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Jones Hovercraft 2019-2020 Snowboard Review

  • Sizes: 148, 152, 156, 160, 164
  • Flex: 7
  • Profile: Directional Rocker
  • Shape: Directional
  • Price: £490 / €550
  • BUY DIRECT FROM JONES

Is the Jones Hovercraft the most recognisable snowboard in the world, these days? Possibly. That’s as much a testament to its unique shape and iconic, stripped-back-to-the-core aesthetic as it is to its cult popularity, spotted in lift queues and along ridgelines all over the world.

To the untrained eye, it looks like a snowboard built purely for slashes through the powder fields of Hokkaido. That’s not to say it doesn’t absolutely deliver in these conditions – the original shape and concept owe much of its legacy to the handcrafted Japanese masters over at Gentemstick. But what sets the Hovercraft apart from so many boards of this ilk, is its performance back on the pistes.

“What sets the hovercraft apart from so many boards of this ilk, is its performance back on the pistes”

The 3D 4.0 Base Contours mimic the underside of a spoon, bevelling out the sides of the base in the nose and tail. There’s also an additional speed channel, shaped into the centre of the tail. All this combines to not only create incredible float – where the back of the board leaves a trail of white smoke after every turn while the nose bounds along the surface – but also a really smooth and predictable transition between the turns, whether on or off the pistes.

Both the directional shape and camrock profile mean you can ride the board completely centred in your stance without so much as an inch of backfoot lean through the whiteroom, but the Hovercraft also keeps a few tricks up its sleeve for when you get it back on the piste.

The Traction Tech disrupts the sidecut on both edges to create a mellow “serration” down the metal. Even when the snow Gods don’t deliver, the Hovercraft does. High speed, high angle carving on groomers is this board’s home from home. There’s a newly, updated, eco-friendly veneer on the top sheet to keep the vibrations suppressed when you get up to speed.

While the bi-ax fibreglass and sintered 7000 base don’t make the Hovercraft the snappiest or fastest in the line, there’s still ample speed and response for just about every kind of turn you can think of. After all, that’s what this one was made for.

Tester’s Verdict

Al NasmythFreedom Snowboarding

“I’d say more like battle ship than Hovercraft. I didn’t get to ride this in blower bottomless powder; it was a thin layer of soft stuff on some crusty chopped up crud underneath but the Hovercraft smashed through it and gave me as smooth a ride as you could hope for.

It did alright on the piste too, riding a bit like boardercross board. After riding a size up, I’d be really careful to get a size that matches your weight or strength. I’m pretty light and was riding a 156, which I wouldn’t think twice about with any other board but this beast was hard to flex. It would get on its edge and then just follow its sidecut around with me as a passenger. Remember you don’t need length with a setback and nose like this. This is also a wide deck, if you’re like me and have Pixie feet be aware how wide the size you choose is as the one I was on took an age to get edge to edge.

“I didn’t get to ride this in blower bottomless powder; it was a thin layer of soft stuff on some crusty chopped up crud underneath but the Hovercraft smashed through it”

That said, in the right conditions, for riders who favour long flowing carves on the piste and kicking up blower snow in the trees, the Hovercraft totally makes sense. Even in less than ideal conditions, I got a pretty good idea of what it’s capable of”

Tester’s Verdict 2018/19

Sam McMahonwhitelines.com

“You’d have to have spent the last four years being very bad at your job testing snowboards to have never stepped on a Hovercraft until now, but somehow it’s eluded me. Such is its draw that our test team is never short of someone who’s ridden the latest, plus our dear leader actually owns one, so inevitably it’s fallen by the wayside for me.

Which is weird, because it’s so much like the kind of boards I like (and has probably inspired a few of them): set-back camber, nose rocker, stiff, rides shorter than a trad pow board, with emphasis on float and turning. This year, that ends. With fresh powder in the forecast, I elbowed my way to the front of the queue at the Whitelines Selection and secured one for the next day.

“It is a very good powder board. I can see why it does indeed have the ‘cult following’ Jones claims”

After a day of riding the trees I can confidently report that yeah, it’s good. It works. It floats really well with minimal leg burn and face shots ahoy, and it even holds an edge on piste, all as advertised. No complaints. It is a very good powder board. I can see why it’s so popular, why it does indeed have the ‘cult following’ Jones claims. I think the trick it pulls is that it makes riding powder incredibly easy, which I must stress is no bad thing.

The only thing is, it’s not 2010 anymore – there are a tonne of boards out there that have taken inspiration from this leap forward in design and pushed it further, even in the very same catalogue! The Storm Chaser and Mind Expander have taken the surfy feeling from the Hovercraft and done something monumental and exciting with it, taking risks with more rocker and tighter sidecuts. In comparison, the Hovercraft seems like a safe choice. Again, nothing wrong with that.

Safe bets pay off, and you’ll no doubt have a good time on this board just like I did. I just can’t help but feel that the best thing Hovercraft did was to do things differently, to pave the way for an explosion in creative board design. There are now lots of boards that float in pow and rip on piste, and whilst they may be riskier bets than this, when they pay off the winnings are massive.”

Tester’s Verdict 2018/19

Jon Birdldmountaincentre.com

“The Hovercraft certainly has that ‘big-mountain powder’ look to it. Riding it in the deep stuff it felt smooth with float and stability, as well as reasonably nimble in trees.

“The Jones Hovercraft may be a powder board, but it works well on varied terrain”

On the groomed terrain the Hovercraft had great grip, and felt at home cruising the trails. The mellow Magne-traction really works too, especially when things get dicey and that extra contact is needed.

The Jones Hovercraft may be a powder board, but it works well on varied terrain, making it ideal for the rider looking to progress towards their big-mountain dreams.”

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