5 Types of Snowboards + Advantages and Disadvantages of Each

A snowboarder in a yellow and blue ski jacket and black pants standing on a yellow snowboard, jumping through a blue sky.

Source: Freepik

Snowboarding is one of the coolest sports in the world. See what we did there? But, truth be told, nothing pumps blood through your system like sliding down a frozen mountain on a wheel-less oversized skateboard.

The board may seem like just a plank of wood, but there are different types of snowboards which cater to individual riding style and environments. Knowing the right type and design is important in making downhill rides more enjoyable.

Parts of a Snowboard

Familiarizing yourself with the parts of a snowboard will provide you with an easier understanding of how to properly use it. Here are the most important parts you should remember.

Nose – This is the front side of your snowboard. This is where you are facing.

Tail – This is the back of your snowboard or where your weaker foot is placed.

Bindings – These are the parts where your boots are attached. These have disc base plates that allow you to change the angle of your boots.

Ankle Straps and Toe Caps – These secure your boot to the bindings.

Edge – These are the, well, edges. These help in keeping the snowboard from digging into the snow.

Shape – There are many types of shapes. These are the way the side of the board is cut. They allow faster curves and carving in the snow.

Profile – This is the way how a board lays on the snow. They are also referred to as cambers. There are a few major profile variations.

Traditional Camber

A drawing of a traditional camber-style profile of a snowboard.

Source: evo

A traditional camber or positive camber is the most common profile you can find. If you rent a park board, chances are it has a traditional camber on it. 

This has an upward curve in the center of the board and tapers down to the points where the board makes contact with the snow. Depending on where you are facing, these can either be the nose or the tail. 

This profile is great for making ollies and jumps. It is more stable and provides even responsiveness in turns. But it can also be aggressive down the slope. The level of aggressiveness of the board will depend on how pronounced the camber is. 

The tradeoff of positive camber is that a beginner may have difficulty stabilizing this, and it may be harder to press this on rails. 

Reverse Camber

This profile is the complete opposite of the positive camber. Instead of a raised center, it will be lower in the center. Because of the design, it will be easier to ride since the sides are raised so you can float over the snow better. This is also referred to as a continuous rocker profile.

These are usually recommended for amateurs who have a bit of experience and are learning how to make turns since the board is designed to initiate these movements. These are great in deep powder areas. Anyone using this camber type has little to no worry about catching their edge on the snow.

Flat Camber

As the name suggests, this has no rise whatsoever in the middle to the tips. These are the most comfortable profiles to have on a snowboard. They will simply glide without much resistance. A flat profile is one of the most versatile types around. The neutral design helps in quick turns and increases float over powder snow.

Types of Snowboards

All-Mountain Snowboard

All-mountain snowboards of different colors from 2018-2019 featured on Snow Magazine.

Source: Snow Magazine

These are generally the snowboards that they will hand you when you say you want to learn how to snowboard. It is designed to take on almost any kind of surface. It will go over powder surface, pistes, lump, and bumps without much qualm. You can even use this on park and pipe courses.

An all-mountain snowboard is not only made for beginners and can be someone’s workhorse, which can allow any snowboarder to just enjoy the moment. It is versatile and doesn’t need a lot of getting used to master.

The shape of an all-mountain snowboard has a narrower tail compared to its tip. This makes it well-balanced towards the tail. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it in the opposite direction. There are stiff and soft variants for this type, and the best choice is purely subjective and boils down to what you prefer.

As it is well balanced, it is something that’s more average on performance anywhere in the mountain.

Most of the time, these sport a positive camber to allow it to go over just about any kind of terrain. But some manufacturers utilize its shape and experiment by putting a hybrid camber on it so that it can be even more versatile and at the same time increase its performance.

Advantages

An all mountain board is pretty balanced. It is you don’t need a lot of experience to ride this. Any beginner can start with this and even improve their mastery of different terrains just by using this board alone.

Disadvantages

As it poses as a jack of all trades, it falls short of specializing. An all-mountain snowboard is capable of doing many things but it cannot do anything a specialized board can do. 

For example, it may have difficulty working in unexplored areas because it does not have the necessary characteristics to perform well in such environments. An all-mountain can take on a park but it will not have the same performance of a specialized freestyle board.

Freestyle Snowboard

A Roxy Ollie Pop freestyle snowboard for women from Private Sport Shop.

Source: Private Sport Shop

For an experienced rider, a freestyle snowboard is going to be their choice when going down a park. It has a particular design that’s geared toward performing tricks. These are the types that you will see on competition games where a freestyle rider will go down a halfpipe and do flips and turns as they descend the mountain.

The design of a freestyle board may vary from brand to brand. Some have directional twin tips. This is when the board has a symmetrical shape with the stance at the center. This makes it easier for snowboarders to ride in either direction. There are also variants that have stiffer tips which add to the ease of use whenever doing tricks.

The features of this snowboard allow for a more playful approach and ride. They are also lightweight and short, which helps increase control. Only take note that these are not designed for other terrain and courses because they may suffer a bit in terms of stability and going fast on harder snow.

Most of the time, they are made from poplar wood because of the durability and the flex it is able to provide. Some manufacturers stiffen the center of the snowboard to make it more playful in the park.

Generally, you want your freestyle snowboard to pop like nobody’s business to get massive air which is why the traditional camber takes the cake for these snowboards. But that is not the only ideal camber profile. Again, this is something that’s worth considering and learning more about. Understanding how each profile affects the board’s performance is critical to how you will enjoy and develop your skill.

Advantages

Anyone who is looking to play around the park will thoroughly enjoy this snowboard. It has plenty of play and pops well for big air and tricks.

Disadvantages

You can’t expect this to be ridden straight as an arrow. As you will need the skill to perform a trick, you will also need about the same skill in stabilizing this on a straight descent.

Freeride Snowboard

A Jones Flagship freeride snowboard from evo.

Source: evo

A freeride board is great for people who like to go all out every time. These have a directional snowboard design which means they only go one way. These aggressive features help make this board go fast and enable the rider to explore any untreated and hard snow conditions. 

These snowboards typically come with a wide surface area to allow them to float better. The minimum size is right around 160cm. The rule of thumb in snowboarding, the wider the board, the better it will float on the snow.

Freeriding snowboards have a tapered shape and have stiffer flex in the read to make them more proficient in unpredictable terrain. They take a directional outline in most cases. However, in recent times, freeriders have used traditional shapes for freeriding. 

If you want a freeride snowboard, you may have to be ready to spend extra cash because of the different technology they put into it. Manufacturers use sintered bases with powerful cores. Sintered bases are manufactured in a way that uses wood pellets and crush them together in really high pressure to make the board. This helps make the board go faster on the snow.

They achieve this by blending different types of wood and man-made materials like carbon fiber and Kevlar. 

Advantages

These are great for experienced snowboarders who want to go to new and unexplored terrain without worrying about what trails they will encounter. 

Disadvantages

Freeriding snowboards cost a lot. These are also particularly oversized, so carrying them around can mean extra elbow grease for the snowboarder.

Powder Snowboard

Powder snowboards from 2019 featured on Mountain Weekly.

Source: Mountain Weekly

One of the unique snowboard designs is powder snowboards. These are specially designed for riding powder snow. Their unmistakable tapered and directional shape provides great traction and control over new snow. The shape of the tail and the nose helps make this board and its rider float better on snow.

Most of the time, you will find these to have a wider nose and longer tail. The binding by the tail is also closer to the edge to keep the snowboarder from falling over. Most of the time, these have a rocker profile to allow them to float over fresh powder. It also utilizes a cutout at the tail for tackling deep snow.

In recent years, manufacturers have collaborated with surfboard shapers which allow them to create new designs that better manage the obstacles and challenges of untouched powder snow.

Advantages

These are almost unbeatable when it comes to floating. They also look cool with the cutouts and unique hybrid design that can help the rider really stand out.

Disadvantages

Powder snowboards are a kind of one-trick pony, especially if they are designed to be one-directional and have a cutout at the tail end. 

Splitboard Snowboard

Complete and split views of the Salomon Premiere splitboard snowboard featured on Whitelines.

Source: Whitelines

Speaking of unique designs, the splitboard is meant to provide snowboarders with versatility when they want to explore the backcountry. These split in half to make skis that can help climb untracked slopes. Anyone who likes to explore and go on adventures will enjoy these types of snowboards.

There are usually two discs and eight screws in a splitboard which you use to attach and detach it. You will also need to check and adjust the strap bindings to provide you with the proper stance. 

If you’ve used cross country skis, these will be familiar to you. These allow heel movement which helps in ascending slopes and hills.

You will need additional skills to transition to a splitboard. Some of these include knowing which routes are the best to ascend mountains, maintaining a good posture throughout the climb, and managing your weight transfer because imbalance may cause you to slip down the mountain. 

Advantages

These push the boundaries of where a snowboarder can go. Aside from providing new ways to discover the mountain, they also ride like regular snowboards. These are a lot of fun once you get to understand how to fully utilize them in any terrain and situation.

Disadvantages

There is a learning curve when it comes to using splitboards. Along with that is the regular maintenance and check before and after using it. You have to make sure that the bolts and discs are properly functioning so that you can prevent any untoward accident whenever you’re using it to ascend or descend the mountain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you want a stiff flex or softer flex on a snowboard?

Choosing a snowboard’s stiffness is subjective. But there are a couple of things to look out for before choosing either. Stiff boards can absorb more shock, making landings much more stable. Soft flex, on the other hand, has better flex which means you can do tricks easier, even at lower speeds. 

What size snowboard should I get, and how wide should the snowboard be?

There are size charts and calculators available online. If you’re buying snowboards online, be sure to ask the dealer for the ideal size according to your height. As far as the width of the snowboard is concerned, you have to see to it that your snowboard boot overhang by the edge by about one or two centimeters to provide you with a good allowance and better control over the snowboard.

How long do snowboards last?

As with any sports equipment, it varies depending on the usage and the maintenance. But most of the time, with regular use and proper maintenance, a snowboard will last you about eight to ten years on average.

Which snowboard is best for beginners?

An all mountain snowboard with a flat profile will be great for a beginner because of its versatility and ease of access and control.

What are the different snowboarding stances?

Unlike skateboarding and longboarding, where you can choose to adjust your feet anytime you need to, snowboards need to have the snowboard bindings adjusted before riding. There are two stances: regular and goofy. Regular stance is when you go forward to the left, and the opposite of that is goofy. You can also set the width of the bindings and even offset it depending on the terrain you’re tackling or the type of board you are using.

Conclusion

A woman in a blue ski jacket and pink pants standing on a black snowboard, skiing along a winter forest.

Source: Freepik

Snowboards are plenty of fun anywhere in the mountain. Using the correct type of board will allow you to enjoy the ride even more. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to learn new tricks, there are plenty of snowboard types to choose from that will make your runs that much more enjoyable.

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