Are Lighter Snowboards Better? (Explained)

If you’ve ever spent any amount of time on the mountain, you’ve probably come to resent the weight of your snowboard. It’s big, it’s awkward to carry, and it’s heavy. By that logic, light snowboards should solve all your problems, but are they actually better?

Lighter snowboards are better for beginners, freestyle boarders, and those who weigh less. However, they are not better in certain situations and each case must be judged individually.

So, while lighter snowboards might be better for some people, it’s important to realize there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Let’s take a look at some of the factors you need to consider before figuring out your snowboard weight.

How Much Do Snowboards Weigh?

In simple terms, a snowboard will weigh as much as it has to. There is no “one weight is better than another”, only the best weight snowboard for the individual situation.

For most people, the answer to this question will likely be “Too much”. If we all had our own way, snowboards would always weigh less far than they actually do. However, as we’ll find out later, snowboards benefit greatly from being heavier in some situations.

The weight of a snowboard could be anywhere from around 4-10 pounds, without bindings or boots. There are a few things, however, that affect how heavy a snowboard will be.

The Materials Used

Snowboards can be made from many different types of material, depending on their intended function. These materials have the possibility to increase or decrease the weight of the snowboard, and also affect the type of ride you can expect on the board. We’ll talk more about that later.

The first and most significant area that has a specific material used is the core of the snowboard. While it’s likely to change depending on the snowboard, the most common material used for the core is wood. Poplar is the most popular type of wood used due to its extremely low weight and durability.

If you’re looking for something slightly more solid, there are boards with a harder wood core that work very well for carving and charging through crud. As you might have guessed, a snowboard with a harder wood is going to weigh a lot more than one with a bamboo core.

For those who want the best of both worlds (that’s a lighter board but still with a strong build), you should be looking towards getting a board with a carbon core. Carbon core boards are known to perform incredibly well under compression, but their extremely high cost will put them out of most people’s budget.

Finally, for children’s boards and beginner boards, you’ll normally have a foam or plastic core. Couple that choice of material with a small board, and it’s likely to be extremely light, relatively speaking.

The height Of The Rider

Perhaps the most obvious reason a snowboard is likely to be lighter or heavier is due to its size. The taller you are, the longer your board is going to be which means you can expect the weight of your board to increase. Of course, depending on the material your board is made out of, it is possible to find a smaller board that’s heavier than a longer one.

Are Snowboards Getting Lighter?

If you’ve ever seen or held a snowboard from the late 70s, you’ll know they were heavy. They certainly don’t have the same aesthetic finesse that the boards of today have, but are they really getting lighter?

Well, to tell you the truth, snowboards are still made in practically the same way as they were 40 years ago. By that, we mean that they’re all, at some point, made by hand. That, and the most popular core component of the snowboard is still the same, wood!

However, like with anything in technology, there have been some massive changes to other materials used and the technology that’s been applied to the building phase. One of the biggest changes in the evolution of snowboarding has been the dramatic decrease in board weight.

The industry we have to thank for this reduction in weight is snowboard racing. During the ’80s and ’90s, it was an extremely popular discipline, but 70-80 percent of the setups included hard ski-like boots. Of course, something needed to be changed and the disappearance of hard boots saw riders losing seconds of their time, and weight off their board.

Is A Lighter Or Heavier Snowboard Better?

When choosing a snowboard, you may wonder whether a lighter or heavier board is better. You’re probably automatically tempted to go for a lighter board all the time, but it may not be best for your situation.

The first point we need to make clear is you should always use a board that is right for your weight. Go into a professional snowboard shop and have a chat with some of the staff, they should be able to point you in the right direction if you aren’t sure. Just realize you shouldn’t be picking a board based solely on the weight or design.

If you accidentally pick a board that’s too light for you, you’ll have a very hard time balancing. Any time you pick up speed, you’ll likely get speed wobble and feel absolutely no support from your board. It might feel nippy and dynamic when you’re going slower, but at the slightest hint of speed, you could be thrown off.

If you happen to pick up a board that you’re far too light for, you’ll struggle to turn and flex it when you need to. It’s likely to be great at high speeds, but stopping and turning will be a real pain. Plus, carrying around such a heavy board isnt going to be fun for anyone.

With that said, it’s important to pick the snowboard that works with you, not against you. Some of the park snowboards may be a little lighter for ariel rotations and quick turns, whereas racing boards may be heavier to stabilize the rider at all times and deal with high speeds.

Are Lighter Snowboards Better For Beginners?

Before we get into actually discussing whether on not a lighter snowboard would benefit a beginner’s snowboarding journey, let’s talk about the most important fact. If you’re a beginner, you aren’t really going to care about how well a board charges through the snow or holds an edge on the ice. You will, however, care about how heavy it is to carry.

This might not seem like a big deal, but a beginner with a light snowboard is a happy beginner. We want to make snowboarding the most inclusive and exciting sport for everyone, and no matter how fantastically a heavier board grips at high speed, it’s simply not going to be appropriate for a beginner, even off the slope.

Luckily enough, those who just start snowboarding can be happy with the knowledge that lighter snowboards are much better for their learning progression. The first way they help beginners on their way is an increase in flexibility.

This means that turning is much easier than if you had a heavy board (usually with a more rigid core.) If you can remember back to the first time you strapped into a board, you’ll probably remember wondering how to turn when both your feet were strapped into a single board, so the more flexible, the better!

Unlike a more advanced snowboard, light beginner snowboards won’t do so well when they’re exposed to speed. But hey, the only thing beginners do at speed is fall over, so it’s not really such a big deal!

Heavier, or stiffer boards (depending on their material) will be great at fast speeds and dealing with difficult snow conditions. If it’s icy, the increased stiffness of the entire board will find it easier to grip on its edge. If the snow is choppy or crud-like, the increased weight will have a much better time charging through the snow, whereas a lighter board may give you a more bumpy ride.

Does Snowboard Weight Really Matter?

While on the surface it might seem like snowboard weight is extremely important, there are actually only a few situations in which it could be a deciding factor. Most of these decisions are decided for you, based solely on the type of board you buy, your snowboarding ability, and your weight/height.

As we’ve discussed above, one big reason you’re likely to be given a lighter board is if you are a beginner. In this situation, having a lighter snowboard is really important to help you learn the basics before you move up to more specialized gear.

At this stage, your board will be lighter, more flexible, and far more forgiving of your technique than an advanced board. However, to a beginner, carrying a board with bindings is likely always going to seem heavy if they aren’t used to it.

Another area of snowboarding where you might come across specifically lighter boards is freestyle. With freestyle snowboarding, it’s imperative your board is light and not heavy. This is so you know your board will be responsive when you need it to be, and also so you can perform ariel tricks. That’s if you’re good enough!

These smaller and lighter boards are also popular all over the mountain because of their playful and forgiving nature. While you could technically be playful on any board, the smaller and lighter it is, the more fun you may have. Sure, you won’t be charging pistes and setting speed records, but it’s the right kind of board for a chilled-out session.

The Core

The bulk of the weight of a snowboard is going to come from it’s core. It’s through this core that the board develops a lot of it’s characteristics and ultimately decides how it interacts with the snow. It’s important to pick a board with the right core to ensure it’s going to provide you with all the support you need.

As we mentioned before, poplar is perhaps the most commonly used wooden core and is frequently seen on both beginner and intermediate boards. It’s relatively lightweight, and forgiving enough for most riders to practice on.

Then you’ve got some of the harder woods like Ash and Maple that make up more advanced board cores. These are going to increase the weight of your snowboard but are important if you need a board that’s highly responsive and easily able to get grip across the entire length of its edge.

A little bit of an outrider next, bamboo, which is technically grass. Not only is it extremely light, but it’s also ridiculously strong. Boards that are created using bamboo are lucky enough to feature the best of both heavy and lighter boards.

Final Thoughts

While the weight of a snowboard is directly attributed to the materials used (and the benefits they provide), you shouldn’t need to buy a snowboard based solely on its weight. At the same time, while a lighter or heavier snowboard may have it’s respective pros, you can in fact use any weight snowboard for any purpose if your technique is good enough