History of Snowboards
Snowboarding as a sport has a relatively short, yet eventful history. The first snowboard was inspired by the idea of combining surfing and skateboarding, which resulted in the “snurfer.” From its advent in the 1960’s and throughout the 1970’s, the design of the snowboard evolved, with Winterstick’s wooden swallowtail being the mainstay of boards. The 1980’s saw major advances in snowboard technology with boards being made from various materials including plastic, fiberglass, and laminated wood. At this point, competition between Jake Burton Carpenter and Tom Sims, pioneers in snowboarding, thrust the fledgling sport into the spotlight and inspired significant innovations in snowboard design and technology. As a result, snowboards saw the addition of rubber foot straps and plastic highbacks, and changing shape including camber and rocker shapes depending on the preference of the rider.
Quick Tips: Snowboard Buying Guide
There are numerous options for snowboards to suit the preferences of any rider. There are three main categories of snowboard: all-mountain, freestyle, and splitboard. All-mountain boards are highly versatile, while freestyle boards are light and flexible, and splitboards can be split into skis to allow for climbing. Another feature of the snowboard is the type of bend in the board, referred to as camber, flat, or rocker, all of which provide differing rides depending on the preferences and experience of the rider. Additionally, the snowboard’s edge and flex, which influence the board’s turning ability are essential in getting the proper board for your preferences and experience level. Finally, your preferred stance will also influence the type of board that is most suitable for you. There are two types of stance, regular stance, which means having the left foot forward, or goofy, which is the right foot forward.
Most Popular Snowboard Brands
There are many popular snowboarding brands out there, offering various options for novice and experienced snowboarders alike. Burton, one of the original snowboard brands, offers a vast array of boards. Not to be outdone, Lib Tech, Arbor and CAPiTA each offer quality snowboards with their own unique legacies. While a relative newcomer, Rome SDS has a singular focus on snowboards, offering high quality and variety. Additionally, brands such as Ride, Gnu and Nitro, focus on not just the product but on snowboarding culture itself. These companies also produce quality snowboard apparel, from jackets, to pants to gloves -- you name it.
What Snowboard Boots Should I Buy?
Given the diversity of styles and experience levels involved, buying snowboard boots requires consideration of several factors. Riding style is a major determinant of the ideal snowboard boot, and whether you’re an all-mountain, freeride, or freestyle snowboarder, you must consider boot flex, which ranges from soft to stiff. Soft flex boots are ideal for extended riding, stiff flex boots are great for increased control and medium flex are somewhere in the middle with a balance of comfort and control. Next are lacing systems, which include traditional laces, quick-pull laces, and the Boa system. While traditional laces are straightforward, quick-pull laces allow for more specific attention to different areas of the boot, and the Boa system replaces laces with cables, adjustable with dials or wheels. As with any other footwear, snowboard boot sizes follow other sizing conventions, and proper fit includes consideration of liners, which can be either non-moldable, thermoformable, or custom moldable. Proper comfort and fit of snowboard boots is influenced by the above components and is essential for providing optimal performance and safety.
How to Size Snowboard Bindings
There are several different styles of snowboard bindings. The first is the traditional step-in and strap in binding system, which is by far the most popular. If you’re looking to try something new, Burton’s innovative step-on bindings are the epitome of convenience, but they do require you to buy special boots to be able to click into the binding. The boots that Burton has designed to work with their step-on system have no laces, and instead use the efficient Boa system for adjusting and tightening. If you’re the lone boarder in a family of skiers, you know how annoying it is to get yelled at for holding up the group because you’re busy strapping in. With the step-on binding system, you can just click in and go.
Evolution of Snowboard Style
While snowboarding first gained prominence in the 1960s, the very first version of the snowboard was actually seen as early as the 1930s. Back then, riders wore informal clothing and flat caps -- and probably weren’t dressed warmly enough for the weather. Fast forward to the ‘60s, riders mostly adhered to what was known as “surf style,” opting for sunglasses and jeans when they were out on the slopes. The 1970s saw more experimentation, with snowboarders wearing skinny leggings, sunglasses, and smaller, waterproof jackets. The 1980s saw snowboarding go more mainstream, which meant style inspired by punk, grunge, and hip-hop -- the major music influences of the time. This led to the now iconic snowboard style that we’ve seen all through the early 2000s into present day. Baggy jackets, extra-large t-shirts, colorful hats and goggles, flannel and denim all have a presence in today’s snowboarding fashion.
Profile of Burton
An iconoclast in the sport, the late Jake Burton Carpenter -- founder of Burton -- had a lasting impact not only on snowboarding technology, but on the sport’s culture as well. Getting started in the 1960s on a snurfer, he used his passion for the fledgling sport to build innovative boards that would become the basis of the modern boards we see today. From the company’s origins in the ‘70s to today, Burton is committed to producing high-quality boards, accessories, and apparel with a strong focus on sustainability. Burton jackets, pants, gloves, shirts and hoodies are worn by riders of all levels all around the world.