It's funny how your sense of scale changes isn't it? I'm sure we've all found ourselves in the same position at a store or online: you're buying a new piece of kit and you think to yourself "well it's not quite within my budget, but it is half the price of that one over there". Next thing you know, the receipt's in your back pocket and you're out the door...
So, to help you feel more at ease with the stunt sledge you've got your eye on this winter, we've assembled a collections of some of the most over the top, tech-stuffed, whale-tusk-reinforced boards ever produced. Keep on readin' brother...
French company Boheme have been crafting hand-made skis and snowboards since 1998 and the Swallow is their top of the range freeride board. Built for advanced powder riding, this is a 'gun' at high speed and can still be thrown into the turns. Each individual board has a solid wood core and top sheet made from 15 precious woods, just so you know you're riding something unique...
Kessler - Alpine and Cross
If you've ever watched racing or boarder-cross, chances are the Kessler shape is already familiar to you. Their distinctive shape alone tells you these are no jib sticks, and in fact they've earned a name for themselves as the board for speedier competitive snowboard events.
In the 2006 Winter Olympics, almost half the racers rode Kessler boards and in the 2011 X Games Aspen, 5 out of 6 gold medals were won on them, not a bad success rate!
Pogo snowboards are the big names in German handcrafted premium-wood, and having been established in 1983, they've got the experience to make some of the best freeride sticks around. These two examples are just a very small selection from their range of boards, most of which start at around €1069!
Wingergun 205 €1169
The Wingergun does exactly what it says on the tin. It looks like a surfboard and it's meant to ride like a surf board. Don't get confused by those au naturel looks though, check out the tech they've packed inside - "Ingredients include lots of Carbon Kevlar, a dampening 3 layer rubber frame, poplar-ash wood core with ABS sidewalls, Titanal reinforcement, custom extra-strong fiberglass and a double sintered 1,2mm P-tex 4000 base.". Not to mention it's a whopping 205cm long... It sure looks like a sweet ride though.
Maverick Powdergun €1290
The Maverick is Pogo's top of the range powder stick. Believe it or not it's even longer than the Wingergun at 230cm and a very different shape but much of the same tech. The traditional swallowtail shape helps to initiate turns quickly and the rockered tip and tail keep that very long nose out of the white stuff. The walnut veneer with maple stringers give this a classic look and mother of pearl inlays add a touch of finesse for those who won't just ride any old noodle. Ron Burgundy would certainly approve.
If you're into custom builds, you can order your own prototypes from Pogo too, although they could run you up to €1700!
You pay a lot to get less these days and Burton's Mystery from 2013 used 'micro milled ingredients and carbon' to help cut down weight for their top of the line board. Even so, they've kept a lot of the tech a secret for this project, and we wonder whether their ambiguous descriptions of this board are part of it's appeal as well as it's styling - you can just imagine the fanboys: 'I don't know what it is but i want it!'. There's a low maintenance 'methlon base', 'mystery glass' in place of the fibreglass and a multizone EDG core which links into Burton's channel mount system.
If you're looking for fancy shapes and profiles you may well be disappointed as this has standard camber, true twin and only a slightly shaved nose and tail. Yep, most of the mystery is on the inside of this little number...
Endeavor's Archetype is about as much geek-tech stuffed into one board as we can handle. Built in Endeavor's state of the art Vancouver lab (from which the board takes it's name) this was an even more top secret project than the Burton Mystery. All the emphasis was poured into making this a super-light, super-floaty and super-responsive ride in powder and to be honest we'd love to give it a try.
Shaun Palmer's premium ride, the Platinum was all the rage for a short spell in the mid 2000's. Entirely fibreglass free, the Platinum used carbon laminates instead to make it super strong and lightweight. This was combined with racing tech from Kessler snowboards - a 'Klothoid' shape designed for added edge hold and handling. It all sounded like such a promising product...
Unfortunately according to many users it wasn't. We've chosen to ignore reviews by i love shaun white (...actual screen name) but there was still a lot of feedback on this that complained about cracking topsheets and design faults in the carbon. There have also been reviews that mention questionable customer service policies from Palmer, who dismissed damage from basic use. You can trade off tradition for modern technology all you like, but without durability we're not surprised this stick didn't survive - certainly not at this price.
This has to be the most ridiculous, and least thought out snowboard designs ever. Cheetah Ultra Sports' The Whip is full of the tech you never knew you didn't want until you saw it. Suspension, raised inserts, a go faster stripe carved through the core, seriously? This would just as well fit into 10 Horrible Snowboard Inventions...
One blog described it as 'the Lamborghini of snowboards' which we thought was pretty fitting. It's the perfect illustration of why you can't just hand over snowboard design to car manufacturers or scientists and trust that they'll build something amazing. They don't know which variables make a good board work, and you end up with something that looks like this.
If anyone's actually ridden one of these we'd really love to hear from you!
The internet is rife with rumours that the most expensive board of all time comes from illusive swallowtail creator Olivier Miura. His masterpiece Tekila (which never got past the prototype stage) is particularly difficult to even get an image of, but somehow projections have led to a quoted value of around €2000-2500. Some even speculate that it was never made at all, or that it was a publicity stunt by the company - as they were dissolved around 2005, we may never know....