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Pimp My Ride: Guide to Snowboarding Gear

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Women SnowboardingThinking about buying a snowboard this winter? There are about 50-100 different snowboard companies out there competing for your hard earned (or your mom’s hard-earned) cash so here are some things you should know. First – just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you should use hand-me-down or second-rate gear. There are a lot of brands that cater specifically to women and there are a lot of choices for riders of all levels.

Riding Ability
If your only snowboarding experience is playing SSX on your PS2, then consider yourself a beginner. If you board 3 – 5 times a year, can ride fakie, catch some air and turn with no problem, you’re probably an intermediate rider. If you’re advanced, you know who you are. Most companies make snowboards for riders of all levels. If you’re a newbie, you’ll find freestyle snowboards are more flexible and easier to learn on.

Length & Flex
Just like a pair of jeans or shoes – snowboards are not one size fits all. Deep powder or race boards will be longer; freestyle or trick boards shorter. When choosing length, set the board on its tail. Start with a board that comes up to your mouth; more towards your chin if you’re interested in park and pipe riding and more towards your eyes if you’re interested in freeriding and carving. If you’re on the slender side, get something that has a softer flex; if you’ve carrying a little extra weight, find a board that’s stiffer.

Snowboard Width
From a snowboard’s point of view, the biggest difference between guys and girls is the size of their feet. This means that before you look at a board’s length, flex or color appeal, you must first look at its width. Small feet = narrow board. It’s pretty simple: if your toes or heels don’t come anywhere near the edge of your board, you don’t have any way to apply power to that edge during a turn. For a women’s size 7.5 foot, a good width is somewhere around 242mm. The majority of women stick with a snowboard waist width of less than 250mm

Snowboarding Style
When buying a snowboard, think about what kind of riding you want to do. Basically, there are three main styles: freestyle, freeride and race. If the only boarding you want to do is tricks in the half-pipe, jumps and rail slides, then you’ll be looking to buy a freestyle board. These are lighter and more flexible which makes them perfect for ripping it up in the snowpark.

If you want to hit the terrain park and ride through powder, buy a freeride board. These boards are flexible enough for beginners, but stiff enough to hold a turn in hard snow. In terms of numbers, snowboarders are pretty evenly split between freestyle and freeride with race boards rarer.

Boots
Ask the salesperson if the boot manufacturer designed the “woman’s model” from a woman’s last. Good reps will know that a last is the basic mold  formed around a foot. Since women’s calves start lower, and women have narrower heels and wider balls of their feet, a woman’s-lasted boot is a must. Otherwise, you’ll be buying a scaled-down version of a men’s boot. Be sure to pull on a pair of real snowboard socks when trying the boots on and don’t be afraid to lunge forward and rock around to test the flex.

Graphics
Most snowboard companies apply great graphics and artwork. Graphics shouldn’t be the main thing you think about when buying a board, but take a look at what’s out there. There are lots of graphics especially designed for girls and women. If you don’t really like the graphics on the board you have, you can always throw on a Pretty Tough sticker (ping us for free samples).

Price
Boards can range in price between $200 and $1,000. How much you spend will basically come down to how much you have – but spend your money wisely. If you’re just learning to snowboard, you might want to save some of your cash so you can buy a nice pair of boots or a helmet. You can also look around for used boards if you’re on a tight budget.

Used boards can be found on the internet (try Craigslist), in newsapaper ads or by checking bulletin boards at your favorite hill. Many used boards can be just as fun to ride as the brand new, special edition ones you see in the store.

 Pretty Tough Tip
Trust your gut and don’t let retailers steer you in the wrong direction. Even as a beginner, you are your own best judge as to what fits, feels good, and works for your body and style. If you can’t afford the latest and greatest, you can find a good deal on a snowboard by buying an older model or shopping during the summer when many stores are trying to get rid of older boards.

And don’t forget important accessories such as helmets, wrist guards and knee caps. If you’re a beginner,  you’ll spend a lot of time falling so stay safe.

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