What Kind of Snowboard Should a Beginner Ride?
Snowboarding is all about strapping your feet to a plank of wood, then riding down and around a snowy mountain, sometimes jumping off things. That plank of wood, or fiberglass, metal and plastic, is the piece of equipment you live by. It is the link between yourself and the mountain, and the board you choose should reflect your skill and style of riding.
While a beginner might dream about catching big air in the half pipe and landing 720 spins in the backcountry, the truth is that snowboarding has a steep learning curve. To begin with, you will be more concerned with staying upright, learning how to link turns together and how to stop. Any jumps you do will probably be limited to practicing small jumps on the trails, known as ollies.
At the beginning, you will be best served with a general purpose, all-around board that will help you learn. According to Onboard Magazine's guide to buying a snowboard, as a beginner you should look for a basic freestyle model, as they are easier and more forgiving. More advanced boards can be so responsive that the slightest movement will throw you off balance if you are inexperienced, while some may be nearly impossible for a beginner to turn.
For a basic snowboard model, the most important consideration is the length. Your board should come up to roughly between your chin and your nose. The heavier you are, the longer you want your board to be. A shorter board tends to be more responsive and better for tricks and jumps, while a longer board is more stable and better suited to riding the slopes and fresh powder. Next, you should consider flexibility. A beginner board should be reasonably soft, making for an easier ride.
To attach yourself to your snowboard, you will need bindings. These are screwed to your board and hold your boots in place, translating your movements to your board. There are three main types. The step-in binding is quick and convenient but less responsive. The strap-in binding consists of a highback and adjustable buckle straps, which give the best response. Hybrid bindings such as the flow binding hold your boot with a strap or enclosure usually attached with a single quick-release clip, offering a compromise between convenience and responsiveness.
As a beginner, you should probably begin by renting a snowboard. That way, you will be able to try the board and decide whether it suits you. It will also be cheaper, unless you are riding regularly. A beginner's board will roughly run about $150 to $200, while bindings and boots can add $100 to $200. Save your money until you are more familiar with your snowboarding requirements.
- snowboard detail image by Galyna Andrushko from Fotolia.com