We put this season's boards through their paces at Spring Break, the annual product test, party week and end-of-season gathering held at the Kaunertal glacier, Austria. Whether you’re a powder-seeking freerider or a freestyler who loves the park, check the category that best suits your preferences – there’ll be boards for all budgets and levels. Read on to find the board that’s right for you.
Freestyle and park
Fun and lively, these boards are designed to rule the jumps and jibs. They’re typically true twins for identical performance forwards or switch, and have the springiest, most responsive flexes. Many have loose and buttery rocker profiles with zero-camber sections for stability, plus mellower sidecuts for catch-free turns.
Whether it’s park or pipe, groomers or backcountry, these snowboards are designed to take the whole mountain in their stride. They feature versatile shapes and flexes aimed at excelling over the widest range of terrain, and many have hybrid camber profiles to blend high performance with ease of riding.
Powder and backcountry
These boards are built to handle the most difficult terrain. Many have positive camber profiles for solid edge hold and powerful carving, with deeper sidecuts for more agile turns. Their directional shapes and stiffer flexes offer sharper performance and an aggressive feel, making them more challenging to ride.
How we rate
We assess each board's ability in these 10 categories:
Best On Test boards are the ones riders love the most, while Best Value winners combine solid performance with an affordable price tag.
Snowboard jargon buster
Learn the lingo that will help you when buying the best snowboard for you this season.
Extruded bases are cheap and easy to repair. Sintered bases absorb wax well for a faster ride but need more maintenance. Some expensive bases incorporate graphite to increase glide.
If you look at a board side-on, it is curved between the contact points at tip and tail. The way it curves is known as its camber profile, and has a huge effect on how a board rides. There are three basic types – positive camber, rocker and zero/flat.
The part of the edge that bites into the snow as you start a turn, found around the widest part of the board at tip and tail.
A board’s backbone. It’s the material – usually laminated wooden strips – between base and topsheet.
Directional boards have a front and back, while twintips are the same whichever way you ride them. Most boards are directional twins – twintip in shape, directional in flex (stiffer in the tail). True twins have a centred sidecut and the same flex in tip and tail, ideal for the park.
A sloping edge to cut down on catching. All-mountain boards may have a one-degree bevel, dedicated park boards may have up to three degrees to make rail sliding easier.
This season's best snowboard boots
Advanced boards are stiffer and perform better at speed; those for learners have a softer flex. Jibbers often prefer the latter because they’re easier to handle at lower speeds.
A board’s core is wrapped in layers of fibreglass laminate. This gives a board its strength. More layers provide more pop and torsional stiffness.
Also called traditional camber, this is the original board design. It’s visible as the amount the middle of the board is raised off the ground when it’s lying flat, and boards with more tend to give better edge grip and pop.
This is the opposite of positive camber. Boards with full rocker are banana shaped, with tip and tail lifted off the snow to give float in powder and a looser feel, so there’s less likelihood of catching an edge. Most boards feature rocker and camber.
The edge of a board is curved, as if following the line of a circle. The shape of the curve is its sidecut, and this determines how a board turns. Beginners’ boards tend to have mellower sidecuts; advanced boards often blend multiple circles (progressive sidecut) for sharper turns.
This is where the maker suggests you stand on the board, relative to its centre point. For freestyle boards it’s centred; for all-mountain boards it’s set back.
Finishing the base with a pattern of tiny grooves allows water to travel under the board without creating suction, which slows you down.
Boards with lower swing weight are lighter at tip and tail for easier spins.
The flex across a board’s width. Entry level and jib boards are torsionally soft, making them easy to handle at low speed. Advanced boards are stiffer, allowing them to hold an edge better when riding at high speeds.
Riders with feet bigger than UK size 10 need extra width to stop their boots dragging in the snow. Wide boards are more stable but slower edge to edge.
Women-specific boards, and shorter versions of unisex boards, have softer flexes and narrower widths.
A board that is flat between its contact points, without rocker or camber. It gives a looser feel than positive camber but more pop and grip than rocker.
Thanks to Spring Break
We put all boards through their paces at Spring Break, the annual product test, party week and end-of-season gathering held at the Kaunertal glacier, Austria. Spring Break 2018, open to all, starts April 29, visit snowboardspringbreak.com for more info. To view images from the event search #snowboardspringbreak on Instagram.