Snowboarding can be an expensive sport, and for those boarding only a few weeks each year or for children who are still growing, buying brand new equipment isn’t necessarily the best way to go. There are many reasons why purchasing used equipment or digging up your old gear can be a good idea.
Old snowboard setups can work fine for both a novice boarder and a confident rider. Snowboards can be used or stored for up to 15 years before they begin to really deteriorate from age. As long as a board still has decent pop and flex, an old board purchased for $50-$100 and is a good option for riding in rocky spring or fall season conditions.
It’s recommended to prioritise your boots and bindings, and if possible, splurge on well-fitted and good quality boots.
For riders who are looking for a beginners setup, don’t ride often enough to justify buying brand new equipment, or are simply looking for a change of traditional camber scenery and the ability to ride comfortably in rocky conditions, an old snowboard will likely do a great job.
Examples of snowboards that still work well after 10 – 20 years
Here are examples of older snowboards that have been tried and tested for their durability and can easily maintain their quality for up to 20 years:
- 1997 Burton Custom
- 1997 Burton Rippey
- 1999 Burton Fluid
- 1999 Burton Balance
- 2000 Burton Ross Powers
- 2000 Town and Country Freeride
- 2001 Burton Nu
- 2002 Palmer Carbon Circle
- 2005 Nitro Titan
- 2008 Burton Blunt
- 2009 Burton Deuces
- 2010 Burton Triumph
The Burton Rippey, for example, was one of the earliest boards of its time to incorporate a super light core, and 20 year old models are still commonly used today as backup boards. It’s common for a Burton Ross Powers to maintain its tight sidecut radius even after 20 years, useful for high-speed carving turns.
Experienced riders often recommend these boards for those who don’t put in a full season of boarding each year, as they participate in consistently solid setups. Some of these boards and setups have spent over 15 years in storage, and still have great pop and flex close to their original specs.
After being in storage for a long time, however, a complete board tune-up (including a base grind, edge sharpening and a fresh coat of wax) can give an old board a new lease on life. Although, after a certain amount of tunes, the base or edges of an old board can no longer be worked on.
While some of these boards may have less pop and flex than they did on their first run, an older board can work great as a backup board, or when riding in spring and fall conditions on a thin snow base.
While some riders use these boards as backups, others ride them as their primary equipment and don’t see a reason to swap out for new gear until they have completely deteriorated.
Pros of old snowboards
It’s not hard to find an old snowboard setup including a board, boots and bindings online for around $100. Buying equipment for such a low price pays for itself after three days vs renting.
It’s just as easy to sell an old snowboard for a similar price. So those wanting to own their own equipment for one solid season and sell it the following year should be able to do so without losing too much cash.
Some old boards hold up a lot better than others. A board that was bought new and was top-of-the-range 10 years ago will probably still be better quality than rental gear today.
In contrast, a brand new board, in addition to being a lot pricier, won’t maintain its monetary value for more than a season.
Older snowboards with past camber technology can be appealing and retro to new generations. Like in most board sports, boarders often get complimented for being able to ride classic old-school equipment. Many riders purchase brand new boards like the Rome Mod which are modeled on these classical designs.
First time boarders are often advised to rent gear for their first season until they know for sure they want to pursue the sport. Snowboarders that are past the complete beginner stage, on the other hand, should typically consider buying a used snowboard and only commit to an expensive package once they are confident they will consistently it.
A great added advantage of riding an older board is that you won’t be as nervous to ding or scratch your gear. Uncontrollable beginners and rocky surfaces can damage a board easily.
Riding old equipment, you’ll also feel more comfortable trying risky hops and choosing ungroomed runs without fear of damaging your board.
Cons of old snowboards
While old boards can be used as good backup boards, or primary equipment for snowboarders who spend a limited amount of time on the mountain, there are some downfalls to riding an ancient snowboard.
After about 15 years of sitting in storage, the wooden base of a snowboard can begin to warp and develop unwanted convex or concave bends. While these boards are usually still rideable and these curves might go unnoticed to beginners, deteriorated materials mean that they may have lost a lot of their pop and flex over time.
Also, some old boards are in terrible condition and can be useless. When buying an older board, make sure to check the condition of the edges and the base lamination to ensure that the core has not had water leak in and is not shot.
As mentioned, the base and edges of a board can only be ground and sharpened so many times until there is no more material to grind at. Once an old board has been tuned to its limit, there is almost nothing you can do other than ride it into the ground.
One of the biggest concern for those riding on old setup is bindings and boots. Because bindings are made from plastic and foam, they will start to deteriorate much quicker than a snowboard.
This could be a quick and cheap fix such as replacing old straps or ladders. However, depending on how old your bindings are, it may be harder to find replacement parts for outdated models that are no longer in production.
Regardless, always be sure to check your bindings before you ride to avoid them coming loose while on the mountain.
New tech old boards lack
Each year, new technologies are designed to increase the flex and sidecut aspects and improve camber patterns on new snowboards. Newer board models are also designed with vibration dampening materials to absorb more shocks on the hill.
Over time, snowboard designers have gained a better understanding of how the different components of a board work well together. For example, better quality glass and the use of banana traction rocker technology allows for pressure to be applied in between one’s feet and provides better balance for beginner snowboarders.
Some snowboarders disagree there have been drastic improvements in snowboard design and claim that while boots and bindings have certainly improved in design, comfort and material, boards haven’t changed that much aside from bells and whistles.
These riders prefer to ride cheaper and older equipment which they believe to be just as good.
Tips for using an old snowboard
Here are a few important things to keep in mind if you opt for an old snowboard:
- Tune your old snowboard before each season by sending it in for an edge sharpen, base grind and full wax.
- If your board has reached its base grind limit, repurpose it for rock runs. Some riders even repurpose their board as a sandboard.
- If you do buy a new board, save parts of your old bindings for spare pieces, e.g. the three hold mount disk of an old binding setup – you may be able to use it with certain brand new bindings.
- Check your bindings on a regular basis to make sure they won’t collapse on you mid run. This can be the cause for some serious injury. Replace your ladders and straps when you notice any cracking or plastic disintegration.
If you’re using your old board as a decorative wall piece or keeping it in storage, you might consider giving it another try on the slopes, provided it’s not completely shot.
An old board hidden in storage or purchased online for $50 can be repurposed as a backup board or used as your primary board for longer than you would expect.
While a bad board has the ability to ruin a perfect powder day, many snowboards hold their quality relatively well as long as you care for them properly.
If you’re able to spend money on any gear, save it for boots. Good quality, well-fitting and comfortable boots and bindings combined with a classic old board can be a good setup for the average snowboarder.