional twin shape, so you can ride switch when you’re ready. They tend to be made of cheap, durable materials –so you won’t have to sell your sister into slavery to buy one. Turn to page 76 for the progressive boards.
You love jibbing – rails, picnic tables, bus shelters, whatever, you’ll slide it. You spend most of your time in the park hitting up handrails in a bid to be the next Jed Anderson or LNP. You probably shred dryslope or domes when you’re back in the UK, and you were mad keen on taking it to the streets when we had all that snow last January. The board that’ll suit you will probably have a soft flex for easy butters and presses. It’ll probably be twin-tipped, for easy switch riding and may well be rockered. Jib board stend to be made of solid, simple materials, making them strong and inexpensive. Plenty of people have a jib board as a second stick because, although they’re not suitable for powder days, there’s nothing better for hitting up the park, or your local dryslope. Turn to page 82 for the jib boards.
Powder is what it’s all about for you. In fact, you pretty much live for the fluffy white stuff, and that incredible floaty feeling you get as you put in a high-speed pow turn. You want a board that will help you get the most out of precious moments like those, and ensure you’re always smiling on a powder day. Big mountain boards are specialised beasts with deeper sidecuts and set backstances to help you float and turn easier. They tend to be stiff and may have tapered or swallow tail shapes. Built for speed, these boards are often made of the most advanced materials, making them relatively expensive, and while they are great in powder, their unorthodox shapes can make riding switch pretty much impossible. For that reason, many people own a big mountain board as a second stick, to be brought out when the storms roll in. Turn to page 104 for the big mountain boards.
You love everything about snowboarding, and any riding is good riding to you– whether it’s sessioning the park, charging the piste or putting in a sweet pow turn. Unfortunately, you can’t really justify buying a whole quiver-full of specialist sticks, so the one board you do buy needs to be able to do it all. All-mountain boards are go-anywhere, do-anything machines. Because they cater for such a catch-all constituency, their characteristics can vary quite a lot. Boards at the jibby end of the all-mountain spectrum may twin-tipped with a soft-flex, but there are also stiffer all-mountain boards for those who love speed. They may be cambered, rockered, or a combination of both. The materials these boards are made of also vary greatly, meaning that there is an all-mountain board to suit most people’s riding style and price range. Turn to page 86 for the all mountain boards.