Words by Tom Copsey
To guide you through the multitude of snowboards out there, we collected a heap of 14-15’s sickest sticks and arranged them alphabetically by brand. We’ve also summarized useful info like the riding they’re best suited to (All Mountain, Backcountry, Freestyle, Jib), their shape, base profile and stiffness. This stuff all affects how a board will work for you and your style of riding, so here’s a 101 to help you snag what’s right for you:
Camber – the classic profile – is predictable, responsive and lively but not as forgiving, pressable or floaty as more recent innovations. Reverse, less common today, feels surfy and fun, yet lacks pop, stability and response. Hybrid blends elements of reverse and regular camber (and occasionally zero camber) in various combinations and zones to give a happy medium, while Zero – a flat profile – gives a predictability and stability akin to camber but with a less-aggressive feel. Some brands take base profiles further – like Bataleon’s camber with a 3D Triple Base Technology (increasing forgivingness without sacrificing pop) or K2’s Lifted Baseline (adding pop to the zero camber feel) – which many riders swear by.
Adding carbon stringers, lightening-fast bases or lightweight topsheets comes at a price. But this doesn’t mean everyone should buy the most expensive board; it’s best to consider to your level and preferences. If you’re starting out it’s doubtful you’ll feel any benefits of top-end construction (often quite the opposite), but when you boss it more expensive materials can really make a difference.
If you want to hit the park or session street spots opt for a true twin shape/flex so you can ride regular or switch equally well. If you’ll ride forwards more often than not directional twins (twin shape, directional flex – still perfect for all mountain freestyle) and directional boards are suited best for you. A tapered shape – wider nose and narrow tail – gives you optimal float riding powder.
Stiff boards are best for charging fast and hard, as well as hitting big booters and pipes – though they won’t be as chilled to ride when you’re going slower. Softer flexes help with presses on jibs and are easier to turn, but won’t hold it together as well when you push it.
Construction, dimensions and intended use all play a part in the length that’s best for you, and makes a mockery of the lazy ‘up to your chin’ cliché. In short, check the recommended weight range on the product in-store or on the brand’s site, and aim to be somewhere around the middle.
Big feet; big… chance of toe drag which sucks and messes with your ride. A loose rule is if you have size US 10 feet and upwards you could run this risk depending on your binding angles. To avoid, check it in-store and if necessary go for a mid-wide (mw) or wide (w) board.