A snowboard is the main piece of equipment used in snowboarding. It is a board designed to be attached beneath the rider's feet with bindings, and ridden down dry ski slopes or snow-covered slopes. No ski poles are used.

Most snowboards are constructed of a wood core and laminated with fiberglass. The front of the board (the "nose" in snowboarder parlance) is upturned, to help the board glide over uneven snow; the back of the board may be equally upturned, less upturned, or relatively flat, depending on how much time the snowboarder plans to spend riding backwards. The base (the side of the board that touches the snow) is covered with a plastic called p-tex, which is typically sintered to help it absorb wax, which helps it slide faster. The edges of the base are fitted with a steel edge, just a couple millimeters square, which helps the board grab the snow when tipped up on edge. The top of the board typically sports graphics designed by board makers to attract riders to their boards. Snowboard topsheet graphics can be a highly personal statement and many riders spend many hours customizing the look of their boards.

Snowboard designs differ primarily in:

  • Length - Boards for children are as short as 120 centimeters; boards for racers (aka "alpine" riders) are as long as 215 cm. Most people ride boards in the 140-165 cm range. A good rule of thumb is that with the board standing on end, it should be as tall as the chin of the rider. The longer the board, the more stable it is at high speed, but also a bit tougher to control.

  • Width - The width is typically measured at the waist of the board, since the nose and tail width varies with the sidecut and taper (which we will get to in a moment). Freestyle boards are up to 28 cm wide, to make it easier to keep one's balance. Alpine boards are typically 18-21 cm wide, although they can be as narrow as 15 cm. Most folks ride boards in the 24-25 cm range.

  • Sidecut - The edge of the board, as viewed from above, is not straight but curved, so that the tip and tail are wider than the center. This curve aids turning and affects the board's handling in ways too complex to describe here. The curve has a radius that might be a short as 5 meters on a child's board or as large as 17 meters on a racer's board. Most boards use sidecut radii in the 8-9 meter range.

  • Flex - The flexibility of a snowboard affects its handling, again in ways too complex for this space, and typically varies with the rider's weight. There's no standard way to quantify snowboard stiffness, but novices tend to prefer softer flex, racers stiffer flex, and everyone else something in between.


Though bindings are not strictly part of the snowboard, they are necessary for its use. The bindings are affixed to the board, and the booted feet are then held in place in the bindings using a variety of systems. Behind the heel and up the calf area is a stiff molded support called a "highback." This allows the rider to lean back and effect a "heelside" turn. Unlike ski bindings, snowboard bindings do not release. There are several types of bindings: