Jan. 24, 2012 at 8:11 PM ET
By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com
Recent snow in many regions of the country has resorts rejoicing and snowboarders raring to hit the slopes and terrain parks. There’s still time for beginners to take advantage of deals on lessons as part of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Many offers include lift tickets and rental equipment. If you’re ready for your own gear, you can find an entry-level snowboard for less than $300 from a brand such as Forum, K2, Ride, Salomon, or even Burton. That’s not to mention the bargains available on snowboards from previous seasons.
Most budget boards are designed for entry-level to intermediate snowboarders, with features that make them more forgiving. They tend to have a softer flex, which means they bend and twist more easily than stiffer boards built for high speeds. That gives even younger, smaller snowboarders more control and helps park riders initiate jumps. Manufacturers often give their boards a flex rating on a 1-to-5 or 1-to-10 scale, with 1 being the softest.
Low-cost boards are typically the same shape at both ends, which makes it easy for snowboarders to ride regular (with the left foot in front) or switch (with the right foot in front). These so-called “twin-tip” boards come in two different varieties. Riders who already know their preferred stance can opt for a directional twin, which is stiffer at the tail or back end of the board, allowing for more controlled turns. A true twin has uniform flex throughout.
Traditionally snowboards have had a bit of an arch in the center, known as camber, that’s forced flat against the ground by the rider’s body weight, resulting in springy, responsive performance. These days, inexpensive boards commonly feature reverse camber, or rocker, where the center of the board curves toward the ground and the ends lift off the snow. This helps keep beginners from catching an edge, making rocker an appealing choice for any rider who prefers smooth landings to face plants. One drawback is the board doesn’t grip the snow as well when you’re speeding downhill trying to make aggressive turns. A snowboard with flat or zero camber has a flat base that sits flush against the snow and combines attributes of both traditional and reverse camber.
Finally, inexpensive snowboards feature extruded bases, which are generally slower but easier to maintain and repair than the sintered bases on pricier boards.
Below are Cheapism’s top picks for affordable snowboards.
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