Intro - Best Snowboards 2014-2015
Intro - Best Snowboards 2014-2015
Buying a snowboard is usually a rider’s biggest investment, so it’s worth taking the time to ensure you’ve got the best snowboard for you. The most important question you need to ask yourself is “what am I going to do with this board?” It’s common sense really; the rider that mostly cruises the piste on a one-week holiday needs a different set of tools to the seasonnaire that hikes into the backcountry at the first sniff of powder. In the end, determining which snowboard is best suited comes down to three things: how stiff it is (Flex), what it looks like from the side (Profile), and from the top (Shape). Get these three right and chances are you’ll get on well with whatever you buy.
Each brand measures stiffness differently, so we’ve done our best to nail their verdict to a straightforward scale from 1 (softest) to 10 (stiffest). A soft board will be bendy, forgiving and easy to manoeuvre, but won’t be all that stable when you’re gunning it. Meanwhile a stiff one will usually feel as solid as a rock when ridden at breakneck speeds, but there won’t be much scope for jibbing around the mountain. There’s no exact science to it – Stale Sandbech loves a stiff board, while his fellow slopestyler Sage Kotsenburg has designed a softer option – but it works as a rule of thumb.
With the massive variety available these days, understanding the profile might seem like the most complicated part of choosing your stick. However, it’s not that complicated once you take a closer look. We’ve boiled it down to four basic categories and described each of their functions below. If you need more specific detail then brands tend to have the info on their websites, so head there for a comprehensive breakdown.
Classic camber – The old guard, as used in the vast majority of snowboards (and skis) until relatively recently. The board is bent lengthways in an upward arch, so the middle is off the ground and each edge makes contact with the snow at two points. Boards with this profile tend to go fast, carve hard and pop big. Those contact points will catch in the snow if you’re not careful though.
Rocker– These boards bend down rather than up; if you place one on a hard flat surface, you can literally ‘rock’ it from the nose to the tail. Also known as ‘reverse camber’, rocker makes it harder to catch an edge as there are fewer contact points, and less effort is required to stay above the powder. However, it’s weaker at carves and ollies.
Flat base – No prizes for guessing what this profile looks like. The entire edge of the board is in contact with the snow at all times, but you’re less likely to catch it in the snow as your weight is spread evenly. Flat bases are pretty good at doing it all, but there’s a trade-off in that they have less pop than camber and less float in pow than rocker.
Combo – Also known as ‘hybrid’, this can be one of many things. Classic camber with rockered tips, rocker with camber under the feet, flat with rocker sections… the list goes on. They’re all designed for different purposes, so be sure to read the brand’s explanation for any particular profile before you commit.
When you picture a snowboard, you’re probably thinking of the classic twin shape. Most snowboards still look like this, and can be divided into one of two categories: True Twin or Directional Twin. With the former, there’s no difference in the board’s performance when you switch up your stance and ride with the other foot forward. Part rats tend to go for this as it gives you the most options for freestyle. You can still ride a Directional Twin board switch but some or all of the details (flex, sidecut and setback to name a few) are geared towards riding in your preferred stance. It’s a popular choice of backcountry freestylers who like to charge in the pow but need to be able to ride away from that backside 180. Directional boards are just for pointing it, and are instantly recognisable by their large noses and stubby tails. Go for this if you’re all about flying down powder faces and throwing up rooster tails.
Scroll through the boards using the numbers or click on each name below to jump straight to the review of a particular board. NB. The boards are presented on these pages in alphabetical order – this ISN’T a countdown.
Amplid Pillow Talk
Bataleon Camel Toe
Bataleon Evil Twin
Burton Custom X
Burton Flight Attendant
Burton Talent Scout
Capita Totally Fk’n Awesome
Endeavor New Standard
Gnu Beast Split
Jones Mountain Twin
Jones Carbon Solution Split
K2 Ultra Split
Lib Tech Deflower
Lib Tech Travis Split
Never Summer Proto HD
Ride Alter Ego
Salomon Man’s Board
Slash Happy Place
Stepchild Latchkey Rocker
YES The Greats
YES Hel Yes