Guide on How to Buy a Women's Snowboard
In the beginning all the gear may seem complicated but there's really not much to it - let's demystify the process of buying a snowboard!
You basically need three components:
All three are actually equally important. The snowboard is obviously important as the materials all contribute to the smoothness and ease of your ride as well as its durability. The bindings serve to transfer your body's motions into the board to direct it. The boots, well they decide whether your feet are warm and comfortable or cold and cramped.
There are three basic types of snowboards: Freestyle, Freeride, and All Mountain. For advanced folks there's Alpine and Split but we'll leave those for another day.
Freestyle boards are especially made for doing tricks on in the park. The park is usually a section on a mountain dedicated for tricks - it'll have ramps, jibs, etc. for you to jump on and off of, much like a skateboard. If you're looking to get into freestyle, you'll want a board that's flexible to give it the pop you need to make higher jumps. You should also consider shaving a couple (~2-3) centimeters off of your recommended board size to make turning at slow speeds easier.
Freeride boards make up the majority of the snowboard selection and they're best for cruising on the mountain. They're a bit heavier and stiffer than their freestyle counterparts to provide stability at high speeds.
All mountain boards are versatile enough to handle both park and powder. In our experience though, not often does an all mountain board live up to that promise, but there are some good ones out there, notably the Ride Promise. All mountain boards are actually quite good for beginners though because the mid-range flex makes turns easy while still damping the chatter on a bomb run.
We actually recommend you try a snowboard before you buy online - it's the best way to find out how well a particular board fits your style and body. Pretty much every mountain / resort allows you to rent demo boards for a little over the standard rental fee, so take advantage of that option if you can. However, the prices for snowboards in the ski and board shops on the mountain will almost always be higher than the price you can get for the same board online, so if you can wait, it'll be worth it financially.
In lieu of a test run however, your best bet is to check out snowboard reviews from people who are close to your level of proficiency and body type.
There are three types of board shapes: Camber, Rocker, and Flat.
Camber boards are the traditional shape for skis and snowboards. It looks like a less exaggerated version of the bend in a bow from traditional archery (like a bow and arrow). Camber boards are best suited for groomed runs.
Rocker boards are the reverse of camber - it resembles a banana. A recent innovation, different companies have different terms for the same technology: reverse camber, inverse camber, banana, early rise, s-rocker, gull wing, three stage rocker, negative camber, R.C. Technology, Rocker 6, elf shoe, chilly dog... Rocker boards offer superior float in powder and backcountry riding. Since there is no arch to catch on, they are also good for park riding.
Flat boards are just what the name suggests: flat.
All snowboards are a combination of the three - different sections of the board will be shaped differently to achieve the desired ride.
Next, you'll need to grab a pair of bindings that are compatible with your snowboard. Some companies, like the snowboarding giant Burton, have proprietary technology that only works with their bindings - for instance, the Burton Supermodel has the ICS (Infinite Channel System) which basically allows you to put your bindings anywhere within the groove on the board, giving you unlimited stance options. However, that requires you to only use Burton bindings that are compatible with ICS.
Your primary consideration for bindings will be whether or not they're easy to get in and out of. Most bindings are strap in, which are quite easy, but there are more exotic bindings which may require some practice to get right, but once you've mastered them they tend to be faster since you can strap in while standing instead of having to sit down.
Don't skimp on boots! These are also something you should most likely try on in a snow shop before buying online, since the fit is essential to having a good snowboarding experience on the mountain.
Boots should fit comfortably snug; you don't want to be able to shift your foot up and down the boot at all, and it's actually recommended to buy slightly smaller since boots tend to loosen up once you've broken them in. A tight fit is what will allow you to transmit your actions to the snowboard which is essential for board control, so a snug fit is of utmost importance. Also, a snug fit helps to keep your feet warm. Remember that you'll be wearing stockings/socks so keep that into consideration when trying boots on.
Make sure that the boots aren't lace ups - they are really hard to keep tightened during the day. Most boots now use a slider mechanism to tighten which is easy to use and stays tight during the day. A little while ago some companies developed dial-in boots which tightened by twisting a dial; although extremely convenient, the design wasn't particularly durable so they're harder to find now.
Safety is important, and as such a helmet is highly recommended.
Googles are also good to have especially on snowy or windy days, but even in the calm they help protect your eyes from the UV radiation of the sun and block glare especially reflected by the white snow.
Of course, snow pants, jacket, and gloves should all be warm and water proof.
A good neckband or balaclava is also a great idea; they should cover your mouth and nose for those really frosty days. Scarves are frowned upon because they can get caught on the lifts, which is funny until it happens to you.