So you’re ready to start carving the slopes — congratulations! Snowboarding is a demanding workout and a rewarding pastime. Your learning curve won’t be as severe if you’re riding a board that fits you, according to the book "No-Fall Snowboarding" by instructor Danny Martin. Here’s what to look for.
You'll find that snowboards come in a dizzying variety of shapes, but the most common are directional and twin. Directional boards have a narrow tail and broader tip: You can only ride them in one direction, with the tip leading the way downhill. A twin board is like an hourglass; the ends of the board are mirror images, so it can be ridden in either direction. The twin shape is the best all-around board for beginners, according to the snowboarding professionals at REI.com. Also known as an “all-mountain” board, the twin will serve you well through your beginner and intermediate phase.
While snowboards are measured in centimeters, all you really need to know is how tall the board is compared to you. With one end resting on the floor, the tip should come somewhere between your collarbones and your chin, say the experts at Snowboarding-Essentials.com. Shorter boards can require too quick of a response for beginners, while longer boards are more difficult to turn.
You’ll need a board wide enough to accommodate your feet in bulky snowboard boots. If your heels or toes extend past the edge of the board, they can catch in the snow when you turn, triggering a fall. Women with a shoe size 10 or higher will need to seek out extra-wide boards.
Stiffer boards are for heavier or more advanced riders. Most women will want a board with plenty of flexibility, which will make it more responsive to turns.
Beginners’ snowboards aren’t cheap -- they run from $150 to $450 -- and boots and bindings will run you at least another $150. So you may want to rent or lease a board for your first season. You can also try different brands and types of boards during “demo days” at your local mountain.
John Hastings has written and edited health, fitness and science stories for magazines, websites and iPad publications. He has held senior editorial positions at "O, The Oprah Magazine," "Reader’s Digest" and "Health." He has also contributed to magazines such as "Men’s Journal" and "Bon Appetit."