So your grom (a kid who snowboards) is ready for their own setup, but you don’t know where to get started. Do not fear, snowboards.net is here!
Finding the right snowboard isn’t exactly the easiest or most clear cut thing to do. The issue is picking the wrong type/size of snowboard will actually hinder your grom’s progression. But with our help, you will be able to make a more informed decision.
What type of rider is your grom?
The first step to choosing the right snowboard for your child is to determine where their skill level is at. It’s important to note what type of riding your grom shows most interest in. While not every kid is going to have a goal in mind, some will definitely have a drive to learn a certain aspect of the sport like freestyle.
Riders generally fall under three levels of ability: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Let’s discuss what these terms mean and the types of snowboards that fit them.
Beginner: This should be a pretty obvious one. But just in case, a beginner is someone that is new to the sport. Basically, if your child is still learning how to link their turns properly, they are at this stage. Optimally, you want to place your kid on a fairly short snowboard at this stage. However, if you want something they can grow into, you can stick with a normal size. The benefit of shorter board is easier control, but you probably know that kids grow fast.
Intermediate: If your grom has linked turns down and is onto carving, they are officially at this stage of the progression game. Kids at this level are starting to become more comfortable with their riding and are usually starting to experiment with different terrains/riding styles. They are also starting to look for more performance out of their snowboards. Intermediate groms will also be more in tune with the type of riding they prefer. If your grom is at this level, the optimal size snowboard is one where his/her weight falls around center of the weight range for that size.
Advanced: So your grom is one awesome little shredder. They know how to lay down a fatty carve, ollie over everything, and are in complete control of the snowboard beneath their feet. Advanced groms know the terrain they are comfortable with. Snowboard sizing is highly variable at this level of riding. It depends on the style of riding they are into.
What are the types of riding style?
Now that we have skill level and a general understanding of related snowboards, let’s examine the various types of riding. Snowboarding is not strictly just about going down a mountain. There are different riding styles and riders often have a mix of these styles. Snowboards are built to be geared towards a type of riding and have weight ranges for each of its sizes.
All-Mountain: This is the default style. All-mountain groms turn and carve down a variety of terrain. The optimal all-mountain size is going to be the one where the little shredder’s weight lands in the middle of the range. This places the grom on a size that is not too long or short. Again, this provides versatility for the snowboard to handle all conditions well.
Freestyle: Freestyle riders are tricksters. If your grom likes to spin, jump, ride on rails and boxes in the park, then he/she is a full fledged freestyle shredder. The optimal freestyle snowboard size is on the shorter end of the weight range. A shorter board will be easier to spin and hit rails on. Shorter boards offer more control, but at the cost of some stability.
All-Mountain Freestyle: Your grom falls in this category if he/she makes the whole mountain their playground. This style is a combination of all-mountain and freestyle just like its name-sake. This type of rider will carve into a side hit, make some dynamic turns through trees to find logs to jib, and spin off everything in sight. Optimal sizing for this type of riding can be the same as an all-mountain size or a little shorter for a more freestyle bias.
Freeride: A freeriding grom loves to lay down super duper carves. They love speed and are on a constant hunt for powder and unique lines. Side note: lines are a route that a snowboarder takes or plans to take down the mountain. Optimally, a freeriding mini-shredder will be on a longer board. This will provide more stability and reduce chatter. It will also hold an edge better during carves.
There are three basic shapes of snowboards which have unique properties suited for the various types of riding.
Directional: In the beginning, all snowboards were of directional shape. A directional snowboard is wider at the nose than the tail. It also has a setback stance which means the binding inserts are moved back more towards the tail. This gives you a longer nose providing more float and stability. The flex is also directional which means the tail will be stiffer. The directional shape is a best used for all-mountain or freeride.
Twin: Twin snowboards have a centered stance and are the same width in the nose and tail. Twin snowboards can be either directional or twin flex. Twin flex offers the same amount of stiffness in the nose and tail. A directional flex will offer a stiffer tail. Twin is the preferred shape for freestyle groms so the snowboard handles the same regular or switch.
Directional Twin: This is a very well-rounded shape. It handles all styles of riding decently. Jack-of-all trades if you will. Directional twins borrow the setback stance of a directional board, but keep the geometry of a twin snowboard. Directional twin snowboards are the optimal choice for an all-mountain freestyle grom.
For more information on the different snowboard shapes watch the video below!
Camber? Rocker? Hybrid?
We’re almost done with snowboard buying 101! But before we finish, let’s go over the various camber profiles of snowboards. While there are a ton of profiles out there, you should familiarize yourself with the 3 major types.
Traditional Camber: This is the first shape of snowboards and is tried and true. When a cambered snowboard is laid on a flat surface, the mid-section arcs upwards. No other shape matches the carvability of a cambered snowboard. The pop is also usually much better than other shapes. One caveat is that traditional cambered snowboards are less forgiving in terms of edge catches.
Rocker: Rockered snowboards are very popular as they offer less edge catching and more playfulness. Another huge benefit of a rockered snowboard is improved float which is great for powder. This shape is the opposite shape of a cambered snowboard. When laid flat, the tips are raised because the arc is curved downwards. A couple of downsides are that rockered snowboards lack the edge hold or pop of a traditional camber. However, there are various types of tech in snowboards that add edge hold and pop to rockered boards.
Flat: Zero camber snowboards have a flat profile. Flat camber offers less hook than a camber, but not as much as a rocker. Flat camber provides a stable platform for landing and isn’t as squirrely as a rocker on carves. Flat camber snowboards also tend to ride faster than other camber profiles. This is because they have a longer running surface. One of the common complaints is that flat camber snowboards lack liveliness. This is why the majority of flat camber options come loaded with tech to vastly improve the feel.
Hybrid: Hybrid rockers have a combination of any of the above rocker profiles. There are many variations from rocker in the middle and camber underfoot to camber between and rocker underfoot. There are far too many to cover here. In general, you can expect performance to be a well-balanced mix of the various types of camber.
Sizing a snowboard is riddled with myths and misconceptions. The biggest offender is the “size it up to your chin and nose”. This is a poor way to size a snowboard. Think about it, not everyone has the same anatomy. Two people could be the exact same height and weight. What if one person’s chin/nose is lower than the others? They would end up on a different size snowboard. What if one person is just an inch taller than the other, but weighs the same?
The two most important factors in snowboard sizing is weight and boot size. Nearly all manufacturers will have a weight range for each size. The best starting point is the center of this weight range. You can size up or down depending on skill and riding style. You can acquire more sizing information by reading our snowboard size chart or snowboard sizing guide.