We live in blessed times, where whatever weird and wonderful snowboard shape you can think of is most likely already available to buy. And if not, all you need is a jigsaw and a blank canvas like the YES Clark.
Of course, the result is specialist sticks that, while bloody brilliant on their day, are pretty niche. If the powder hasn’t arrived but it’s bluebird over the freshly-groomed park, a swallowtail’s not much use. Besides, given that the vast majority of us only get one or two trips away every year, you'll need luck on your side if what you’ve got in your board bag requires just the right conditions.
"Here we salute the all-rounder, the quiver killer, the ‘one board to rule them all’"
If you can only justify buying one board, it's wise to find a stick that can do a bit of everything. Usually it’ll be something with a bit of directional flex or shape that can still be ridden switch, with a sintered base for high speeds. The profile may allow for a little extra float in powder, but it will be fairly conventional - which isn’t a bad thing.
Here we salute the all-rounder, the quiver killer, the ‘one board to rule them all’. If you need something that can sail high above the lip of the halfpipe one day and turn nimbly through pow stashes the next, then you’ll find it in this top ten. And not to sound all click-baity, but our #1 pick may surprise you…
All boards are in alphabetical order, other than the category winner which can be found at the end of the list.
All photographs by Sami Tuoriniemi
Production: Ed Blomfield / Mike Brindley / Andrew Duthie / Sami Tuoriniemi
Peter Bauer pours decades of experience into his Amplid boards.
The camber profile of the Paradigma is slightly set back, so it’s best for opening up on wide groomers and powder fields, but will ping off kickers too thanks to the carbon stringers and fairly stiff flex.
For intermediate snowboarders looking to improve every aspect of their riding, this’ll do nicely.
Bataleon Evil Twin
Proof positive that true twins can be built to handle anything, the Evil Twin is the one-board solution for thousands of riders worldwide.
It hasn’t changed much recently, but that means it still has great edge hold, the pop of classic camber and the Triple Base Tech base that planes well in powder and won’t hang up on rails and boxes.
Hands up who’s surprised to see the Custom on this list? Us neither; Burton’s perennial workhorse has long been a popular choice for those who like to take on a bit of everything, and this year’s version continues the legacy.
Happy 20th birthday to one of the most versatile boards around – even with all the latest variations, you can’t beat the original.
CAPiTA Black Snowboard Of Death
While that name suggests that it’s one for screaming down pistes at Doc-Brown-bothering speeds, the BSOD is light and friendly enough for all kinds of riding.
Yes, it’ll hold its line when you’re maching it, but take it off a side hit or pillow line and you won’t be disappointed.
It’s fun in the park too, especially on the higher-consequence stuff.
CAPiTA Defenders Of Awesome
Another CAPiTA, and this one’s a little more forgiving and fun.
It’s no noodle though, so while it’s a great one for rail lines and butters it also impressed a lot of riders when tested elsewhere on the mountain.
Focus on your freestyle with the DOA by all means, but if you do book a long trip – or even a season – you won’t find yourself itching for a different stick when the conditions change.
Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Horsepower
This isn’t one for any all-round rider, given that it’s more suited to aggressive riding than most.
However, there’s certainly no limit to where you can choose to get crazy, as it’s just as suited to the park as it is to the piste or powder.
And for Travis-esque backcountry freestyle, it’s absolutely tip-top.
Rome Gang Plank
Rome’s ‘Mountain’ collection contains a lot of good all-rounders, but the Gang Plank was our pick of the bunch.
A true twin with just enough rocker past the inserts for good powder float without loss of stability, it’s as at home pinging down a groomer as it is in the park.
Salomon Man's Board
Another high-end freestyle stick that’ll do nicely elsewhere, Bode Merrill’s whip of choice isn’t for beginners.
It is, however, an ideal board for confident riders who want to make the most of whatever the conditions offer; from pipe laps to natural gaps, this thing will fly, and it also feels great when taken for a mellow cruise.
YES Snowboards' ‘Camrock’ is often lauded as the best all-round profile configuaration, and you’ll find it on the Typo among other boards.
The camber holds an edge and pops well, while the rocker sections near the contact points make presses and butters easy.
The indentations in the edges improve carving too, so there’s really nothing you can’t have a crack at on this.
WINNER - Ride Helix
Strangely enough, our top all-mountain choice is technically a dedicated ‘park’ board.
It certainly impressed our testers on the freestyle features, not coming up short on kickers nor rails. However, all agreed that it offers much, much more. Its asymmetric shape was a hit on the piste, and it floats very well in the powder when the time comes.
Plus with this you aren’t limited to just bombing the steep and deep; make good use of the twin shape and freestyle flex, and the Ride Helix will expand your backcountry trick bag in no time.