My winter sports career had two stages: skiing and snowboarding. Both sports proved to me that your experience will largely depend on your equipment. Poor ammunition prevents you from improving your technique and restricts your body.
A proper outfit will make you feel liberated, and you will gain more pleasure from riding. You fear less, therefore, you will progress faster. That is why I want to explain how to properly choose the best beginner snowboard, why it should be light and soft, where you can and cannot go and what you should expect during your first ride.Off we go! Here are eight golden rules.
What You Will Learn from This Guide:
- Best Beginner Snowboard Must Be Light
- What Size Snowboard Do I Need?
- Best Beginner Snowboard Must Be Universal
- How To Pick An All-Mountain Board?
- Best Beginner Snowboard Must Be Soft
- Best Beginner Snowboard Must Have Durable Mounting
- Wear Comfortable Boots
- Kids’ Beginner Snowboard
- You Can Save On Design, But Not Protection
I first visited a ski resort twelve years ago. I rushed to conquer the slope as soon as possible instead of falling and crawling in the snow for hours. That is why I picked the most durable and stable equipment: classic alpine skis. They were inexpensive as they were second-hand.
These heavy metal cast skis came together with heavy boots and long sticks. Such an outfit was preparing me for a long slide down, especially as I was in high school at that time and weighed 100 lbs. I was sliding, taking clumsy turns and stopping right in the middle of the track. I was overtaken by literally everyone, but I didn’t fall even once.
With time, I wanted to feel the speed and move in a more agile manner. Improving my technique called for buying new skis. When I saw the price tag, I even reconsidered my passion for this sport, and so I decided to give snowboarding a shot.
Standing on the board for the first time was the weirdest feeling in my life. I felt like a convict because my ankles were in shackles. Of course, those were just plastic mountings. They didn’t really press me nor they were truly heavy.
The real reason for my pain was that both my feet were tied to the board forbidding me from moving in a regular way, i.e. by switching your legs as you do when walking or skiing. There are no sticks that could support you, so you can barely take a turn without finding yourself in the snow.
Luckily, my first snowboard weighed much less than a ski, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to get up. I’m not trying to say that alpine skiing is easier. On the contrary, becoming a pro would take a few years.
However, in the beginning stage, snowboarding is much more difficult. Just like with cycling, the movements seem to be similar and simple, but learning to balance takes some time. Because of this peculiarity, I recommend choosing a beginner snowboard for your individual needs rather than buy any random board.
You’ll find two examples below. Further on, I’m going to illustrate my guide with images, so that you can understand the differences between the boards.
Light Women’s Snowboard - Head Shine
This is a board for intermediate snowboard fans. Its shape and weight contribute to comfortable riding.
Low Rigidness - Burton Ripcord
This board weighs nearly 7 lbs and is suitable for men weighing 146-190 lbs. This is one of the softest snowboards.
When you begin riding, you will sit down and put your legs up regularly to turn your body around. Why is this so difficult? Let me explain.
When I started learning how to ride a snowboard, my instructor would often ask me to tighten the mountings and slide across the slope rather than down. That exercise taught me how to slide.
Once I reached the side, I was supposed to take a turn. For that, I had to turn the nose of the board down the hill, gain some speed and transfer the weight of the body from heels to toes. Otherwise, you either fall or just stop because there is nothing ahead.
At the very beginning, it seems nearly impossible to turn. You don’t know how to transfer the weight of your body gently, and all attempts to stand on the side fail. That is why beginners sit down and perform circus tricks with their legs.
I am tempted to recommend everyone to opt for light short boards simply because they are easier to handle, but that is wrong.
Apart from your height (a board is supposed to reach your chin), you also must take into account your weight as well. Tall and heavy riders will be challenged by a long board. Thinner riders can easily invest into a shorter board.
Fun fact: nowadays your weight is the key factor influencing your board choice as it dictates all other parameters. Your sex also matters as in general, women’s boards are lighter than unisex ones. Some women, though, feel more comfortable riding a men’s board. This is usually the case when a snowboarder’s weight is above average relative to her height.
As a rule, each manufacturer has their own chart helping you pick your perfect board. A recommended length is assigned to each weight category. Don’t worry about the width as it increases proportionately to length.
However, if you have a large foot size, make sure your toes don’t stick out of the board. In this case, you should opt for a board with a “wider waist”, such as a custom Burton board.
This is a wide board for riders with a foot size over US Mens 11
Whilst you are a beginner, there is no point in buying a board that is suitable for a particular riding style (freestyle, freeride, carving or jibbing). Your preferences will change anyway. Perhaps you’ll explore new ski resorts and will fall in love with the highlands. In that case, forest riding will seem boring. Or maybe you’ll hang out with extreme sports fans and will learn new tricks. All of this will happen later; at the initial stage, it is important to learn basic tricks and not to be afraid of the mountains.
All snowboarding styles can be divided into three main categories: all-mountain, freestyle and freeride. Some board manufacturers give their own names to these categories, but the point is still the same (e.g. Park is freestyle, and Backcountry is freeride).
It is easy to remember the difference between the three.
- Freestyle reminds me of skateboarding on snow as the riders jump on rails, trampolines and do flips.
- Freeride means riding outside the tracks, out in the wild. This style is preferred by those who get bored in the resorts.
Naturally, newbies needn’t occupy themselves with this. When you are looking for the best beginner snowboard, you should aim for the golden middle, i.e an All-mountain board.
Such a board is designed for comfortable rides down different kinds of slopes: from perfect ones to icy or those slopes covered with snow. Both the nose and the end of such a board are round. All the lines are smooth, and there are no sharp edges that are so common in freeriding boards.
The good news is that the universal boards don’t undergo the same complicated tests as trick boards do, so there is no need to buy special expensive or durable items. Moreover, there is no point in figuring out different types of bends. Once again, if you go for an all-mountain snowboard, classic Camber or mixed bend will do.
This can be confusing as each brand makes up their own combination. The level of the board can be helpful.A beginner board’s design will take into account everything necessary.
Head Rush by a renowned skiing brand is a typical beginner snowboard
This is an inexpensive universal board. This unisex snowboard is suitable for men and women under 180 lbs.
A Salomon soft snowboard is a good option for female beginners
It is Super Flat, with fully developed nose and end, providing comfortable glide and control of sides.
Whenever I tell people who are unfamiliar with alpine sports about my hobby, I always deal with their surprise as they consider it to be an extreme sport. They believe a rider slides off the top of a mountain uncontrollably like a bullet, hence the misconception that you should learn how to ride away from the mountains, on small hills where you cannot reach high speed and hurt yourself.
In reality, mass snowboarding (i.e. riding on equipped tracks without performing any tricks) is far from being extreme. It is the unstable alpine weather that is more harmful for your health than the sport itself. You can slow down at any time and steep parts can be either passed with wide cross-steps or even by foot.
I’m not in the need for speed; I value freedom and the feeling of flying that a snowboard can give. When skiing, you are tightly locked to the ground.
Soft snowboards are manufactured for such slow riders as me, beginners and children. They are easy to control, even though that affects the speed. A hard board will give you a fast ride, but it is less manoeuvrable and so it will require perfect skill from your side.
This Salomon board is a perfect soft board example
Soft snowboards provide a stable riding experience.
American brand GNU takes pride in its manually crafted boards. Only riders are hired on production which is why all the details are taken into account.
Classic shape with mixed design
A medium hard snowboard is an intermediate option that can be considered as the best beginner snowboard. Here is one:
Its starting price is Check current price, the model range provides a sufficient variety of lengths.
Medium hard women’s snowboard
This board is for successful beginners as it is one step closer to advanced user snowboards.
Some items combine hardness; their end could be hard and the nose could be soft. This is acceptable for directional beginner snowboards.
In my experience, I find that the mounting should be as simple as possible. It should work quickly and open and close with one switch. Nothing that can rip off, turn or break.
That is why I don’t like a bulky mounting where you have to adjust the straps all the time. My first snowboard had a fastening with a detachable back: I would put my foot inside, raise the back and close a single clip.
Trust me, there is nothing more terrible than sitting on an icy, windy slope and trying to figure out how to mount your feet.
This aspect is so important that you should delegate it to pros. Not only do you have to attach the mounting, but you also have to adjust it to your body and set the hardness. The board, the mounting and your boots must all be configured similarly.
If you are going to do this by yourself, first read the manual. Do not hesitate to contact service (there are points at all alpine resorts) in case there is something wrong with the fastening.
You will unfasten the snowboard more often than alpine skis, so the mounting must be durable enough. Some manufacturers provide a life warranty for their mountings.
Pros like heavy boots that fix your foot tightly and help you stand properly. They will discipline you, as you will feel zero relaxation - you are not wearing slippers!
Luckily, being an amateur, I can recommend you comfortable boots with no regrets. I remember times when I was looking for alpine skiing shoes, and the shop assistant insisted on me buying proper boots that were too tight for my feet.
In theory he must have been right, but in real life they were completely unsuitable. Obviously, the shop assistant didn’t know my situation, that I have a flat foot and that I want to have some fun in the mountains rather than become a pro athlete.
I was listening to myself only when I bought my first snowboard boots. On the one hand, nothing pressed or was too tight, while on the other hand, I didn’t opt for longer boots than my foot.
On the inside, the boots are soft and their inner lining makes them warm. You can wear them with a regular sock even when it’s freezing.
Strange as it is, shoelaces are more important than you could think. Snowboarding boots have very long laces so that you could fix your leg properly.
Shoelaces must be thick and durable and made of high-quality material that won’t hurt your fingers. BOA boots don’t have laces; they are fixed with a special ring. I believe that laces are more reliable when it comes to a low budget segment.
In general, the manufacturers offer plenty of innovations: thermo-shaping (individual tailoring of the inner part) and various fillers. In my mind, you can save and omit these options.
Simple laced Burton shoes
If you are too lazy to deal with shoelaces, here are Head BOA Boots
My shoes are so comfortable that I can walk all day wearing them. I don’t know whether it is right, but I definitely like them.
When I first began riding, it was not typical of kids to snowboard, as it was considered that the board could do harm to children, unlike alpine skis. Everything has changed since then. There are more and more young boarders, and they have first-class equipment.
Choosing a child’s snowboard is even easier than picking an adult one, as everything is more conservative here. For instance, a Burton Riglet board has been the market leader for the past few years. Riding this board will require neither special boots nor mounting, as a three-year old can easily jump into this board.
Burton Riglet Snowboard Kids with a Riglet reel can be ordered separately
A reel to be pulled by an adult is supplied. It will let the kid slide on flat surfaces and learn how to snowboard from a very young age.
When buying a snowboard for older kids, pay attention to the same parameters as you would when buying an adult beginner snowboard. The weight of the entire set might as well be the most important thing.
Some cut-rate boots and boards are too heavy. High-quality products are tailored to meet children’s needs. For instance, Burton Chicklet Snowboard Girls is a stable snowboard which facilitates turning. According to the seller, it is very beginner-friendly. It can also be used together with a reel.
By no means should you try to save and buy a board for growth. Just like adults, kids have a hard time riding a long board. Pay special attention to the mounting, because if the clips are too tight, your kid won’t be able to dismantle them on their own.
Protection must be worn by all means, and the helmet must fit perfectly. Buying a vest that will protect your kid’s back, chest and stomach is also a good idea. Wrist protection will be handy as well, as we instinctively throw our hands forward when falling.
However, falling is not the only danger to beware of. The real emergency is when two riders clash. This is always unexpected for the victim, as the falling rider is always higher up the slope. In that case, proper protection can help avoid serious injuries.
Snowboarding is a subculture with its own slang and trends. Many find snowboarding to be a means of self-expression. This is especially visible on stands where riders leave their boards: one has hieroglyphs, another one is with Superman, and the third one may be decorated with avant garde paintings.
The brand YES is known for interesting design. This flat board is designed for jibbing and is, therefore, suitable for advanced users.
Of course, it is very cool if your snowboard's design reflects your personality, but don’t get too carried away with the exterior. Amateurs often like to brag about their cool equipment: their glasses cover half of their face, they wear the baggiest pants and have the brightest board. However, sometimes too much attention can be harmful. For instance, beginners tend to brake in front of rope tows. It is difficult to clutch on the stick that will tow you up the slope unfastened without proper skill. You fall several times, go back to the start and feel everyone’s eyes on you. In general, the riders are a very friendly folk and are eager to help, but it’s not very comfortable meeting new people like that. Instead of buying unjustifiably expensive and catchy equipment, invest into proper protection: helmet and shorts.
Be prepared that you will make lots of mistakes in your first alpine season, including the mistakes in picking the equipment. Everyone (even those who have later become pro instructors) went through it. Remember that once you pass the difficult stage, you’ll obtain a hobby for life.