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 Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £429
A playful little backcountry freestyler - the Amplid Pillow Talk is unsurprisingly designed for riding deep snow. Extra wide in the waist - with a rocker profile, and slightly directional twin shape - it won't limit you when riding switch, and comes in at a one-size-for-all 156 length that will hold up even for larger riders thanks to the large surface area.
APO Iconic Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £379
America's newfound snowboarding hero Sage Kotsenburg got the Apo Iconic made for him in his Olympic Gold winning year - and as you'd imagine, it's one of the best for tearing a park to shreds. True twin shape and traditional camber - it's slightly stripped down between the bindings to shed some weight, and features graphics designed by Sage's brother Blaze too!
APO Spray Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £399
Apo Snowboards know how to make a powder stick - and it shows in this year's Apo Spray. Setback stance, rocker profile, with a fat nose for float - it's a fairly traditional formula, but it works. Our testers found it wasn't as aggressive as other powder specific boards, and let you have a lot of fun along the way in the backcountry.
Bataleon Camel Toe Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £350
Amusing title aside - Bataleon's Camel Toe is a very reasonably priced option for people who want to add a powder stick to their quiver without remortgaging the house. Surfy feel from the powder specific TBT (Triple Base) profile that 'rolls' from edge to edge, and a cresent tail for plenty of lift - it's got to be on your list of considerations and is one of the top options available for backcountry fun.
Bataleon Evil Twin Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £370
Bataleon's Evil Twin is the flagship board in their range - and chances are if you're reading this you've already been recommended one. This year is the board's ten year anniversary, so the team have decided to celebrate with a graphical mash-up of the previous year's designs.
Bataleon Goliath + Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £400
Mid-flexing all-mountain tech has gone into Bataleon's long running Goliath (now titled the 'Goliath+'), which has had carbon and Kevlar added to its construction this season. A Freestyle Triple Base profile provides the forgiveness you'll expect if you're a Bataleon fan, while those new reinforcements add a performance boost for extra pop and response.
Burton Custom X Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £600
Super agressive construction for hard charging all over the mountain -the Burton Custom X is packing heat for riders who don't do anything in halves, and want the best snowboard to push things to the max! Carbon fleeced 'Squeezebox' profile keeps weight low on this straight camber board - which has pop and edge hold in spades.
Burton Flight Attendant Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £450
Designed with the help of Nicolas Müller - the Flight Attendant is a powder hound that's fully directional, freestyle ready, and eco friendly too! Surfy feel with an 'S-Rocker' profile - it combines the power of camber with the scoop of a rocker in the nose. Fast and powerful without forgetting that you're meant to be having fun out there!
Burton Nug Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £370
Burton's Nug is a super-compact board that's actually lived up to its initial hype. With a wider shape, you can ride this a lot shorter than your usual board - increasing manoeuvrability and fun, and even standing up in the powder too!
Burton Talent Scout Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £370
Burton's Talent Scout certainly seems to have job well so-far in life, with park rippers Enni Rukajarvi and Kimmy Fasani already on its roster. Fairly soft in flex with an asymmetrical shape - it's got tonnes of features for a board at this price point - and had rave reviews from our test-team too.
Capita NAS Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £380
Kazu Kokubo's ride of choice - the NAS has been rebranded as the 'Nippon Archetype Sword' under his care. It's a camber charger from Capita with a twin shape and extra features like carbon beams for super-pop. Mid/stiff - there's a lot of strength end to end on this but a looser feel through the waist for making quick turns.
Capita Totally Fk'n Awesome Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £450
An all-mountain shredder from Capita that sticks to it's name when it comes to freeride. Camber between the bindings and rockered at each end - it has a directional sidecut for charging extra hard, while the twin shape and centred stance allow you to turn it around and keep switch riding firmly on the table.
Capita Ultrafear Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £420
This lightweight park twin from Capita was one of the most popular boards with our test team this year. Lively and fun - it's buttery without being too soft and still speedy enough to hold it's own. It's two stage rocker profile is flat between the base and raises towards the contact points for a loose skatey feel.
DC PBJ Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £240
The Camber revamp of DC's PBJ is an absolute bargain of a board for first time buyers and park riders who want to thrash without a care in the world. The traditional camber makes for plenty of pop without the need for a load of tech - and DC have even bevelled the edges so you don't have to worry about rail hang-ups either!
Endeavor BOD Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £365
The Endeavor BOD (Board of Directors) is a true twin, all terrain ripper that would work great for anyone who's after a one-board quiver to carry them through the season. Diagonal carbon rods give it some extra pop - while urethane sidewalls help mellow out your ride - and the overall rocker profile with raised contact points makes for catch-free fun too.
Endeavor New Standard Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £299
A recent addition to Endeavor's line - the New Standard is an all-mountain board at a very reasonable price. It's a true twin, with '3d camber' profile that is flat between the feet with raised contact points for a catch free ride. It's wider than normal boards too, so you can ride it a bit shorter than usual and give yourself the edge for freestyle.
Gnu B-Nice Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £365
Gnu's ladies' freestyle sticks already have two Olympic golds under their belt this year - and for park based riders, the B-Nice is offering plenty. It's 'BTX' profile is rockered between the feet and a mellow camber at either end. Our testers found it great for building confidence, and more than a little versatile with its Magne-Traction edges for extra grip all over the mountain.
Gnu Beast Split Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £780
A split version of Temple Cummins Beast snowboard - this is directional twin with a mild rocker between the feet, and camber sections at either end. Despite the name - it won't bite your head off, and our testers found it easy to throw around. The split clips for this come from Karakoram - who are another big name in backcountry gear.
Jones Mountain Twin Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £420
All mountain freestyle is the order of the day with the Jones Mountain Twin. Mid/stiff with a 'Camrock' profile - it takes the best bits of camber, but adds rocker in the tip and tail for great float in powder. It has stability and great edge hold (from the mellow Magne-Traction edges) while retaining that element of fun that you want in a freestyle stick.
Jones Carbon Solution Split Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £1,000
Strictly for serious backcountry riders - the Jones Carbon Split is a featherweight build, super stiff directional board with a directional rocker that gives it excellent float in powder. You get out what you put in with this - but if you work for it, this'll have you ripping through powder fields, going faster than you ever dreamed.
K2 Fastplant Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £460
Back for this season with a new Bamboo core - the K2 Fastplant is a freestyle stick that's suitable for beginners but will also keep advanced riders happy. The 'Tweekend' extended ridable surface is great for presses and buttering, while a carbon/kevlar/glass rod between the bindings adds stability and pop!
K2 Ultra Split Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £999
Hailed as "the lightest splitboard on Earth" - K2's Ultra Split is a direction twin with a flat profile and a lot of versatility in terms of attachments. There's an option on this for a package that includes a bespoke binding and boot system, making the transition from touring to riding simple and quick.
K2 WWW Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £310
K2's World Wide Weapon has become a modern classic - with over a decade of testimonials now backing up it's credentials as one of the best picks for park. With a compact construction, you can ride this a little shorter for a low swing weight and great spins - and it's flat profile is ready for rails too.
Lib Tech Deflower Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £625
An obvious eye-catcher in the line-up of boards this year - the Lib Tech Deflower is on of Jamie Lynn's many designs that have been made to celebrate his 20th year as a pro. Powder orientated with a huge lady shaped nose - it's a bit of specialist, but we're told it carves a piste well too.
Lib Tech Travis Split Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £875
Split board of choice for globally famous snowboarder Travis Rice - the Lib Tech Travis Split is in the very exclusive club of splits with a true twin shape. It's been designed to ride as well as the non-split equivalent and carries all the same tech features too - freestyle ready and primed to cut big lines too.
Never Summer Proto HD Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £520
"The Swiss army knife of snowboarding". Never Summer's Proto HD might be pushing things in terms of pricing - but by all accounts, it stands up to the claim. Hybrid profile, true twin, p-tex sidewalls and a graphite infused base are just some of the features that make this work the way it does.
Nitro Blacklight Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £469
Dayglo meets Star Wars on the topsheet of the Nitro Blacklight Gullwing - an all-mountain charger with a directional flex and 'Gullwing Rocker' profile. It has extended wider areas under the feet for improved edge hold with rocker between the bindings and at the tip and tail for a forgiving feel - in tests, our editor described it as "a near perfect all rounder", one of the best snowboards for the whole mountain.
Nitro Mystique Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £299
All-mountain capabilities without the price-tag - the women's specific Nitro Mystique is a directional twin with enough strength and pop for progression in all conditions. Mid-flexing with camber under the feet and a rocker in the centre - it combines response with a forgiving feel and easy maintenance for riders looking to improve.
Ride Alter Ego Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £460
Q. What kind of snowboard has a latch, but isn't a split-board?
A. The Ride Alter Ego
Unhook the tail on this spoon-nosed powder stick and bam! you have yourself a semi-split whip, perfect for surfy turns. Lock it back up and there's your extra stability for big hits and the odd bit of piste commuting. Two options in one board for versatility on powder days.
Ride Buckwild Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £420
The Ride Buckwild is a kicker beating beast that may be familiar to you from the exploits of British triple-corker Billy Morgan. Pop-rods in the core for extra snap, urethane 'Slimewalls' to take the edge off - and a flat/rocker profile for hang-up free rail lines, this is park through and through - and one of the top choices in its category.
Ride Helix Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £440
Occupying the 'visually striking' category in terms of shape - Ride's Helix is an asymmetrical twin made for park riders who want great edge control and some versatility when they hit the rest of the mountain. Carbon in the core and urethane slimewalls for dampening - it's way more than just your basic park stick.
Rome Mod Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £470
Norwegian slopestyler Stale Sandbech trusts the Mod as his high-end freestyle stick for sending it large - and it's certainly been made with that in mind. Sticking to the tried and tested camber/true twin combo - this board has been made extra stiff with carbon 'Turborods' for mega pop and stability at speed!
Roxy T-Bird Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £385
The Roxy T-Bird is the mellower of two boards built for top Aussie lady Torah Bright. Mid/soft flexing true-twin - the speedy TNT base and strong sidewalls make it apt for all mountain riding and progression for intermediate riders.
Salomon Gypsy Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £320
This is the board that carried Jenny Jones through to Olympic Bronze this year. Salomon's Gypsy is a park ride with a speedy base - it's true twin with a 'Rock Out Camber' profile that's made to make your day enjoyable and let you progress without all the hassle. One of the bests snowboards for freestyle at a great price too!
Salomon Man's Board 2014-2015, Price £380
An all-rounder with a penchant for high speeds - the Salomon Man's Board is preferred by Bode Merrill and has a lot of power behind it. Directional twin with basalt stringers for strength and cork inlays for damping - which we'd imagine you'll need when you're pushing your limits all day long.
Salomon Sabotage Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £310
The board of choice for Britain's own Jamie Nicholls - the Salomon Sabotage is a park board with a bit of extra kick. Camber on each end gives it plenty of pop and a flat section between the feet makes for catch-free rails - with an 'Aspen Strong' core it's built to last too...
Slash ATV Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £440
An all-mountain powerhouse from the man Gigi Ruf - the Slash ATV (All Terrain Vehicle) does exactly what it says on the tin. Handy for cutting through crud and pushing hard turns, this directional twin features 'Reactive Flex' which allows the board to react to what you're doing. It's pretty heavy duty though - so maybe not one to pick if you're just starting out.
Slash Happy Place Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £350
Freestyle fun from Slash comes in the form of the aptly named Happy Place. Camrock profile with camber between the feet and early rise outside of the bindings - its a true twin soft-but-speedy board that's freestyle focussed but stands up really well once you take it out of its natural habitat.
Smokin' Vixen Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £440
Smokin' snowboards are a twenty year strong independent snowboard company based out of the Lake Tahoe - and the Vixen is a female specific board that has lasted the ages. Rockered in the middle with camber towards the ends - it's a true twin with mellow Magne-traction (serrated) edges, ideal for exploring the whole mountain.
Stepchild Latchkey Rocker Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £300
Stepchild specialise in park-rat produce - and their Latchkey Rocker board is no exception. True twin, rocker profile - but reinforced with kevlar stringers, so it's packing enough punch for piste charging too. Comes complete with Hooters inspired graphics and also available in traditional camber.
YES The Greats Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £455
YES have been making the Greats series boards for a few years now - each adorned with a different selection of icons - and this years' theme is snowboarding legends, presumably allowing you to channel the spirit of the pros that grace your graphics. Asymmetrical sidecut is the tech order of the day in this all-mountain freestyler - designed to compensate for the different pressure points on your heel and toeside turns.
YES Hel Yes Women's Snowboard 2014-2015, Price £425
If you're as stoked as us on Helen Schettini's backcountry snowboarding - YES's first female specific ride - the Hel Yes could well be the best snowboard choice for you. It's a mid/high flex, directional twin that's perfect for powder days - with plenty of pop for getting rad!