The choices available in the selection of a snowboard, boots, and bindings are nearly as vast as those in Alpine ski equipment. There are about 20 different brands on the market with most offering at least a half-dozen models. Choices in boots and bindings are also very extensive.
The purpose of this site is to acquaint the first-time buyer with the most basic concepts involving the fundamental types of equipment available. This is a non-commercial site, I am a private individual (volunteer snowboard <ski> patroller) with no direct business ties to the industry. The observations herein are purely my own and hopefully will be of assistance to you. Much more extensive technical information regarding specific products can be found in the "Buyer's Guides" published each year by "TransWorld Snowboarding" and "Snowboarder" magazines. A good comprehensive overview of snowboard concepts is also maintained on a non-commercial basis by Marc Wallace. For parents, an excellent article from "Snowboarding Business" is reprinted, concerning injury rates.
(Do I need a bunch of "legal disclaimers", or have you correctly concluded that I am simply offering the personal opinions of a rider with no business or financial ties to the industry?)
Thought$ About Pricing
Until recently the demand for snowboard equipment exceeded supply, so most retailers were able to rapidly sell all of their snowboard inventory at close to full "Suggested Retail Price." As a result, there wasn't much discounting.
The past few years have seen the start of discounting at levels formerly only found with Alpine skis. First Quality snowboards from last year are being offered as "Promotions" at some shops for less than $200.
I expect the discounting trend to intensify in the coming months as the major ski companies (Solomon, Rossignol) expand in the snowboard industry. The trend toward increased "consolidation" (elimination of smaller companies) will continue (K2 now owns Ride and Morrow).
It now is clear that snowboards are on the verge of becoming a "commodity item" which can be sold through discounters and mail-order outlets, as has happened with in-line skates and wind-surfers. (Burton prohibits mail order sales). Costco and Sam's wholesale clubs periodically carry a limited line of snowboards for about $200. These are usually private label boards made by the major manufacturers. While sizes are limited I understand they are decent quality products suitable for the beginner or lower-level intermediate.
As a guideline, most retailers work with a 40% margin between the wholesale price they pay their distributor and their "Suggested Retail Price." This means that the discount (markdown) a retailer can take is limited to about 40%. Right now (Fall) in the Western U.S., larger dealers are already discounting this year's boards by 10-20% and clearing out some of last year's boards at below their original wholesale costs. In addition some of the "Pre Season Tent Sales" are offering new boards (as "loss leaders") for $150!
Transworld Snowboarding has an excellent Buyers Guide online.
I have excellent experience finding deal$ buying boards/boots/bindings on e-bay. One company I have dealt with and had good results is Snow & Water Warehouse.
If your looking for information on the history of snowboarding (no, Jake Burton didn't invent the sport), try this site.
Photos: Courtesy of TransWorld Publications, Inc.
The opinions expressed herein are purely my own. They are based upon my personal experience (who is this " Dave dude") and publicly available materials. I have no business or financial interest in any company mentioned herein.
Copyright © 1993 - 2001 David E. Schutz