As an activity and a sport, snowboarding has come a long way in the past few decades. There are now more ways to enjoy snowboarding with the new technology of different shapes and board styles.
Research shows the US ski, and snowboard resorts estimated market size is USD 3.1 billion in 2022. There are different types of snowboards on the market, which can make it overwhelming when you’re trying to buy your first board.
However, choosing the right style for you is essential to having a good snowboarding experience. This guide will help you understand the different snowboards and what each offers for snowboarding enthusiasts.
What is a snowboard?
A snowboard is a board that allows you to slide down a hill covered in snow during a winter sport known as snowboarding. The board is generally shorter than skis and has a wider width. Snowboards allow the person riding them to move more easily across the snow.
Types of Snowboards
There are many snowboards on the market catering to different types of riders and riding styles. Some snowboards are designed for speed and smooth shredding; others are for freestyle tricks and jumps. Here are five of the most popular board types:
- All-Mountain Boards
- Freeride Boards
- Freestyle Boards
- Split boards
- Park/Jib (rails)
1. All-Mountain Boards
An all-mountain snowboard design is for riders who want to do a bit of everything on the mountain. So it means it’s suitable for just about any situation. Furthermore, it’s a great fit for beginners and seasoned snowboarders alike. They are a bit more forgiving than other types of boards.
All-mountain boards are versatile and can handle anything from cruising on groomers to shredding powder (pow) in the backcountry. They’re also ideal for park riders who want to hit rails and jumps but don’t want to have two separate boards for different terrain.
All-mountain snowboards can be a directional or directional twin. You can find all-mountain boards in all sizes, depending on your weight, height, and experience level.
Pros and Cons of All-Mountain Snowboards
Despite this board being a “jack of all trades,” all-mountain snowboards have their pros and cons.
- It’s versatile since you can ride on any terrain.
- Perfect for both beginners and pros
- It’s stable and well balanced since it uses camber and rocker profiles
- Lacks specialization
- You can only use it in one direction (No freestyle)
2. Freestyle Snowboard
A freestyle snowboard, sometimes referred to as park snowboards, is designed for riders who want to do tricks in terrain parks, half pipes, or streets. In contrast to a freeride snowboard intended to be ridden fast and hard down steep slopes, a freestyle snowboard is lightweight and has a more flexible core.
Freestyle boards are also shorter and wider than other boards, making them more maneuverable and better suited to performing spins, flips, and other tricks.
Pros and Cons of Freestyle Snowboards
With all the fun that comes with freestyle snowboarding, it also has advantages and disadvantages.
- More stable, especially when trying new tricks.
- Softer flex, which is easier to maneuver than stiffer boards.
- Ability to perform a wider variety of complex freestyle tricks than other types of snowboards.
- It’s not as fast and stable as other types of boards.
- Not as much edge hold as the different snowboards, which can make it harder to control in icy conditions.
3. Freeride Snowboard
A freeride snowboard is specially designed for the off-piste, backcountry terrain. The snowboard itself has a camber design, which means an upward curve from tip to tail. In addition, the boards also are stiffer than freestyle boards for increased stability and control at high speeds.
The freeride board allows you to cut through fresh powder and maintain its edge when traversing icy patches.In addition, a freeride snowboard usually has a directional shape, meaning the nose is longer and wider than the tail.
This style helps riders float through deep snow and stay glued to their line when riding steeps. Freeriders typically like a mix of speed and powder and backcountry riding.
So you might see them bombing down a hill at high speeds, carving up the side of a mountain, or hitting the backcountry in search of fresh powder.
Pros and Cons of Freeride Snowboards
A Freeride board is perfect for an adrenaline rush, but it also has its drawbacks.
- Excellent for aggressive and experienced riders
- Easy and fun to ride
- Offers superior stability
- Not suitable for tricks or jumps
- They are heavy and expensive
4. Racing/Alpine Snowboards
Alpine snowboards are high-speed, high-performance snowboards designed for speed and maneuverability on the slopes. They are long and narrow. In addition, they have a directional shape that curves forward at the nose and a flat-square body at the tail to encourage you to go fast in one direction.
Furthermore, they have a stiff flex to keep you stable when you’re moving quickly, but they allow for quick turns and maneuvers when needed. Racing/Alpine snowboards are best suited for use on groomed slopes and racecourses, like those found at ski resorts.
Typically, they are made out of wood or composite materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber, which are lightweight and help with board stiffness. The boards also have a long and hard edge, allowing the rider to grip the snow easily when turning at high speeds.
You can use alpine snow boots on board, also known as hard boots. They are similar to ski boots and are made from a hard plastic shell with a liner.
Alpine snowboards are common in slalom and giant slalom races. There are four types of alpine snowboards:
- Race snowboards
- Freecarve snowboards
- All-Mountain snowboards
- Extreme carving snowboards
- Skwal snowboards
Pros and Cons of Alpine Snowboards
Alpine snowboards are for performance riding and are primarily used in races. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of these boards:
- They are lightweight.
- Perfect for speed and performance
- Excellent for professionals
- You can only use them on groomed terrain.
- You only ride them in one direction, and they do not allow for tricks.
A splitboard is a board that has been split lengthwise into two halves. You can then use the two halves as skis to go uphill and then reassemble them into a snowboard to ride downhill. The split uses skin on the base to allow for easy ascending.
A splitboard is excellent if you enjoy going off-piste, exploring the backcountry, and finding fresh powder. It also allows you to access otherwise unreachable terrain without a pair of skis.
Pros and Cons of Splitboards
Splitboards make riding your board more manageable and fun, but they have advantages and disadvantages.
- It’s suitable for accessing areas with difficult terrain.
- Offer more maneuverability than traditional skis
- It provides an easy way to go uphill.
- Reduces the weight of carrying the snowboard up the hill
- They’re expensive.
- Low models can be heavy
Powder snowboards are designed for riding in soft or deep powder. The broad nose and tapered tail of a powder board make it easier to ride in snow than other types of boards.
Furthermore, they are longer and wider than standard snowboards, making them less maneuverable but more stable on unstable ground. Also, you’ll find the binding on powder snowboards near the end of the board to enhance stability.
Powder snowboards mostly use the rocker profile to provide excellent float on the snow. On top of that, it has a tail cutout to address different snow conditions.
Pros and Cons of Powder Snowboards
For the pow enthusiasts, this is the best board for deep snow. Here are some pros and cons of this board.
- It has a longer length for great riding on powdery slopes.
- Perfect for off-piste snowboarding
- Heavier than all-mountain snowboards
- Not as good at carving turns or riding through the park
A good snowboard should keep up with your skills and help you improve them. So, to choose a perfect one for an excellent snowboarding experience, you’ll need to know its features. Here are some features that might be of help when buying your snowboard.
Material Used to make Snowboards
Snowboards are produced out of different materials. The snowboard length and width and the type of profile influence the material used in each board part.
A snowboard typically comprises a base, core, laminate, and top sheet. According to its intended use, these components create a durable, powerful, and responsive board.
Hardwood, such as birch, poplar, beech, and bamboo, is the most popular material for making snowboard cores. Also, some boards may be hybrid, meaning they are a mixture of wood strips and other materials.
However, most materials used in snowboards are laminated fiberglass around wood. Wood helps mainly to provide power and strength, shaping the board and vibration dampening.
Other materials that may be used for a snowboard core are:
- Composite honeycomb
The base is made from high-density polyethylene plastic and then saturated with wax. It covers the entire bottom surface of the board, allowing it to glide quickly across the snow. P-Tex is the most common material for snowboard bases. There are two base types:
- Sintered bases: This type of base is absorbent and porous. It’s made from an ultra-high-molecular-weight version (P-Tex) that undergoes super-high pressure. Sintered bases have a wax treatment, making them the best choice for racing because they’re highly durable. However, they are expensive and hard to repair.
- Extruded bases: They’re made from heating and melting of polyethylene material resulting in a less porous with a bit of wax base. They’re inexpensive and easy to maintain but not very durable or fast compared to sintered bases. They are perfect for beginners, freestylers, and casual and budget-conscious riders.
Fiberglass is added over the core for extra strength, rigidity, and torsional flex. Other materials that can be used are carbon or kevlar.
The edges of snowboards have to be hard to shave through the snow and give the rider more control of the board’s direction. Therefore, snowboards are made with steel, titanium, or aluminum edges.
The top sheet is a layer applied to protect the internal structure and offer additional support to your feet while riding. The top sheet can be made from various materials, including ABS plastic or fiberglass, carbon fiber, nylon, wood, composites, or kevlar (used for high-end boards).
Snowboards come in four basic shapes:
- Directional: Directional boards have a design that can only be ridden forward and have a pointed nose that is typically longer than the tail. These directional boards are often stiffer in the tail to provide extra power for carving and turning. Perfect for free riders.
- Twin: A twin shape has a symmetrical nose and tail, meaning that you can easily ride both forward and switch (backward). The twin shape is ideal for freestyle riding as your board will perform the same whether you’re riding regularly or switch.
- Directional Twin: The directional twin bridges the gap between directional and twin shapes by combining elements from both styles. It has a shorter nose than the tail but has the same width on the contact points. Its design is for riding in one direction but still has a twin flex pattern for stability when riding a switch.
- Asymmetrical: This is a variation of the twin shape and is famous for those who ride switch regularly. It has different side cuts on each side of the board to enhance turning performance, specifically when riding the switch.
Snowboard profiles are one of the most fundamental aspects of snowboarding as they affect how you perform on the slopes. Below are the different profiles you should know about.
A flat board is just as it sounds; flat along the length of the board. Flat profiles offer a smooth ride at moderate speed, but they will not be as flexible as other profiles. Riders who prefer a looser feel may opt for either rocker or camber profiles.
A camber profile has an arched shape from end to end with contact points along the middle of the board. This profile helps maximize power transfer and pop, essential for freestyle and trick riding. In addition, this profile offers superior edge hold and agility at high speeds on groomed slopes.
This profile type is curved upwards from nose to tail. So you get a curved shape similar to a banana. This is different from the standard snowboard and is ideal for powder or riding rails.
It’s the best mix of both rocker and camber shapes. It’s great for freestyle riding.
A combination of a flat and rocker for easy curving and good float in soft snow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Snowboards
Here are the two most asked questions about snowboards:
What size should your snowboard be?
Getting the proper snowboard length depends on your height, weight, stance, and experience level. Though old-fashioned, a general rule of thumb is choosing a snowboard that reaches somewhere between your nose and chin. You can also use size charts or calculators to get the correct size.
What flex should I use?
It highly depends on your riding style and preference. You can choose from:
- Soft flex: For beginners and freestylers
- Medium flex: For carving down the mountain and throwing some few tricks
- Stiff: Ideal for aggressive and pro riders