Man stood in snow with snowboard wearing bright yellow jacketMan stood in snow with snowboard wearing bright yellow jacket

Snowboard Buying Guide

How To Choose A Snowboard

Choosing the perfect snowboard can totally transform your experience on the snow. Going from a hire snowboard to your own will allow you progress faster and enjoy it much more, as you will get to know how the snowboard reacts to your instructions. But it can be pretty easy to get bogged down when looking at snowboards if you're not sure what you're looking for.

With so many different profiles and technologies to choose from even the most knowledgeable rider can get lost. Don't worry, to help you get the right board we've broken down all the components into manageable pieces that should make your decision much simpler!

Anatomy Of A Snowboard

Snowboard layersImage

Image source: Signal Snowboards

 

Snowboard Profile

Camber

Rider level: Intermediate – Advanced
Terrain: Piste, All mountain

Camber refers to a curved contact area of the base at the tip and tail of the board - imagine a subtle rainbow shape, that is what the board looks like when lying flat. This shape creates a stable riding platform, holds an edge well and makes ollies easy. Because the board reacts precisely to any rider movement, this profile can be a little difficult for beginners to master.

camber snowboardcamber snowboard

Reverse Camber

Rider level: Beginner – Intermediate
Terrain:Backcountry, Park

Reverse camber or full rocker describes a snowboard that gently rises up from the centre to the tip and tail (a subtle U shape). This profile floats well in powder and is easy to control however it can struggle with stability at high speed.

reverse camber snowboardreverse camber snowboard

Flat

Rider Level: Beginner – Advanced
Terrain:All mountain, Backcountry, Park

A board with flat or zero camber lays flush on a level surface and spreads pressure evenly across the snow. It is stable, rides well on rails and less catchy than a traditional camber.

Flat snowboardFlat snowboard

Hybrid

Rider Level: Beginner – Advanced
Terrain: All mountain, Backcountry, Park

Blending rocker and camber, a hybrid profile uses rocker in the middle of the board and camber under the feet, before changing back to rocker at the tip and tail. The result is a relaxed ride that still holds a solid edge when you need it to.

hybrid snowboardhybrid snowboard

Camber/Rocker

Rider Level: Beginner – Advanced
Terrain: All mountain, Backcountry, Park

Camber between the feet and a mellow rocker out to the tip and tail - this mix is stable, poppy and more forgiving than full camber.

camber rocker snowboardcamber rocker snowboard

3BT

Rider Level:Beginner – Advanced
Terrain: All mountain, Backcountry, Park

Along the length the board there is traditional camber - at the tip and tail there is a horizontal rocker. This horizontal rocker is what makes this snowboard unique and very easy to turn and therefor learn on. Because the profile incorporates traditional camber the board remains lively and chatter-free at high speeds.

triple base snowboardtriple base snowboard

Snowboard Shape & Riding Style

Twin-Tip - Freestyle

true twin snowboard shapetrue twin snowboard shape

Identical flex, shape, and weight at the nose and tail, a true twin snowboard performs the same whether you are riding regular or switch. If you like riding park, domes or jibbing, this snowboard shape is a great choice.

Directional - All-Terrain, Backcountry

directional all terrain backcountry snowboard shapedirectional all terrain backcountry snowboard shape

The front end of a directional board is wider, has a more aggressive sidecut and the binding inserts are closer to the tail. These changes make the board easier to turn and float in deeper snow - ideal if you don’t ride switch much and prefer the piste than park.

Directional Twin - All-Terrain

directional twin all terrain snowboard shapedirectional twin all terrain snowboard shape

The best of both worlds, a directional twin is a mixture of a true twin shape and a directional flex and binding position. When riding switch you get the same snappy response, whilst turns and ollies are easier travelling regular.

For more info about snowboard shapes have a read of our tech series blog.

Snowboard Flex & Riding Style

Soft Flex - Freestyle

Soft boards are easy to turn at low speed and don't overreact to your movement, forgiving mistakes you might make on rails and kickers. Their response at low speed makes them perfect for jibbing and indoor riding, but they can feel unstable at high speeds.

soft flex snowboardsoft flex snowboard

Medium Flex - All-Mountain

Versatile enough to ride park, piste or powder this flex can handle everything. A useful board for beginners/intermediates and those who only want to buy one snowboard rather than a whole quiver for each terrain.

Medium Flex SnowboardMedium Flex Snowboard

Stiff Flex - Freeride

Versatile enough to ride park, piste or powder this flex can handle everything. A useful board for beginners/intermediates and those who only want to buy one snowboard rather than a whole quiver for each terrain.

Stiff flex SnowboardStiff flex Snowboard

Snowboard Length

Snowboards in a rowSnowboards in a row

A multitude of factors (height, terrain, riding style, etc) come into play when deciding what length of board to get. Traditionally you may have been told to get a board that rests against your chin, however the best and most trusted element to use is your weight. Snowboard manufacturers spend a lot of time researching, testing and engineering boards to work with certain loads rather than heights!

In the product description of every snowboard we sell there is a chart outlining the dimensions, length and suggested weight. If you are on the cusp of a weight range and unsure which board to get you can use our Live Chat, phone our customer service team or drop into our stores and have a chat to our experts to establish which is the way to go.

e.g Salomon Gypsy dimensions.

SizeNose WidthWaist WidthTail WidthSidecut RadiusRider Weight
127cm27.723.427.76.5< 30 - 50 kg
133cm2823.6286.733 - 55 kg
138cm28.323.828.3735 - 60 kg

Freestyle

Short and stubby, most people tend to run these boards a little bit shorter than others. This helps you with control over the board on rails and boxes, and a blunt nose aids spins.

All-mountain

Middle of the road, they provide enough stability for bombing runs and aggressive turns whilst remaining forgiving on more technical terrain. A narrower waist offers more control for riders allowing them to switch edge-to-edge quicker.

Freeride

Generally longer and a wider freeride boards float well in deep snow with the rider's binding position set back to help keep the nose up and reduce fatigue.

Snowboard Width

The toes and heel of your boots should just be hanging off the edge of the board by around half an inch. This lets you drive power into the edge when turning. If your boots hang off by any more than you may get toe or heel drag (the boot contacts the snow and removes pressure from your snowboard edge resulting in it slipping out from beneath you).

Men's Boots SizeMen's Snowboard widthWomen's Boot SizeWomen's Snowboard Width
5 - 9Regular1.5 - 4.5Regular
9 - 10.5Mid-wide4.5 - 7.5Mid-wide
10.5>Wide7.5>Wide

Snowboard Sidecut

Snowboard sidecutSnowboard sidecut

The sidecut on a snowboard is the shape of the edge running along the side of a snowboard - this arc (sidecut radius) determines the path a snowboard takes when turning.

  • The deeper the sidecut the tighter you turn.
  • The thinner the sidecut the wider you turn.
sidecut radiussidecut radius

Radial

A deep sidecut mean a narrow waist for quick edge to edge performance and on hard pack piste you can rip a big carve turn. The disadvantage is that in having a narrow waist your board will struggle lift in deep snow with a small footprint.

Progressive

At the contact points (the widest parts of the boards at the tip and tail) the sidecut radius is large and mellow, easing you into the turn before the radius becomes shorter at the feet accelerating you out of the turn.

Multiple

Several different sidecut radius sizes are used on the same board. Generally large at the tip and smaller at the waist this allows you to have a nimble board at low speed that also remains solid at high speed.

Asymmetrical

When you stand on a snowboard your body and weight distribution is not symmetrical due to your centre of balance. As a result of this it is easier to apply pressure to your toe edge than heel. Having a heel edge with a slightly smaller sidecut radius enables you to put less force into a turn yet it responds the same as your toe edge.

Magna-Traction

A traditional snowboard has two contact points at the tip and tail. A serrated edge such as found in snowboards feating Magna-Traction increases the contact points with the snow, providing more grip and stability. If your snowboard has a rocker profile Magna-Traction can add much-needed hold in turns.

Snowboard Bases Explained

Snowboard baseSnowboard base

Extruded Bases

Melted granules of plastic are heated and cooled before being rolled out in to a thin sheet to form the base. This base suits park riders, beginners and those on a tighter budget.

  • Cheaper to produce than a sintered base, making for a more affordable board.
  • Easier to repair gouges/damage.
  • Only a minimal drop off in performance when the board has no wax in it because it can only absorb a small amount in the first place.

Sintered

Large granules are compressed into a block and thin layers are skived off the block to make the base. Found in more expensive snowboards it is great for freeride terrain, intermediate/advanced riders and those who want the best performance. The higher the grade, the faster and harder the base will be. Some manufacturers will add additional elements to make the base even faster.

  • Holds more wax per inch than an extruded base (smaller grains packed together create more gaps in the base to absorb the wax).
  • More speed than an extruded base when waxed.
  • Is tougher than an extruded base so it is harder to damage/gouge.

Learn more about snowboard bases here.


If you are still unsure which snowboard is for you then there is no better way then trying a few boards on the slopes and seeing which one you like. You can demo our snowboards at any of our indoor dome stores (Tamworth, Milton Keynes, Braehead or Castleford) and you can always get more advice from our experienced in-store staff.

Take a look at our other buying guides

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