There are quite a few different types of snowboards on the slopes these days. That’s because there are different types of snowboard disciplines and riding styles; therefore, snowboard manufacturers make different snowboard types to suit the personal preference of each rider. Before buying a new snowboard, you’ll want to think about the different snowboarding styles and then narrow it down to one or two styles that appeal most to you and your physical abilities.
In this article, we will go through the various types of snowboards and each one’s characteristics so you can find the right snowboard for you. But before we go into too much detail, it’s essential to know that you don’t have to stick to one type of snowboard discipline. Different types for different riders! Your snowboarding style may change as you become a more experienced snowboarder. Also, you may change your style to suit your mood and the snow conditions. This means more snowboards, which is always a good thing.
So let’s get into it!
Table of Contents: Snowboard Types
All-Mountain Snowboards: Top Choice for Beginners
Of all the different kinds of snowboards, all-mountain snowboards are the most popular type of board. Because they work well on the entire mountain, whether you are carving the groomers, powder hunting, or hitting the park. This kind of board is great for all abilities. It makes turns easy and is suitable for learning as it can give you a taste of every type of terrain available.
The only thing about all-mountain snowboards is that they don’t excel at one particular thing. By this, we mean that if you want to be a freestyle rider, you may want something that works best in the park rather than everywhere. Unfortunately, there is a compromise to everything.
Freestyle Snowboard: Good For Tricks
A freestyle snowboard is best suited to park riders and anyone who likes to perform tricks like tail presses, butters, and generally jibbing around. Freestyle boards have a low flex rating, meaning they are very flexible, making it easier to do tricks and land jumps due to their forgiving nature.
Most freestyle snowboards have a twin tip shape. This means they ride in precisely the same way, forwards or backwards. This makes and landing switch much more manageable than snowboards with a directional shape.
Due to the softer flex, a freestyle snowboard is a good choice for a first snowboard. So if you are just getting into snowboarding, a park board may be a good choice. However, their softer flex means they are less stable when riding at high speed on hard snow. Therefore if you are a fast rider, a freestyle snowboard may not be the right board for you.
Freeride Snowboard: Asymmetrical Shape
Freeride boards are fast and have lots of float for snowboarding in deep snow. They have a very stiff flex rating and hold an edge exceptionally well. This is the perfect snowboard if you are an experienced rider who wants to ride in the backcountry, looking for fresh powder lines.
Most freeride boards are directional snowboards, meaning their shape is not symmetrical, allowing them to perform at their best when riding forwards. It is possible to ride directional boards switch, but it is a little more tricky. It’s generally a one way deal.
This type of snowboard is usually used by advanced riders due to the nature of the terrain there are used in.
Powder Snowboard: For Powder Rides
Powder snowboards have a large surface area, giving them lots of float in deep snow. This is enhanced by a longer nose and setback binding stance. These boards come in a variety of different shapes, such as a wider nose and maybe even a swallowtail. This shape allows you to keep the nose out of the snow and makes the tail sink, giving you smoother turns and a surf-like experience in powder.
Powder boards often have a rocker profile. This also contributes to how these specific boards float in powder.
Not many people ride a powder board as the daily driver. This is the kind of board that you have in your quiver, and bring it out when the snow conditions are suitable.
Split Board: Backcountry Riding
A split board is quite a specialist piece of snowboard equipment. These boards are used for accessing the backcountry away from lifts where the snow is ungroomed. They are a much cheaper method of going freeriding than hiring a helicopter or snowmobile.
The unique design of a split board allows it to split down the centreline into a pair of skis. Your snowboard bindings attach to each ski and have a special mechanism that enables them to hinge at the toe. This design lets you stride and glide forward using collapsible ski poles.
To prevent you from sliding backward as you hike up the mountain, you fit strips of material known as skins to the bases. Skins stick to the bottom of your skis with adhesive and are secured with hooks at each end. The part of the skin in contact with the snow has bristles that point backward, preventing you from sliding back and giving you purchase for striding forward. Occasionally you may need to fit metal crampons underneath your bindings to help you ascend in icy conditions.
Once you’ve reached the top of the mountain, it’s time to rebuild your snowboard. You then put your skins and poles in your backpack before enjoying incredible powder on the ride back down.
Split boards are great boards for someone with a good skill level who wants to spend a lot of time exploring the wilderness and score fresh tracks and interesting turns in the backcountry.
Alpine Board: For Speed
You don’t see many Alpine boards these days. These snowboards have a stiff flex, giving you much control at higher speeds, especially on groomed or packed snow. They are mainly used for slalom racing and use a hard-boot binding set-up. These boots look slightly like ski boots; the design is optimized for high speeds and fast turns. These snowboards are highly specialist and perform best on groomed slopes. This is definitely not the snowboard you would take into the terrain park.
Wrapping Up Everything
As you can see from this guide, there are quite a few kinds of snowboards to choose from. But it doesn’t end there, as many snowboards blur the lines. For example, you could have an all-mountain freestyle board that provides for easy turns, or a freeride snowboard designed for pulling huge tricks in the backcountry rather than just riding down the side of the mountain as fast as possible.
Shape plays a big role in determining riding style and board type. But the ones we listed here are the main ones you need to understand before you delve deeper into the different snowboards available
Tom is an outdoor enthusiast and writer based in the French Alps. Most days, you can find Tom shredding the slopes on a snowboard or splitboard, exploring the mountains on a hike, or hitting the trails on a mountain bike.