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I'm currently at an intermediate level of snowboarding. I can comfortably carve the snow and can make my way down easy/intermediate hills without falling.

I think it's time that I stop using rentals and buy my own board, as I want to go to the slopes more frequently.

What kind of snowboard would you recommend for a person looking for their first board?

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    To comment on close flags: I think this is a legit question as long as @Jonathan is not looking for a definite brand-model recommendation but rather a suggestion on the type and characteristics of the board which are general and there are certain objective recommendations to be made for first time buyers. – Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 12 '12 at 21:33
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    I tried to keep the question generic for anybody else who may be trying to understand the different types of snowboards more. – Jonathan Sternberg Feb 13 '12 at 0:34
  • I'd also like to know the answer, especially in regards to the latest Rocker boards hype, when compared to Cambered ones. The OP indicated he want's to go to the slopes, so it leaves aside boards for freeride, parks and half-pipes. Still there's a lot left to answer, like: length, side-cut diameter, stiffness, directionality, ... – charlie Feb 13 '12 at 13:13
  • @JonathanSternberg I think some more specificity here would actually make a better question (I confess I know less than nothing about snowboarding). But if this type of recommendation is going to work its going to have to pretty specific. I'm skeptical at best (it reads like a shopping question), but I think there may actually be some value here in that (I assume) there are different types of boards (rather than specific brands and models) that would answer this question well. – wax eagle Feb 13 '12 at 13:22
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    Snowboarding already seems to be topic on Great Outdoors... Very simiar question here outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/306/… – Tomas Feb 17 '12 at 11:58
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This article lists several criteria to consider when choosing a first snowboard:

  1. Price of the board - get a cheap board or a higher quality board? Buying new or used could also be a factor
  2. Men or women's board - generally a criteria for women, since men/boys will usually get a board designed for men
  3. The type of snowboarding the rider will be participating in - "Different snowboards are build for different terrains and different styles of riding."
  4. Length of the board - varies greatly by individual preference

The article has one suggestion:

Also, factor in the stiffness of the board. As a beginner, you will probably want a soft-flexing board. One that is forgiving of mistakes.

5

Since you've stated that you are at an intermediate level of riding, I would imagine that you have a style of riding that you prefer. Once you have decided what kind of riding you're going to do, remember that it's not just important to decide on what type of board you'll be riding, but the combination of boots and bindings as well.

Note: Different riders have different preferences and combinations and there are always exceptions to the rule, so bear this in mind when selecting a board.

Shapes

Before I list the different types of riding available, you should be aware of the different shapes that snowboards come in. The shape of the board will have pros and cons to it, so be sure to lay the board down and get a good look at its shape before deciding. Here are the three most common types of shapes (note: there are variations or these boards, so bear that in mind).

Camber

This is when the center of the board is at an upward curve, leaving the ends of the board to touch the ground. The center of the board will only touch the ground when a rider is on top.

Pros

  • Excellent stability
  • Increased edgehold
  • Great for carving
  • Greater "pop" (spring from jumping)

Cons

  • Requires more effort to turn
  • Easier to catch an edge

Rocker

Also known as reverse-camber, this board is the opposite of a camber, with the center of the board touching the ground and the ends up the board pointed upward and away from the ground.

Pros

  • Easier to turn
  • Easier to flex
  • Floats well in powder
  • Less likely to catch an edge

Cons

  • Less stability (can "wash out" easier)
  • Less "pop" (spring from jumping)

Flat

As the name implies, this board is completely flat from the center to the ends (with only the tip and tail curved).

Pros

  • Decent edgehold
  • Decent maneuverability
  • Good transitioning
  • Excellent for rails

Cons

  • The increased versatility sacrifices some stability and maneuverability
  • Some riders complain of a "dead" and/or "damp" feeling

Types of Riding

Now that you have an idea of the different shapes that snowboards can come in, here are the different types of riding available and the appropriate board and gear.

All-Mountain

This is probably the most common type of riding because most riders like to try a bit of everything. It is great for riding in both backcountry and groomed runs. This type of riding is less specialized than the others, which also makes it a great type of riding for beginners. Once you are past the beginner stage, you can specialize your riding or stay with all-mountain.

For this type of riding, your best bet is to purchase a stiffer (but not too stiff) board. Stand the board up vertically and push downwards from the top to determine the board's stiffness/flexibility. Different boots have different stiffness level. You can turn faster with softer boots, but you will have to use more strength from your legs and feet to stay stable. Most will advocate that beginners start off with a stiffer boot, but suggest that advanced riders take on a softer and more flexible boot.

Freestyle

If you're interested in performing tricks on the slopes and in the terrain park, then you will definitely want to purchase a shorter and more flexible board with twin tips. This will make it easier to absorb impacts from riding boxes, rails, etc. For increased control, I would recommend a lighter boot with a stiffer forward flex.

Note: This is for the terrain park. If you want to ride on the half-pipe, make sure that you invest in a stiffer board. On the contrary, stiffer boards will not absorb impact in the terrain park.

Freeride

If you like riding on steep slopes, deep snow, and backcountry, make sure that you purchase a stiffer board, so that you can pull off decent carving with excellent stability. I would suggest a stiffer boot that is soft on the upper part to make your transitions easier on your shins.

Racing

If you're interested in racing, there are specific narrower boards for racers with an emphasis on carving and speed. There are also plate bindings and hard plastic shells boots that differ from the typical gear you usually see in shops.

Conclusion

To end off, if you want to find the best deals, visit the shops during the spring and summer months and see what gear they have available. Like one user has already said, be sure to ask for stock from last year. I paid sixty dollars for a pair of boots that were two years old (but had never been used). You'd be surprised at the deals you can find.

5

I've been snowboarding for 5 years now but it was only this year I actually purchased my own board and binding. I chose the K2 Raygun and I would absolutely recommend it. It's not a beginner's board, and it's a great board for those who are intermediate and above. I consider myself an expert, and the guy at the shop said the Raygun is probably one of the best because you won't really have to upgrade as you get better.

However, here are some other practical tips when picking out a board:

  • Choose a board that matches your riding style. Do you like hitting the park, do you hate all those park rats, or are you a little bit of both?

  • Don't buy used. Buy last year's model. Equipment prices are can often seem very high, so you may think that buying used is the only way to go. Used equipment can be fine, but I wouldn't want to take the risk and have your board split or find that the binding screw-holes are stripped. Go to your local shop and find a board you like and see if you can find last year's model. The older the model, the cheaper, and as long as its in the past couple of years, you really won't lose much at in terms of features or quality. My Raygun is last years model, and from what I have seen, the only thing different I would have gotten by paying $150 more was some slightly altered graphics.

  • Choose a board that's offered at your local shop. Don't go on a ski trip 1500 miles away and decide to buy your new ride there. Get friendly with your local board shop and you'll find the owner/employees will usually offer great advice and possibly even discounts. If you have any problems with your board, they'll be able to help. Most shops will put your bindings on and set your stance for you right in the shop. That's something you can't get online.

And last of all, choose one that looks cool!

2

For a first time buyer, I would actually advise you to spend more time worrying about your boots than the board. Comfortable boots will improve your experience much more than the board will at your skill level.

Until you are more advanced and know what kind of terrain/style of board you really want, look for a simple All-Mountain board that is in your price range. Make sure you are in the manufacturer's recommended weight range for the board's length. Call it bias, but choose a brand that has been around for a while and has reviews online that don't report frequent problems. Avoid particularly stiff boards or really soft park boards. You're looking for the happy medium, which most low end boards cater to anyway.

Used Boards

I think you can have good success with a used board if you are careful. Used boards can save you a lot of money and make it easier for you to get into the sport. Alternately, the cash saved on a used board can help you spend more on boots (which I wouldn't buy used, unless the obviously had only been used once or twice) or more lift passes. Cheaper boards may also let you try a new board more frequently as you are less invested. Once you really know what you want, I would move on to new boards, ideally last years model.

When you buy a used board, if the owner appears trust worth ask how much it's been ridden. If it has been pretty light, less than 10 or 15 trips, I wouldn't hesitate. Do a little research into the board to find out what the original cost should have been and, if possible, how it was reviewed or if it showed any common problems.

You showed also do a solid visual inspection. Warning flags:

  • Deep scratches: I would hesitate to buy a used board that had a deep scratches or core shots where you can see the material underneath the outer layer.
  • Base Repairs: If the base has been repaired, the owner probably rode the board pretty hard and/or in poor conditions. Ask about them, and you may also see spots where the repair color clearly doesn't match base of the board.
  • Lots of scratches: A lot of scratches, even if none are bad, also indicates the owner mistreated the board.
  • Dull or blunted edges: The board should have a reasonably clean edge. If the metal edge seems to have suffered a lot of damage or is blunted, don't buy it. If the owner says the board was tuned for rails, It's not your board.
  • Rusty edges or edges peeling from the base: This board was not taken care of when it got home.
  • Any other notable damage
  • A combination of these that makes you uncomfortable.

If it looks sketchy, move on. This is a market where buyers can be picky.

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Short Answer: Something with a twin-tip and standard camber, but I'd spend the real money on your bindings.

Twin tip feels a little more natural than a directional, and the rentals you've been using are most likely conventional camber. The camber on things like Skate Bananas are AWESOME but might be an extra learning curve you don't need when you're just building confidence.

Get a couple ideas of what you like style/characteristic wise, then go cruise some rental places and see if they have any of them you can ride. I hated on Burton Customs HARD back in the day when they had the block stripe design and they were coming out with the rail binding system. Resisted buying one for a long time but once I rode it, it felt great and couldn't fight it anymore.

Definitely focus on your bindings though. Good one's make you feel like the board just grew out of your heels, bad one's will make it feel like you super-glued a 2x4 to your shoes.

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