how to snowboard in powder

How to Snowboard in Powder | 7 Quick Tips and Tricks

by Ben

Snowboarding in powder is perhaps definitely the greatest experience the sport has to offer. There’s truly nothing like it!

From face shots, to effortless sweeping turns, it’s no wonder there are so many powder-hounds out there (myself included!). 

As electric as the experience may be, making your first turns in powder can still be intimidating. So, in this article I’ll cover all you need to know about how to snowboard in powder. Buckle up my budding powder-pup!

The Short Answer

To snowboard in powder, use a directional powder board or add set-back to your current setup. Lean back slightly to keep your board's nose afloat, but not enough to lose control. Stay relaxed, initiate turns with subtle leans, and maintain consistent speed. Take regular breaks and learn from falls, using them to improve your technique.

Disclaimer: Don’t share this information too widely. There’s enough competition for fresh lines as it is. I shouldn’t even be telling you this!

7 Quick Tips For Riding Powder

1. Lean Back, But Not Too Far!

It might seem counter-intuitive, but in powder snow, leaning back slightly helps keep the nose of the board above the snow. This prevents it from diving in, and you from having a wipeout.

how to snowboard in powder (lean back!)

But remember, it’s all a balancing act. Leaning back too far can tire you out quickly and make it difficult to steer. Leg burn is real!

2. Gear Up

Powder boards are usually wider, with a longer nose and shorter tail. This helps keep the board (and you!) floating on top of the snow. Riding powder on a freestyle board is possible, but not optimal. 

And don’t forget a quality pair of goggles. High contrast lenses are much better at revealing the contours of the snow. 

3. Loosen Up and Flow

Stay loosey goosey baby!

When it comes to powder snowboarding, stiffness is your enemy. Loosen up those knees and ankles. Let your body flow with the board (I’m aware I sound like a hippie).

Powder snowboarding is less about carving and more about floating, so aim for smooth, flowing movements. Picture yourself as a surfer riding the icy waves!

4. Master Your Turns

Turning in powder is a whole different ballgame compared to hardpack. Initiate your turns with a slight lean of your body rather than aggressive edge changes.

Instead of the sharp, slicing turns you may be used to, imagine a dolphin smoothly diving in and out of the water. That’s the rhythm you’re aiming for.

5. Speed is Your Friend!

When teaching my students how to snowboard in powder, the most common mistake is speed (or lack of it). 

Going slow gives you a false sense of security. You’re actually far more likely to bury your nose, and therefore more likely to wipeout.

how to ride powder on a snowboard (master your turns)

Momentum is your friend. Now, I’m not saying you need to hit land-speed records, just try to keep a steady pace!

Be cautious about unmarked obstacles though; keep your eyes peeled, especially when in ungroomed areas.

6. Embrace the Falls

Let’s face it, no matter how skilled you are, everyone takes a tumble now and again. The key is to embrace it.

When you feel a fall coming, try not to stiffen up or fight it. Relax your body and go with the flow, letting the soft powder cushion your landing.

This approach does two things:

  1. It helps prevent injuries caused by tense, awkward falls.
  2. It helps you learn and adapt. Each fall gives you feedback about your balance, your speed, your turns. Use these as learning moments and soon, you’ll find yourself mastering the art of snowboarding in powder.

7. Breathe, Take Breaks

Last but not least, remember to breathe! Powder snowboarding is a workout, especially for your leg muscles.

Take regular breaks, hydrate, and most importantly, savor the moment!

The Complete Guide to Riding Powder

If you’ve made it this far, you’re must be passionate about learning how to snowboard in powder. Kudos! 

Let’s take a closer look at the minor details.

Turning in Powder on a Snowboard

As is the case with balance and stance, turning in powder requires a slightly different technique than turning on groomed runs. 

Professionals agree, when in the deep stuff the key to making smooth, effortless tracks is to make open turns as opposed to closed turns.

turning in powder on a snowboard

In other words… keep your turns tight and shifty. Trying to carve across the face of the mountain will just slow you down and bog your nose in. 

When making turns in powder, the shape of your turns should look more like an elongated “S” as opposed to a sharp “C” shape.

Extend the radius of your turn, ensuring your board never goes across the fall line. 

  • Keep your weight towards the tail.
  • Lean subtly to make turns, keeping your balance under control.
  • Avoid cutting hard across the snow. This could kill your speed.

Keep Your Edges in Mind

When in powder, there’s no hard surface to set an aggressive edge on. This contrasts starkly to making turns on groomed runs.

If you were to dig the edge of your board into a turn in deep powder, you’d likely be met with a yard-sale.

riding powder on a snowboard

Instead, try making the edgeless kind of turns required in surfing. This can be done by pumping your back foot in and out, while keeping your front foot relatively stable. 

Keep these tips in mind to avoid catching an edge in the deep stuff:

  • Lean toe-side or heel-side to start your turn 
  • Subtly twist your shoulders and hips, allowing your board to follow.

The Importance of Speed in Powder

As discussed, speed is your friend. Riding too slow in powder will submerge your board faster than a rotten boat. 

It’s always possible to stop in deep powder, but the same can’t be said for regaining speed. 

By keeping your speed up, you give yourself the best chances of achieving that effortless powder flow.

  • Prioritize lines that take a more direct path down the mountain.
  • Avoid flatter areas – they are speed killers!

Know Your Terrain

One of the more underappreciated elements of riding powder for beginners is the choice of terrain.

Not only will the type of terrain impact how you’re able ride, but there’s also the danger factor to consider. 

Deep snow comes with a long list of hazards. Tree wells, hidden rocks, stumps, and creeks are only the beginning. Hidden obstacles like these cause serious injuries (and sometimes worse) each season.

snowboarding in powder - know your terrain!

Always keep an eye on the terrain ahead. Minimize collisions with unexpected hazards. The aim is to stay healthy and uninjured; there are many more powder days to come!

At the same time, knowing your terrain affords you the benefit of finding hidden gems that other riders might miss. As you progress in the pow, you may want to keep an eye out for any wind lips, pillows, and rock/cliff jump. 

Know Your Gear

It’s vital to have the right gear and to learn how to use it!

This includes a shovel, probe and avalanche beacon. Together, these allow you to locate and rescue anyone unfortunate enough to be stuck in an avalanche. 

Your riding partners need the same gear, so they can rescue you in a worst case scenario. 

avalanche safety kit, including beacon

There are other pieces of gear too, like avalanche airbags, although these are additional to the above, rather than replacements. 

How Your Snowboard Impacts Riding in Powder

In all types of riding, gear makes a massive difference. Some boards simply perform better in powder than others.

Your snowboard camber type is one of the key considerations:

  • Rocker: The most beginner friendly profile in powder. Helps to ensure the tip and tail of the board ride high. 
  • Camber: Opposite of rocker, camber actually puts more pressure on the tip and tail of the board. Avoid in pow.

For most riders, a full rocker or hybrid rocker camber are going to be the best choices.

It’s also worth keeping in mind the size of the nose and tail on your snowboard. Boards that are made for powder will have a longer nose, sinking the tail and improving control. 

A Note on Setback Settings

If you don’t have a powder board, consider setting your bindings back towards the tail. By moving both bindings back an equal amount, your snowboard stance width stays the same, but your weight is shifted over the tail.

Perfect for giant powder slashes!

How To Ride Powder on a Snowboard [Video]

You’re probably sick of listening to me by now, right? So here’s a really helpful video from our friends over at Snowboard Addiction. 

Final Thoughts

In putting all of the above together, riding in powder turns into one cohesive, fluid movement.

After enough reps, your turns won’t feel forced and finding your balance in the deep stuff will be as easy as riding a bike. 

Riding in powder should feel smooth, smooth as butter. Once you put all the pieces together – and it won’t take long – you’ll be shredding that blank canvas with ease!

Happy riding!

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