By: Brad McNally
One of the biggest mistakes that new snowboarders make is to use a board that is the wrong size or shape for what their riding intention. Much like a bicycle, the snowboard can be designed for specific purposes and specific sizes. While you can use any snowboard if you like, it isn’t always the most effective. To stick to the bike analogy, this would be like buying a nice road bike and taking it out on dirt trails through the woods -- it might make it, but it probably won’t be the best ride.
Terrain and Board Type
One of the first things you should do is consider where you will be riding before selecting a board. By knowing the terrain ahead of time, you can select a board that will serve you better out on the snow. If you haven’t tried a specific type and want to give it a shot, renting first is generally a good option because then you can test it out before you purchase.
These snowboards are designed to work on most any condition. They work pretty well in powder, in the park, or anywhere in between. This is a good option for your first board because you will be trying to learn and may be all over the place.
These boards are designed to be true twin in shape and are generally shorter in length. Because of this, the board is more responsive, but also the twin shape means that the rider can use either end to move forward just as smoothly, so landing with your non-dominant foot forward doesn’t slow you down.
These boards sometimes feature a wider nose than tail. The rider will be located slightly further back than normal to allow the front end to float up over the snow instead of carve into it. Due to this design, these boards are typically directional and require the rider to keep the nose in the front to function properly.
The freeride board is designed for the rider that stays off of the beaten path. They are longer than freestyle boards and stiffer. They are often directional in shape and do much better when the nose is aiming forward.
The shapes mentioned above (twin, directional) are just a few of the possibilities. When you are looking for a new board, consider the shape best suited to your riding style. There are three most common shapes that snowboards can be purchased in, although there are other (more custom) options.
True Twin Boards
True twin are completely symmetrical boards. The bindings are mounted in the center and both ends are identical, in shape and flex. These are often used for freestyle riders that may lead with either foot forward due to how they land after a jump.
These boards are common among many types of boards, but specifically freeride and all mountain. The tail on this shape will be much stiffer and the nose will be soft. This design helps the rider maintain stability while carving. The entire rider is slid back toward the rear of the snowboard some to utilize the liw flex in the tail and remain more stable.
Directional Twin Boards
Called the best of both worlds on Livestrong, these boards incorporate both twin and directional elements. This might mean that the board has the twin shape but a directional core (softer nose and stiffer tail) which offers the advantage of twin boards with the ability to place either end forward. It also could be the exact opposite, but still is considered the combination of the two previous shapes. These are typically used for all-mountain and freestyle riding.