I recently went to a winter demo where I had the chance to check out some boards that were knew to me. Read on to get some tips on the best ways to approach a demo, what you should be considering when going, and hear how things went for me. I’ve left out the specific names of the boards so I could focus more on what you should be thinking about when you take yourself to a demo.
There are lots of winter snowboard demos that happen all across the country. Companies and their reps come out to a mountain, set up a tent with their latest winter wares and let people like you and me give new snowboards a test ride. Not only do you get to ride some new boards, learn things about what you like or don’t like in a snowboard, but you also get to have a fun time mixing up your ride!
When I go into a demo, I keep an open mind about a board until I’ve taken it on two runs. It’s good to listen to what the screw crew tells you about the deck as they set it up, but the real test starts when you unload from the chairlift.
My first demo of the day was an intermediate twin-tip park snowboard. And I hated it.
Why did I hate it? It wasn’t actually the board, I took the board out again later and it was a blast. The problem was with my binding set-up. The bindings that the demo tech had put me on were too small for my boots and the stance was too narrow. My toes were hanging off the front edge, making my toe-side turns severe and my heel-side awkward. Having too-narrow of a stance took away my control of the board, making me forget about enjoying the ride and simply trying to get back to the demo area ASAP.
So what did I do? I returned to the tent, asked for bigger bindings and a wider stance. The tech happily obliged and I went back out for a ripping-good time. Knowing your stance prior to going in to a demo will make or break your experience. Before you go, look at your board and measure the distance between your bindings. Write it down. Write it on your hand. Write it on your forehead so the tech can see it as they’re setting up your board. It’s your personal measurements and they matter. Make sure to note the angles that you have your bindings set at too in both the front and back, because that is just as important as how far apart you have your bindings.
Also, don’t ever hesitate to give negative feedback. If you never say anything bad about a demo experience, then you’re only harming yourself. There are different board profiles because there are different riders. There is no such thing as the universal “perfect board” for everyone. There are endless shapes, profiles, cambers, sidecuts, rises, waist widths- the list goes on and on depending on the company that made it, what kind of rider they made it for and the kind of terrain and board feel that you as a rider prefer.
The second board I took out was an all-mountain board. I loved this board! It was hands-down my favorite test of the day, which I had not been expecting. I usually stick to a twin-tip freestyle board that I’ll take all over the mountain. I often feel that “all-mountain” boards are too stiff and don’t allow me the freedom to transition easily from park to pipe to side-country. Boy, was I wrong about this one. It carved beautifully, launched off the jumps and landed with unruffled ease. I kept this board on for more than two runs and was sad to see it go when I finally handed it over for the next one.
My last test was a twin-tip beginner board. I went into this test knowing it was a beginner board. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s safe to say I haven’t been classified as a beginner rider for some time now. The reason I decided to take this out, however, was to test my own ability at evaluating a board. Will I truly feel a difference between the souped-up $450+ snowboard and the entry-level $200 number?
The answer was yes. I felt it in the turns, I felt it when racing my friends down the mountain and I felt it when taking some laps through the park. However, I’m not the person that this board was made for. I believe this board is an important piece for a company to have in its quiver. It’s affordable, solidly built and will get you easing into the process of learning how to turn. You don’t know what kind of rider you’re going to turn into when you start snowboarding, and so you can’t know what board specs will be your favorite. Even though I don’t think everyone needs to test a beginner board while at a demo, I do think it offers a good baseline for building the rest of your personal reviews off of.
I’ve tested dozens upon dozens of different snowboards since learning how to link turns. It never ceases to teach me more about my personal progression as a rider and just be a damn fun time. I got to talk snowboard tech with people who knew more than I did and left with a new favorite ride that I’ll be lusting over for some time. If there’s a downside to attending a demo, I haven’t found one yet.
Do you have a current favorite board? Share about the last one you’ve taken out to test!