Taking up snowboarding? You need a snowboard! As a beginner, you need to decide how much to invest in your first board. When you ask around, you hear all kinds of answers.
One obvious option is to start by renting a board the first couple of times on the mountain so you can make sure you like the sport before moving on. That’s what I did when I started.
Renting can add up fast tough, so you might instead choose to buy the cheapest snowboard you can find to start with. That’s also what I did after a couple rental days.
A legitimate question is how cheap should you go for your first snowboard? What kind of board should you aim for? Can a cheap used first board hurt your learning experience (spoiler alert: no it won’t)? How soon will you outgrow it and need to spend more money for a better one?
You may want to spend around $400 for a new beginner board from a leading brand, or a marked down intermediate board. Or you might opt for a used snowboard for under $200 including bindings. In all cases, you should probably invest around $150 for good quality boots that will fit you perfectly.
What is a good beginner snowboard?
As a beginner, you want a first snowboard that’s versatile, easy to turn and balance on, and affordable. Typically a medium-stiff directional board with flat or camber between your feet and some rocker in the tips. Examples include the Salomon Sight, the Ride Agenda, the Yes Basic.
More flexible boards tend to be more forgiving. The Burton Ripcord (flat top), for example, is a softer board with a bit more bevel underneath for easier edge to edge transfers. This will help your early progression but you’ll quickly outgrow it quickly.
A medium-stiff board will give you a bit more mileage before you need to upgrade.
Also make sure you choose a first snowboard with the right size for you. All boards have recommended weight ranges. Your weight is the main consideration it has a significant impact on the board’s maneuverability and the level of control you have. A lighter rider on a large board may struggle with maintaining control, while a heavier rider on a smaller board may feel unstable and unbalanced.
Here’s a general reference size chart for snowboards from the-house.com:
|Rider Weight (lb)||Rider Weight (kg)||Snowboard Size (cm)|
|80 or less||36 or less||90-135|
|210 and up||95 and up||159-168|
Also check out the weight ranges for your specific board brand as size recommendations can vary between brands. When looking at the weight ranges, shoot for the middle or a little over.
In addition to weight, as a rule of thumb your beginner snowboard should reach around your chin when positioned upright next to you.
As a beginner, you will generally not feel the difference between a cheap and an expensive snowboard. Anything will work for you and it’s generally a better choice to start with something affordable, whether new or used (e.g. 1-3 seasons old).
After a couple seasons you’ll typically know what kind of riding you’ll be doing (e.g. freeride, freestyle, carving) and what type of board you need to buy – that’s when a costlier board will start to make sense, and the difference in quality between boards will become notable.
How much to spend on a beginner snowboard
As a beginner, you want to avoid investing too much in your first board until you develop a riding style and know what kind of snowboard you need for it.
A $600 snowboard wouldn’t be helpful initially and would likely be too hard for a beginner at low speed as these boards are generally designed for performance at high speed.
Beginner-friendly snowboards can generally found new in the $350 – $420 range. As discussed, these boards have softer flex and are easy to learn on, albeit with less features than mid-range boards.
You need to add to that some lower-end softer bindings which may set you back around $200 (as well as the boots, see later).
Again, the Salomon Sight, Ride Agenda, and Yes Basic are good examples of beginner snowboards in that price range. You should generally not go lower than $350 for a new beginner snowboard for decent quality and sturdiness. Also avoid “beginner package deals” even from reputable brands.
Another option is to buy a new snowboard from last season at a 30% or more discount from list price, bringing mid-range boards around the $300 mark. It’s not uncommon to walk into a board shop off-season and spend less than $400 for a new board from last year with demo bindings and boots.
Alternatively, you might also opt for a used board in the $100 – $200 range including board and bindings from a leading brand. Great deals can be found especially in the summer. Just make sure the board has an adequate size and flex for your weight.
If you buy used, make sure you get something no older than 5 or 6 years as board quality has improved significantly vs a decade ago. Check that the board is in decent shape – edges not overly damaged, no rust, no big dings in top sheet, no gouges in the base. Check the buckles of the bindings are functioning.
You might end up with good quality gear at a lower price than low-quality new equipment.
Again, you should probably look for the cheapest possible snowboard at first since you’ll be upgrading after a season or two.
Renting gear for the first few times is always a good idea to make sure you want to commit to snowboarding. If so you will also narrow down the size (size charts aren’t always right) and type of board that suit you best.
Where to look for a beginner snowboard
Online store clearances: Sites like Evo, The House, or Backcountry offer good discounts on previous year models. You can typically get a decent intermediate board and bindings (new) for $400 – $450. Also check flash deals sites steepandcheap.
Facebook groups and marketplaces: you can often find decent used snowboard to learn on for $100 – $200 for a complete setup. Many riders will sell last season gear at very low prices. Example: Snowboard Gear Yard Sale. Also check out your local mountain’s FB page for riders selling stuff and demo gear – you will generally end up paying 50% to 90% off MSRP.
Craigslist, eBay, GearTrade: you can often buy a snowboard setup (board and bindings) at a great price and sell it at a lower price once the season is over. Remember, summer is the best time for buying snowboards. Gear Trade often has some very good deals for grabs.
Local shop or resort shop: swap meets offer great opportunities to find a good starter board. Many shops will also sell demo gear toward the end of the season.
Cost of renting a snowboard as a beginner
You can rent a snowboard for anywhere between $20 and $55 per day (typically) depending on the mountain and shop. Daily and multi-day rentals are available in many places but the best prices are usually found in shops off the mountain (on-mountain rentals are always pricier).
Seasonal rentals can be a good option if you’ll rent more than 3-4 days. Seasonal packages may hover around $200 in popular resorts, though depending on the mountain and shop you may be able to rent board, boots and bindings for $130. Some shops will even offer snowboard + bindings + helmet and goggles for under 100.
Seasonal rentals generally offer higher quality boards than daily rentals. The shop will generally set up the bindings, and tune and wax the board for you. Shops in towns also often have better quality than resorts for the same (or lower) prices.
Keep in mind that with a seasonal rental, you’ll be responsible for storing, carrying, and maintaining the snowboard.
Cost of beginner snowboard boots and bindings
While you should generally spend as little as possible on your first snowboard, you will need boots that fit you well from the start, as well as decent bindings. Snowboard control comes from your feet so boots and bindings are key even when learning at first. Your boots need to feel comfy but snug.
Once you’ve learned the basics and you’ve made the decision to continue snowboarding, you’ll likely want to invest in good bindings for improved control. You’ll be able to reuse the bindings on other boards in the future.
While there are many boots available in shops and online, getting boots that really fit you is essential for your learning stage and for future progression. New beginner boots may run $200 to $300, but with a good sale you find decent boots for $150 – $200.
Cheap or used boots are rarely a good choice. Used boots will be molded to someone else’s feet – though in some cases, they may fit well enough. Snug fitting boots will make a big difference and will last you a few seasons.
A good tip is go to a shop and try on many models and sizes to figure out what feels right, then look for good deal online.
All in all, a decent setup with new boots and used board/bindings might cost around $250 – 300.
In summary, you should probably not splurge on your first snowboard until you find out the style of riding you’ll be doing (if any) and the type of board that will suit you best. Either get an affordable beginner board new ($350-$450), a mid-range, intermediate board on sale (similar cost), or a used setup in-between seasons ($100-$200).
Boots and bindings are more important for a beginner snowboarder than the snowboard itself. Other important gear like waterproof pants and jacket/shell, helmet and goggles, may set you back another $300 – $700. Good mittens and outerwear are also recommended for a beginner as you will spend much time on your butt and hands at first.
Buying used gear will also help you cope with the cost of resort tickets/passes and snowboard lessons. Renting gear is also a great option for your first trip.