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Riding Styles

Buying Gear Snowboarding Slang Weather Maps Snow Resorts

Basic how to guide and fundamentals of Snowboarding

Snow Snowboarding Buying Gear

Rider Characteristics


  • When purchasing snowboard equipment, it is important to consider the rider's age
  • If the rider is still growing, it is to be expected that the purchase be made with growth considerations in mind
  • For the most part, age is not a determining factor in any snowboard equipment purchase (board, boots, and bindings)
  • The effect of age is a factor in the final sizing decisions


  • Weight is by far, the most important rider characteristic in determining board size
  • A snowboard acts like a leaf spring, in that it has no clue how tall the person standing on it is, but it does know their weight
  • When a heavy rider purchases a board that is too short, the board will have a tendency to "wash out" or perform poorly, especially at higher speeds
  • A lighter person on a longer board will usually have problems controling their board and initiating turns


  • There is a major misconception in the general public that height is the single most important factor in determining board size. As stated above, weight is the most important factor.
  • Height usually comes in to play when the rider's height and weight are not proportional
  • An unusually tall rider that is relatively skinny may opt for a longer board. The leverage they gain from the added height will help offset any loss of control they may encounter.
  • The same holds true for a heavier/shorter rider. They may benefit from a bit shorter of a board, due to the loss of leverage from their height.

Foot size

  • Snowboard boots are sized the same as regular shoes and sneakers, therefore, your shoe size will be the same as your boot size
  • The fit of a snowboard boot should be snug and your heel needs to stay in place when flexed, so if you are between sizes go for the smaller size
  • For the perfect fitting boot, see Determine Your Shoe Size before making your purchase decision


  • As with weight, gender is a critical factor in determining the appropriate equipment for the rider
  • As a rule, a women's physiology differs from a man's in three main ways: foot size, center of gravity, and body mass- all of which effect the way a snowboarder interacts with their equipment
  • Women almost always have a smaller foot and a lower center of gravity
  • Female riders of all abilities can find boards and boots specifically tailored to their physiological differences
  • Women's boards are designed to take into account the riders lower center of gravity, smaller foot size, and lighter weight

Athletic ability

  • A rider with extensive experience in other skate/board sports (surfing, skateboarding, skiing, in-line skating, etc.) will probably want to invest more in their equipment since they will more than likely "take" to the sport very quickly
  • At the same time, someone with little outdoor sport experience, or certain fears that might limit their aggressiveness, might be best to keep their equipment purchase more conservative to start


Hard pack and machine made snow

  • Hard pack and machine made snow is usually prevalent among eastern resorts that are required to make snow since mother nature can not be depended on to supply natural snow
  • Your snowboarding equipment should contain more vibration control materials, such as a rubber dampening foil, which will provide for a smoother ride across hard snow

Groomed and natural snow

  • Groomed and natural snow can be called powder or freshies
  • This type of snow is usually prevalent among western and Rocky Mountain resorts where natural snowfall can be dependable and deep every year
  • Most riders would benefit from a longer board in a powder snow conditions. The extra length adds additional lift and helps the rider float through the snow like a surfer.

Variable conditions

  • Anything other than powder and hard packed man made snow can fall into this category
  • Most boards today are designed to excel in variable conditions
  • Do not be tempted to buy a short board if your riding will take you into various conditions
  • A longer board is almost always preferable, unless you are looking for a board strictly for technical freestyle riding or are just learning

Your riding stance

  • There are two ways of standing on and riding a snowboard regular and goofy-foot:
    • Regular riders stand with their left foot forward on the board
    • Goofy-foot riders stand with their right foot forward
  • To determine your style, run and slide across a hard floor. Whichever foot you put in front is the foot you should have in front while boarding.

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Your riding style

Technical freestyle

This type of rider is most often found on the lower elevations of the mountain, hiking the halfpipe or riding in the snowboard park. Many of today's technical freestyle riders come to snowboarding with experience as a skateboarder, in-line skater, BMX, or other action sports background. While the equipment specific to this type of rider excels in park and pipe riding, it can also be very versatile across the whole mountain at less than full-speed.

  • Technical freestyle bindings
    • Technical freestyle bindings generally use a low hiback with 2 straps for increased flexibility and range of motion
    • These bindings are not usually value/price driven
    • Most technical freestyle bindings (either step-in or strap) are made of composite materials in vibrant colors
    • Riders generally gain responsiveness with a minimal weight gain


While an overused term in snowboarding, freeride is still the best way to describe the majority of snowboarders and soon-to-be snowboarders. As it suggests, freeride describes a user who intends to utilize the whole mountain. These riders enjoy everything about snowboarding: the amazing feel of carving a turn on freshly groomed slopes, the sense of flight obtained at lift-off from the big-air jump, the creativity that can only be understood descending the half-pipe, and the feel of freedom one gets floating in fresh powder.

  • Freeride bindings
    • Freeride bindings generally have higher hiback with 2 or 3 straps for added support and control
    • These bindings come in every shape, color, and price
    • For the most part, no matter what the specifics of each freeride binding, the general effect on the riding experience is minimal. This holds true for both traditional/strap bindings and Step-In bindings.
    • Binding choice is commonly a packaging decision or one of brand/price/graphics


This type of riding style is one of the fastest growing segments within the snowboarding world. Commonly referred to as "cross-over," a majority of these riders were once skiers. A freecarve rider enjoys the full-length and width a mountain has to offer, continually transitioning from one turn to the next.

  • Freecarve bindings
    • As with freecarve boots, there are very few freecarve bindings
    • Those that are freecarve specific can usually be distinguished by their third strap
    • Step-In bindings are also available in a freecarve configuration, and are almost always manufactured from space-age composites


Alpine/Race riders are easily picked out of the crowd. They are always seen on groomed trails, laying a trench in the snow with each turn. These riders use a snowboards edge like no other rider. Using powerful body movements and gravity as their friend, alpine riders enjoy the sport only when they are connected to the snow.

  • Alpine/Race bindings
    • Alpine/Race bindings are usually a plate binding with hard boots
    • Metal and composites are the only available materials for this type of binding



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