Having the right type of snowboard can make a massive improvement in how well you ride. It’s important to understand the different types of snowboards and their benefits so you can choose the right board for your abilities and riding style.
This guide will help you learn which type of snowboard is best for you and the type of riding you do most often.
Explanation of the Different Snowboard Types
Snowboards come in a variety of types, each designed for a specific type of terrain or riding style. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the four main categories of snowboards and discuss the benefits of each type.
The Four Main Snowboard Types
- All Mountain Snowboards – Most popular and versatile type of boards. These are often used at a ski resort. They handle a variety of terrain and snow conditions.
- Freestyle Snowboards – Boards for tricks / park riding. They are shorter, lightweight, and easy to maneuver.
- Freeride Snowboards – Boards that are perfect for carving. These are long, wide, and stable. This type of board can be used at the resort or in the backcountry for riding ungroomed terrain, such as powder, trees, and cliffs.
- Powder Snowboards – These boards float in deep snow. They are wide and often have a rockered profile.
All Mountain Snowboards
An all mountain snowboard is the type of snowboard that is versatile enough to ride all over the mountain. These boards are designed to be ridden anywhere and everywhere, and they will perform well in most conditions.
Most snowboarders who ride at a ski resort will be riding an all mountain snowboard as it is designed for any type of terrain that you will encounter at the resort. This type of snowboard is meant to be the Swiss Army Knife of your snowboard quiver. When you can only buy one snowboard, you get an all mountain snowboard.
All mountain snowboards are the most popular type of snowboard due to their versatility to ride everywhere.
Types of All Mountain Snowboards
All mountain snowboards come in various shapes and camber profiles (the curvature of the board when lying flat on the snow). Here are the primary types all mountain snowboards.
The All Mountain Twin Snowboard
An all mountain twin snowboard means that the board’s nose and tail are exactly symmetrical. Twin all mountain snowboards are intended to ride as well switch stance as it does regular. This board stile can also have either a centered or a slightly setback mounted stance. The centered stance will be better for doing tricks, while a slight setback stance will help the board float in deeper snow by keeping your weight on the board further back, allowing your nose to be pointed upwards.
The primary benefit of an all mountain twin snowboard is that the board rides the same in either direction.
The All Mountain Directional Snowboard
The all mountain directional snowboard is a board that can be used anywhere at the resort. This board is identified by having a different-looking nose than its tail. The directional shape is intended to ride the snowboard in one direction, or in other words, with the same foot forward the whole time you ride your board. Directional all mountain snowboards often have a slightly setback stance meaning your weight is closer to the tail than the nose. The primary benefit of having your weight closer to the back of the board helps to keep the board’s nose pointing upward, allowing it to float on top of deeper snow.
The Volume-Shifted All Mountain Snowboard
The volume-shifted all mountain snowboard is a board that is both shorter lengthwise and wider width-wise than the average all mountain snowboard that you would select based on your weight and shoe size. Volume-shifted all mountain boards are intended to ride three to six centimeters shorter than your traditional size. The benefit of the wider and shorter platform is that the board floats better in powder, feels stable while carving, and is more maneuverable than a longer board.
The All Mountain Freestyle Snowboard
An all mountain freestyle snowboard is a board that is versatile enough to ride all over the resort, and it leans more on the freestyle side of the riding spectrum. This type of snowboard has features that also make it perform well in the terrain park while hitting jumps and rails. Additionally, an all mountain freestyle board is perfect for riders who enjoy doing tricks outside of the park, looking for jumps and natural features, like bent-over trees or logs, to jib. All mountain freestyle snowboards often have a symmetrical nose and tail with a centered stance.
All mountain freestyle snowboards share the highlighted symmetrical features of the all mountain twin category of snowboards with the addition of a reinforced sidewall and a medium flex rating. The durable sidewall construction helps prevent the board from damaging if you accidentally hit it off a rail in the park. The medium flex allows the board to be pressable on rails and boxes while not overly flexible, where it doesn’t carve well outside the park.
Advantages of All Mountain Snowboards
All mountain snowboards are good for resort riding and having one board that can “do-it-all.”
Here are examples of the types of riding you would do on an all mountain snowboard.
- Ride all slopes at a resort regardless of their experience level rating
- Carving through trees at the resort
- Hit small to medium jumps in the park
- Hit the occasional rail or box in the park
What All Mountain Snowboards Are Not Good For
Most all mountain snowboards are not great for the following types of riding.
- Snowboarding in powder or very deep snow
- Backcountry snowboarding (riding in the mountains outside of the resort)
- Riding in the halfpipe
While an all mountain snowboards can technically be used for any of these types of riding. A snowboard designed for the type of riding you enjoy most will perform even better. When a snowboard is tuned to do everything, it does everything moderately well. However, when a snowboard is designed for a specific type of riding, like park riding, for example, it performs exceptionally well in that area and often compromises in other areas like carving or shock absorption.
Popular All Mountain Snowboards for Men
See more options on the best snowboards of 2024.
Popular All Mountain Snowboards for Women
- Burton Hideaway Snowboard
- Capita Birds of a Feather Snowboard
- Jones Twin Sister
- Never Summer Proto Synthesis
Freestyle Snowboards (Park Boards)
Park snowboards, also known as freestyle snowboards, are specifically designed to be used for tricks at the resort’s terrain park or for hitting handrails in the streets. This type of snowboard is designed with a focus on maneuverability, pop, and playfulness.
Although park snowboards are capable of carving all over the resort, these snowboards are specifically designed for riders who spend most of their time doing tricks in the terrain park. Freestyle snowboards often have deeper sidecuts which allow them to make tighter turns to help you hit features in the park.
Types of Park / Freestyle Snowboards
Freestyle snowboards can be categorized based on their stiffness levels, which fall into three categories. The first category includes freestyle boards with a softer flex, which allows riders to press or flex the board on rails easily. The second category of park boards has a medium to stiffer flex, providing increased pop and stability for smooth landings off jumps or in the half-pipe. The third category is a park board with a medium level of flex. This type of park snowboard allows you to hit both rails and small to medium sized jumps.
Freestyle Snowboards For Jibbing (Soft Flexing Freestyle Boards)
In snowboarding, jib tricks are the type of tricks that mimic grinding in skateboarding. A jib is when you slide, grind, or tap an object that is not made of snow, such as a rail or box. You will often hear this category of tricks referred to as “jibbing.”
Softer flexing park / freestyle boards are designed to feel playful and maneuverable, allowing the rider to easily bend them into a tail or nosepress position. The pliable construction of this type of park snowboard allows the board to bend around rail features giving the rider a locked-in balanced feeling while sliding down rails.
This type of park snowboard will have a flex rating of one to four out of ten. The softer, more flexible nature of this type of park snowboard can make it challenging to land large jumps because these boards lack the rigidity to feel stable. A softer park board is for riders who want to hit rails and smaller-sized jumps.
Softer flexing park boards will also be good for flat-ground tricks like butters.
Freestyle Snowboards For Jumping (Stiff Flexing Freestyle Boards)
Stiffer flexing park boards will be designed to have more pop and stability, allowing the rider to more easily launch off and land jumps. Stiffer park boards tend to have a camber dominant profile, also known as a positive camber profile, meaning that the curvature of the board, while it is lying flat on the ground, curves upward toward the rider or makes the same shaped curve as a lowercase “n.” The stiffer flex, combined with the positive camber profile, allows this type of park board to feel snappy and responsive as it pops off the lip of jumps while feeling stable as your landing jumps.
This type of park snowboard will have a flex rating of six to ten out of ten. The stiffer nature of this type of park snowboard makes it challenging for the board to bend around or cradle rails. The bending can make balancing on rails feel easier, so while a stiffer park board can still technically slide on rails, riders will have a stiffer board if they enjoy jumping more than jibbing.
Stiffer park boards will also be good for riding in the half pipe.
Do It All Park Boards (Mid Flexing Freestyle Boards That Jib & Jump)
A medium-flexing park board is capable of both hitting rails while still feeling stable enough to hit most small to medium-sized jumps. This type of freestyle snowboard will typically have a flex rating of five or six out of ten. This type of freestyle board that is maneuverable yet still stable enough to hit most features in the park as a slopestyle run.
Advantages of Park Snowboards
- Jibbing sliding on rails, boxes, or trees
- Buttering (flat-ground tricks)
- Park riding
- Light carving at the resort on easier terrain
What Park Snowboards Are Not Good For
- Carving aggressively
- Resort riding on challenging or expert-level terrain
- Riding in powder or deep snow
- Carving on ice
Popular Park Snowboards for Men
Popular Park Snowboards for Women
See more options on the best park snowboards of 2024.
Freeride snowboards are built to be used in the backcountry, riding fast down technical terrain at the resort, or surfing powder. Freeride boards are stiffer and offer an excellent level of stability, so riders who enjoy carving at speed will enjoy this category of boards.
What is Freeriding?
Freeriding is a style of snowboarding that focuses on using the mountain’s natural features and embracing the challenges that nature presents rather than prebuilt resort features.
Types of Freeride Snowboards
Tapered Directional Freeride Snowboards
A tapered directional freeride snowboard is specifically made for riders who enjoy freeriding and need a board that performs well in deep snow. This type of snowboard has a distinctive shape that sets it apart from other freeride boards. It has a wider nose than its tail, which you can notice by checking out the board’s edge. As you focus on the edge, you will notice that the width of the snowboard gradually decreases towards its tail. The benefit of the wider nose is that it helps the snowboard stay on top of deep snow. Here is how it works. The shape of this type of snowboard works in combination with where the rider stands on the board. Tapered directional freeride boards have a setback stance. A setback stance means the holes you mount your bindings to are closer to the tail rather than centered. The combination of the board’s wider nose and the rider’s weight being closer to the tail allow the snowboard to continually point upward, keeping the rider floating on top of deep snow as they cruise downhill.
It’s worth noting that directional snowboards are meant to be ridden in one direction, with the same foot forward the entire time downhill. With that in mind, this type of board is not suitable for riders who frequently want to switch their stance.
In terms of flexibility, tapered directional freeride snowboards have a stiffer flex pattern. On a scale of stiffness from one to ten, with ten being the stiffest, these snowboards typically have a rating between seven and ten. Their stiffness makes them stable and responsive, making this type of snowboard perfect for riders who enjoy carving at the resort or in the backcountry.
Tapered directional freeride snowboards are the most common type of board in the freeride board category.
Directional Freeride Snowboards
A (non-tapered) directional freeride snowboard is specifically made for riders who love to carve yet only get a handful of days to ride in powder. These boards are nearly identical to the tapered directional freeride board category mentioned above, without the additional powder-floating benefits of the board’s wider nose.
A directional freeride snowboard is a type of snowboard with a stiffer flex pattern and a directional shape, meaning that this type of board is intended to be ridden in one direction with the same leading foot forward the whole time. This type of board is fast, carves well, and can be ridden at both resorts or the backcountry. Due to their directional shape, this board type is unsuitable for riders who want to ride switch often.
Directional freeride snowboards have a setback stance which keeps the rider’s weight toward the tail. This feature improves the board’s ability to float in deeper snow. However, it won’t float as well as the tapered directional freeride snowboard type mentioned above.
Directional freeride snowboards without a tapered shape are the second most common type of board in the freeride board category.
Advantages of Freeride Snowboards
Freeride snowboards are designed to go fast and carve well. These boards are known for their fast bases, stability, and shallow sidecut radiuses. Freeride boards are great for making longer, deeper carves. Additionally, these boards can be excellent for riding in powder.
Here are examples of the types of riding you would do on a freeride snowboard.
- Carve at the resort on all slopes regardless of their experience level rating
- Big mountain snowboarding / Riding in the backcountry
- Ride in powder
- Hitting natural jumps or side hits in the backcountry or at the resort
What Freeride Snowboards Are Not Good For
Most all freeride snowboards are not great for the following types of riding.
- Park riding
- Hitting rails / Jib tricks
- Buttering / Flat ground tricks
- Learning on
Popular Freeride Snowboards for Men
- K2 Alchemist Snowboard
- Jones Flagship Snowboard
- Never Summer Proto FR Snowboard
- Capita Black Snowboard of Death
Popular Freeride Snowboards for Women
Powder snowboards are boards designed specifically to cruise and float in deep snow. These boards are often shorter in length and wider in their waist width than the typical board for your size. Like a freeride snowboard, a powder snowboard also has a setback stance with a wider nose than a tail. The wide nose combination of the wider nose and the rider’s weight being towards the back of the board are what allows it to float effortlessly on top of fresh powder.
So what is the difference between a powder snowboard and a freeride snowboard?
Powder snowboards are built exclusively for riding in deep snow, while freeride boards are designed for carving fast through all of the varied natural terrains that you would encounter in the backcountry. Freeride snowboards perform well on both harder packed snow as they do in powder, where a powder board’s sole purpose is to float and cruise on deep snow.
Types of Powder Snowboards
A swallowtail snowboard is a type of snowboard that has a section removed from its tail that helps the board float in deep snow. The section of the tail that is missing makes the tail look like its cut into an upside-down “V” shape. The unique tail shape helps the nose continually stick out of and float on top of deep snow. Swallowtail snowboards are usually wider than the average snowboard in the same rider weight class.
A pintail-shaped powder board is a snowboard with a tail shaped into a “V” that is the normal side up or coming to a point or pin. The benefit of a pintail powder board is that it has a longer board’s stability and surface area while having the reactive, maneuverability benefits of a shorter board.
Advantages of Powder Snowboards
Powder snowboards are good for riding in fresh powder or really deep snow. While they can ride on groomed terrain, they are designed specifically to perform their best in deep snow.
What Powder Snowboards Are Not Good For
- Using at the resort on a harder packed/groomed day
- Riding in the park to hit jumps or rails
- Riding in the backcountry on harder-packed snow
Popular Powder Snowboards for Men
Popular Powder Snowboards for Women
Snowboard Camber Profiles Explained
The camber profile of a snowboard refers to the curve of the board when it rests flat on the snow. The profile of the snowboard dramatically influences how the snowboard performs. The snowboard’s profile determines whether the board feels playful and easy to ride, or powerful and stable. Depending on how you like to ride, there is a camber profile for you.
This section covers each snowboard profile and its benefits. There are six primary profiles. Here are descriptions for each of them, along with a diagram of what they look like.
Camber Snowboard Profile
A snowboard with a camber profile has a lowercase “n” shaped arc between the bindings. Camber is the most traditional board profile. Whenever the arc of the camber profile is bent, it always wants to quickly snap back into its original shape. 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.
Rocker / Reverse Camber Snowboard Profile
A snowboard with a rocker, or reverse camber, 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 board 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.
Flat Snowboard Profile
A snowboard with a flat camber profile has no curvature between the bindings. This board 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.
Hybrid Camber Snowboard Profile
A hybrid camber snowboard combines the best of both worlds by incorporating a primary positive camber between the bindings in the shape of a lowercase “n” arc and reverse camber curves resembling a lowercase “u” in the nose and tail. This unique profile offers the advantages of both camber and reverse camber. With a hybrid camber snowboard, riders experience the power and pop of a camber board while enjoying the forgiving, surfy feel of a rocker snowboard. This camber profile caters to riders who enjoy the benefits of a traditional camber snowboard while also looking for a board with the catch-free, easy-to-ride feel of a reverse camber board.
Hybrid Rocker Snowboard Profile
A hybrid rocker snowboard profile offers the advantages of a rocker-dominant snowboard with the power of a traditional camber profile. The hybrid rocker profile has a primary reverse camber, lowercase “u” shaped arc between the bindings, while the nose and tail both have a camber profile lowercase “n” arc underfoot. This hybrid profile offers the best of both types of camber, providing riders with the forgiving, easy-to-ride feel of having reverse camber between their feet while delivering the explosive power and pop with positive camber in both the nose and tail. This snowboard profile is ideal for riders who enjoy reverse camber and are looking for a board with the benefits of traditional camber.
Setback Camber Snowboard Profile
A setback camber profile is found in directional freeride and powder snowboards. This profile has the traditional camber lowercase “n” shaped arc between the rider’s bindings. Due to directional snowboards already having a setback stance, the camber profile is set back on the board to match where the rider stands. The nose of the board has a reverse camber lowercase “u” shaped arc. The benefit of this profile is that the reverse camber in the nose keeps the nose pointing upward to help the board float in deeper snow, while the camber profile between the feet offers the power, pop, and turn initiation of a traditional camber profile.
Considerations When Buying a Snowboard
Here is a summary of the details to consider when buying a snowboard.
- Shape of the Snowboard: The shape of a board is its outline. Depending on your riding style, a board’s shape can offer advantages and disadvantages. A twin-shaped snowboard is great for riding in either stance, while an asymmetrical snowboard can be better for carving.
- Camber Profile: The camber profile is the curvature of the board while looking at it from the side. The camber profile greatly affects how powerful or playful a board feels underfoot. Camber, a lowercase n-shaped curve, will feel powerful and snappy, while Rocker, a lowercase u-shaped curve, will feel loose and playful.
- Flex Pattern: The flex pattern refers to how flexible the snowboard is. A flexible snowboard is better for butter and rail tricks, while a stiffer flexing snowboard is better for carving and jumping.
- Board Category Style: There are four different types of snowboards available on the market today: Freestyle (also called Park), Freeride, All-Mountain, and Powder Boards. Read our guide to the different types of snowboards to learn more about the benefits of each style.
- Edge Hold / Grip: The level of grip a snowboard has while carving is important, depending on the type of snow you will ride. If you often ride icy terrain, look for a board with a stronger edge hold rating to help you grip to the ice.
So there you have it. This was a full explanation of the four primary types of snowboards, along with the benefits for each. Whether you’re looking to carve as fast as possible, launch off kickers in the park, or cruise through pow, I hope this this article helped you find the right board.
I’ll see you on the hill.
Steve Weber is an avid snowboarder and skateboarder. He has been snowboarding for 26 years, skateboarding for 20, and is always looking for a new board sport to try out. When he is not riding or skating, he runs a marketing agency. Board of the World is Steve’s blog for skateboard and snowboard gear reviews. The blog’s goal is to help people find the right board for them and encourage people to have fun outside.