As snowboarding continues to grow and riders continue to push the limits of creativity and innovation so grows the technical innovations snowboard engineers bring to the equipment. If you are looking for the next specialty board for your quiver or looking for a board that can do everything, there are many boards and board constructions from which to choose. The difficult part is choosing the exact board that will be right for you and help you reach your next goal in snowboarding in the shortest amount of time.
A modern freestyle snowboard is focused primarily towards park and urban riding. Freestyle boards are ideal for airing off jumps and/or riding sliding features, also known as jibbing. These boards are designed for tricks both goofy and regular, so many times come in a twin or twinish shape and flex. Many riders will use a freestyle board all over the mountain to get the all mountain freestyle riding experience. A freestyle board designed for rails will have edges that wont catch while slidding across metal and have flex patterns that can be easily pressed on the nose and tail, as well as soft flex between the feet for locking onto rails while in boardslides and lipslides. The freestyle boards created for airs will have a lot of the construction focused on the pop the board gives back to the rider when ollied or flexed off the lip of a jump. A board with good pop will allow the rider to score nice floaty airs and better hang time. With freestyle riding continuing to grow, so is the creativity of riders. The flat land tricks have exploded in the last number of year making buttering and urban jibbing one of the most powerful aspects of our sport. The rocker boards, also known as reverse camber or negative camber, are making jibbing and buttering easier, more fun and opening up the doors for more rider innovation. Even though Pipe riding is an important part of freestyle riding you will find pipe specific boards in both All Mountain and Freestyle Snowboard categories.
All Mountain Snowboards
The All Mountain Snowboard category is for the snowboards that can do it all. This all terrain vehicle of snowboarding is constructed with the intent to ride the whole mountain from the park to the powder. All mountain boards tend to be a bit more directional in flex and shape than most freestyle boards, meaning that they have a more defined nose and tail in the direction the board is intended to travel. The directional aspect of the shape has to do with the stance options tend to be set back more towards the tail of the board. The board may also have a slight taper giving the nose a bit more width than the tail. The directional aspect of the flex may come from the core construction being slightly set back or more structural components in the tail making the tail of the board slightly stiffer than the nose. Some of people’s favorite powder boards and freestyle boards can be found hiding in this category. If you look at certain Pro Model boards listed in All Mountain categories you can find boards like Shaun White’s Burton Operator. This board lives in an All Mountain category but allows Shaun to be one of the most dominant freestyle riders of all time, both in the park and in the pipe.
The boards that you will find in freeride categories are the snowboards built specifically for powder, steeps and backcountry riding. The freeride snowboards tend to have a tapered shape, from slight to a huge amount of taper. The flex and stance of these boards are also set back for the directional ride. Most freeride board can be ridden switch, but are very focused on being the best board while traveling forward for travel at high speeds or to get as much float in the powder as possible. This is where most split boards will be found for backcountry trekking and new designs like the No Fish for surfing powder without bindings.
Most Snowboards being produced will fit in the above listed categories. Not to exclude from the list, but being produced in much fewer numbers are race specific boards, such as snowboard cross and alpine style snowboards. These types of boards are for speed on hard pack snow and completely directional in construction.
For any riders it is important to get on a board that will set you up for success. This takes being realistic in your riding level and experience so that you look for boards that will allow you to progress in the direction you envision for yourself as a rider. New designs are being brought into beginner level boards that will allow a new snowboarder to avoid getting beat up as they learn to control the board. Also entry-level park boards are making sliding boxes and rails easier and more forgiving. With experienced riders it is good to be challenged with new equipment to learn new styles of riding and expand into new terrain.
As a snowboarder it will be much easier to decide what you want out of a snowboard and then narrow down from those criteria’s the boards that will be right for you.