Snowboard flex ratings explained

Snowboard Flex Ratings Explained (Simple Guide)

The flexibility of a snowboard dictates its on-snow performance.

Each snowboard has a different rating. You need to choose the right flexibility for your skill level and riding style.

Snowboard flex ratings go on a scale of 1-10. Here is what each of those ratings mean:

  • 1-2: Soft
  • 3-4: Soft-Moderate
  • 5-6: Moderate
  • 7-8: Stiff
  • 9-10: Very Stiff

I have been working in the snowboarding industry for over a decade. And have tried almost every type of snowboard that exists.

This article will explain snowboard flex ratings in plain English. And give you the tools to choose a board with the right flex.

Let’s get after it.

What is snowboard flex rating?

Snowboard flex rating describes how flexible a snowboard is.

It’s how easily a snowboard can bend – without breaking.

Every snowboard is rated based on its level of flexibility. And this is made visible on the website you are purchasing from.

Most manufacturers rate flex on a scale of 1-10. But some may use: soft, moderate or stiff.

Snowboarder

Snowboard flex ratings 1-10 explained

Soft: Rating 1-4

Snowboards rated 1-2 are soft. And 3-4 are soft-moderate.

These boards are very soft. It does not take much pressure to make them bend.

This makes them a great choice for beginners. It takes less force to manoeuvre the board – which makes turning easier.

It is very easy to manage a soft board on green and blue slopes. They excel in low-speed conditions and on shallow slopes.

Freestyle riders love soft flexing boards. They bend when buttering and feel playful for jibbing. Plus the flex absorbs pressure on less-than-ideal landings.

Who should get a soft flex snowboard?

  • Beginners
  • Cautious intermediates
  • Freestyle riders
  • Lightweight riders
  • Instructors teaching on the bunny slope

What can a soft flex snowboard not do?

Go at speed. The soft flex reduces control at speed because it’s more jittery.

These boards don’t work well on steep slopes either. They lack responsiveness and struggle to hold an edge.

Soft snowboards are not designed for advanced or expert all-mountain riders.

I have learned this the hard way. Many times while teaching I have taken a soft board out to meet a client – only to find out they are an expert. It’s been a tough ride taking them down black diamonds and trying to show excellent technique.

Soft flex snowboard park

Moderate flex: Rating 5-6

Moderate boards are the jack of all trades.

They are all-mountain boards that can manage most terrains.

Moderate flex gives a board versatility.

Flexible enough to feel playful in powder and park. But stiff enough to feel responsive at higher speeds.

The edge hold is pretty solid at higher speeds. And advanced riders can get a good carve out of them.

I have been snowboarding for 20 years and still use a moderate flex board. It’s powerful enough for performance without being overwhelming.

I can use it on groomers or off-piste. It might not excel in any area. But it’s easiest to ride the whole mountain on one board.

Who should get a moderate flex snowboard?

  • Intermediate-expert riders
  • Anyone who loves riding the whole mountain
  • 90% of people buying a board

What can a moderate flex snowboard not do?

They are not specialised to excel on any specific terrain. This can be a gift and a curse.

Riders with a high skill level usually find a specific type of snowboarding they love. And want a type of snowboard designed for that purpose.

Park riders want a soft freestyle board. Alpine snowboarders want a stiff board.

I have multiple snowboards. One for each type of terrain.

And I know most experts are the same.

All-Mountain snowboarding

Stiff: Rating 7-10

Stiff boards are for aggressive riders.

Rigidity equals power. The stability at speed is amazing. And carving is a dream.

The stability you get from a stiff board is second to none.

Anything above a flex rating of 9 is good enough to go 60+ mph without issue.

Black diamonds are no problem. Providing you can handle it.

Alpine racers will use stiff boards. They are responsive and precise at speed.

Advanced snowboarders enjoy a stiff snowboard. So make sure your skill level is high enough before you invest.

Who should get a stiff flex snowboard?

  • Expert snowboarders
  • Anyone who loves speed
  • Want to carve groomers
  • Alpine racers
  • Want to tackle black diamonds

Who should not get a stiff flex board?

These boards are not designed for beginners.

They take a lot of power to manage. And feel like hard work on beginner slopes.

Stay away from stiff boards if you want a playful and forgiving ride.

Terrain park riders may also look elsewhere.

I rarely take out a stiff board. Because I like messing around in the park and chilling in the off-piste powder.

Stiff flex alpine snowboard

How do I choose snowboard flex?

You first need to choose based on your ability.

Beginners should always choose a soft board.

It makes learning the basics much less tiring. And it will be more forgiving.

Once you can get down green and blue slopes. It’s time to level up to a moderate flex board.

Get an all-mountain board to start with. And learn how to manage black slopes, small jumps, moguls and off-piste.

Experiment on all snow conditions and see what terrain you enjoy.

Experts can then specialise with a flex rating that suits their style.

Or get multiple boards!

Freestyle riders should go soft flex. Alpine carving enthusiasts need a stiff board.

Choose the one that fits your preference.

Looking for a snowboard

What is longitudinal flex?

Longitudinal flex is the flexibility of a snowboard along its length. From nose to tail.

The amount of flex from tip to tail dictates the power and stability of a board.

Stiff longitudinal flex means a stable base. But increased flex leads to more playfulness.

Snowboard Longitudinal Flex

What is torsional flex?

Torsional flex is how much flexibility a snowboard has across its width. From edge to edge.

Higher torsional flex makes turning easier. It takes less effort to get the board onto its edge.

Soft torsional flex feels playful. And suits beginners.

Stiffer torsional flex is harder to manage. But feels stable at speed.

Snowboard torsional flex

Advice from an instructor

Don’t run before you can walk.

The biggest mistake I see is people purchasing boards they can’t handle.

Stiff snowboards are hard work. Especially if you are going at slow speeds.

You will need to work harder to handle the board. And you will get tired faster.

Stick to a soft-moderate all-mountain board until you are very confident.

Learn how to handle all terrain types before getting a specialised board.

Then start building up a quiver.

You want four boards. Soft freestyle, moderate all-mountain, moderate powder, stiff alpine.

That will set you up for an awesome winter season.