Beginner vs Intermediate Snowboard | Major Differences


If you are advancing from a beginner to an intermediate snowboarder, you probably want to upgrade your gear to keep up with your skill level. Although there isn’t a fine line between a beginner and an intermediate board, there are key characteristics that will make a board a better fit for a beginner or intermediate rider.

A beginner snowboard will be more flexible, have a rockered profile, have an extruded base, and be made with more inexpensive materials. Intermediate boards will often be stiffer, have a cambered or hybrid profile, and have a sintered base and more expensive core materials.

As with many things related to snowboarding, many different factors are involved when comparing a beginner or intermediate snowboard, and it often comes down to the rider’s preferences. This article will cover some of the most important characteristics you should consider when comparing a beginner snowboard with an intermediate one.  

Beginner Snowboard

Although there are a few aspects to focus on when looking for a beginner snowboard, there aren’t always hard-defined rules for what makes a beginner-friendly snowboard.

1. Shape

The shape of a snowboard is perhaps the most talked about feature of a board, and lots of riders have a preference as to which shape they like to ride.

When discussing beginner snowboards, a rocker (also known as reverse camber) or flat board will be ideal for beginners.

This is because the board will have less “pop” than a cambered board; therefore, there will be less movement in the board itself and it will be more stable for the rider.

A rockered board will also have a shorter effective edge. The effective edge is the length of the metal edge on your board that makes contact with the snow.

So a shorter effective edge equals less contact with the snow, meaning the likelihood of you catching an edge will be lower (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us).

Beginner - Shape

2. Flex

Flex is the next important feature to be aware of when looking at a beginner snowboard, and it can make a big difference to a beginner rider.

A softer or less flexible snowboard will be more suitable for a beginner because it will be more forgiving to the rider’s movement.

A board with a softer flex will also be easier for a beginner to maneuver when learning how to turn because it will be slower to respond. 

3. Core Materials

The core material is an important factor for consideration, especially for beginners.

A beginner snowboard will often have more inexpensive materials in the core (such as foam or poplar) and will have an extruded base. Extruded bases are easier and cheaper to repair and less costly.

However, the downside to extruded bases is that they are less durable and don’t hold wax as well. Therefore, they will not be as fast as a board with a sintered base.

Intermediate Snowboard

Now that you know what makes a good beginner snowboard let’s move on to intermediate snowboards.

Keep in mind that most intermediate riders will have their own set of preferences and that these aspects do not always apply to everyone’s style of riding.

1. Shape

As a broad statement for intermediate and advanced riders, it’s easy to recommend a cambered profile board. However, as with most things snowboarding, it depends on the rider.

A rockered profile will be ideal for someone who prefers riding in the terrain park or for powder days.

For those who like to ride all-mountain, gain a lot of speed, or carve big turns, a cambered board will perform better.

A cambered board will also have more “pop” and will hold an edge better than a rockered board. There are variations of these shapes as well, such as hybrid boards that have a mix of rocker and camber.

The idea behind combining these shapes is that you can have the edge hold of a cambered board but the float of a rockered board.

2. Flex

More advanced snowboards will typically be stiffer than a beginner board.

Stiffer boards are ideal for advanced riders because they can hold an edge better when making sharp turns and will react less when cruising at higher speeds. Again, this is not the case for all riders.

In particular, those who enjoy the terrain park will often choose a softer board with more flex because they have more maneuverability, are easier to press and make it easier to perform various tricks.

3. Core Materials

While the core materials of an intermediate snowboard vary, often, a more advanced board will be made of more expensive materials that perform better than those of a beginner snowboard.

For example, an intermediate board could have a carbon core, making it lightweight and stiff but more costly. Intermediate boards can also have a sintered base rather than an extruded base.

Sintered bases are more durable, perform better, and hold wax better than an extruded base, but a board with a sintered base will come at a higher cost and is more expensive to repair.

Other Differences

Since there are many aspects to a snowboard, there are a few other factors to consider when comparing a beginner snowboard with an intermediate one.

1. Budget

Beginner: A beginner snowboard is typically more budget-friendly to buy since, as we covered earlier, the materials used are usually not designed to perform at the same level as the ones used in an intermediate board.

Not only will these materials not perform the same way that higher-end boards, but a more budget-friendly board will likely not hold up as long and will be less durable.

Intermediate: A more aggressive or deeper sidecut can be great for intermediate or advanced riders who like to make tight and quick turns.

Some more advanced riders who like to make big, arcing carves on the mountain might choose a board with a less aggressive sidecut because it can make those wider turns.

Budget

2. Sidecut

Beginner: A board made for beginners will usually not have as aggressive or deep sidecut since this usually results in quicker turns.

This can be detrimental for a beginner learning how to turn because it can result in catching an edge.

Intermediate: A more aggressive or deeper sidecut can be great for intermediate or advanced riders who like to make tight and quick turns.

For some more advanced riders who like to make big, arcing carves on the mountain, they might choose a board with a less aggressive sidecut because it can make those wider turns.

3. It Depends

Ah, the age-old “it depends” answer.

If you haven’t gathered this already, there are so many variations to a snowboard that it’s difficult to give a one-size-fits-all solution to comparing a beginner vs. intermediate snowboard.

Riders have endless preferences for the terrain they like and the style of snowboard they prefer and select their boards to adhere to these preferences.

If you have a specific type of riding that you are interested in riding, whether you are a beginner or intermediate rider, it’s best to get a board to suit these preferences.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot of factors to consider when comparing a beginner vs. intermediate snowboard, and it can often be overwhelming to compare and figure out what’s best for you.

A few things to consider when comparing the differences are shape, flex, core materials, budget, sidecut, and rider preference.

The above information is a great place to start if you’re a beginner, and you’ll likely develop your own preferences as you advance.

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