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All Mountain Snowboards Buying Guide: Tips for Finding the Right Board

All-mountain snowboards are a type of snowboard that is versatile enough to be ridden anywhere at a ski resort while still performing well in most types of conditions. This snowboard type gets the name “all-mountain” because it is designed to be ridden all over the mountain.  

Your all-mountain snowboard is the one board in your collection that can do it all. It’s considered to be the Swiss army knife of the snowboard categories. In other words, it’s the board you grab when the conditions are uncertain, and you know it will still serve you well on the mountain.

Here is what to consider when buying your first all-mountain snowboard:

  1. Board Shapes
  2. Board Skill Levels
  3. Profiles
  4. Bases & How Often You Want to Wax
  5. Board Length
  6. Board Width
  7. Flex Ratings
  8. The Terrain Where You Ride
  9. The Benefits & Drawbacks of an All-Mountain Board

The following section is designed to help you understand all of the considerations for selecting the right all-mountain snowboard based on how, and where, you like to ride.

Know the Shapes of All-Mountain Snowboards and Your Riding Style

First, you need to decide the shape of an all mountain snowboard you want.

To help us learn the right shape for you, first ask yourself, “Are you more drawn to freestyle aspects of snowboarding, like hitting jumps and rails, or would you rather just cruise around and make surfy-looking turns as you carve at your local resort?”

  • If the freestyle aspects sounds fun, then select an all-mountain twin (otherwise called an all-mountain freestyle board). As you search for your all-mountain board, you will want to be looking for boards in the “All Mountain Twin” or an “All-Mountain Freestyle” snowboard categories.
  • On the other hand, if you would rather just cruise around and enjoy a board for carving at your local resort, search for boards in the “All Mountain Directional” or an “All Mountain Freeride” snowboard categories.

The All Mountain Twin Snowboard Shape

An “all-mountain twin” snowboard means that the board’s nose and tail are exactly symmetrical. This type of all-mountain snowboard is intended to ride as well switch stance as it does regular. This type of snowboard can have either a centered or a slightly setback-mounted stance. A centered stance configuration will be better for doing tricks. In contrast, a slight setback stance configuration will help the snowboard float in powder by keeping your weight on the snowboard further back towards the tail, allowing your nose to be pointed upwards and out of the deep snow.

The primary benefit of an all-mountain twin snowboard is that the snowboard will ride the same in either stance.

An all-mountain twin board is built to be a little softer and more durable than the typical all-mountain snowboard, as they are tuned for doing tricks in the terrain park.

All-mountain twin snowboards will have all of the same symmetrical features of a standard all-mountain twin snowboard, along with reinforced sidewalls and a soft to medium flex rating. The reinforced sidewall construction helps prevent the snowboard from getting damaged if you accidentally hit the side of your board off a rail in the park, and the softer flex rating allows the board to be pressable on park features, all while still carving well outside the park as a standard all-mountain snowboard.

Most all-mountain twin snowboards are also considered to be good for freestyle riding and will fall in the “all-mountain freestyle” or “all-mountain park” snowboard categories, too.

The All Mountain Directional Snowboard Shape

An all-mountain directional snowboard is a type of snowboard that can be used anywhere at the resort while having specs that help it to float well in powder.

All-mountain directional snowboards are identified by having a nose that is different (longer and or wider) than its tail. The word “directional” in its name implies that this type of snowboard is intended to be ridden in one direction, or in other words, in the same stance with the same foot forward the entire time you ride this type of snowboard.

All-mountain directional snowboards feature a slightly setback stance. A setback stance means that the mounting holes for your bindings are positioned closer to the tail than the nose of the board. Having your weight centered more towards the back of the board helps the nose naturally rise and stay afloat in deeper snow. This feature allows you to effortlessly float on top of powder instead of sinking in.

Buying the Right Board for Your Skill Level

Next, you’ll need to look at the ability or skill level the all-mountain board is rated for.

Snowboard manufacturers made the process of selecting the right snowboard a little easier by segmenting each board into one of three skill level categories. These skill level categories are beginner, intermediate, and advanced. These three categories will help you determine if a board will be right for you as you review their specs. 

Here is how to tell which skill or ability level snowboard you should buy. 

Beginner Skill Level Snowboards

If this will be the snowboard you learn to ride on, then search for an all-mountain board in the beginner category level. Beginner all-mountain boards are often softer flexing boards with a profile that is tuned to make it easier for you to learn to ride your snowboard. These boards are meant to be more forgiving for new riders. By having a more forgiving, less catchy board, the rider will spend more time learning to ride and less time catching their edges on the snow, which can send them flying into the ground. It is worth noting that beginner-level snowboards are often a little slower, so once you have the basics down, you will want to advance to a more intermediate-level board. 

What makes a beginner snowboard special?

  • Flexible: Easier to bend and turn, making them more playful and maneuverable at slower speeds.
  • Forgiving: Less likely to catch an edge and send you tumbling, providing more confidence as you learn.
  • Easy to ride and learn on: Simpler shapes and profiles make them more intuitive to control for new riders.
  • Less Catchy / Beveled edges: Rounded edges reduce the chance of catching on uneven terrain, preventing unexpected falls.

Intermediate Skill Level Snowboards

Once you’ve mastered the basics of snowboarding and can carve most green and blue-level slopes without any issues, you are now considered an intermediate-level rider and should buy an intermediate-skill-level snowboard. Intermediate-level snowboards are meant to be ridden a little faster, so they offer more response and power than a beginner-level board. It’s worth noting that an intermediate-level board will be the right option for 90% of all snowboarders. However, some advanced riders might still need a little more power and response out of their board so they can move on to the advanced skill level.

What makes an intermediate snowboard special?

  • These boards are versatile. This type of board will be perfect for most snowboarders. They have technology built into them to help them perform well in most conditions.
  • These boards have a medium stiffness level. They are a little stiffer and more stable than a beginner-level board. Their stiffness can make them a little more challenging to get used to if you are coming from a beginner-level board. However, once you are used to riding it, they offer more response and power to ride all over the mountain. 
  • They perform well at slow and medium speeds. These boards are intended to be ridden at slow and medium speeds. At higher speeds, most intermediate-level boards will chatter or vibrate. Chatter will make the board more challenging to control and can tire your legs out quickly. 

Expert / Advanced Skill Level Snowboards

If the rider has progressed to the point of being able to complete any slope regardless of their skill rating, the rider is then considered to be an advanced-level rider and should consider getting an advanced or expert-level snowboard. Advanced snowboards are the most responsive and aggressive type of all-mountain snowboard. Think of an expert-level board as a high-performance machine built for expert riders who love charging hard and carving deep. This type of snowboard is very stable at high speeds and less easily maneuverable while cruising slowly. 

This category of snowboard is often the most expensive as it includes the latest board technology in its construction, including features like carbon fiber, faster bases, and technology to help the board hold an edge at high speed. Due to their aggressive nature, export-level boards are the most challenging to learn on, so it is recommended that you don’t buy an expert-level board until you are a proficient rider, as you won’t get to appreciate all of its features.

What makes an advanced snowboard special?

  • These boards are stiff, both from side to side and when twisting. Imagine pressing down on a thick block of wood – that’s the kind of control you get at high speeds and on rough terrain.
  • Excellent Edge Hold: Think razor-sharp, biting into the snow for precise turns. Forget wobbly edges or slipping – these boards hold their line like a champ.
  • They are fast: The faster you go, the better they feel. Picture carving huge, powerful trenches on groomers or blasting through powder like a superhero.

So, what’s the catch?

Advanced-level boards are not meant for every rider. At slower speeds, the stiffness of an advanced-level board can make it feel sluggish and less forgiving to ride. However, if you’re an experienced rider who craves with precision and control at higher speeds, this will be your category of choice.

Understanding Which Camber Profiles to Buy

When your snowboard is flat on the ground, its profile, or “camber profile,” is the way the board curves from tip to tail. This curved shape affects how the board rides and interacts with the snow. Depending on your profile type, you can buy a board that will feel responsive and precise or a board that will feel surfy and playful.

Here is a brief explanation of the four main types of snowboard profiles:

Camber Profile

A snowboard with a camber profile has a lowercase “n” shaped arc between the bindings. Camber is the most traditional snowboard profile. Whenever the arc of the camber profile is bent, it always wants to snap back into its original shape quickly. The result of that reaction offers the snowboard an additional level of pop, superior edge hold, and a lively feel as the board rolls from edge to edge between turns. Most intermediate to advanced-level riders prefer a camber snowboard profile.

  • “n” shaped arc between bindings.
  •  Offers pop, superior edge hold, and a lively feel.
  •  Preferred by intermediate to advanced riders.

Pros: Strong edge hold, pop, and power.

Cons: Less forgiving and can be challenging to learn.

Rocker Profile (also known as Reverse Camber)

A snowboard with a rocker, or reverse camber, the profile has a lowercase “u” shaped arc between the bindings. Reverse camber is the second most popular board profile and tends to be a beginner-friendly type of snowboard profile. The reverse camber profile feels looser, or more forgiving, on the snow because the contact points of the snowboard are pointing upward and off of the snow. With a rocker profile, riders who are just beginning won’t accidentally get their edge caught in the snow as they are learning the fundamentals. Additionally, reverse camber snowboard profiles can make certain tricks like butters or nose presses very simple because the snowboard’s nose and tail are already curved upward.

  • “U” shaped arc between bindings.
  •  It’s beginner-friendly and feels looser on snow.
  •  It is ideal for learning certain tricks.

Pros: More forgiving, easier to learn to carve with.

Cons: Weaker edge hold with less pop and power.

Flat Snowboard Profile

A snowboard with a flat camber profile has no curvature between the bindings. This snowboard is completely flat when it is riding on snow. The primary benefit of a flat snowboard is that there is more surface area in contact with the snow, so this type of snowboard offers additional stability for beginner riders. The downside is that an experienced rider will find this type of camber profile feels slow to ride.

  • There is no curvature between bindings, completely flat.
  •  It offers stability for beginners but feels slow for experienced riders.

Pros: Easy to learn on and park-friendly.

Cons: Not the most stable at high speeds – it isn’t intended for aggressive hard carves.

Hybrid Camber Profiles

A Hybrid Camber profile is a newer type of profile that combines one of the above three, flat, camber, or reverse, in one profile. The advantage is often to help the board float or get a board with some power and pop that is still easy to learn on.

Pros: Combines the benefits of both camber and rocker profiles.

Cons: It’s not for everyone. Hybrid profiles can take some getting used to.

Which Camber Profile Should a Beginner Buy?

The main summary for understanding camber profiles is that a beginner will feel most comfortable on a rocker or reverse camber. This is the easiest profile to learn on. Over time, we recommend graduating up to a traditional camber profile.

Consider How Often You Want to Wax Your Base

When looking for an all-mountain snowboard, it’s important to understand how much you realistically want to wax your base. In order to keep your snowboard gliding over the snow quickly, you’ll need to wax it. However, not all base types require the same level of maintenance. Consider these options:

  • Sintered Base (wax every 3 to 4 days): If you’re willing to wax your board regularly for consistent speed, this is the type of base you should get. Sintered bases maintain their speed exceptionally well when they are waxed frequently. Sintered bases should be waxed every three to four times they are ridden.
  • Extruded Base (wax every 5 to 6 days): For a low-maintenance approach, choose an extruded base. It may not be as fast as sintered. However, it’s quicker when it’s unwaxed than an unwaxed sintered base. One additional perk to this base type is that it is easy to repair. Occasionally, trails will have sharp rocks that stick up and gouge your base. An extruded base can be easily fixed by using a Ptex candle to fill in the gouges you might get.

Extruded bases should be waxed every five to six times they are ridden.

  • Sintruded Base / Hybrid Base (wax every 4 to 5 days): If you want the best of both worlds, go with a hybrid sintruded base. These combine both material types. These offer the speed and durability of sintered bases without the need to wax them as often. Additionally, they allow you to repair gouges easily with Ptex.

Sintruded bases should be waxed every four to five times they are ridden.

Consider the Board’s Length and Your Weight

When it comes to all-mountain board sizing, it’s crucial to get a board that is the right sized length for your weight range.

Here is why:

If you are too light, the board won’t flex properly, making turns sluggish and difficult. On the other hand, if you are too heavy, the board becomes over-flexible and more challenging to control. 

Finding the right board for your weight is the key. Because every board is a little different in how it is constructed, snowboards have a suggested weight range listed on a sticker on the board’s base or product page on the manufacturer’s website. This weight range will help you learn which size of any specific board will be right for you.  

We also have a board size calculator, which you can use as a starting point to get a general sense of which size board to buy. Remember to consult the board’s weight recommendations for the definitive answer, though. 

Consider the Board’s Width and Your Boot Size

It’s also important to pay attention to the board’s “waist width” metric to get a sense of whether the board will be too wide or too narrow for you. The board’s waist width metric is the width of the board from its narrowest point. The narrowest point is typically the center point that will be between your feet as you stand on the board. 

It’s important to get the correct sized width board for your boot size because:

  • If your snowboard is too wide, it will feel slow to turn and maneuver your board.
  • If your snowboard is too narrow, your toes will hang off and disrupt the carving performance of your board. If your boot hangs over the edge of your board too far, it will disrupt the carving performance of your board as your toes dig into the snow. 

Here’s a guide to helping you find the right waist width for your all-mountain board. It’s based on your shoe size:

  • US Men’s Shoe Size Under 7.5: Look for a board with a waist width of 24.0 to 24.5 centimeters or 240 to 245 millimeters. These are considered narrow all-mountain boards.
  •  US Men’s Shoe Size 8 through 9.5: Aim for a waist width of 24.5 to 25.5 centimeters or 245 to 255 millimeters. These are considered the standard width of all mountain boards.
  •  US Men’s Shoe Size 10 through 11: Look for a waist width of 25.6 to 26.5 centimeters or 256 to 265 millimeters. These are considered mid-wide all-mountain boards.
  •  US Men’s Shoe Size 11.5 and up: Choose a board with a waist width above 26.6 centimeters or 266 millimeters. These are considered wide all-mountain boards.

Consider the Board’s Flex Rating and Your Riding Style

The snowboard’s flex rating, a scale from 0 (the softest) to 10 (the stiffest), determines how flexible the board will feel while riding it. The goal is to try to pair the right flex rating with your riding style like this: 

  • Softer boards (flex rating of 0 to 4): Very flexible boards are ideal for freestyle tricks like jibbing (hitting rails) and buttering (flat-ground tricks). Softer boards feel playful and forgiving to ride, but they are less stable at high speeds.
  • Stiffer boards (flex rating of 7 to 10): More rigid boards offer excellent stability for carving and more response for aggressive riding at higher speeds. The downside of having a more rigid board is that it is less forgiving or pressable for tricks.
  • The sweet spot (flex rating of 5 to 6): Boards with a medium flex rating offer the best of both worlds. These boards are stable and responsive enough for carving while still being flexible enough for most tricks. A medium flexing board is often the right choice for most riders. If you’re unsure which flex rating to buy, go with a medium flex, as it’s the most versatile option. 

Consider Where You Live or Where You Ride Most Often

If you’re on the East Coast or in the Mid-West USA, you won’t see a lot of snowfall, so directional features that help the board float in powder won’t be as significant. However, if you live out west in an area that gets a lot of powder, having a directional board with a setback stance to help it float will be more important.

Know the Advantages & Disadvantages of Having an All Mountain Snowboard

The main advantage of having an all-mountain snowboard is its versatility. All-mountain boards can be ridden all over your local resort and perform well with most types of riding and in most types of conditions.  

Here are the primary benefits of having an all mountain snowboard

  • It is a versatile resort board that performs well on slopes of all skill levels.
  • It is a type of board that can go anywhere and do nearly any type of riding.
    • It carves well through trees.
    • It can hit features in the park like small to medium park jumps and rails or boxes.  

While all-mountain boards do a little of everything, their main disadvantage is specialization

The disadvantages of all mountain snowboards include:

  • Specialization
    • They don’t float as well in extremely deep snow as a board built specifically for floating in powder.
    • They won’t perform as well in the park as a park-specific snowboard.
    • They won’t perform as well off-piste as a board built specifically for backcountry riding or freeriding. 

There are a few specialized types of snowboarding where all-mountain snowboards are not ideal, and you will want a board specifically built for that type of snowboarding instead. 

These instances include:

  • Riding Powder: Deep snow demands a powder board that is designed specifically to float and maneuver effortlessly in deep snow.
  • Riding in the Backcountry: When exploring ungroomed terrain, you will want a freeride board. These boards offer extra stability and control in the varied snow conditions you’ll encounter off-piste. 
  • Park Jibbing: Soft flexing park boards excel at butters (flat ground tricks) and presses on rails or boxes in the park.
  • Park Big Air Jumps or Halfpipe: For hitting massive jumps and riding in the pipe, choose a stiffer flexing park board for precision and stability when landing.
  • Racing or Boardercross: Speed is king in these disciplines, so choose a stiff, directional alpine board that is built for fast carving with an additional level of edge control.

Riders who enjoy any of the above types of snowboarding often own an additional board specifically tuned for that type of snowboarding. Some riders even build entire collections, with each board dedicated to a specific type of riding. These collections of specialized snowboards are called a rider’s “quiver.” The all-mountain board that a rider uses most frequently from their quiver is known as the rider’s “daily driver,” and on days when the daily driver isn’t ideal, the rider will choose the more specialized board from their quiver.

Is it necessary to have an entire quiver of snowboards?

No, not at all. It just comes down to preference and what you can afford.

Having one really good all-mountain snowboard is all most snowboarders will ever need to ride at their local ski resort.

What’s the difference between an all-mountain snowboard and other types of snowboards?

  • All mountain snowboards are designed to perform well in various terrains and conditions, making them versatile for different riding styles.

What are the best all-mountain snowboards you can buy?

  • With so many shapes and brands to choose from, the answer tends to be very subjective. Here is our list for the best all-mountain snowboards of the 2024 season, though.

Is it necessary to wax my snowboard regularly?

  • Waxing your snowboard regularly is essential to maintain its speed and performance. The frequency of waxing depends on the base type and how often you ride.
    • For sintered bases, wax your board every two to three times you ride it.
    • For extruded bases, wax your board every four to six times that you ride it.

How to tell if a snowboard needs to be waxed?

  • It will feel slow while you ride it.
  • Alternatively, you will start to notice a dry gray or white texture on the base of your board, especially closer to your edges. This is a visual indication that your base is dry and needs to be waxed.

Which camber profile is best for beginners looking for an all-mountain board?

  • Beginners will find rocker or reverse camber profiles the easiest to learn due to their forgiving nature. A rocker profile is bent like a lowercase “u,” so the contact points of the board will remain up and out of the way, allowing you to learn to ride without worrying about catching your edge on the snow.

What’s the significance of waist width in snowboard sizing?

  • Waist width affects how quickly you can maneuver your snowboard. Choosing the correct width based on your shoe size is crucial for a comfortable ride.

Why is your location an important consideration when buying an all-mountain snowboard?

  • Regional factors, such as the amount of snowfall in your area, can influence the features you need in your all-mountain snowboard to optimize your riding experience. For example, if it doesn’t snow often in your area, you wouldn’t get the benefit of a board that is designed for riding in deep snow.

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