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Best Freeride Snowboards For 2021-2022 | Our Pick Of The Top Snowboards For The Steep And Deep This Winter

From surfy powder turns to backcountry couloirs, here are the best freeride snowboards to head off-piste with this season

Freeriding. The clue’s in the name. Rather than being confined by artificial boundaries, man-made features, a prescribed set of rules, or even a specific environment, snowboarding’s freeride fraternity prefer to venture into more unchartered territories on the mountain. From bottomless conditions in Hokkaido’s legendary powder fields to the high alpine, death-defying faces of Chamonix, there are as many world class freeride destinations as there are best freeride snowboards to choose from.

With such a broad spectrum of terrain comes an equally diverse range of tools for the job. We could have broken this list into freeriding’s ever-increasing splinter factions: big-mountain, carving, backcountry-freestyle, powder, and even those that claim to do a little bit of it all. But where’s the fun in that? Much better to line them all up, Usual Suspects style, and collectively appreciate their weird and wonderful designs.

“There are as many freeride destinations as there are snowboards to choose from in this category”

It shouldn’t take a particularly discerning eye to pick some of key differences between some models. Other features may be harder to spot. With that in mind, here are the key considerations to keep in mind when choosing your next freeride snowboard.

The kind of turns we dream about. Henry Jackson opeing up a classic Tignes couloir (Photo: Jordan Tiernan)

What To Look For When Buying A Freeride Snowboard

Surface Area
It doesn’t take a BSc in Physics to understand that surface area is a key component to how well a snowboard floats, but it certainly takes an open mind to consider some of the more eccentric freeride shapes appearing on the market these days. Whether you’re looking at a more traditional 160+cm freeride snowboard, the increasingly popular volume shifted snowboards or anything in between, the rule remains the same: the bigger the surface area, the better the float.

Shape and Outline
Convention dictates that a snowboard must be directional in its outline to perform away from the pistes. While we don’t disagree that a setback stance, tapered shape, stiffer flex in the rear and countless variations of directional nose and tail designs all play their part, the necessity for a directional outline simply doesn’t hold true these days. Freeriding has increasingly seen freestyle and switch riding move into the backcountry and snowboard shapes are adapting to meet the demand. These days, for every Bataleon Surfer on the market there’s also a Weston Hatchet Pow Slayer.

Profile
Take your time on this decision. Are you only ever going to ride this snowboard in bottomless powder? Or do you want/need something that can carve up groomers, or navigate down an icy couloir when you beat the morning sun to the drop-in, too? In most cases, some form of rockered section will feature in the nose of a freeride snowboard. After that, however, there’s an abundance of flat, cambered or hybrid profiles to suit every rider’s needs.

Construction
Freeride snowboards tend to come in at a higher price point than your run-of-the-mill park or all-mountain deck. That’s understandable, though. The last thing you need on a trip to the backcountry is a slow running base or construction that can’t withstand the forces of high-speed descents or the odd rock poking through the surface.

Expect to see high quality sintered bases, powerful cores with a blend of different wood species, performance-enhancing additives, like carbon, Kevlar and basalt, and even brands’ latest innovations in state of the art innovations on show in this snowboard category.

“Whichever freeride deck you opt for this season, never venture off-piste without the correct avalanche safety equipment and plenty of practice using it”

Above all, whichever freeride deck you opt for this season, never venture off-piste without the correct avalanche safety equipment and plenty of practice using it, as well as some experienced company or a mountain guide.

Best Freeride Snowboards 2021-2022

Burton Hometown Hero Snowboard 2021-2022

Whitelines Choice Winner: Best Unisex Freeride Snowboard
PRICE: £560 / €600 / $630

Here’s a thought (and please bear with us): how likely is it that Elvis Presley would have changed music and popular culture forever had he come up playing to working men’s clubs in a small town on the outskirts of Glasgow? Likewise, would John “Wizard of Wishaw” Higgins have won four snooker world championships had he spent his formative years perfecting his cueing in a Mississippi trailer park?

Our point is, the nature of a local legend has a lot to do with where you’re at – and this board is no different. It was designed with the tightly-packed trees and grisly terrain typical of the B’s home state of Vermont. If that sounds not unlike your own patch, your saviour has arrived.

Who Is The Burton Hometown Hero For?

While it doesn’t have the eye-catching silhouette of some of the other entries on the Family Tree, er, family tree, file this under ‘freeride’ all the same. The Burton Hometown Hero is a juggernaut, capable of blasting through crud without any of the bone-shaking repercussions.

MORE INFO:
BURTON.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Burton Hometown here

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Amplid Souly Grail Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: €770 / $770

Amplid have carved out a stellar reputation for their fleet of snowboards dedicated to perfecting the art of the turn. Their Centrifugal Collection showcases some of the most performance-driven, technologically advanced boards that induce a near God-like feeling of power and control on the edge. Winter 21/22 sees a new model added to the lineup: the Souly Grail…Tighten your boots, zip up your vents, and say your Hail Marys. Your snowboarding prayers are about to be answered.

Who Is The Amplid Souly Grail For?

It’s certainly geared towards more experienced riders who want the best performance on offer. That said, you needn’t take a holier-than-thou attitude to precision carving to get along with the Souly Grail. Compared with the likes of the Pentaquark, this one’s pretty manageable at slower speeds, in tighter spots, and when you’re taking the home run in cruise control.

MORE INFO:
AMPLID.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Amplid Souly Grail here

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Bataleon Party Wave Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £380 / €450 / $450

Surf-inspired boards are everywhere these days, though they’re normally aimed at grizzly freeriders with cash to burn on a quiver stick. The Party Wave bucks that trend. It’s a fun, competitively-priced deck that takes the volume-shift concept and applies it to all-mountain freestyle shralping. Hover over powder fields, wheelie through the slush, mow down bumps or chuck it off your favourite side hit. It’s party time!

Who Is The Bataleon Party Wave For?

Shredders who like to get creative but who are more inspired by natural terrain than the park will find much to love about this board. It’s got that signature catch-free feel of Triple Base, paired with a ton of surface area and a stubby silhouette that invites you to thread tree lines or just throw spins off moguls and piste markers. If you’re done with rails but not yet ready to grow a beard and buy a (black) splitboard, this could be the shape to make you see the mountain with fresh eyes. A mid-life crisis of the best possible kind.

MORE INFO: BATALEON.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Bataleon Party Wave here

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Burton Skeleton Key Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: €580

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What’s in a name? Well, when on the hunt for your new ride, a model’s moniker can often tell you a lot about what to expect from it. Case in point: the Burton Skeleton Key; a veritable access-all-areas pass in snowboard form. [NB: this is no hard-and-fast rule. Whitelines accepts no responsibility if you buy a Jones Hovercraft and aren’t able to buzz around like Marty McFly in Back to The Future Pt. II].

Who Is The Burton Skeleton Key For?

Riders that tend to gravitate towards directional or true twin shapes, but don’t actually spend a great deal of time in the park or riding switch, are missing a trick – and this could be the shape to which you should shift. The Burton Skeleton Key will stay afloat in the deep, but it scores high on groomers too.

MORE INFO:
BURTON.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Burton Skeleton Key here

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Gnu Banked Country Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £470 / €530

The Christy-Cummins clan are an institution within the Mervin family, and in snowboarding itself, mum and dad are two of the most prolific riders of the last three decades, so it only makes sense that their son Cannon is an absolute ripper too. For 2021/22 we’re seeing some much-anticipated teamwork from the father-son duo to bring to you the brand-new Gnu Banked Country.

Who Is The Gnu Banked Country For?

Experienced riders who are looking for something really next level for charging in-bounds but is also more than capable of giving as good as it gets when the conditions are prime. Rad dads with 20 seasons under their belt find mutual ground with their up-and-coming rippers (who are already better than them) in this all-mountain freeride steamroller.

MORE INFO:
GNU.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Gnu Banked Country here

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Jones Aviator 2.0 2021-2022

PRICE: £499 / €550 / $550

CAMBER! We take it for granted these days, but it’s still just about the best invention since an unheralded caveman’s overzealous demonstration of Where Babies Come From caused the sticks he was using as props to set alight, thus changing the course of human history forever. As examples of the unadulterated classic bend go, it’s hard to look past the thoroughbred that is the Jones Aviator. Even more so now that it’s been given a stunning upgrade – more on which later – that manages to retain what we loved about the original – including, of course, the camber profile.

Who Is The Jones Aviator 2.0 For?

Only those with a decent riding pedigree need apply; this is not to be trifled with. But if you’re up to the challenge, and keen to turn your weapon of choice to the whole mountain – including the park – then the Jones Aviator 2.0 fits the bill, and then some.

MORE INFO:
JONES.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Jones Aviator 2.0 here

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Jones Stratos Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £539 / €580 / $580

It undoubtedly looks like a powder-chaser, but on closer inspection it’s clear that the Stratos can turn its hand to just about any terrain or riding style. And while we stress that a board’s aesthetics should always be considered a bonus rather than a reason to buy it… Just. Look. At. It.

Who Is The Jones Stratos For?

The ever-expanding Jones line has something for everyone (provided you actually want to ride the actual mountain and not just the handrails in the car park), so it’s worth making sure you’ve matched up with the right one. That said, the Stratos has true all-mountain appeal; we’d invite just about every intermediate to advanced rider to consider this one.

MORE INFO:
JONES.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Jones Stratos here

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Jones Stratos Women’s Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £540 / €580 / $580

No prizes for seeing this one coming; the all-conquering Jones Stratos is now available for female riders too. They didn’t waste any time, either, with the original board only entering its second season.

Who Is The Women’s Jones Stratos For?

Its daily driver credentials have been given the thumbs up from pipe-slayer-turned-pow-chaser Elena Hight, but we reckon that any confident rider will find something to like about the Jones Stratos – especially those that lean towards carving and freeriding, but who still want to keep their options open.

MORE INFO:
JONES.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Jones Women’s Stratos here

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K2 Special Effects 2021-2022

PRICE: £520 / €580 / $600

Welcoming to the stage for their first ever appearance, K2 brings you the Special Effects snowboard. Built for boarders to want to adventure into the unknown and untouched snow, this board lets glide over snow, bounce down pillows and makes predictable turn imitations.

Who Is The K2 Special Effects For?

If you’re bored of just going up the chairlift to just come down the piste alongside everyone else, then it’s time to move on and experience freeride boarding with the Special Effects board. Suitable for intermediate to expert boarders who are ready to up their game on the mountain, equipped with a Carbon Glass it’s responsive and less forgiving so you need to know what you’re doing.

MORE INFO:
K2.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 K2 Special Effects here

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K2 Wildheart Women’s Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £420 / €470 / $530

Go wild! Go wild! Go wild in the backcountry, where snows on the grass and you’re absolutely free. The Wildheart is going to be your true love if you want a powder board that’s versatile enough to handle tree lines and groomers.

Who Is The K2 Wildheart For?

The Wildheart board is for intermediate female boarders who don’t want to be held back by their equipment. This board is packed with features that heighten response for precision riding on challenging terrain and weaving between the trees. The Wildheart isn’t for the fainthearted, be brave and push yourself on the mountain. This board will give you confidence on the groomers and powder so ride harder and faster than ever before.

MORE INFO:
K2.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 K2 Wildheart here

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Korua Dart Plus Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: €699

It seems like KORUA Shapes can do no wrong. Release a series of bespoke shapes with a fresh, clean and minimal aesthetic known as the Classic Line? We’re here for it. Take some of those shapes (and add a couple of new ones) into a stealthy black, supercharged series called the Plus Line? Offt, alright, now we’re talking. Add one more line of conceptual shapes which bear as much resemblance to the outlines of rocket ships, ammunition and fruit and vegetables? Take my money and point me to the nearest chairlift.

Who Is The Korua Dart Plus For?

The Classic version of the Dart already has mass appeal. The flex is right down the middle – soft enough to be manageable for many riders; stiff enough for confident carvers to really work it through an arc. The Plus version really is a step up in performance and speed, with a pretty hefty reduction in weight. As such, it’s going to suit more advanced riders with a sufficient budget to splurge on a new toy. But if you’ve been in pursuit of the elusive “perfect carve” for a few seasons, this might be just the harpoon to hunt down the white whale.

MORE INFO:
KORUASHAPESS.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Korua Dart Plus here

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Lib Tech Apex Orca Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £890 / €1,000

When we first heard about Lib Tech’s new Apex Orca, we immediately thought of Dr Ian Malcolm’s famous quote, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” But in this case? Yes, yes they should. Well played Lib Tech, this one is truly something special. The Apex Orca is a look at how far we can push engineering and tech-wizardry in snowboarding and as such it don’t come cheap, but then again, this isn’t a snowboard for everybody.

Who Is The Lib Tech Apex Orca For?

You appreciate the finer things in life, be it a succulent Japanese Kobe steak or outerwear that’s actually waterproof, and you’re not afraid to part with a wad of cash to ensure you get the very best. Amateurs need not apply, with its ultra-light carbon construction this is a snowboard that packs a serious punch, but if you’re an experienced rider who knows how to attack the mountain, then you’ll get along swimmingly.

MORE INFO:
LIBTECH.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Lib Tech Apex Orca here

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Nidecker Instinct Alpha Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £395 / €400 / $430

If you’re looking for efficient design solutions then the natural world is a good place to start. As David Attenborough is fond of telling us, a few million years of evolution has seen animals adapt their forms to the environment. Nidecker drew on this concept to create their new ‘Instinct’ series, featuring silhouettes and three-dimensional elements that mimic the shapes that work so well for birds and marine life.

Who Is The Nidecker Instinct Alpha For?

While the Alpha can certainly handle the occasional lap through the park, this is really a board for riders who see the whole mountain as their playground. It’s got crazy flow that encourages you to draw lines down the hardpack, seek out pow stashes and get creative over natural hits. Think Mathieu Crepel busting a floaty front 3 off a windlip. Oof, filthy!

MORE INFO:
NIDECKER.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Nidecker Instinct Alpha here

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Nidecker Thruster Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £430 / $500

It never ceases to amaze us that Nidecker have been in business since 1887. OK, back then they were focused on farming equipment rather than snow-sliding machines, but that’s a lot of experience in the manufacturing game. Their snowboards rightly have a reputation for aggressive piste performance – as befits their Swiss roots – and with the Slice ‘n’ Dice video series of the last 5 years they’ve successfully tapped into the carving renaissance. Now they’ve poured all their edge-to-edge know-how into an aggressive new shape that’s capable of slaying hardpack and powder alike. Introducing the Thruster.

Who Is The Nidecker Thruster For?

If you have to ask, it’s probably not for you. We’re talking about unchecked aggression here, dude. A directional shape, stiff core, positive camber and lightning-fast base make this an all-mountain weapon of the most formidable kind. Experienced riders with a taste for low turns and eye-watering speeds will dig it. Beginners? Less so.

MORE INFO:
NIDECKER.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Nidecker Thruster here

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Nidecker Venus Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £350 / €350 / $370

Snowboard design has evolved a lot over the past few seasons. Directional shapes are no longer the preserve of dedicated powder boards – in fact many all-mountain models are losing that classic twin-tip look as riders realise the benefit of a silhouette that’s slightly biased towards your regular stance. The Venus is one such example. A staple of Nidecker’s women’s line for many years, it’s been radically upgraded for 2021/22 with blunter lines and a slightly shorter tail. The result? Better turns, more float and increased stability when you’re blasting around the hill, while retaining all the freestyle performance you need to take it to the park.

Who Is The Nidecker Venus For?

Riders of every level who want one board to do it all – piste, park, pow – will have their prayers answered by the Venus. Its mid flex is right in the sweet spot between friendly and responsive, and that new shape lets you make the most of the mountain’s natural terrain, especially if you’re lucky enough to score some fresh snow.

MORE INFO:
NIDECKER.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Nidecker Venus here

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Rome Freaker Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £410 / €460 / $460

If you’re familiar with Rome’s output of late, you might recognise the specs on this as also belonging to last year’s Speed Freak model. Given that it’s definitely more of an all-mountain design than an out-and-out charger, the new name makes a lot more sense. So it’s not technically ‘new’, but instead can be seen as a fresh start for a board that perhaps, didn’t get a fair shake under its old moniker. As far as we’re concerned, justice has been served, and the nerds just looking to max out the top speed on their phone’s tracker app can look elsewhere.

Who Is The Rome Freaker For?

Let’s face it; most of us want a board that can deliver every day. The Rome Freaker is exactly that, a true taskmaster that is as happy in the air as it is in a carve. Rene Rinnekangas swears by this one – and if you come across anything on the mountain that he can’t do, be sure to let us know.

MORE INFO:
ROME.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Rome Freaker here

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Rome Muse Women’s Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £400 / €450 / $450

This fresh model from Rome is essentially a bit like a speedboat. It’s fast, agile, exciting, bags of fun, and guaranteed to make onlookers green with envy. In fact, one could argue that it’s even better; with the Rome Muse, you won’t feel like a prime, Insta-influencer-grade bellend when you’re on one.

Who Is The Rome Muse For?

Rome’s female-specific options are pretty great across the board, but the Rome Muse is the brand’s only real all-rounder. If you’re looking for one board to see you right regardless of what Mother Nature has cooked up the night before, this is a fantastic choice. More specifically, those who lean towards freestyle rather than freeride will get the best results.

MORE INFO:
ROME.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Rome Muse here

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Salomon Bellevue Women’s Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £430 / €479

Picture the day; it’s a midweek morning, you’re off work and you’ve woken up to reports of 40+inches of fresh powder overnight onto a reliable base layer. School holidays are nowhere in sight so those big, open faces are free from holiday makers and all yours. In your mind’s eye are you going slowly down the nursery slope? No, you’re chucking the biggest, longest turns spraying snow as far as humanly possible on the steepest deepest faces at full speed. You’re probably going to want a board that makes that feel easy too aren’t you? And it would be a bonus if it looked good doing it right? Enter the Salomon Bellevue.

Who Is The Salomon Bellevue For?

Probably not the best option for an absolute beginner due to its stiff flex, setback style and backseat camber profile. But for any intermediate or above rider that’s looking to enjoy some carves and slashy powder turns then this is a great choice.

MORE INFO:
SALOMON.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Salomon Bellevue here

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Salomon HPS Louif Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: €649

Wolle Nyvelt’s Hillside Project Series has been one of our favourite collections since it first dropped a few years ago. There aren’t many out there who know more about shaping than he does, so he’s worked with some of the Salomon team’s brightest stars to create some classic powder-hungry vehicles that knock gimmicky shapes into a cocked hat.

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Who Is The Salomon HPS Louif Paradis For?

Not ready to give up freestyle but looking towards a powder-filled future? With this stunner, you really can have it all. Granted, it’s far from a park board, let alone a rail slayer, but when you want to pull shapes on a powder-less day, it’ll do nicely.

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Salomon HPS Louif here

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Weston Hatchet Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: €649 / $649

Now in its sophomore year, Weston’s genre-defying backcountry freestyle machine is built for subverting paradigms and proving unequivocally that volume shifted decks are the future of progressive snowboarding. A powder board that isn’t reserved purely for the deepest days, Weston have ventured out and harpooned the great white whale of snowboard engineering. Unlike anything we’ve seen before, and riding like nothing else on the market, the Hatchet is in a league of its own.

Who Is The Weston Hatchet Pow Slayer For?

You like throwing backside spins as much as you like ripping backcountry, so why not do both? The Weston Hatchet is aimed squarely at snowboarders who refuse to pigeon-hole their riding style, who value finesse in the air as much as slashing in the deep.

MORE INFO:
WESTONBACKCOUNTRY.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Weston Hatchet here

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Weston Ridgeline Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: $600

The name might be new, but the Weston Ridgeline (née 10th Mountain) is a tried and tested favourite from the Colorado-based powder hounds. This thing will track like a ballistic missile; lock on to your target and hold onto your hat. Built for high precision riding and powerful charging, the Ridgeline’s construction puts the onus on instant response and stability at speed.

Find it. Point it. Send it.

Who Is The Weston Ridgeline For?

There isn’t a board in the Weston range that isn’t comfortable in the deep snow, but the Ridgeline reigns supreme as their ultra-aggressive, powerhouse freeride machine. Built for technical descents and guaranteed to perform when the stakes are high, this isn’t a board for novices. Where the Hatchet will excel in undulating powder fields or spinning off pillows, the Ridgeline is more suited toward threading gnarly couloirs and steep terrain.

MORE INFO:
WESTONBACKCOUNTRY.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 Weston Ridgeline here

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YES. 420 UnInc JPS Snowboard 2021-2022

PRICE: £469 / €500 / $500

It was back in 2013 when YES. Snowboards first turned heads with the 420. It was one of the first significantly volume shifted snowboards to really gain traction in the market, and has since been recognised as the bonafide OG of the short-n-wide revolution. Along with Romain de Marchi and DCP, JP Solberg has taken his favourite model from the line, and specced it out to meet his demands in the new, limited UnInc line for winter 2021/22.

Who Is The YES. 420 UnInc JPS For?

Here’s the thing: the 420’s reputation precedes itself as one of the best and most iconic powder snowboards out there. And while that remains the case in the UnInc version — and how — it’s surprisingly capable as a daily driver that can blast its way through chop, stick a landing in switch and (seriously, hear us out) even charge around the pistes. So, providing you’re confident riding a stiffer flex and chunky outline, you’ll be surprised just where you can take this one. Although we all know where it really belongs…

MORE INFO:
YESNOWBOARDS.COM

Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2021-2022 YES. 420 UnInc JPS here

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