US Outdoor Store
GUIDE TO SNOWBOARDS
Muskegon, Michigan, isn’t famous for much, but let’s raise a glass to those first few folks who took water skis to the mountain, turned sideways on them, and went on to change snow sports forever. (The first actual patent for a snowboard didn’t come until years later, but the spirit was alive, even in the 60s.)

Old water skis aren’t the preferred construction for today’s riders and there are so many board options in the market now. Maybe even too many. (And that’s why you’re here.) We created this guide to give you an idea of what type of board will best suit your ability and style, but we recommend coming into our shop and speaking with our expert staff for an even better idea of what you need.

TYPES OF SNOWBOARDS

ALL MOUNTAIN

All-mountain models are the daily drivers of snowboards. And because they’re for riders who ride the whole mountain in every condition, they’re typically designed to be capable on and off the trail—on groomers, in powder, and helping you adapt in variable conditions. But they’re not experts in any one terrain and there isn’t just one type of all- mountain board. The key is determining what type of riding you do most and then choose your go-to model.

POWDER

Powder boards are for deep days when float is everything. They typically have a more directional outline with more nose area and some nose-to-tail taper to perform better in soft, deep snow. These days most powder boards feature some form of rocker to increase float and maneuverability in soft snow. This is generally found in the nose, but some boards have a tail or full rocker.

FREESTYLE

Often shorter in length and featuring a true twin shape, freestyle boards are built for riders who spend most of their time in the terrain park and the halfpipe. (They’re also well-suited to urban riding where rails and jib features make freestyle riding a dream.) To keep these boards poppy and playful, many models feature traditional camber or flat camber profiles (but all-mountain freestyle may feature some form of hybrid camber profile to make the board more versatile).

SPLITBOARD

Skiers had the drop on snowboarders for a long time in the world of backcountry touring. Traditional snowboards just didn’t lend themselves to convenient, lightweight ascents like a ski touring setup did. But some clever engineering changed that and split board technology now allows riders to use the same board to trek uphill and enjoy on the way down.

Splitboards feature a unique binding setup, attachment points at the tip and tail for climbing skins, and most models share the same focus on lightweight materials to make them more manageable during ascents.

SHAPE

DIRECTIONAL

As the name indicates, directional boards are designed to be ridden in primarily one direction. The directional shapes are great for freeride and all-mountain models and often feature binding mounts that are set farther back (closer to the tail) with stiffer construction to make them more stable at speed.

TWIN

Twin shapes (sometimes called true twins) are symmetrical tip to tail, including their flex pattern. The twin shape allows for bindings to be mounted more centrally too, making twin models well suited to freestyle riding where spinning and riding switch is most common.

ASYMMETRICAL

Asymmetrical shapes are growing in popularity in the snowboard community. Just as the name implies, the heel and toe sidecut profiles aren’t the same on asymmetrical boards. The theory is that riders don’t use their heel and toe edges the same, so the edges themselves don’t have to be identical. These boards often have a longer toe edge and shorter heel edge to account for the fact the many riders have a tougher time turning on their heel edge than their toe edge.
These newer shapes may even have asymmetrical cores, which could mean a stiffer, more precise core material on the toe side of the board and a softer, more forgiving core material on the heel side.

CAMBER & ROCKER PROFILES

TRADITIONAL CAMBER

This is the classic camber profile for boards. Models with traditional camber curve upward under your feet, typically making them best suited to performance on groomed snow. While models with camber require more effort to turn and may be “catchier” or a little less forgiving that other boards, they offer more pop, precision on hard snow, and edge contact and hold. They also provide increased stability at speed, making the traditional camber profile well-suited to all-mountain and carve-oriented boards.

FLAT

Boards with flat profiles are basically entirely flat between the tip and tail contact points. These models are typically more forgiving than those with traditional camber, but offer a bit more edge hold and precision that more rockered models.

FULL ROCKER

Boards with full rocker profiles (also known as reverse camber) typically curve upward from either the center of the board or just outside the bindings. The profile offers better handling in powder and ungroomed snow, being more forgiving and allowing riders to initiate turns more easily and have a more maneuverable, playful experience overall.

HYBRID ROCKER

One of the most common versions of this is hybrid rocker. The board is overall rockered with camber under foot and is generally rockered toward the tip and tail. This hybrid profiles exist to make a single board model more versatile in varied conditions. When combined with extra contact points, such as Magnetraction, it makes for an extremely versatile board. For further information we recommend talking to our expert staff to better understand hybrid board profiles.

HYBRID CAMBER

Boards with a hybrid camber profile are boards that feature a camber between the feet with a rocker at the tip and tail. This technology gives you a more stable platform with control between the feet and tail, while still providing the float and maneuverability you need for a wide range of conditions.

POWDER CAMBER

This profile utilizes camber and rocker in a powder specific directional board. With camber between the feet, a set-back stance and lots of tip rocker you can smash through deeper snow on a shorter board. The benefits of a shorter board are higher maneuverability at any speed and a more surf like ride. These boards are for those deep days and a great addition to the avid rider's quiver.

FLEX

The flex patterns on a board have a big impact on how it rides. Softer flexing boards are more playful and maneuverable and forgiving, so you can butter and slide around without catching edges as much as you might on a stiffer board. They are, however, typically less stable at higher speeds.

Boards with stiffer flex patterns typically feel more stable at speed and pop better off kickers, but are less forgiving when you catch an edge or don’t quite stomp your landings just right.

Most board brands tell you the approximate flex pattern of each board in their lineup and where each board falls on the soft-to-stiff spectrum.

SOFT

A softer board will be more forgiving and better for beginners and more playful for those who ride more park and freestyle or are light weight.

MID-SOFT

Slightly more performance than a soft board with park and beginners in mind.

MID

This is the category that most boards fall into. Taking into account all riders and styles, these boards are made with various camber profiles to go everywhere.

MID-STIFF

Intended for more performance oriented or heavier riders.

STIFF

These boards are for bigger folks and bigger lines. By sacrificing forgiveness and comfort you gain performance.

SIDECUT & TURN RADIUS

SIDECUT & TURN RADIUS

A snowboard’s sidecut is determined by the tip, waist, and tail widths. Often, the narrower a board is at the waist compared to its tip and tail widths, the deeper its sidecut is (and, therefore, the shorter its turning radius will be). Boards with shorter turn radii are better for quick turns, while boards with longer turn radii are better for more drawn-out lines and are more stable at higher speeds.

SIZING

INTRO

Affecting things like turning and stability at speed, your board’s length is a significant factor in how you ride (and, possibly, how much much you have). But here’s no crystal ball telling you exactly what length board you should ride. There are, however, a few guidelines. A general rule when figuring out the right snowboard length is to find something between the height of your chin and your nose. But factors like boot size and rider weight will affect this.

Advanced riders, and those who weigh more than others of the same height, should look for a board that is closer to their nose. (And expert riders may choose something even longer.) Less advanced riders, on the other hand, and those who weight less than others of the same height will generally be better off with a board closer to the height of their chin. The type of board you choose and what terrain you’ll be riding matter too. Board models that are more freestyle-oriented are generally shorter and better for quick turns, for example, while boards designed for longer turns on bigger lines generally longer.

ADULT SIZE CHART

KIDS' SIZE CHART

WHAT NOW?
THIS GUIDE HELPS GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT TYPE OF BOARD MAY WORK BEST FOR YOU, BUT WE RECOMMEND CALLING OR COMING INTO OUR SHOP AND SPEAKING WITH OUT EXPERT STAFF FOR AN EVEN BETTER IDEA.



ONCE YOU'VE DONE THAT? GET TO THE MOUNTAIN!

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