Here are five quick tips for getting started on your life-long love affair with snowboarding. Odds are, once you’ve caught the bug, you’ll want to invest in your own gear.
First, focus on board size/flex.
It’s essential that you pick a board that fits your height-to-weight ratio. All too often, young riders who are just taking up the sport tend to use an older sibling’s board that’s simply too long for them to progress and have fun.
Snowboards, like skis, are measured in centimeters. You wanna pick one that roughly falls between your clavicle and nose in length. When in doubt, err on the shorter side. Here’s why: The longer the board, the faster you’ll go. It’s much easier to control your board as a beginner if it’s a bit shorter. You won’t have to work as hard to complete your turns.
Manufacturers rate their snowboards on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the stiffest and one being the softest. A stiffer board will allow riders to pick up more speed, while a softer board makes turning easier to control.
Second, find a pair of bindings that fits your needs.
When I bought my very first setup in eighth grade, I went with a pair of Burton Freestyles for my bindings. Since then, I’ve realized I prefer Union Binding Company based on overall feel and style. Beginners will almost certainly want a pair that’s lightweight and flexible, allowing them to take more laps throughout the day than an old, heavy setup.
In my opinion, you’ll want to stay away from “step-in” bindings, like those manufactured by Flow. While they’re easy to use, no doubt, you can’t sit down and strap in with that style of binding on your board. Pretty much universally, you’ll see riders opt for the traditional two-strap system.
Another thing to keep in mind when purchasing and setting up your new board is that you’ll want a bit of a duck-like stance. Some boards come preset as directional, meaning the back foot is straight ahead rather than splayed out. As you get better, you’ll want to start riding switch and it will be extremely difficult if your bindings are unbalanced. Shoot for 10-15 degrees open on both sides.
The final aspect to consider when purchasing a new setup is your boots.
Just like when looking at board flex, you’ll want to pick a boot that’s a bit softer for your first pair. Really stiff boots are excellent for advanced riders who routinely comb the backcountry for steeps and cliffs. Beginners will get worn down and discouraged with a stiff pair, but give them a softer makeup and they’ll have a blast.
It’s much easier to learn the intricacies of turn shape and control with a softer mold. The rating system is also the same as boards, ranging from 1-10.
There are three main kinds of boots to consider when browsing for your first pair: Traditional laces, speed laces, and the boa system.
Your traditional pair will feature long, thick laces that tie up comparable to hockey skates. It allows for more variation in fit, but on average will take you longer to get used to at first. Speed laces, the system I have in my boots, allow the rider to tighten via three pull cords on the tongue and two sides. Boas, on the other hand, work via a circular crank system that tightens down to a specific feel. They’re the hardest to fix if they break, but are usually pretty durable.
There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. I hope this guide was helpful for those who are interested in taking up snowboarding as their new passion.