“a helpful & lucid review site for all things budget” — the new yorker
In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Snowboards
  2. Snowboard Reviews
  3. Freestyle Snowboards, All-Mountain Snowboards
  4. Snowboard Camber, Snowboard Base, Snowboard Flex
  1. Cheap Women's Snowboards, Cheap Kids Snowboards
  2. Snowboard Deals
  3. Discount Snowboards Features Comparison Table

Cheap Snowboards Buying Guide

Snowboarding is an individual sport in more ways than one. Out there alone on the mountain, you want a snowboard that fits your personal skill level, size, and riding style.

Related Guides:
Snowboard Bindings and Snowboard Boots
Depending on your needs, a cheap snowboard may actually suit you better than a more expensive stick. If you're just starting out and didn't know that "stick" is another word for snowboard, odds are you don't need to shell out $500 or more for a high-end board.

The cheapest snowboards are usually made for beginner to intermediate riders and cost between $100 and $300. Cheap snowboards tend to be a bit heavier than more expensive boards and fairly simple design-wise, but many still feature strong all-around riding capabilities. Feedback on cheap snowboards is relatively scant online; pricey boards from names like Burton, Lib Tech, and Gnu dominate the conversation among riders. Based on the comments and reviews we did find, as well as the reputations of prominent snowboard brands including Forum, K2, Ride, Rome, and Salomon, we've rounded up some top contenders under $300 for both adults and kids.

The Salomon Pulse (starting at $249) and the K2 Vandal youth board (starting at $200) are two cheap snowboards popular for their strong performance across multiple types of terrain. They are also flexible enough to give riders optimal control without sacrificing much speed or aggression. The Ride Lowride (starting at $170) makes our list as a good youth board that's soft and light enough for smaller riders to handle easily. The Forum Recon (starting at $300) is another popular pick for adult beginners. Women seeking a precise fit and greater control would do well to consider the entry-level Burton Genie (starting at $300) and Salomon Lotus (starting at $200), two top cheap snowboards designed specifically for female riders.

Review continues below

LaMar and LTD are both known for producing cheap snowboards but don't win much respect -- or attention of any kind -- from serious riders. These boards populate mass-market retailers and discount sites such as Overstock.com, yet don't cost much less than the reliable boards mentioned above.

Generally the construction is what separates the cheapest snowboards from expensive ones. Wooden cores are the most common, while materials such as carbon, Kevlar, and aluminum honeycomb add expense. Foam cores have become less common because, although they cost less, they sacrifice performance and durability. Manufacturers of some cheap snowboards, including the Ride Lowride, strategically incorporate foam into low-stress areas of otherwise wooden cores for the sake of making their boards lighter. Ride's new Gummy Core includes a strip of foam through the center, which is intended to make the Lowride youth board more forgiving and easier to handle for beginners and young riders. The other cheap snowboards we've chosen have all-wood cores. The cheapest snowboards, including those on our list, also tend to come with extruded bases, which are slower but easier to repair and maintain than the sintered bases on pricier boards (more on that later).

Other snowboard features vary slightly depending on the skill level of the rider and the board's specialty, whether that be floating on powder, carving in hard-packed snow, or stomping tricks in a terrain park (an area of a mountain set up for special maneuvers, rather than regular riding). It may be tempting to choose a board based on color and graphics, but a flashy design doesn't affect performance. Pick a cheap snowboard that offers a solid combo of comfort, functionality, and visual appeal.

Review continues below

Beginners should rent their first few times out to get an idea of how different board shapes behave and what riding style they enjoy most. That way they'll know what to buy when the time comes.

If possible, don't buy a cheap snowboard without looking at it in person first, especially if you don't have the experience to know the right the size, shape, and other features you need. Search for good deals online, but make sure to examine a physical version of the board and zero in on the correct fit before making a buying decision. Finally, keep in mind that many online retailers discount gear from previous seasons, putting higher-end equipment within the reach of frugal snowboarders not intent on riding the latest models.

Often the easiest and cheapest way to buy a snowboard is in a package. Purchasing the board, boots, and bindings all at once can not only save you money but also ensure you're starting off with compatible gear that fits together well. Whether you purchase your setup individually or in a cheap snowboard package, our guides to cheap snowboard boots and cheap bindings can help you find the right combination.

by Kara Reinhardt (Google+ Profile)

Back to top »

Best Cheap Snowboards

K2 Vandal
Gold Medal

K2 Vandal

This freestyle youth board performs consistently on a variety of terrain. Consumers can count on K2 for durability, and the board's extruded base makes wear and tear from boxes and rails easy to repair.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Salomon Pulse
Gold Medal

Salomon Pulse

This lightweight board provides a solid ride on hard snow and fresh powder. It's one of the only boards on our list that features flat or zero camber, which offers excellent stability and makes it easy to initiate jumps in the park.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Burton Genie
Gold Medal

Burton Genie

The rocker shape and convex base on this women's snowboard make it ideal for female riders looking to learn quickly. Experts find it also makes a fun park board.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »

Good Cheap Snowboards

Forum Recon
Gold Medal

Forum Recon

Reviewers tout this beginner/intermediate snowboard as a good value that performs well in a variety of situations. This perennial favorite now features continuous rocker instead of traditional camber, a shape that's even easier for less-experienced riders to handle.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Ride Lowride
Gold Medal

Ride Lowride

The Ride Lowride is a soft, flexible starter board that appeals to younger riders. Kids will outgrow the small sizes relatively quickly, but the board should hold up well enough to be reactivated as a hand-me-down.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
Salomon Lotus
Gold Medal

Salomon Lotus

Women may soon progress beyond the capabilities of this beginner board, but it sure beats rental gear made for men. The flat profile promises a stable ride and a gentle learning curve.

Read Full Review and Compare Prices »
 

Don't Bother

LTD Snowboards

LTD snowboards generally pop up in big-box stores and overstock shops; dedicated boarders tend to stay away. There's no arguing with the price -- just don't expect these boards to last as long as budget models from other brands.

LaMar Snowboards

Although this brand appears to have attempted a comeback in recent years, it still seems like a bit of a gamble compared with more reputable companies. The boards satisfy some beginners but may hold back anyone looking to progress as a snowboarder.

Cheapism.com on Facebook
 
The Wealthy Cheapskate: 5 Luxury Yachts That Are A Total Steal

Looking for a cheap yacht? Head to an auction or a broker for what pass as good deals on luxury vessels.

Weekly Update: Whole Foods Cheap 25, Minimum Wage Front Lines, & More

We enjoyed the fun of April Fools' Day this week, but with this we aren't foolin': Catch 25 items that are cheaper at Whole Foods than at traditional grocery stores. ...

Car-Share Programs: Comparing the Cost

Car-sharing is a convenient way for occasional drivers to save money. Some programs are national and some local. Here's the scoop.