Rossignol Sawblade Review 2020

Best Beginner Snowboards 2019-2020

So you're looking for the best beginner snowboard?  Well I've got what you need!

After this short introduction I get right down to business and show you my mens and womens picks along with an overview of each snowboard. 

Next I'll serve up a few quick tips that describe the basic information you need to know about to help find your perfect snowboard.

Beyond the quick tips I'll tell you what makes a good beginner snowboard and the selection criteria I considered as I sifted through the many available options on the market.

Then in the Progression Potential section I tell the story of how I learned to snowboard.  I relate my snowboard progression experiences and how they have shaped my beginner snowboard selections.   I hope I'm able to inspire you to think about your progression potential before you make that final snowboard purchase decision.

Finally, I'll conclude with a comparison table that summarizes the key features of my snowboard selections.

Now let's get started with the picks for best beginner snowboard!


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Best Beginner Snowboard Picks


Our Pick

Rossignol Sawblade (Mens)
  • New 2020 Rossignol Sawblade Men's Freestyle Snowboard
  • Effortless Turns, Playful Ride - AmpTek Auto Turn Rocker provides a blend of effortless turn initiation and an easy,...
  • Stable, Smooth Edge Control - 3S Serrated Edges enhance edge grip for confident control and a very smooth feel
  • Balanced Maneuverability and Grip - RadCut turn technology allows playful ease-of-use at slower speeds and full-length...
  • Freestyle Versatility - Moderate flex for a blend of accessibility and freestyle performance for lighter weight riders

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rossignol Meraki (Womens)
  • New 2020 Rossignol Meraki Women's Freestyle Snowboard
  • Effortless Turns, Playful Ride - AmpTek Auto Turn Rocker provides a blend of effortless turn initiation and an easy,...
  • Stable, Smooth Edge Control - 3S Serrated Edges enhance edge grip for confident control and a very smooth feel
  • Balanced Maneuverability and Grip - RadCut turn technology allows playful ease-of-use at slower speeds and full-length...
  • Lively Pop, Easy Control - Twin Freestyle flex enhances pop and balance for easy freestyle control

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Rossignol Sawblade (Mens)

The Rossignol Sawblade is my pick for the best beginner snowboard for men.  It's got the ingredients to make learning to snowboard as easy as possible but will also serve you well as your skills progress.


It's a true twin shape which I recommend because it keeps things simple and allows you to have the same riding experience in both directions.  The flex is in the soft to medium range which means its forgiving and playful for those first turns but still stiff enough to keep your edge locked in as you start mastering your turns. It's equipped with edge grip tech to help keep you on your feet when you hit those extra icy spots.  Note: Rossignol has branded their edge grip tech as "3S Serrated Edge".


Most importantly it has an overall rocker profile but with a mild camber section between your feet which adds stability while the rockered tips make it beginner friendly and help to avoid edge catch and falls.  This profile has a rocker up curve between your feet which makes it easy to try out all styles of snowboarding.  This will come in handy as you progress and develop your own style.


So the Rossignol Sawblade is the best beginner snowboard for men because it has the right blend of shape, profile, flex, and edge grip tech included all at a great price point, to get you off to a great start on your snowboarding journey.


Rossignol Meraki (Womens)

The Rossignol Meraki is my pick for women.  Like the Sawblade (described above) it has the same great combination of design features making it an awesome beginner ride.  The only differences are the top and bottom graphics and its available in women specific sizes.

Runner-up Pick

Burton Ripcord (Mens)
  • Flat Top with Easy Bevel: Rising rider or seasoned pro, keep your game high and tight with Flat Top. A flat profile...
  • Directional Shape: The classic snowboard shape, designed to be ridden with a slightly longer nose than tail to...
  • Directional Flex: This flex features increased pop in the tail and a more resilient nose that allows riders to easily...
  • FSC Certified Fly 900G Core: Our classic tip-to-tail wood core, the 900G model utilizes the best of two wood species to...
  • The Channel: Stronger, faster, easier, and designed to help dial-in the perfect stance for you - The Channel gives you...

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Burton Hideaway (Womens)
  • Flat Top: Rising rider or seasoned pro, keep your game high and tight with Flat Top. A flat profile between the feet...
  • Directional Shape: The classic snowboard shape, designed to be ridden with a slightly longer nose than tail to...
  • Twin Flex: The flex is perfectly symmetrical from tip to tail for a balanced ride that’s equally versatile regular or...
  • FSC Certified Super Fly 800G Core: Lightened up and loaded with pop, our dual-species wood core utilizes dual-density...
  • The Channel: Stronger, faster, easier, and designed to help dial-in the perfect stance for you - The Channel gives you...

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Burton Ripcord (Mens)

The Burton Ripcord is my runner-up snowboard for men. It differs from the Rossignol Sawblade primarily in its flex, profile, and shape.


The Ripcord is softer flexing than the Sawblade.  This will make it just a little more forgiving than the Sawblade.  This softer flex is paired with a flat profile between your feet rather than the rocker design of the Sawblade.  The flat shape promotes stability but the soft flex keeps it from becoming too responsive for a beginner.


The shape is a directional shape where the nose of the board is just a little bit longer than the tail and it has a slight taper from tip to tail.  This will help the tip stay up in softer snow and powder.


I usually prefer a true twin or directional twin for most beginners because true twin snowboards make it a bit easier to try out all styles of snowboarding and especially the option of more easily learning to ride in both directions (switch riding).


But this directional snowboard is a great choice if you know you're planning to just ride in one direction which is actually most snowboarders on the mountain.


I recommend the Burton Ripcord as the Runner-up Pick for beginners expecting to take a more casual approach to learning to snowboarding and are unlikely to attempt spins, tricks, and jumps.


Burton Hideaway (Womens)

The Burton Hideaway is my Runner-up pick for for women.  It is designed similar to the Ripcord as described above but with a slightly different shape, graphics, and in sizes customized for women.

Upgrade Pick

Lib Tech Skate Banana (Mens)
  • NEW FOR 2020 - LIB TECH - SKATE BANANA SNOWBOARD MENS
  • ALL MOUNTAIN / FREESTYLE - TWIN
  • REVOLUTIONARY SNOWBOARD THAT MAKES SNOWBOARDING EASIER & MORE FUN
  • THE ULTIMATE BOARD TO PROGRESS ON
  • FAST, LOW MAINTENANCE ECO SUBLIMATED TNT BASE

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

GNU B-Nice (Womens)
  • NEW FOR 2020 - GNU - B-NICE SNOWBOARD WOMENS (DARK GRAPHIC)
  • ASYM CORE: Aspen/Paulownia I/II Heels : Sustainably Harvested, Light, Strong And Poppy
  • GLASS: Tri-Ax/Bi-Ax: Strong And Poppy
  • TOP: Eco-Sublimated Textured Poly Top: Tough
  • BASE: Eco-Sublimated Co-Ex: Fast, Tough And Easy To Maintain

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


Lib Tech Skate Banana (Mens)

My Upgrade Pick for men is the Lib Tech Skate Banana which is an incredibly fun board to ride.


The full-on rocker shape is so fun and forgiving to learn on.  It is a little stiffer than my other picks but since there's so much rocker it is easy to ride without edge catch worries.  That stiffness will come in handy as you progress and the edge grip tech (Magne-Traction) will help keep you from siding out too much on ice despite the big rocker shape. 


One downside is it is not the most stable board at very high speeds.  But as a beginner speed is not usually your goal.  I love it because it makes trying spins, jumps, and tricks very easy which helps you build your confidence more quickly.  


The Skate Banana is a great first snowboard for someone with board sport experience because these individuals are likely to pick up on snowboarding a little easier and may progress faster.  So if you have this experience or are relatively athletic and you know that you're going to be obsessed with snowboarding and progressing then I highly recommend trying the Lib Tech Skate Banana.


Gnu B-Nice (Womens)

The Gnu B-Nice is my Upgrade Pick for for women.  It's got the same fun and playful rocker shape and edge grip tech as the Skate Banana described above.


In addition, this women specific snowboard is equipped with Gnu's unique asymmetric shape.  The asymmetric shape means there's a different side cut radius on the heels compared to the toes.  This is based on the fact that your weight distribution is different for heel side and toe side turns.  So the goal of the design is to account for that difference and give a customized ride for both types of turns.

Quick Tips for Choosing Snowboards

I've compiled the following quick tips to summarize the topics discussed in this article.  If you need more detailed information then continue reading below this quick tips box to a learn a lot more about what makes a good beginner snowboard.

  1. Profile: Look for flat to rocker profiles between your feet to minimize edge catch.
  2. Flex: Choose a soft to medium flexing board that is more playful and forgiving.
  3. Length: As a starting point look for a board that extends from the ground up to your chin. Then check the manufacturer's size chart to make sure it is compatible with your weight. Then size up or down based on your weight range.
  4. Width: Boot sizes smaller than 7 (US Men) should consider narrow versions of snowboards if available.  Boot sizes larger than 10.5 should consider wide versions of boards if available.
  5. Shape: Keep it simple and choose a true twin shape that behaves the same in both directions and keep as many snowboarding styles as possible available to you as you progress.
  6. Edge Grip Tech: Consider a board with extra contact points on the edge for improved grip in firm snow and icy conditions.  Different manufacturers have their own marketing names for this and you may see terms like Magne-Traction, Frostbite, Grip Tech, or others. All are fairly effective.
  7. Try it On: Set up all your gear ahead of your snowboard trip.  Make sure your bindings are compatible with your board and boots and take the time to make sure everything is adjusted properly.

What makes a good beginner snowboard?

Unfortunately, there is no magic snowboard that will make learning to snowboard absolutely easy and pain free.  You’re going to be on your butt and hands and knees a lot and your muscles will probably get pretty sore.  But with the right instruction and taking it slow you should be able to avoid any nasty spills during those first few tries.

Anyone who has tried snowboarding for the first time will tell you that the biggest thing you want to avoid is hard falls. But you are going to fall. There is no way around it.

The hardest falls usually happen when you unexpectedly catch the edge of your snowboard while attempting to make a turn as you transition from one edge to the other.

Do to incorrect body positioning or timing you will have some portion of the wrong edge pointing down the slope and then WHAM!  The edge digs into the snow and your momentum carries you forward and the only thing to stop you is the snow covered slope.  

So why don't they just make a snowboard with totally rounded up edges? Well...without a sharp edge that can dig into the snow you will not be able to make any real turns. Making turns is the most basic part of snowboarding so you’re not going to find a "no edge snowboard". 

Although there is no mystical snowboard that can prevent falls I've made it a priority to research and recommend snowboards equipped with design features that help minimize the chance of catching an edge.

While less edge catch is a priority, I also strive to recommend snowboards that will continue to work for you as your skills progress.  

There are many choices available so the challenge with deciding on my recommendations was narrowing the range of choices down to a few options that will be easier to learn on while not inhibiting your progression as you gain confidence with your turns.

In the next few sections I go over some of the things I considered when I made my picks that I think you should consider as you search for your best beginner snowboard.

Profile

The profile of a snowboard is the curvature that the board follows when you look at it from the side.  It can have quite a bit of influence on how prone the snowboard edges are to being caught during a less than ideal turn transition.

For beginners I recommend avoiding traditional camber profile snowboards.  The best beginner snowboards have profiles that reduce pressure at the tips.  There are several methods to achieve this.  All of my selections are designed with flat or rocker sections to ensure the edges are less catchy.

Shape

On a basic level there are two main shapes to a snowboard.  It is either a true twin or a directional shape.

True twin shapes ride the same in both directions since you stand perfectly centered on the board and the tip and tail have the same geometry and construction.

On the other hand with a directional snowboard you will ride with your body positioned set back toward the tail of the board.  These can ride quite differently in each direction depending on how they are designed.

Usually directional snowboards are tapered from tip to tail, meaning the width of the snowboard at the tip is wider when compared to the tail.  Often they may have different construction from tip to tail as well that results in a range of stiffness as you move from tip to tail.  The tail may be swallow shaped as well which improves performance in deep powder.

There are also hybrid designs and often these are referred to as directional twins. This snowboard shape looks like a twin at first glance but your stance will be set back slightly toward the tail.  It may have different stiffness in the tip compared to the tail.  This will ride slightly different in each direction but is still pretty capable in the switch  direction (opposite direction from your natural riding direction).

I usually recommend true twin snowboards for beginners and here's why...

True twin snowboards makes things simple and consistent as you're learning.  We all want to make those first turns but before learning to turn you are likely to learn the "falling leaf" technique.

The falling leaf is a technique where you make your way down the slope sliding on just one edge (either heels or toes).  So you'll actually be riding in both directions on a single edge (switch riding) as you learn.  First you ride to one side of the run and then when you would normally transition to the other side of your snowboard to turn and ride back to the other side of the slope you simply slide and come back across in the opposite direction (switch) on the same edge.

The falling leaf technique allows you to practice balancing on each side of your board individually without the pressure of making a turn.  So with this technique it will help if the board acts the same in each direction as a true twin shape does.

Even after you're making solid turns you will fall back to this technique as you attempt more challenging terrain (green to blue to black).  As terrain changes you will come across a section of the run that looks too challenging to make a turn on and you will bust out your falling leaf technique to get through it.

Even further down your progression after you get really confident with turning in one direction I highly recommend you practice riding switch.  Being able to ride switch is needed for you to unlock more advanced riding styles like freestyle, park, and freeriding.  

Another situation that riding switch is great for is when you're out riding with someone of lesser skill.  When you ride switch you will probably be slower and will have to concentrate on your form a bit more.  This is what the person you're riding with will be doing too.  So it puts you closer together in terms of the experience and makes it more fun.

So this is why I've recommended the Rossignol Sawblade, a true twin, as the best beginner snowboard. 

But if your goal is just to learn the basics of snowboarding to get yourself down the mountain in just one direction (no switch riding) and you're unlikely to make snowboarding more than an occasional hobby then a directional shaped board may be a good option for you.  This is why I've chosen the Burton Ripcord as the Runner-up Pick for men.

Flex

The key to easier learning is forgiveness in your snowboard.  Forgiveness for your body being out of position.  Forgiveness for jerky movements.  Forgiveness for losing your balance.  Forgiveness for poor timing.  Forgiveness for being a beginner!

A more flexible board is more forgiving.  It will not react as quickly to your movements so you have time to make a correction before losing your balance or catching an edge resulting in a fall.

Think of it like the steering on a car.  Even if you don't drive you can watch someone driving.  You should notice that when driving straight down the road the driver's hands are not perfectly motionless.  They are making small corrections to keep the car going in the direction they want it to.

There is a difference between a big SUV and a sports car in the handling and steering feel.  In the SUV you will turn the wheel quite a bit more to get that thing to react and turn compared to when steering a sports car.  In the sports car small movements will cause the car to move very quickly.

Anyhow, you want a beginner snowboard to handle and steer more like an SUV than a sports car. A stiffer snowboard handles like a sports car.  Small movements will cause an immediate reaction. This is a bad thing as you're just beginning to learn. But as you progress you will learn to appreciate that stiffness depending on your riding style.

Base

There are different grades of snowboard bases.  They differ in their durability and ability to hold wax which affects the speed potential.  This isn't that important as you're learning since speed shouldn't be on your mind and you will likely be sticking to groomed runs which shouldn't have any rocks or major obstacles that are likely to gouge your base.  But all of my recommendations have bases that will take a wax and have acceptable durability.

Price

How much is this going to cost me?

The retail price of a new snowboard typically runs from as low as $200 up to $600.  There are certainly outliers above and below this price range that the beginner should usually avoid.

A snowboard toward the bottom of this price range tends to be of poorer design and quality.  If you're going cheap, look out for profiles that are more likely to cause edge catch like a traditional camber snowboard.  Often these boards are a floppy mess with inadequate stiffness.  This may be fine for your first few runs but you don't want a snowboard that is TOO soft as it may inhibit your progression.

The sweet spot tends to start around $300 - $400 for a good beginner snowboard.

Progression Potential

Your progression potential is something to consider as you make your decision.  To understand what I mean I think it may be helpful to first tell my experiences as a beginner.

The first few times I tried snowboarding I did so on a borrowed board.  As a Southern California kid I had skateboarded and surfed for a few years so board sports were not totally foreign to me.

Neither skateboarding nor surfing are the same as snowboarding.  But some of the skills, in particular balance development and weight transfer during turns, do transfer to snowboarding. One big difference are the sharp edges of the snowboard that dig into the snow.  Surfboards and skateboards don't have these.

My first snowboard was a traditional camber snowboard.  It was way too big for me, especially for my skill level.  I borrowed it from my step-brother who was 4-5 inches taller than me and at least 50 lbs heavier.  It was a 159 cm board and plenty stiff.  Now I ride 152 - 157 cm snowboards.  There were no specially designed edges to help make them less likely to catch.

But I did't know any better.  I just got out and kept falling and getting up.  After a couple of days and a really sore body I was able to get down runs making turns.

After that experience, for a few years I just rented snowboards when I would take occasional trips but never got out on the snow frequently enough to make any progression.  Each time was almost like a beginner experience for the first few runs.  Then life got busy and I went several years without snowboarding.

But that all changed when I moved to Salt Lake City, UT.  With easy access to so many resorts I decided to make a real effort to become a decent snowboarder.  I got a pass and went snowboarding every day I wasn't working.

This is when I decided to buy all of my own snowboarding gear.  Since I knew that I would be dedicated to progression I decided to get an intermediate to advanced snowboard I would not quickly outgrow.

I started with the Burton Custom Flying V (154 cm) which is a directional twin with a hybrid rocker/camber profile.  I took a lesson and was up and running on this board pretty quickly. After a couple of seasons I was able to ride approaching an intermediate level.

After a few seasons on this snowboard I wanted to try something that was more playful and would make trying spins, jumps, and tricks easier.  So I picked up the Lib Tech Skate Banana (152 cm). This really unlocked a lot of fun because I could start attempting tricks and with the full rocker profile and true twin shape I was able to avoid some edge catches that would have been an issue on the Custom Flying V.  

Where I'm going with this is that you can learn on any snowboard.  Based on my experience, a camber profile snowboard worked ok for me, but I wish I would have started with a flatter or rocker profile.

The snowboards I've recommended are what I believe to be the best beginner snowboards based on my experience and I feel confident they will make the learning process easier for you.

They will be just fine as you get some experience on the snow and progress.  And if you only spend a few days on the snow each year then these should work great for you for many years.

On the other hand, if you have board sport experience, some athletic ability, and know that you will become obsessed  with snowboarding (like me) then you may want to go beyond Our Pick or the Runner-up Pick.

If this is you, a great place to start is our Upgrade Pick...the Lib Tech Skate Banana. The Skate Banana will keep the door open for you to try just about anything. Which is great as you develop your own style.

Another direction is to get yourself an intermediate to advanced all mountain snowboard.  This is a snowboard that works great all over the mountain.  If this is of interest to you I suggest to check out our article on this topic: Best All Mountain Snowboards for Men.

These intermediate-advanced all mountain snowboards will be a little more difficult as you make those first few turns, but if you really plan to make snowboarding progression a priority in your life then an all mountain snowboard is a great investment.

If you would like even more information about choosing snowboards then check out our Buying Guide: How to Choose Snowboards.

Feature Comparison Table: Snowboards for Men

Our Pick
Rossignol Sawblade Snowboard Mens Sz 145cm
Runner-up Pick
Burton Ripcord Snowboard Sz 145cm
Upgrade Pick
Lib Tech Skate Banana Snowboard Mens Sz 152cm Wood
Brand/Model
Rossignol Sawblade
Burton Ripcord
Lib Tech Skate Banana
Shape
Twin
Directional
Twin
Profile
Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Rocker/Flat/Rocker
Camber/Rocker/Camber
Flex
Soft-Medium
Soft
Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$227.97
Price not available
$349.96
Our Pick
Rossignol Sawblade Snowboard Mens Sz 145cm
Brand/Model
Rossignol Sawblade
Shape
Twin
Profile
Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Flex
Soft-Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$227.97
Runner-up Pick
Burton Ripcord Snowboard Sz 145cm
Brand/Model
Burton Ripcord
Shape
Directional
Profile
Rocker/Flat/Rocker
Flex
Soft
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
Price not available
Upgrade Pick
Lib Tech Skate Banana Snowboard Mens Sz 152cm Wood
Brand/Model
Lib Tech Skate Banana
Shape
Twin
Profile
Camber/Rocker/Camber
Flex
Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$349.96

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Feature Comparison Table: Snowboards for Women

Our Pick
Rossignol Meraki Snowboard Womens Sz 140cm
Runner-up Pick
Burton Hideaway Snowboard Womens Sz 140cm
Upgrade Pick
Gnu B-Nice Asym Snowboard Womens Sz 142cm Dark
Brand/Model
Rossignol Meraki
Burton Hideaway
GNU B-Nice
Shape
Twin
Directional
Twin
Profile
Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Rocker/Flat/Rocker
Camber/Rocker/Camber
Flex
Soft-Medium
Soft
Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$246.95
Price not available
$293.95
Our Pick
Rossignol Meraki Snowboard Womens Sz 140cm
Brand/Model
Rossignol Meraki
Shape
Twin
Profile
Rocker/Camber/Rocker
Flex
Soft-Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$246.95
Runner-up Pick
Burton Hideaway Snowboard Womens Sz 140cm
Brand/Model
Burton Hideaway
Shape
Directional
Profile
Rocker/Flat/Rocker
Flex
Soft
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
Price not available
Upgrade Pick
Gnu B-Nice Asym Snowboard Womens Sz 142cm Dark
Brand/Model
GNU B-Nice
Shape
Twin
Profile
Camber/Rocker/Camber
Flex
Medium
Edge Grip Tech
Amazon Price
$293.95

Last update on 2020-10-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Rocker/Camber/Rocker: Camber between the feet with rocker toward tips; Camber/Rocker/Camber: Rocker between the feet with camber toward tips; Camber/Flat/Camber: Flat between the feet with camber toward tips

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