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Best Freeride Snowboards For 2020-2021 | 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”

Despite an abrupt end to the snowboard season, the Whitelines test team were out in the mountains, from Courmayeur to Colorado, and got a chance to demo a whole stash of this season’s freeride decks. We’ve listed our favourites below.

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 2020-2021


K2 Alchemist Snowboard 2020-2021

Whitelines Choice Winner: Best Men’s Freeride Snowboard
PRICE: $700

The Dictionary defines alchemy as: “A seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination”, and we can’t disagree with its usage here. The K2 Alchemist is a no holds barred, no expense spared piece of kit. Let’s face it, this isn’t just a snowboard, this is a goddam’ feat of engineering. Built for deep days in the backcountry, narrow chutes, and deadly spines, this is where precision meets power, wrapped in the most premium package in their line.

  • BUY ONLINE
  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 K2 Alchemist here

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    Gnu Barrett Women’s Snowboard 2020-2021

    Whitelines Choice Winner: Best Women’s Freeride Snowboard
    PRICE: £500 / €560 / $560

    A re-brand and re-build for the longest-running women’s pro-model snowboard, the Gnu Barrett (formerly B-Pro) beefs up the construction and gives it a more freeride focused shape for this winter. Not only does Barrett Christy have over 25 years of experience snowboarding as well as countless medals in everything from slopestyle to banked slaloms but she is also head of design for Gnu’s women’s snowboards. So, as you would imagine, the board that bears her name aims for the same high standards she did as a rider.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Gnu Barrett here

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    Bataleon Party Wave + Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Volume shifted powdery good times
    PRICE: £480 / $560

    It’s no secret that we love the Bataleon Party Wave snowboard. It claimed a spot in our 100 when it debuted back in 2018 thanks to its insanely fun shape and surprising versatility. But the new Party Wave + is a different beast altogether. Though it’s still all about those freewheelin’ good times with your riding crew, this one comes with the muscle to hustle and break ahead of the lineup when the waves are really pumping.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Bataleon Party Wave + here

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    Bataleon Surfer Snowboard (Unisex) 2020-2021

    Best for: The ultimate Triple Base freeride experience, now available in women’s sizes too
    PRICE: £690 / $800

    Anybody in the market for an ultra-fun powder gun has surely bookmarked the Bataleon Surfer on their internet browser countless times. But with three additional sizes and an upgraded core for the 2021 season, there’s never been so many reasons for so many riders to add this iconic snowboard to their quiver.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Bataleon Surfer here

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    Bataleon Thunder Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Agressive freeriders who still want the fun, forgiving feel of Bataleon’s 3BT profile
    PRICE: £490 / $580

    Confident riders on the hunt for a versatile, all-mountain snowboard with a heavy leaning towards freeriding can stop the search. At a glance, the Thunder looks positively normal. There’s no taper to speak of in its outline, nor is there any of the volume shifting or eye-catching nose and tail designs we’re familiar with seeing in some of Bataleon’s other directional models. Rest assured, though, this one can still float like the best of them.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Bataleon Thunder here

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    Burton Family Tree Straight Chuter Snowboard (Unisex) 2020-2021

    Best for: The biggest freeride days of the season, when you need a seriously reliable steed
    PRICE: £630 / $750

    Clapping eyes on the Straight Chuter you can immediately see where it yearns to be ridden – high stakes fall lines, narrow chutes, and steep couloirs. The fully directional shape with an elongated diamond nose is made to float with aplomb regardless of how deep a day it is. New to Burton’s Family Tree line for 2020/21, the Straight Chuter is a world-class freeride snowboard.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Burton Family Tree Straight Chuter here

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    CAPiTA The Black Snowboard of Death Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: A versatile all-mountain shape, with a profile and construction made for face-melting fast descents
    PRICE: £575 / $630

    It’s had a complete overhaul for its 20th anniversary, but two things remain unchanged – the name and the colour. The BSOD sits in CAPiTA’s Alpine Assault Force collection of snowboards. It’s designed with powder and pistes in mind, but riders should be confident in bringing elements of freestyle to these environments, too. It’s less about the style of riding than the intensity you bring to it.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 CAPiTA BSOD here

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    Jones Dream Catcher Women’s Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Riding every day of the season. Capitalise on powder days and cruise on bluebird days
    PRICE: £420, $480

    Whether it’s navigating narrow chutes, bonking pristine pillows or charging through chop and chunder, the Dream Catcher will be your willing partner in crime. Jones Snowboards are legendary freerider Jeremy Jones’ gift to the world, decades of experience and know-how are packed into all of their offerings. With the Dream Catcher you get all the same tech that’s packed into their most premium products, sitting in an easier going and more user friendly shell.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Jones Dream Catcher here

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    Jones Stratos Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Riding every day of the season and hunting out powder stashes weeks after the last snowfall
    PRICE: £500 / $580

    At first glance, the Stratos looks like it was built for bombing hills, tearing up corduroy and point and shoot missions, which of course it is, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a board that boasts a surprising amount of all-terrain versatility. Despite being one of the new kids on the block, the Jones Stratos has already nestled itself firmly in the upper echelons of the all-mountain freeride old boys club.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Jones Stratos here

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    KORUA Shapes Dart Snowboard (Unisex) 2020-2021

    Best for: Sinking the tail in pow and railing turns on the piste – a crazy fun pocket rocket
    PRICE: €449

    Even with the new size options to pick from, there’s still no choice with which way to point it. The Dart is about as directional as they come with a setback stance, tapered outline, progressive nose rocker and the most swallow like of tails. Who’s complaining though? That’s exactly what we love about it.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 KORUA Shapes Dart here

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    Lib Tech Jamie Lynn Short Wide Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Little board; BIG personality. The perfect pow slashing companion for deep days
    PRICE: £535 / €600 / $600

    Jamie and the bods at Lib Tech went back to the drawing board for 2020/21, and this year the Short Wide is… longer and narrower. Not by much though, it’s still the board you know and love, just with a few tweaks to bolster its versatility. This is your volume shifted powder ripper built for getting pitted 2000m above sea level.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Lib Tech Jamie Lynn Short Wide here

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    Nidecker Mellow Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Bringing bottom turns and cutbacks to icy cold waves
    PRICE: £420 / €450 / $470

    The Mellow has long been Nidecker’s weapon of choice when it comes to blurring the line between ripping on the mountain and tearing up a wave. Year in year out, everything has been geared up to take its rider back to a time when snowboarding was about little more than recreating the steezy smooth moves of surfing on the snow – a time that, thanks to their five-decade industry legacy, is still very much fresh in Nidecker’s minds. But all that stoked-out nostalgia hasn’t gotten in the way of them giving their precious powder fish a stonking great facelift for 2021.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Nidecker Mellow here

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    Rome Ravine Select Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Recreating the super versatile experience of the Ravine with a major increase in power
    PRICE: £540 / $630

    Hold onto your hats, fellas. This is the juiced-up, next-gen iteration of an all-mountain freeride powerhouse. As part of Rome’s completely overhauled product line, the Ravine Select enters the fray and flattens the competition to stand atop as the most powerful, responsive and downright deadliest snowboard in this season’s collection.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Rome Ravine Select here

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    Rome Stale Fish Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Bringing Stale-style creativity to the backcountry
    PRICE: £390 / $450

    When Stale Sandbech turns up for the 2021 season with three new signature snowboards and a set of bindings, you pay attention. When one of them is a volume shifted, powder hungry party wagon, you pay three hundred and ninety of your hard-earned British pounds in exchange for the best decision you’ll make this winter. The Stale Fish is a cruiser on pistes, a crusher in powder and a knockout winner in our Whitelines 100 shortlist. Keep your two-metre distance and form an orderly queue, boys. This one ain’t hanging around.

  • BUY ONLINE
  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Rome Stale Fish here

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    Weston Hatchet (Pow Slayer) Snowboard 2020-2021

    Best for: Volume-shifted backcountry freetyle
    PRICE: £649 / $649

    BUY DIRECT FROM SURFDOME

    Weston have been making waves in North America’s backcountry for quite some time now, but they’ve remained relatively unknown in Europe. No more, we say. This season’s new Pow Slayer Series is the Colorado crew’s foray into the weird and wonderful world of volume shifted powder. With the new series comprised of three solids and one splitboard, it’d be fair to say they’ve come out the gates swinging in 2021. The Hatchet is the flagship model.

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  • Selected for the Whitelines 100 – take a closer look at the 2020-2021 Weston Hatchet (Pow Slayer) here

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