Types, buying and bindings
With over 100 different manufacturers producing boards, there is plenty of opportunity to personalise and show your own style through your board.
With some of the funky graphics around many boards are almost works of art. But if you're thinking about getting a board, what types are available:
Big Mountain/Freeride Snowboards
These boards tend to have a stiffer flex and are designed for anyone looking to ride the whole mountain, with snowboarder utilizes the whole mountain. You enjoy carving, catching air, basically all riding aspects.
All Terrain/Boarder X Snowboards
These boards are designed for a variety of terrain, stiffer than a freestyle board, so you can hold an edge when battling it out on a boarder cross course, or hurtling around the mountain on the ice. A good all round vehicle.
Mainly for tricks in the park or halfpipe - spins, grabs, rails, basically ripping it up. These softer boards are probabably best for beginners.
Seen less and less often alpine boards offer more options for carving at speed and are definitely not for catching air.
As in selection of skis there is no dead set rule for selecting board length. A good approximation is that the board should reach to between your chin and your nose from the floor.
Snowboard width is pretty much directly related to foot size and more recently, the type of binding you use. It's important to make sure you get a board wide enough to prevent you're your heel and toes from dragging.
The standard bindings for snowboards are strap bindings - using a baseplate and ratchet-based buckles to tighten your foot. There are typically two straps on each binding - a wide, comfy heel strap that pulls you back into the heel cup of the binding, and a narrower toe strap used to hold your toe down.
The high backs on snowboard bindings help you to force the heel side edge of the board into the snow and brings the toe side of the board up. Initially you may have to sit down to strap in, but with a bit of practice it's easy to strap in whilst standing up.
In the last few years, step-in bindings have stepped into (ha, ha!) the snowboard scene. Unlike strap bindings, step-in bindings mean you can simply step down and click into your board, rather than go through the palaver of sitting down to strap on your board.
The catch with step-in bindings is that you need step-in boots. As these don't have any straps to give additional support, the boot is less flexible, so make sure you get a good fit if you're thinking about this. So while you have additional speed and can save yourself a load of hassle, the stiffer boots can make it harder to do tricks and offer less choice of boot.
The 'Apple Macintosh' of the market is Flow, who make binding that are a hybrid of step-in and strap systems. You can step into the binding, but they are at the same time compatible with any soft boot. Worth checking out.