What You Should Know Before Buying a Snowboard?
Simple guide to spell it all out for you on choosing the perfect one.
Finding the right gear that suits your level of riding
Snowboards can roughly be divided into three categories: Beginner, intermediate and advanced / expert. Usually beginner boards, or entry boards are cheaper than the more specialized expert boards. It is a common misconception that more expensive gear will always improve ones riding. It is most likely not going to end well when a beginner starts his/her first snowboard lesson on an expensive expert board.
Expert level boards usually require a more active riding style and a bit harder to steer at first. Therefore, It is very important to make sure that you conduct sufficient research when you are going to buy a snowboard because there are many different snowboard shapes these days.
The most important ones are: Camber, Rocker and Hybrid camber / rocker.
Initially, snowboards were produced with a camber shape. A camber shape board has two contact points with the snow; at the nose and tail of the board. The middle part of the board is lifted in the air through tension. Camber boards are usually great for hard-pack conditions and carving, as this is the most stable shape. Camber boards will never go out of fashion, as there will always be a need for steady / stable boards. Camber boards are the way to go if you want to go fast and are looking for direct response. There are more variables at play in terms of how stable a board is (stiffness f.e.). It is therefore always advised to test a board first. In general camber is: more responsive and stable but also harder to steer. You might want to look into another shape if you are looking for a board that is easy to steer.
Rocker: Rocker snowboards are quite different from camber boards. A rocker shaped board touches the snow in between the bindings. Usually the nose and tail are (slightly) standing up in the air. Rocker boards have been produced for quite some time, but have only made it to the mainstream when Lib Technologies started producing the Skate Banana; a board that initiated a huge trend in the production of rocker shaped snowboards. Rocker shape snowboards have many benefits, especially for the beginning snowboarder, and for those that spend more time in really deep powdery snow. Rocker boards are easy to steer, and are also easy to handle in powder, as one doesn't have to put as much strength / effort in leaning backwards in order to keep the nose above the snow surface. However, there is a trade-off. Rocker boards often lack the control (that a camber boards has) during hard-pack conditions. Rocker boards are usually also a bit less stable on the slopes, as there is only one contact point with the snow (the middle part of the board) as opposed to a camber board that connects to the snow on two locations (nose and tail of the board). No worries if you want the best of both worlds; hybrid snowboard shapes are there to help you out!
Hybrid Camber: A hybrid camber board has the same properties of a normal camber board, except that the nose and tail still curve into the air like a camber board. This type of hybrid usually feels more like a camber board that has borrowed some properties of a rocker board. However, how this shape rides really depends on the board manufacturer / type of board.
Hybrid rocker: Is basically the opposite of a hybrid camber. This board shape has stronger rocker properties, as the main contact point is between the bindings. The nose and tail still stand up, but have some camber properties in there. This gives the board more control than a regular rocker board, as it has borrowed some properties of the camber shape. How a hybrid camber rides really depends on how strong the rocker / camber combination is.
Ultimately, it is advised to talk to a sales person who knows their board collection well. It is best to buy a board at a specialized board store, where people can give you thorough information on the capabilities of a certain board. The aforementioned shapes are there as a guideline. It is important to know what kind of snowboarder you are, and what kind of terrain you want to be riding on. Many snowboard brands can be found on certain events. One can test several boards during these events. If you really want to know how a board rides, this is the way to go! Good luck, and see you on the slopes!