How To Choose The Right Skiboards

From our personal experience, as well as talking with 1000's upon 1000's of customers over the last 17 years, one thing is clear - all skiboards are fun!

Why are skiboards different? Imagine turning when you want! Just think about stopping and you are stopped! Have places on the mountain you that elicit fear? Not any more. Once you feel the confidence that skiboards inspire, you will have to rethink what "Intermediate" or "Advanced" or even "Expert" terrain means. Steeper terrain, combined with long skis or snowboards that don't turn that quickly, makes for a challenging combination. Now, rather than having to think how to get down the mountain, you can just have fun - hey, even notice the scenery. Even better, if you have friends or family that may be more experienced, now you can go hang out with them on the same terrain. I won't go on here but you can read more in the Skiboards University.

When you are wanting to decide what skiboards to get, keep in mind then that anything you choose you will have fun on. You will have a blast right from the first day. You could consider this the quick selection method - find a pair of skiboards that look good to you, fit within your budget, buy them and go hit the slopes. You won't regret it. Just remember - these are not skis, so don't try to ski them. Your natural stand-up stance will guide you as your body will figure it out pretty quickly. Then, just enjoy the new found freedom of another snowriding tool you have to play with.

Now, that said, for those of you who want to get more specific guidelines in choosing the right pair (either your first pair or another pair to play with), here are a few additonal factors to consider:

Choosing the Right Skiboards

Our company, the Skiboards Superstore, has always spent a huge amount of time researching prospective skiboard products. We ride them, hear from customers who ride them, and work with the manufacturers, so we can continually communicate the performance characteristics of our products. We know how they perform in all different conditions and terrain. It's with this background that we offer the following information to help you select the right skiboards.

When choosing skiboards, there are a number of factors to consider. In selecting skiboards, we want to choose based on construction and design, performance characteristics, and what conditions and terrain they're intended for, as well as price, and of course, graphics. At the same time, remember that any skiboards will be fun in a variety of conditions, so it’s not quite so critical that you choose just the perfect pair.

For those who've had the chance to ride skiboards, they know that all skiboards are fun and way easier to learn to ride than long skis. Skiboarding is great no matter what age, ability level or personal riding preferences. Everyone is up and riding on skiboards in a few runs or one day at the most, and from then on, the fun really begins. This is true no matter what skiboards you’re riding.

So this means, any skiboards are a good choice. You can’t really go wrong with anything you buy. However, since there is a wide variety of skiboards based on size, price range, brand, construction and overall performance, it can seem overwhelming at first when shopping for skiboards. Therefore, I want to elaborate on some of the essential factors to be considered.

Skiboards – The Quick Selection Method

Any skiboards that you select are going to be a blast right away and offer a much shorter learning curve than skis. Consider this the quick selection method, find a pair that you like the look of, at a price you want to pay, buy them and start having fun. You won’t regret it. They’re all great!

Skiboards – The Specific Selection Method

For those a bit more particular about finding a pair of skiboards that are more specifically suited to your own personal style and preferences, here are some additional factors to consider. From my personal experience, as well as talking with thousands and thousands of customers since the early days of 1996, consider the following:

Height and Weight

It’s important that you feel your skiboards will handle your height and weight. Most skiboards are intended for those 59 inches and above in height and variety of weight ranges. Skiboards, not being like skis, don't require certain sizes for a particular height and weight. What a relief that is!

Note: We do carry skiboards for those under 59 inches in height. You can find these in our Just for Kids section.

Some skiboarders swear by shorter skiboards (75 cm or under) even though they may be 6 foot tall. Kids and adults use these boards and can totally advance to extreme skiboarding on them. Yet, others may feel more comfortable on longer skiboards. If unsure, a general range of 75 cm to 99 cm is a safe bet for all around, all mountain, riding and quick fun from the first day.

Performance

Choosing the right skiboards depends a lot on what you want to do on them – this is one of the most important factors. Do you want to jam through moguls, get air and land some outrageous tricks, cruise the half pipes, lay out carves on the groomed runs, dance down the slopes turning 360's and one-foot turns, go through the trees or just carve some turns and have a great time? Do you want to explore extreme terrain, float in deep powder, go into the backcountry or just do all of it? Then look at All Mountain Skiboards below.

Shorter skiboards are more maneuverable, easier to learn on, great in moguls, glades and have the feel of inline skates. However, they may not handle those long, deep, lay-it-over carves at speed and don't have the surface area for smoother landings in the parks. Shorter (but wider) shorter skiboards ride great in powder, but not quite as well as the longer, wider ones (like the 99 cm).

Longer skiboards offer more speed and allow for the deeper, shoulder-to-the-ground carves. Big air addicts usually go with longer boards because of the extra speed and surface area for landing tricks. If you like tricks (on the ground and in the air), a symmetrical twin-tip design is also recommended.

Of course, construction of the skiboards also contributes to performance. Higher quality construction, such as laminated wood cores, triaxial fiberglass layers, rubber dampening, even aluminum reinforcement plates for greater retention of release bindings, yields higher performance and dependability. Sintered bases are faster and hold wax better, though extruded bases (a little less expensive) are quite durable and fast, but don’t hold wax as well. It's mostly true though that you get what you pay for.

Binding Choice

Another factor to consider is binding preference. Some skiboards come with release bindings, others only with non-release and a few with both options. In addition, if you choose to use snowboard bindings, choose skiboards with the 4 hole mounting pattern. These options are clearly marked in the product descriptions.

Just starting out?

For something to learn on, do a Shop By Brand on Skiboards.com and check out these models:

Summit Headwall 95 cm

Summit Jade 87 cm

Snowjam (75 cm and 90 cm)

Head Rod 94 cm

Matrix 75 cm, 89 cm or 99 cm

Atomic ETL 123 cm

Elan Freeline 99 cm

Just starting out, but love going big and riding aggressively?

Love getting air and landing awesome jumps? Jamming down the slopes and laying out some awesome carves? Choose skiboards that deliver the speed and have the surface area for landings. First, a twin-tip design is better for riding both forwards or backwards. This particular design features front and back tips that curve up, so it’s easier to land tricks backwards as well, or be able to turn 360s on the ground and add some overall flair to your riding.

On the narrower side (feel more like a combination of skis and inline skates) look at:

Atomic ETL 123 cm

Elan Freeride 99 cm, 125 cm and 135 cm

Snowjam 99 cm

Summit Headwall 95 cm

Head Rod 94 cm

These models will handle more like skis, but with the advantages of skiboards. These are also the easiest for skiers to transition into, with the quick edge-to-edge responsiveness that they're used to. You can ride them with boots close together.

On the wider side, with greater width at the tips, tails and waist, the following skiboards will perform more like a combination of skis and snowboards. These wider skiboards allow more drag-your-hand-on-the-ground carves, better landing surface for getting air, higher speed (you’ll be surprised at how fast you can go) and greater stability, not to mention cruising powder better than the narrower ones. Consider these:

Snowjam 75 cm and 90 cm

Summit Jade 87 cm

Summit Nomad 99 cm

Summit Carbon Pro 99 cm

Summit Custom 110 cm

Summit Carbon Pro 110 cm

Summit Rocker 118 cm

The wider the skiboard design, the more it carves like snowboards (getting them on edge). Wider will easily handle conditions like powder, crud, altering snow conditions and offer more landing surface for jumps.

Want true All-Mountain skiboards?

Do you like cruising the entire mountain, like the glades, moguls, groomed runs, pipes and parks, powder and backcountry, all of it? Then consider the following:

Snowjam 90 cm

Summit Jade 87 cm

Summit Nomad 99 cm

Summit Custom 110 cm

Summit Rocker 118 cm

Summit Marauder 125 cm

Icelantic Scout 143 cm

Of course, some skiboarders would include other products we carry in this section, so it’s truly a matter of personal preference. I always have a few pairs in my trunk depending on my mood. I do sometimes have trouble deciding which pair to ride though and can be seen at the resort staring into my trunk from time to time.

Backcountry Anyone?

Skiboards are great in the backcountry (off trail). They pack light and you can either boot pack (climb in your boots) or snowshoe up the hill with ski boots in the bindings. You can also mount them with AT Bindings, such as the Atomic N Tracker 13 Freeride bindings and then add skins for climbing.

AT bindings (all terrain) provide rock solid performance on the mountain, release in case of a fall and rival any alpine release bindings on the market. However, they also offer the advantage, with the flip of a lever (you don’t have to take your boots out of the bindings), to free the heel for climbing uphill. This is especially useful in the backcountry for ascents and then you can lock them for downhill riding. These bindings also come in handy on traverses and going back up the mountain at your local resort instead of riding all the way down to the lift. These special all terrain bindings come with a higher price, however due to the number of high tech features.

In addition, for climbing with AT bindings, you’ll want to add climbing skins to your skiboards that are easy to put on and off. These allow you to glide forward without slipping backwards. This way you can just glide uphill on your skiboards, take the skins off at the top, tighten down your bindings and down you go. No lift tickets!

For backcountry, consider the following skiboards:


Hagan Nanook 99cm

Summit Custom 110 cm

Summit Rocker 118 cm

Summit Marauder 125 cm

Icelantic Scout 143 cm

Hagan Off Limits 133cm

Upgrading From Last Season?

Since by now you’re a confirmed fun-addict, most likely you know what you’re looking for. You probably have a good feel for what you want and reading through the descriptions and specs should help. You can also call our experienced staff for personal recommendations based on your specific needs.

Consider top-of-the-line high performance skiboards and bindings, however. At this point, get the best. Definitely Summit Skiboards are worth a look. You can keep your old pair for friends to try. Email us at: info@skiboards.com for more specific advice.

How About for Kids?

For those under 59 inches, check out the following:

Atomic Vantage 1 Kid's Skiboards

For larger kids, consider:

Snowjam 75 cm

Matrix 75 cm

Summit Easy Rider 79 cm

Head 94 cm

Summit Headwall 95 cm

Either way, let your kids have fun instead of torturing them on those long skis. They'll take to it much faster and won't want to go to the lodge or go home half way through the day. 

For younger kids just learning, also consider the Ski Training Harness as it makes it easier on you and allows them to have the freedom of turning (while you can check their speed). See our Skiboarding for Kids section on the website. 

What about Snow Dancing?

There really is such a thing with fancy footwork and even couples dancing. Check out our ski dancing video in our Video Clips section posted by two ballroom dancers who are riding skiboards. Maybe their outfits might look outdated, but they sure do add a whole new dimension to what is possible on the slopes!

To ski dance, look for skiboards with the most skate-like feel. It's quite fun to dance down the slopes with a partner or more (some even go down with three to five friends). Skiboards make this possible. If you're interested in experimenting with this style of riding, choose shorter, more maneuverable skiboards such as the:

Matrix 75 cm

Summit Easy Rider 79 cm

Summit Jade 87 cm

Snowjam 75 cm

Conclusion

Ultimately, any skiboards are fun. It usually just comes down to personal taste in graphics, design and of course, price. Make sure to check out the reviews on specific skiboards posted on our website or talk with one of our experienced skiboarders to discuss your options.

Also consider two other options: Take advantage of our Rental By Mail program to try before you buy. We offer many skiboard models that you can rent by the day and return when you're done. Also, check out our Skiboards Outlet to find less expensive models or demos for sale.

Ultimately, you will have fun on any of these skiboards.

So you could say that it just comes down to personal taste in graphics, design and of course, price. Make sure you check out the reviews on specific skiboards and if you would like to talk with someone before making your final choice, our experienced skiboarders can discuss your options with you to make sure that you get the skiboards that are right for you. We love to talk about skiboarding.

What About Bindings?

Non-release Bindings: These bindings do not come off when you fall. You are required to use leashes however and you do need to spend a little more time putting them on and off. When you fall, it is kind of like falling on a pair of skates. You just get up and go again and you don't have to put your skiboards back on. The advantage is usually they are less expensive and provide great "road feel" meaning you are a direct interface with boots-bindings-ground. However, with these bindings, if you get in a tight spot, they will not release so their is a chance of injury.

Release Bindings: Just step-in and go. These are regular ski type bindings that fit most ski boots. Safety is a major advantage. In fact, now skiboards are considered the safest snowriding tools on the mountain when mounted with release bindings. Easy to get them on, easy to get them off. As ski binding manufacturers make it their job to allow full flex of the skiboards (or skis) while also delivering maximum "road feel" there is not much difference these days between the feel of release and non-release bindings. 

Most high performance models come with release bindings as an option if not with fully integrated bindings (Head 94, Summit 95cm, Elan 99 and Elan 125 and more). Summit offers both options having a 4X4 stainless steel insert pattern for Bomber Elite bindings as well as snowboard bindings. In addition, Summits offer a release binding option as well. 

Snowboard Bindings: You can also mount some skiboards with snowboard bindings. Any skiboards with 4 hole inserts can be mounted with snowboard bindings. It is recommended however that you get our riser kit to give some rise to your bindings. This insures that the wider snowboard bindings will not catch on the snow when carving.

Will they replace skis in your life?

Maybe, maybe not. Skiboards will however, open up all new possibilities on the mountain. These are not skis and they are not snowboards. They are not just "short skis" either. Skiboards or sometimes spelled "ski boards" (not really the official spelling), are way, way easier than snowboards or skis to learn. Most everyone is up and riding on skiboards in a few runs on their first day and from then on, the fun really begins. The experience of riding skiboards is so different than skiing, even though they look like short skis.

For more specific recommendations, always feel free to call us at 800-784-0540 or email us at: info@skiboards.com. We are always happy to help.

Doc Roberts, President, Skiboards.com.