Equipment can make or break your snowboarding experience. A properly sized snowboard links seamless turns, maintains speed on the groomers and floats effortlessly through the powder snow. But, an ill-fitting ride can leave you out of control or stuck on the flats. Before purchasing your first board, arm yourself with technical sizing information that includes the proper length range for both your size and your riding preferences. Then saunter confidently into the store and pick your ideal board.
Determine Your Riding Style
Analyze your preferred snowboarding conditions. Do you favor groomers over powder snow or sunny days over stormy conditions?
Examine your terrain selection tendencies. Freeriders, or all-mountain riders, use the whole mountain as their playground. Freestyle riders prefer the halfpipe and terrain park.
Evaluate your current ability level and progression. Remember, as your skill set improves, your board needs be long enough to accommodate advancement.
Select an Appropriate Length
Measure and weigh yourself before visiting your local retailer. Use an online snowboard sizing chart to determine a proper length range.
Choose a board in the 145 to 150 centimeter range if you are around 5 feet tall. For those 5 feet to 5 feet 7 inches tall, select a board in the 150 to 156 centimeter range. For women over 5 feet 7 inches, opt for a board between 156 to 159 centimeters.
Stand the board on its tail and note where it hits on your body. If you are a freerider, make sure it's level with your eyebrows. Freestyle riders should select a board level with their lips.
Err on the shorter side for an easy turning beginner board. If you're more experienced, push the length limit for floatation in the powder and stability at speed.
- If you have an average size foot, select a women's-specific board with a narrower waist. A narrow-waisted board assures quick turn initiation and a lively ride.
- Flex each snowboard by holding onto the tip and pressing down between the binding inserts. Choose a board with a medium flex. Stiff boards can be hard to turn and soft boards will wash out at speed.
- Arm yourself with knowledge before you head for the shop and don't always trust the salesperson. Once you ride the board you can't return it.
Christina Shepherd McGuire writes articles about adventure sports, fashion, mothering and natural living. Since 2003, her work has appeared in "Action Outdoor and Bike Magazine," "Teton Family Magazine," "The Jackson Hole Snowboarder Magazine" and several online publications. McGuire holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature.