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Finding the right snowboard is very important to an enjoyable day on the slopes. There are many types and sizes so choose wisely.
All boards have a size, which is the overall length measurement from tip to tail measured in centimeters. The size board you ride will depend on several factors, with the main ones being your weight and height, your experience level, and the type of riding you plan on doing. A smaller board takes less energy to turn, but is not as stable at high speeds. A bigger board will take more effort to turn, but will be much more stable when going fast. Beginners and park riders usually prefer smaller boards due to the fact that they ride great at slower speeds, and are easier to spin and control. Riders who like to go fast or ride in powder typically prefer longer boards. The longer edge will give you more control when turning at high speed; while the extra surface area will give you more float in powder.
In addition to length, board width is another thing to consider. If you wear boots that are size 11 or more, you might want to look into a wide board. The extra width will help prevent your toes and heels from dragging when turning on the snow. Wide boards are also great for riding in powder as they give you extra surface area. The downside of a wide board is that it will take extra energy to roll onto edge if you don't have a big boot size.
Over the last few years, snowboards with rocker have been all the craze. Just like anything though, they have their benefits and their downfalls. Since rocker isn't for everyone, snowboard manufacturers have continued to make camber boards, and now offer several boards with a combination of rocker and camber.
Camber:  This is the traditional snowboard construction. If you were to lay a camber board on a flat surface, the center of the board between the bindings would be raised up off of the surface. A camber board is best suited for a more aggressive rider. This board profile will help give you more pop on jumps and ollies, and more stability through high speed turns.
Rocker:  Also called "reverse camber" or "banana", this is a newer style of board profile. As the name "reverse camber" suggests, if you were to lay this board on a flat surface, the center between the bindings would touch, while the area towards the tip and tail would be raised up off of the surface. A rocker board is much more forgiving, and rolls into turns with mush less effort than a board with camber.
Hybrid:  There are many types of hybrid boards out there, but they all have both rocker and camber. Some will feature camber in the center, with rocker towards the tips, others will feature rocker in the center, with camber underfoot, and then more rocker towards the tips. There are also boards with directional profiles, meaning they have rocker in the nose, and camber through the rest of the board. All of these rocker/camber combinations have their benefits, and they all combine the aggressive characteristics of a camber board, while still giving you the forgiveness and playfulness of a rocker board.
To someone that is new to snowboarding, all boards might look like twin tips. While most boards can be ridden either way, most are designed to be ridden one way most of the time.
Twin:  A true twin board is 100% symmetrical, and makes no difference which way it is ridden. The shape, sidecut, flex and stance are exactly the same whether it is ridden in your regular stance or switch. This is ideal for park riders, or riders that spend a lot of time riding switch.
Directional:A directional board is designed to be ridden one way most of the time. While it will still ride switch, it usually has a longer nose, setback stance and sometimes a stiffer tail section. These boards are best for someone who is into freeriding and going fast, without the need to switch often.
Directional Twin:  A directional twin usually has a twin shape, but a directional stance and/or flex. If the board has a directional stance, you can ride with the recommended stance for more of a freeride board, or center the stance and ride the board as a twin. If it has a directional flex, it is meant to be ridden like a directional board.
Types of Snowboards
Park/freestyle:  A park board will usually have a softer flex, shallower sidecut, and a twin shape. Park boards are designed for riders that are going to spend most of their time hitting jumps and rails.
Freeride:Freeride boards are usually stiffer, with a directional shape, and a deeper sidecut. These boards are meant to go fast, and turn aggressively.
Powder:  Most powder boards are going to be bigger in size, and have a very aggressive rocker profile. These boards are usually for someone with multiple boards since this board won't be ridden very often.
All Mountain:  All mountain boards are the most popular types of boards out there. As the name suggests, they are built for the rider that wants to tackle everything that the mountain has to offer, from park jumps, to bombing the steepest runs.
There are stiff boards, soft boards, and everything in between. Stiff boards are best for a more aggressive rider. They are designed to go fast, and keep the rider in 100% control when flying down the hill. Soft boards are much more forgiving, and turn very easily at slower speeds. They are also more forgiving in the park, and make it easier for the rider to do butters and presses. Flex is also a matter of personal opinion. A heavy rider may think a board is soft because he can easily flex it while riding, which a lighter rider may find it stiff since he won't be able to put as much pressure on it when riding.
Sidecut is a measurement that will help determine how a board will turn. Sidecut measurement is based off the radius of sidecut curve (assuming the curve made a full circle). The smaller the number, the deeper the sidecut is. The larger the number, the shallower the sidecut is. A deep sidecut will turn more aggressively, while a shallow sidecut will have a mellower ride.
Snowboarding is supposed to be an enjoyable activity. Make sure you are comfortable by finding the best snowboard boots for you.
Snowboard Boot Fit
Without question, fit is the most important factor when choosing boots. Every boot model will vary in how it fits, so it is highly recommended that you try on several different models and brands. When trying them on, make sure you are wearing snowboarding socks, and that you fully lace up the boots and spend some time in them. Keep in mind you'll be wearing them all day long, so make sure they fit right! There is nothing worse than wasting a perfect day of snowboarding because your feet hurt!
Snowboard Boot Flex
Next to fit, flex is probably the most important aspect of buying boots. A soft flexing boot will usually be the most comfortable, most forgiving, and give the rider the most mobility. These boots are ideal for beginners, park riders, and people who value comfort over performance. A stiffer boot will give the rider the most response. Typically more aggressive riders prefer stiffer boots.
Snowboard Boot Sizing
Your boot size usually won't be the same as your shoe size, so be sure to try on a couple different sizes. Most people wear their shoes a little loose for extra comfort. Loose boots means you'll be sliding around in your boot, which leads to blisters. You also sacrifice some control and response by having a loose fitting boot. Also try different sizes between different brands. Many boot companies have some variation on their sizing.
Snowboard Boot Liner
The liner will have a large impact on how well your boot fits since it is the only part of your whole snowboard setup that is in direct contact with your body. Most liner's today have lacing system allowing you to tighten the liner independently of the outer shell of the boot. Some liners have the lacing system attached to the liner, while other have an ankle harness that wraps around the liner. The ankle harness usually gives you better heel hold, but be sure to try both to see what you like. Many companies also offer heat moldable liners. The liner softens when heated, and then as it cools it takes on the shape of your foot to give you a custom fit. All of our stores are equipped with boot heaters and customize you snowboard boot fit.
Snowboard Boot Lacing System
There are 3 main styles of boot lacing systems, and all have their benefits. The 3 styles are Standard Lacing, BOA, and Speed Lacing.
Standard Laces: This is the most basic lacing system. You simply lace up the boots as tight as you like, tie them, and you're done.
BOA: The BOA system uses a cable system with a dial, allowing you to get your boots extremely tight, and not have to deal with tying laces. Some boots offer a dual BOA system, which allows you to tighten the upper and lower zones of the boot separately, to get a customized fit.
Speed Lacing: Speed lacing is similar to BOA in that it is a great way to get your boots very tight, very quickly. You simply pull a cord (thinner than a traditional lace) and lock it into place. Many speed lace boots also offer separate tightening for the upper and lower zones.
Today's snowboard bindings have several key components that you should take into consideration when buying new bindings.
Snowboard Binding Components
Highbacks - All bindings will have a highback of some sort. Highbacks will vary in flex and shape. A softer flexing highback will be more forgiving, but a stiffer highback will have the most response. Many companies are now utilizing highback materials that have a very soft torsional flex, with a stiff lateral flex giving you the best of both worlds. Some binding manufacturers are also now offering canted highbacks. These are angled to better align with your leg, giving you the most comfort and response.
Ratchets - Ratchets are very important binding component. Smooth ratchets will make your day easy, while sticky or slipping ratchets can make your day miserable. Spend some time playing with the ratchets in the store and see what you like best. You should do this with a glove on to make sure there are no issues when you're on the snow.
Straps - The binding straps will play a large role in how comfortable your feet stay all day. Make sure the strap has plenty of cushion, or you may get pressure points on your boots. Many of the higher end straps are extremely light weight as well.
Footbeds - The binding footbeds are a key factor in comfort. Do you want to be standing on a piece of plastic, or a nice cushioned piece of foam all day? Many of the today's higher end bindings will feature some sort of foam padding on the base. Another thing to look for are canted footbeds. When standing on a snowboard, your feet are usually positioned at shoulder width, or wider. A canted footbed is angled to help align your legs, knees, ankles and feet giving you maximum comfort, control and ollie power.
Snowboard Binding Materials
Most of today's bindings are made of aluminum or some sort of plastic. Both have their advantages, and it really comes down to preference.
Aluminum - Aluminum bindings are lightweight, durable, and have excellent response due to the lack of flex.
Plastic - since plastic flexes, plastic bindings allow the board to flex more naturally. There are many different types of plastics available to give the rider different performance options
Traditional 2 Strap - most bindings offer a traditional 2 strap entry system. This style of binding allows you to tighten the ankle and toe strap independently. These are by far the most popular style of bindings.
Rear Entry - A couple of binding manufacturers offer rear entry bindings. These bindings are very easy and quick to strap on. Simply slide your foot in, fold up the highback, and go ride!
Our experts have chosen the best from this year's selection of snowboarding gear. From the hottest new snowboards released this year, to new bindings, boots, clothes, and other snowboarding gear, trust our team to guide you to the equipment you need. Hit the slopes in top form with the latest snowboarding equipment from Sport Chalet.
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