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Before You Buy a Snowboard

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Buying a snowboard is a major investment. Like all big investments, a certain amount of research should be done before plunking down your hard earned money to ensure you're getting the best board possible. Read on to learn about the different types of boards, how to determine what size board is best, and when the best time to buy is.

Determine Your Riding Style

The type of riding you do should be the biggest influence on the type of board you purchase. The biggest difference, equipment-wise, exists between Freestyle/All-Mountain riding and the race disciplines. Race equipment, also referred to as Alpine gear consists of hard-boots that closely resemble ski boots, as well as longer, stiff-flexing directional boards and specialized bindings. Unless you are an advanced intermediate or above, you'll want to look for freestyle/all-mountain equipment, which features softer flexing boards, soft boots, and either strap-in or step-in bindings.

How Tall Should My Board Be?

All snowboards are measured in centimeters from tip to tail, with the last two numbers often incorporated into the board's name (so a Burton Custom 56 would be 156cm tall).

Beginners and freestyle riders generally look for shorter boards to enable them to maneuver easier - between the collarbone and chin is a good height. All-mountain riders tend to prefer a slightly longer board, measuring between the chin and the nose.

Riders that spend most of their time in the riding big mountain terrain and deep powder should look for a taller board, generally measuring between the nose to several inches above the forehead.

How Wide Should My Board Be?

The final factor in determining the proper sized board is the width. Standing on top of a properly sized board, your feet should stretch almost entirely across the board. Too much distance between your feet and the edges makes it difficult to apply pressure to get the board to turn, while having your toes and/or heels overhanging the edges of the board results in drag that can cause unintended falls. Fortunately for riders with large feet, many manufacturers produce their boards in both regular and wide models.

How Stiff Should My Board Be?

The stiffness of a snowboard affects both how easy it is to turn as well as how well it will hold an edge on hard snow. Freestyle boards are generally softer than all-mountain boards, due to the freestyler's need to make minute adjustments when performing tricks. Beginners should always go with the softest board that can accommodate their height and weight. More advanced riders generally choose stiffer boards for harder snow (often found in the eastern U.S.) and slightly softer boards for powder (often found in the western U.S.).

Do Graphics Matter?

No. The best board for you is the best board for you, regardless of what's decorating the topsheet.
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