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When you’re just stepping into the world of snowboarding, then you may be feeling a bit confused or even overwhelmed with the different types of snowboards out there. Which is right for you? How are you supposed to pick one if you don’t even know what your riding “style” is?
We can assure you that just about every newbie goes through this at some point, but there’s no need to worry! We’re here to fill you in on all the different types of boards so that by the time you’re done reading, there’ll be no doubt in your mind which is right for you.
There are three main board types out there: Freestyle, Freeride or All Mountain, and Alpine. Each one is made to specifically suit a certain kind of riding, with different techniques used during the process, materials, size, shape, and more.
When it comes to skateboarding, you use longboards for carving down hills and for longer rides, while short and springy boards are used to do tricks at skateparks or ride vert on half-pipes and quarter-pipes. This is essentially the same deal here with snowboards. Freestyle boards are made to be used with freestyle riding. That is, park riding with rails, gaps, ramps, staircases, spins, grabs, and so on.
These boards are shorter and offer more of a “pop” or springiness to them than other types of snowboards. They are solid for beginners to learn on, and at this level are more than good enough for carving turns or cruising at faster speeds. However, we don’t recommend them for more advanced alpine use as they’re simply not designed for it.
The vast majority feature either a twin tip or directional twin. The former features a centered stance, where the nose and tail are identical – same dimensions means that you can ride the board backward and forward. This means the sidecut and flex is also the same any way you ride. It’s also an awesome choice if you ride both regular and goofy throughout the day. Directional twins are very similar, though the tail will not be as flexible as the nose.
2. Carving/Alpine/Race Board
You’ll see these boards referred to as any of the above terms, depending on the person and area. These boards can be most easily compared to longboards, where they are long, narrow, and stiff as they’re designed to take you to very high speeds and offer a pristine carving experience. They’re pretty much the exact opposite of freestyle boards in feel, shape, and purpose.
These are not ideal for beginners.
Because if you’re just learning how to alpine snowboard, you’ll be better off starting with a freestyle board that will let you ride goofy or regular. For example, there will be times when you’re bombing down a hill and you try carving and end up with your opposite stance. A carving board will make this hard to do as they’re made to be ridden in only one direction.
Moreover, these boards offer a significantly higher level of performance. As they are so stiff, it will be more challenging for you to turn and control your board. That doesn’t mean you won’t get to a point where you can eventually ride race boards instead, but you’ll want to build up your skills to that point with a freestyle board.
When riding in powder, there’s nothing better than an alpine board, as they’re essentially designed for cutting through it like butter.
3. Freeride/All Mountain Board
The last of the 3 main types of boards is the freeride or all mountain snowboard. Lying somewhere in the middle of the other two designs, it’s no surprise that the freeride makes up about half of snowboard sales. As they offer the best of both worlds, you get to carve, pull off tricks at the terrain park, and even take on halfpipe runs!
However, we also recommend this board for slightly more experienced riders as they are made to be ridden solely in one direction. As the tail is narrower and flatter than the nose, you could ride it fakie but it all depends on the specific brand and model.
Regarding stiffness, it also lies in the middle of the two others. It’s just soft enough to work in parks and on half-pipes, but stiff enough that you can carve fast down runs. Ultimately, if you’re not serious about either park riding or alpine riding but rather like it all, then these are perfect. Groomed runs, the backcountry, park – you can do it all!
4. Split Boards
What’s that, a 4th type of snowboard? Well, these are completely different from the others and many don’t even include them as part of the others anyway. However, just to ensure you’re well-informed we’ll cover these too.
These split boards are made for backcountry boarding and are insanely innovative. They split in half to make two separate skis to be used for climbing hills, traversing long distances, and essentially cover untouched slopes. Once you’ve reached your destination where you want to start riding downhill, you simply reattach the two halves and you have your board! Just remember that with splits you’ll need climbing skins and a split kit which aren’t often sold with the board.
Now that you’re practically an expert in all types of snowboard packages, which one are you going to get for yourself? The beauty of snowboarding is that it’s just so versatile and expressive – there’s really something for everyone. We hope that our guide has helped you at least narrow down your choices. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll see you again soon! Have fun shredding!