Buying a new snowboard – the hunt for the ‘Holy Grail’

I’m in the market for a new board. At this time of year I always find myself getting seduced by all the shiny new toys that are filling the racks of my favourite snowboard shops. But for the past few seasons I’ve managed to restrain myself, partly because I’m still really happy with the board I’ve got and, thanks to a bit of p-tex which has healed most of the wounds it’s received over the years, it’s still in pretty good nick. (I only wish it had been able to do the same for me!) And besides, what’s that they say about workmen and their tools?!

My trusty steed (on left) – no fancy tech there! At least I can always guarantee it’ll still be waiting after an extended apres sesh though!

The other reason I’ve managed to resist temptation this long is that there are so many options out there that, even with advice and recommendations from friends in the know, I haven’t been able to make up mind about which new stick to go for. The fact that I’m a Libran probably hasn’t helped either!

Technology has moved on a hell of a lot since I got my last board, when all you really had to take into account was the size, flex and whether or not you liked the graphics. These days you’ve also got to decide on what profile you want; camber, rocker, a combination of both, either between the bindings or at the tip/tail, or just plain flat? And then there’s the shape; directional, directional twin or true twin? It’s enough to make your head hurt! And to make things even more confusing, different companies use different terminology and even different technology.

Initially I had my suspicions that these new features might just be gimmicks developed by snowboard manufacturers to sell more boards but having tested out a few new boards last season, I’ve realised that these advancements are far more than that and really can enhance your riding.

So, what to go for? For anyone who’s a little mystified by all the jargon, here’s the lowdown…

Profiles

Camber: Board arches upwards between the bindings making the main contact points near the tip and tail. This type of profile makes boards really springy and great for popping ollies, but it can be easy to catch an edge.

Men’s: Burton – Custom X                   Women’s: Bataleon – Violenza

Rocker/Reverse Camber: Opposite to camber. Board curves upwards making it float better in powder and harder to catch an edge. Rocker profile boards are great for jibbing and make buttering and pressing easy. Not so great for ollies though and they don’t tend to be very steady at speed.

Men’s: Academy – Propaganda             Women’s: K2– Vavavoom/Gnu – B-Street

Combo: Combination of camber and rocker. Different manufacturers distribute them differently, for example, Ride put camber between the bindings whereas Lib Tech andBurton put rocker there.

Men’s: Lib Tech – T Rice Pro                Women’s: Burton- Lip-stick

Flat/Zero Camber: Keeps your entire effective edge on the snow making them really stable and super responsive. When combined with a relatively stiff flex, these boards are great for ripping up hard packed slopes.

Men’s: K2 – Lifelike                              Women’s: K2- Fling

Shapes

Directional: Stance is set back giving these boards a longer nose which makes them float better in powder. Best for freeriding.

True Twin: Same length nose and tip which makes it easier to ride switch. Best for freestyle.

Brand specific technology

Magne-traction: Technology developed by Mervin Manufacturing (makers of Lib Tech, Gnu and Roxy boards) where the edges of the board are serrated like a bread knife. This makes them grip better on hard-packed snow and compensates for reduced contact points in camber, rocker or combo boards.

Santa, if you’re reading…!

Personally I’ve been coveting a Gnu B-Nice (men’s equivalent – Carbon Credit Series). It’s a sweet all-terrain stick which employs Mervin’s Banana Technology (rocker between the bindings and flat to mild camber at the tip and tail) making it perfect for park and powder, and Magne-traction to give it great grip for carving hard pack and ice. And what’s more, its twin shape makes it perfect for riding switch!

Thanks to Pete from Boardwise, Andy from Mervin Mfg and the bible that is Whitelines for helping me get a little closer to finding the Holy Grail!

Anyone else ridden any sick boards recently? Any recommendations? Or maybe you think all this newfangled technology is overrated? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear your views…

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4 responses to “Buying a new snowboard – the hunt for the ‘Holy Grail’

  1. I wrestle with this every year – it seems like every brand has at least two boards that will fit whatever style you’re looking for. It’s a tough decision, and once I narrow down the board that fits my needs I ultimately just end up going with which one I irrationally like the best.

    • Yeah, you’ve really got to test them out and go with the one that feels right. Of the ones I tested last season, the one I thought I’d really like didn’t actually feel as good as another one that I didn’t think would be so good. You’re right though, a lot of them are pretty similar, in which case it comes down to the graphics! What do you ride?

  2. I take it you’re off to the slopes soon then, chick? x Em

    • Sadly not, although have been extremely tempted! Will hopefully get out a bit later in the season for a holiday but until then am just going to have to pray for snow in Scotland! Hope all good with you x

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