Buying the right snowboard
The right choice of snowboard to buy depends on the type of riding you intend to do. There are 3 main types of snowboards on the market today, these are; Freeride, Freestyle and Alpine boards. Each is constructed differently, from the materials to the shape, from the flex to the size. For more info see Wikipedia's definitions of snowboarding styles.
This is the most popular type of board, seeing as it accounts for more than 50% of all snowboards sales. Freeride boards are constructed to be ridden in one direction so their tip is different to the tail.
A Freeride board is a general 'jack of all trades' type of board which is why most people tend to buy them. They're especially good for beginners as they are stiff enough to cope with fast turning in hard, compacted snow while still be soft and forgiving for the new or intermediate boarders.
Freestyle snowboards are best categorised as 'trick boards', mainly designed for performing tricks in snowboard parks, on halfpipes, etc so aren't particularly suited for carving or really fast boarding.
Freestyle boards are, however, wider, more stable and much more forgiving to ride due to their larger surface area and so are a very good choice for the beginner to get started with.
Most of the freestyle boards out there are usually twin tipped or directional-twin boards. Both twin tipped boards have a tip (the front) and the tail (the back) that is exactly the same, so when looking at it from the edge it appears symmetrical. Twin tipped boards can be ridden more easily forwards and backwards (fakie or switch), making it easy for beginners. Directional-twin snowboards are the same as twin-tipped boards, but have a stiffer tail compared to the nose.
Alpine Snowboards, also called Race or Carving Snowboards, look like a big ski and usually only have a shovel on the nose, so they're designed to be ridden in one direction, fast downhill on fresh powder and so are not designed for tricks.
Alpine boards are longer and more narrow so they can reach high speeds and perfect, quick carved turns which hold their edge well on compacted or hard snow. Perfect for fast downhill racing!
Freeride, Freestyle or Alpine Snowboard for a Beginner?
Well, for a beginner the best snowboard is probably going to be either a Freestyle or Freeride board for the majority of people. If you're in the market for buying a new snowboard, or even buying your first snowboard, have a look at our Snowboard Comparison section.