Guide to Snowboard Equipment

Photo via Liberty Mountain, PA.

Photo via Liberty Mountain, PA.

Your Guide To Snowboard Equipment


Snowboarding rules. You ride down a snow-covered mountain, surfing an endless winter wave. You laugh out loud as you float effortlessly through fresh powder snow, carve a perfect arc on recently groomed snow or spin into the air to do a trick. You reach the bottom of the hill ready to do it again. And again and again.

Newcomers can be a bit overwhelmed by what seems to be complicated equipment options and unfamiliar words. This guide is designed to ease your worries and give you some basic information that will help get you started the right way and down the path to a lot of fun.

Gear Up

Before renting or purchasing equipment, ask yourself a few questions: How much do you think you'll be snowboarding? Will you be snowboarding only on a vacation or also near where you live? Determining your projected commitment level will help you decide whether to rent, lease or buy equipment.

DSC015761_-_snowboards-2Your equipment options include:



In general, snowboards are made of a wooden core wrapped in fiberglass and coated in a fiberglass or plastic cap with metal edges. A number of things influence the performance of a snowboard, including combination of materials, stiffness, length, weight and shape (twin tip, directional or extended edge). There are basically four styles of riding a snowboard, and a board for each:
( Photo via Ski Center, Washington, DC)

Make sure that your boots are compatible with your board and bindings, and the style of riding you plan to do.

Unlike ski bindings, snowboard bindings are designed not to release when you fall. Make sure your bindings are compatible with your board and boots and the style of riding you plan to do. Because snowboard bindings do not have brakes as ski bindings do, many resorts require you to have a leash that attaches your board to your front leg to prevent a runaway board.

Photos provided by Ski Liberty (PA) and Ski Center (Washington, DC)


Measure up
Riding stance: Regular-foot riders stand with their left foot forward on the board. Goofy-foot riders stand with their right foot forward. If you skateboard, surf or wakeboard, you probably already know what your stance is. If not, have someone push you lightly from behind. Whichever foot you put out first to balance yourself is probably the foot you should have in front.

learn_to_rideThe two most important measurements of a snowboard are length and waist width. Snowboards are measured in centimeters (cm). Your board length will depend on your weight, your riding style and the type of conditions you will ride in most often. A shop employee can help you decide on the appropriate length. The waist width will depend on the size of your feet. The toe and heel of your boot should be flush with the edges of the snowboard. This will give you the most leverage and allow you to turn easier.

In general, snowboard boots come in traditional American sizes and also "mondo point," which is simply the length of the boot in centimeters.

Fit tips for boots:

Binding stance angles: All snowboard bindings are adjustable, allowing you to change the position in which you stand on the board. Freestyle snowboarders usually have wider stances (feet farther apart) with their feet pointing more directly across the board, while freecarvers have narrower (feet closer together) stances with their feet pointed more toward the front. Freeriders are somewhere in the middle. Talk with a snowboard shop employee and then experiment to see what works best for you.



Get going
bDSCF021First-time snowboarders should always take a lesson from a qualified instructor.A lesson will help you learn much faster and you probably won't be as sore the next day.