So You Think You Ride?

Five things to consider when buying a snowboard

By Larissa Geilen, Grace Miller, and Hannah Schlote


Living in Colorado practically makes you a snowboarder, or skier, by default. Sorry skiers, but this article is for the riders. The following is a quick-guide for buying a new snowboard. Whether it’s your first board or you’ve been riding for years, this guide can help you find the best choice for your ability level and riding style.

Ability Level
A snowboarder’s ability level is ranked as such: beginner, intermediate, advanced and expert. If your ability level falls between beginner-intermediate, you don’t need a board designed for someone with expert ability. A beginner may have the best luck shopping for snowboard packages, which include bindings and sometimes boots. Someone who has been riding for a longer period of time may already have boots and bindings that work for them. Beginner boards have a tendency to be cheaper and more “basic” if you will. These boards are often wider and more stable than boards purchased by someone with an advanced-expert ability level. Make sure that when you purchase a board, you buy one that suits your ability level, not just one that is “cool” looking.

Riding Style or Preferred Terrain
No two riders are exactly the same, and it’s important to take into account your riding style or preferred terrain when buying a snowboard. Do you like to ride freestyle in the park? Or maybe you only make the trek up to the mountains if there’s a foot of fresh powder. Perhaps you enjoy spending your day on laid back groomers. These things are important to consider when buying a snowboard. If you are just starting out, or you’re like physics teacher Matt Wilson and like a little bit of everything, it’s best to purchase a board labeled “all-mountain” until you figure out what you prefer.
“I would consider myself an All-Mountain snowboarder. I enjoy everything from groomers to tree runs and a little bit of the terrain park,” Wilson said. These boards are versatile and can conquer the mountain in all conditions. A “free-ride” board is best suited for riding groomed runs, they’re a bit longer and stiffer than other boards. A “freestyle” board is best designed to take on the park, these boards are often shorter than others. While any board can be a powder board if set up properly, boards marketed as powder boards can have a wider nose or have more rocker than camber (see board structure).

Board Style
Directional? Asymmetrical? True twin? If these words make your head spin, you’re in the right place.
A directional board is designed to be rode in one direction. If you are known to ride “goofy”*, then a directional board may not be the best choice for you.
A board labeled “true twin” is completely symmetrical. These boards are a good choice for a park rider as they can easily be ridden in both directions. Goofy riders, these boards are a good choice for you.
Asymmetrical boards are a bit more complicated. The toe-edge of an asymmetrical board can be a longer cut while the heel side is a shorter cut. These boards are better for riders with advanced ability levels.
*- A “goofy” rider rides down the mountain with their right foot in front. A “standard” or “regular” rider rides down the mountain with their left foot in front. There’s nothing wrong with riding goofy, it’s just a term used to differentiate between the two.

Board Structure- aka Rocker Type (camber and rocker)
Rocker type or board structure can be a bit complicated for beginners. At the root, camber is the “traditional” style for snowboards. Rocker is essentially camber turned upside-down. Boards can have a profile of rocker/camber/rocker, camber/rocker/camber, or solely camber or solely rocker. Below is an illustration available on While a  camber board is very responsive and stable, a rocker board is more “playful” and is good for riding in powder. All in all, the profile or structure of your board comes down to personal preference

Price Range
It’s no secret that snowsports can be outrageously expensive- that’s why we want to give you a few pointers on staying in your price range. Now that you know a bit more about what snowboard suits you, you can focus on purchasing a snowboard that caters to your needs and doesn’t cost more than it has to.
One of the best ways to save money is to visit the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Expo. Unfortunately the dates of this expo have already passed for this season, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be prepared to buy a new board when it happens next (Nov. 16-18, 2018). The expo takes place at the Colorado Convention Center and happens to house some of the best deals.
Another great tip is to visit the Colorado Ski and Golf Ski-Rex event, which again, happens early in the year before ski-season is up and running. This event is advertised as the nation’s largest ski and snowboard sale, so check it out if you can.
If you need a board and can’t wait for one of these two events to roll around, it’s best to visit or to explore your options and compare prices, specs, and styles in order to get the best bang for your buck. Happy riding!

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