What do you do when your kid wants to learn to snowboard? What width and length of the board do you choose? Which type of snowboard is best for your child? How much should you pay for a new snowboard?
So many questions run through parents’ minds before purchasing the right snowboard for their child. Finding the best option can be especially confusing for parents who haven’t snowboarded before. Alas, there are answers to all these questions!
Keep reading to learn more about snowboards for kids!
Types of Snowboards for Kids
If you’re a newbie to the sport then the first step is to understand that there isn’t just one snowboard type, there are three types, including:
All-mountain snowboards are the most common and popular since they’re engineered to perform well at any location on the mountain (hence the name), meaning they handle bumps and lumps well, can carve on the pistes, and float well on fresh powder.
This is the best option for beginners because all-mountain snowboards are incredibly versatile. If you’re planning to purchase only one snowboard for your child, then it makes the most sense to buy the type that can be taken anywhere.
All-mountain boards are built with a directional shape, meaning the tip and tail are different. The tail is typically flattered, shorter, and narrower compared to the tip, which creates better balance toward the tail of the snowboard. Regardless of the directional shape, the snowboard can be ridden backward with the tail facing the travel direction.
There are many benefits to buying an all-mountain snowboard for your child. First, all-mountain snowboards have excellent flex, which makes it easier to manipulate the board for butter, turns, and other basic techniques. Second, all-mountain boards are more forgiving of technical mistakes because your child won’t need to use their entire body working together to make it bend.
Third, this snowboard type has a lower swing weight, which means it’s easier to maneuver. Finally, all-mountain boards are available in a range of pricing, so children’s snowboards are on the less expensive side.
There are several disadvantages to all-mountain boards. First, many don’t work well outside of smaller parks and on rails, for those who are more advanced. Second, all-mountain boards aren’t the type that your child can keep forever and grow into.
Third, they don’t typically work the best on powder and the lower-end models don’t have the same precision as higher-end options.
Freestyle boards are flexible, short, and light, engineered primarily for performing tracks on halfpipes and in terrain parks. These boards have a limited edge grip and aren’t stable enough for traveling fast and carving turns. Many freestyle boards feature directional-twin or twin tips, whereby the board is symmetrical in shape when using a centered stance.
This design makes it easier for beginners to ride the snowboard in either direction. On the other hand, the directional twin features a tail that is stiffer than the tip. Freestyle boards are only recommended for more advanced children because you don’t gain the balance of an all-mountain board.
Freestyle boards are meant for freestyle, so they are excellent for learning and executing tricks, and catching big air. For the more advanced snowboarding child, this board type is excellent for playing around in the park and trying new maneuvers.
One of the greatest cons of a freestyle board is that it cannot be ridden perfectly straight. That means your child must have the skill to perform tricks, so they aren’t for beginners. Also, the rider must boast the same skill in stabilizing this board during a straight descent.
For those kids who are learning the sport, freestyle boards can be extremely difficult to ride and aren’t right for learning the basics.
Freeride snowboards are the best option for ungroomed snow in all terrain types. These snowboards are engineered for adventurous riders who spend time off the groomed runs. Most are directional boards, so they are meant to be ridden with only one end facing downhill.
The flex of the freeride snowboard is almost always stiffer than a freestyle board. This is not the best option for untrained children, since they should be sticking to the groomed trails.
The freeride board is an excellent option for kids who have developed some snowboarding skills and go out riding often. These boards are also typically engineered a little wider to allow for better floating and more room for balance. Freeride boards are an excellent option for more experienced children who wish to visit unexplored terrain under parent supervision.
These boards are engineered to move fast, which isn’t the best option for children. Also, the directional design means they only move in a single direction. Furthermore, even the lowest-end models are incredibly expensive.
For a growing child, this is not the best option unless you have the funds to support a new board every few years.
Powder boards are specialized snowboards for riding soft powder but could be used for children with advanced riding skills. This board type features a tapered directional shape with a tip that’s longer and wider than the tail. Like with most boards, there are always exceptions to the rule since true twin powder boards exist.
Also with this board type, the setback is greater than 20mm, which makes sense because a setback stance helps improve floating on the powder. However, powder boards with a centered stance exist.
The most obvious advantage of the powder snowboard is its ability to float in deep snow and powder. The short and wide design was developed for these exact conditions.
This is not a recommended board for children because they ride fast. Also, powder boards are a specific type and rarely a rider’s only board. Therefore, to purchase a powder board for your child, they will need a high skill level and have a primary board for regular use.
Best Features for Kid’s Snowboards
Beginner and kid’s snowboards share many of the same features since most kids are beginners and need to focus on balance more than speed and shredding capabilities. The most common features for kid’s snowboards include:
Camber profile impacts the ease of turning, stability feeling, and ability to catch an edge. When kids are first starting, they need to be able to feel stable on the board while moving to assist with balance. You also want to make it easy for your child to turn and don’t want the board to be catchy.
The two best camber profiles that offer catch-free rides and improve stability are flat to rocker and hybrid. The flat to rocker profile features a flat underfoot section, which feels stable. The hybrid profile also has a stable underfoot.
Flex is just as important as camber profile, but a little easier to understand. Kid’s boards tend to have a soft or medium-soft flex because it’s easier to manipulate and maneuver at slower speeds. If the snowboard is too stiff, then it’s difficult to initiate turns thus losing control.
While stiff flex provides better stability at high speeds, this is not the right option for your child.
Purchasing an unsuitable-sized board can impact learning and improvement. If you go too long, then the board becomes more difficult for your child to turn and control. If you go too short then you lose stability, which is critical for kids to learn.
Speak with the retail expert at a local store to determine your child’s board size.
You may not know how long your child’s snowboarding “career” will last, so you may not want to drop considerable cash on board that may not get much use. Also, children grow fast, so this year’s snowboard may not be suitable for their size in the next few years. Luckily, kid’s snowboards are on the less expensive side.
Manufacturers typically produce boards with extruded bases that are softer flexing for children. Purchasing last season’s new snowboard is a great way to save money!
Camber, flex, and size are the three most important features of kid’s snowboards, so if you have those three factors correct, then the rest of these features aren’t as important. When searching for a kid’s snowboard, the best stance is centered, since it gives your child the most balance.
Also, the best shape for a kid is a true twin, which is perfectly symmetrical and important when attempting to learn new tricks.
Two types of snowboard bases exist: extruded and sintered. When searching for a kid’s snowboard, extruded bases are the best option for the following reasons. First, extruded bases are slower, so having a fast accelerating base is not the best choice for kids.
Second, extruded bases are easier to maintain, so you don’t need to wax them often. This is a great benefit for parents who will likely have to perform the maintenance. Finally, extruded bases are less expensive to manufacture, which lowers your cost.
Q: Is a stiff flex or softer flex better for a kid’s snowboard?
A: Snowboard stiffness is a subjective topic. However, there are several factors to consider before selecting either. Stiff boards absorb more shock resulting in more stable landings.
Soft flex offers improved flexibility to make tricks easier, even at lower speeds. For children, a soft flex board is better for learning, since they won’t be performing high-flying tricks.
Q: How long do snowboards last?
A: As with all sports equipment, the longevity of a snowboard is based on maintenance and usage. For adults, the average snowboard will last eight to ten years with proper maintenance and regular usage. However, since children grow rapidly, you can expect to purchase a new board every few years.
Q: Which snowboard is best for children?
A: The all-mountain snowboard with a flat profile design is the best option for your child to learn how to maintain their balance and maneuver. This board type is versatile and offers excellent control, and ease of access.
Q: What snowboarding stances exist?
A: Unlike longboarding and skateboarding where you can adjust your feet at any time, snowboards require bindings to be adjusted before starting. Therefore, there are two stance types: regular and goofy. The regular stance is when you go forward and to the left, with the opposite being the goofy stance.
You can also adjust the width of the binding and offset is based on the terrain.