As a beginner snowboarder there is a great deal to consider when thinking about buying your first snowboard. Now much more than a simple piece of wood, the snowboard has developed into a highly engineered piece of equipment with distinct aspects that can affect its performance and suitability. This guide will go through the basic anatomy of modern snowboards so you can start to get to grips with the features to expect when looking to buy a board.
Base – The base is the bottom side of the board that is in contact with the snow. The base is made in one of two ways that can affect its performance, durability and price. If you are looking for high performance levels opt for what is known as a sintered base. These are faster and more durable but more expensive to buy and repair. If you are an entry level snowboarder and are on a budget go for an extruded base which is not as fast or durable as the sintered base, but is cheaper and is fine for beginners.
Top – The opposite side of the base where the bindings are positioned and the rider stands.
Camber – When laying on a flat surface you will notice that some snowboards rest on their nose and tail with a slight arching upward curve between. This is known as the camber of the board and it helps to evenly distribute pressure across the board and provides a springy feeling when turning. There are also a number of variations to the camber that affects the board’s suitability for certain conditions:
- The Rocker board which has a tip and tail that is elevated away from the snow is ideal for beginners as the looser more manoeuvrable feel reduces edge contact and inspires confidence. Rockers also work well across a variety of conditions including deep snow and powder where the shape allows better float and quicker progression.
- Camber rocker boards have a gentle ‘M’ shape with camber sections beneath the feet and are more suited to more advanced riders looking for a more progressive all mountain ride.
- Finally the zero camber snowboard is completely flush to the snow and has the stability of a standard camber board combined with the reduced edge catch and float of the rocker.
Contact Points – Also known as the board’s wheel base, these are the points at which the board contacts the ground when not under the weight of a rider and can be found by lying the board on a flat surface and sliding a piece of paper towards the tip or tail until it stops.
Effective Edge –The effective edge is the length of metal along the edge of the board that comes into contact with the snow when making a turn. The effective edge does not include the tip and tail of the board and the longer the effective edge the more stable and controlled the ride. Shorter effective edges allow for looser rides and easier turning.
Sidecut Depth & Radius – When you are looking at different snowboards you will notice that they are differentiated by two measurements called the sidecut depth and sidecut radius. Both of these have implications on how the board turns and as such are important considerations when deciding on the best board for your requirements. Looking down onto the top of a snowboard you will notice its hourglass shape created by the curved line of the edges between the tip and the tail. The difference between the tip or tail width and the width at the narrowest point of the board (the waist) is known as the sidecut depth and the greater the sidecut depth the more tightly a board will turn. If you were to ride your board in the tightest circle possible the radius of this circle is known as the sidecut radius, the greater the sidecut depth the smaller the sidecut radius. Freestyle boards need to make tight turns in the park and as such have a greater sidecut depth compared to that of a racing board which has to be more effective at making longer fast turns.
Flex Point – Located between the bindings the flex point is the point from where the board flexes and allows sidecut contact.
Overall Length – Measured in centimetres, this is the length of the board from tip to tail. The longer of two boards with the same sidecut depth will have a greater sidecut radius and as such will not turn in as tight a circle but it will have greater stability.
Nose –The front end of the snowboard.
Nose width – The measurement across the widest part of the board nose.
Nose length – The distance from the widest part of the nose to the tip of the board.
Tail – The rear end of the snowboard
Tail width – The measurement across the widest part of the board tail.
Tail length – The distance from the widest part of the tail to the tip of the board’s tail.
Waist width – This is the narrowest part of the board which is usually at the centre of the sidecut. You should consider how fast and tight you wish to turn in relation to the size of your feet. Bigger feet (size 11 and above) may mean compromising with a wider board.
As you may have gathered there is much more to a snowboard than you may have first thought, but this short introduction to snowboard anatomy at least gives you an idea of what you are looking at when you go into your local snowboard supplier.
The next step is to do further research by looking on relevant websites and discussing your requirements with snowboard shops who can also recommend suitable snow boots, bindings, snow goggles and clothing.