Different Types of Snowboards

Do you enjoy cruising on meticulously groomed runs? Or weightlessly skimming on deep powder? Or, perhaps, you like showing off your latest tricks when you hit the park?

Then you must know your snowboard. Chance are, you also know that there is a snowboard for every snow sport activity.

Gone are the days when snowboarding pioneers would use awkward wooden planks to enjoy the snow. Snowboarding history buffs will recall the snurfer, a precursor to modern-day snowboards. A snurfer was just a fancy word for an invention that was basically two skis bolted together. The snuffer was so revolutionary during its heyday that it earned inventor, Sherman Poppen, the honorary title of the father of snowboards.

A snowboard may seem like just a plank of wood with cool artwork and the occasional commercial branding. The truth is there are different types of snowboards engineered to cater to various riding environments and rider profiles.

Having the right snowboard can mean a great and unforgettable experience in the snow. In the following article, we‘ll focus on the six common types of snowboards to help you make the right choice based on your preference. 

All-Mountain Snowboards

The All-mountain snowboard is a generalized snowboard that performs well on any type of terrain. Regardless of the terrain, how hard or how tightly packed the snow is, It is a great practical snowboard for exploring the mountain. It is also the most popular and is often the preferred board for beginners learning the ropes and who are testing different kinds of terrain. 

The all-mountain snowboard allows snow lovers to ride groomed runs, backcountry, even parks, and pipe. It is great for powder riding, carving pistes, catching air, and handles bumps and lumps very well. Therefore, having this board eliminates the need to have multiple boards for different kinds of riding, and is especially great for someone who does not have the money to spend on the different kinds of boards available for each riding scenario.

Distinctive Features of All-Mountain Snowboards

To offer great versatility, the all-mountain snowboards are fairly soft and maneuverable for beginners. They are also stiff enough to offer a great time on the slopes during fast turns in hard snow.

This snowboard type typically has a medium flex that allows riders to hold an edge in harder snow as well as float well in powder and still be versatile enough to enjoy park riding. You’ll find both stiff and softer variants, but it generally boils down to the rider’s preference.

The all-mountain snowboard is designed to be ridden in both directions, but performs best with your preferred foot pointed downhill. The bidirectional riding is enabled by the fact that the tip of the board is narrower and flatter, and also offers more balance at the tail providing ample stability.

Usually, the boards come with the following profiles:

Freestyle or Park Snowboards

Freestyle boards are a pro snowboarder's choice and have a particular design geared toward performing tricks. As the name suggests, they are best suited in snowboarding parks where you can try out cool tricks, confident that your board will not bend in the wrong direction. Freestyle boards enable experienced riders to do jumps, park tricks, and hit jibs.

Freestyle boards are the types of boards that riders use during competition games that feature half-pipes and where riders perform flips and turns as they whoosh down the mountain. They are also popular with fun-loving riders who prefer snowboards with great maneuverability, especially when they are tackling the slides, jumps and making quick turns.

Freestyle snowboards are not restricted to parks. They can also handle groomed slopes, even though they make for a bouncy riding experience. If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to test your limits, you can take them out for a lively ride anywhere on the mountain. However, you will still need to leverage some aggression as the snowboards don’t offer much stability.

Distinctive Features of Freestyle or Park Snowboards

Often freestyle snowboards are made from poplar wood due to the material’s durability and flex. Freestyle snowboard design varies from brand to brand and different riders prefer designs featuring various aspects. For example, riders who enjoy jibs go for softer and flexing varieties while for more extreme riding, a stiffer flex is preferred. 

Freestyle boards usually have the following specs:

Some freestyle snowboards have directional twin tips, making them have a symmetrical shape and a centered stance. This makes riding in either direction possible. Some variants also have stiffer tips that allow the performing of tricks easily.

Freestyle boards are also lighter which increases control when riding park. While this is great for maneuverability and performing tricks, it is a disadvantage on other slopes as it reduces stability and fast riding on harder snow.

Another defining feature of freestyle snowboards is an even flex pattern with no flat or rocker profiles on the tip and the tail. They often have a classic camber with a good rise between the feet, allowing the rider to ride normally and with the switch. This increase between the feet makes maximum energy transfer possible allowing for making props, making quick and precise turns, and holding on to the rails.

Alpine Snowboards

This snowboard is narrower than the all-mountain and freestyle boards. While they could be better for performing tricks, they are excellent for schussing downhill and carving the hillside. 

The snowboards are also more stable meaning you are less likely to get a wipeout if you shift the wrong way. Their long, narrow build allows snowboarders to achieve higher speeds and make cleaner carve turns. The builds are also meant to deliver stability at speed and quick edge turns.

While these boards offer a higher level of performance, they are more difficult for beginners and are therefore reserved for pro athletes. Advanced riders prefer them on powder days which have fresh untouched powder.

Distinctive Features of Alpine Snowboards

Freeride Snowboards

If you’re looking for a stiff and yet aggressive directional board where you can schuss downslope at incredible speeds, then the Freeride Snowboard is your best choice. With this type of snowboard, you can explore the backcountry and carve the hillside with incredible stability. However, for optimal use, it needs plenty of powder hence great snow conditions.

Freeride boards are for riders who enjoy hitting the slopes all the time. They are quite wide (minimum of 160 centimeters) which helps them float better on the powder. The de facto snowboarding rule of thumb is that the wider the board, the better it will float on the snow. Their shape also helps them be more maneuverable in unpredictable terrain.

This board also costs more because of the technology used when making it. Some of the features include powerful cores and sintered bases. These bases make use of hard-pressed wood pellets which makes them very strong. Harder bases make these snowboards move faster in the snow.

Freeride boards are not that great at riding parks or freestyle riding. However daring riders can be able to do freestyle riding in the backcountry when there’s plenty of powder.

Distinctive Features of Freeride Snowboards

Freeride boards are directional meaning that they are designed to go one way. They also have aggressive features which make them able to go fast and enable riders to explore untreated snow conditions. Freeride snowboards also have a stiffer flex and a tapered shape which allows them to be especially great in unpredictable terrain.

The boards’ bases are from wood pellets that are crushed together under intense pressure to give them immense strength. Manufacturers also make use of other strong materials like Kevlar and carbon fiber which also affects the cost and durability of the board.

Typical specs of Freeride boards include:

These boards are great for experienced riders who enjoy exploring off-piste and unexplored terrain with fresh powder, as they can easily handle any kind of trail. However, they are often expensive and are usually oversized which makes them rather inconvenient or cumbersome to haul around.

Powder Snowboards

Depending on your snowboarding destination, you’re likely to encounter different riding conditions. And if you like riding deep powder this is the perfect snowboard for enjoying those epic powder days.

As the name suggests, powder snowboards are great for riding powder. Their design (from the shape of the nose, the board’s flex, the tail, and the position of the binding inserts) is meant for riders who like to tackle deep snow.

The snowboard’s tapered directional shape provides great traction and enables the rider to have more control over their riding. The shape of the tail and the nose allows the snowboarder to float and ride better on deep snow.

The powder snowboards are made of lighter materials, which enables them to remain buoyant, so as to skirt easily on the snow. Their distinctive top sheet is also light but sturdy, which helps further reduce the weight of the snowboard.

In recent years, a collaboration between snowboard and surfboard manufacturers has sought to enable the former to create new designs. These new-generation designs are meant to allow snowboarders to tackle the obstacles and challenges of unchartered terrain with deep powder.

Distinctive Features of Powder Snowboards

Powder snowboards have a wider nose and a long tail. The tail-end binding is also closer to the edge which improves stability by preventing the snowboarder from falling over. Their rocker camber profile also allows them to float better on fresh powder. Powder snowboards also have a cutout at the tail which is great for tackling untouched powder.

As they are directional, powder snowboards are meant to be ridden nose forward. This allows manufacturers to design features aimed at maneuverability in deep snow. The bindings also screw closer to the tail. Since the nose is bigger and shorter, it allows you to ride the deep snow and have more mobility, and stability. The short tail design also enables the rider to kick out the tail faster.

The other typical features common to all Powder Snowboards include:

Splitboard Snowboard

This is a unique snowboard capable of splitting in the middle, essentially transforming into a pair of skis that you can use to climb untracked slopes. It is the perfect board to explore the backcountry as it affords the rider much-needed versatility. 

The board is perfect for riders who want to explore the backcountry and engage in some level of hiking. For climbing uphill, you will need to obtain lightweight ones to enable you to ascend faster. 

A splitboard snowboard is handy and allows the rider to push snowboarding boundaries. In as much as the board splits up into skis, it rides like any other board and the riding experience is just as good.

Due to their peculiar features, Splitboard snowboards range on the expensive end. In addition, their use requires additional skills. For example, it is best to know the most ideal posture with which to climb up the mountain and how to manage your weight to avoid losing balance and hurting yourself. Due to that learning curve, it is not the best board for a beginner.

Distinctive Features of Splitboard Snowboards

Splitboards can be attached or detached using a pair of two discs and about eight screws on the board. Each splitboard is unique to a specific rider’s preference and therefore it is necessary to check the bindings in order to make adjustments to suit your stance.

Splitboards are designed with an ample allowance at the heel that comes in handy when ascending the slopes.

Final Thoughts

As we have outlined above, the type of board you chose depends on where you intend to ride and your personal preference. Beginners are not spoilt for choice when it comes to snowboards and hence the all-mountain snowboards come in handy. However, the rest of the snowboards have a certain learning curve associated with them and may need specialized training.

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How to choose the right kind of winter wear for a comfortable time on the slopes