It wasn’t that long ago when snowboard designs followed a similar formula, with shorter twin-shaped boards dominating the park scene and stiffer, slightly directional boards primarily focused on freeriding. Although these classic shapes are still relevant for their obvious strengths, snowboards are rapidly evolving with space-age materials, rocker-hybrid profiles, and shorter, wider shapes bucking preconceived notions of what’s possible in design.
Influenced by surf design, many of these newer shapes are shorter and stubbier, displacing more volume for the same flotation and stability of a longer board, but without the hefty turning radius when you’re seeking stashes in tight tree runs. With more of the board centered around your feet, swing weight is reduced for enhanced nimbleness and maneuverability.
Large, rockered noses are a defining feature on these boards as well, working harmoniously with the tapered tail for a board that naturally planes across deep powder without bogging down. Add in the responsiveness of modern construction and top-shelf materials for boards that just flat out rip, no matter if you’re slaying powder or carving up groomers on bluebird days.
Considering this design renaissance, modern riders are more blessed than ever with boards offering the benefits of snappy response, incredible float, and slash-happy fun. The following boards for the ‘16-17 season were rounded up based on their fresh perspectives to riding the mountain. Browse through this list to find the next addition to your stable, whether you’re seeking a board to glide across powder, dart through tight trees, or charge big-mountain lines.
The result of a collaboration between Travis Rice, Mervin founder Mike Olson, and Lib Tech’s experiMENTAL Division, the T.Rice Climax Snowboard excels at big-mountain freestyle with its the notched swallowtail shape that smoothly planes across powder and stomps switch landings far better than its directional bias would suggest. However, this board is almost a full pound lighter than the Gold Member board it’s based on, thanks to an extensive carbon lay-up that’s reinforced with magnesium, butted up against recycled PET foam in the core.
The goal of this design was to create a ridiculously light carbon board that’s also extremely damp, which is sort of like a magical unicorn, as far as snowboard design is concerned. This board excels in deep snow with its notched swallowtail, which sinks the rear to keep the pointy nose afloat. As you’d imagine from Travis’ riding style, the Climax rips the living crap out of any line in sight, carrying enough speed to clear the biggest gaps with unflappable stability for conquering steep terrain.
Considering its available sizing and mid-wide waist, ride the Climax in the same length as your all-mountain freestyle board. There’s enough stiffness and float to warrant going a few centimeters shorter than a traditional freeride board, yet it’s not wide enough for significant downsizing.
Packing ridiculous float into a pint-sized board, the Jones Storm Chaser takes design cues directly from surfing, namely the fast-gliding fish shapes that are shorter and stubbier for greater volume displacement. Considering this surf-influenced design, it’s no surprise that Jeremy worked with iconic shaper Chris Christensen for the unique rocker profile of the Storm Chaser.
This collaborative effort resulted in the board’s Surf Rocker, which features a custom nose and tail rocker, combined with a spoon-shaped nose that fluidly displaces snow, only to be cleanly ejected from the Speed Channel tail. This unique shape and rocker allow you to significantly downsize for the ultimate surf sensation in deep powder, doubling as a slash-happy carver across groomers with its tight turning radius.
Most riders are best suited on the 147-centimeter board, as it’s more than adequate on the deepest days of the year with its whopping 275-millimeter waist. Young adults and women benefit from the smaller, more agile 142-centimeter board. Bigger dudes love the nimble feel of the 157-centimeter Storm Chaser on those bottomless days when they’d normally opt for something in the range of 167 to 172-centimeters.
A fresh creation for this season, the K2 Party Platter falls into K2’s Enjoyer Series with its radical Volume Shift and fun approach to riding. This design follows the surfing premise that shorter running lengths can be supplemented with a wider shape, creating exceptional float and stability where a shorter board would normally falter. K2 recommends downsizing 7 to 10-centimeters from your standard board for nimble turning everywhere from tight tree runs to mellow park laps.
You’ll find similarities with K2’s Cool Bean snowboard, allowing the board to float across deep snow without sacrificing much edge hold across hardpack. Instead of the swallowtail employed on the Cool Bean, the Party Platter has a tapered directional shape that rides more like a freestyle twin. K2 achieves this by centering the board’s stance along the effective edge (i.e. the edge that contacts the snow), allowing you to ride switch and remain balanced on landings.
The Party Platter is predominately flat for stability and control at speed, with a large, early-rise nose (e.g. Tweekend nose) giving the board its Party Platter persona. The tail is tapered, naturally sinking in deep snow for improved float, also serving as a snappy platform for launching off small hits across the mountain.
Building from the legendary floatation of the original 420 Snowboard, the Yes 420 Powderhull brings powder riding to entirely new realms with its innovative Powderhull design. This pow-focused board shines on days where fresh snow is measured in feet, not inches. It’s a great addition to your quiver if you’re located in an exceptionally snowy region or regularly visit mountains where deep powder is a regular occurrence. Think cat-boarding trips to untouched zones, waist-deep days at the resort, and making first tracks in tight trees.
Responsible for igniting the industry’s interest in downsized powder boards, the original 420 was a groundbreaking design that introduced the notion of riding a short, stubby board on snorkel-deep days. The 420 Powderhull improves upon the fat cigar shape of the original 420 with its concave nose and tail borrowed from the 20/20 Snowboard. This concave baseline, what Yes calls Powderhull, draws air underneath the nose, lifting the front end of the board off the snow while dropping the tapered tail for effortless buoyancy and balance in the deep stuff. Where the 20/20 is a symmetrical twin for stomping switch landings into deep snow, the 420 Powderhull is directionally biased for an even better powder experience.
It’s a bit skinnier and a couple centimeters longer than the original 420 but still remains fatter than your average board, with an astounding 273 millimeters at the waist. Because of this wider shape, it can be downsized by as much as 10 centimeters. Pick one up for the best experience of your life next time it’s puking snow at apocalyptic rates.
The original party board influenced by the avant-garde designs of Corey Smith, the Capita Spring Break Slush Slasher makes every run a blast with its surf-slashy shape and loud neon vibe. Less serious than other boards on the market, the Slush Slasher is all about taking a creative outlook to cruising, from banked runs in the trees to railing carves across groomers. Don’t just take our word for it, check out Dylan Gamache’s mind-blowing Yawgoons edit to witness the board’s true carving capabilities.
The surf-inspired shape is short and super-fat, with the prominent nose mowing down anything lying in its path, from powder moguls to mushy spring snow. The nose features Capita’s Flat Kick technology, which creates a large platform for nose butters while maximizing float. The Surf Rock tail is V-shaped for a slashy feel that naturally sinks on deep powder days. Since it’s flat camber underfoot, the Slush Slasher rails on edge masterfully for capable cruising anywhere on the mountain.
It’s definitely meant to be ridden much smaller, with the large majority of riders preferring the nimble feel of the 147-centimeter version. Lighter riders can easily ride the 143-centimeter board across the entire mountain without compromising stability. For bigger dudes, jumping on the 151-centimeter board is a surefire way to have one of the best days of your life as you carve up a storm, launch side-hits, and float across secret stashes in the trees.
Designed for slaying fresh powder in tight trees, the Salomon Derby and Women’s Pillow Talk use Salomon’s Rocket Science shaping for a smaller board that’s supremely nimble and floaty. Both models are one centimeter wider than average, allowing you to downsize by 5 to 7 centimeters for snappy turns in narrow spaces. Popster core profiling gives you a skate-like sensation for snapping ollies over imposing tree limbs and sending natural hits into fresh snow.
The generously sized, rockered nose and tapered tail keep it from bogging down in deep powder stashes. Flat camber underfoot is easily controlled, allowing for tight-radius turns while remaining stable at speed. Ultimately, these boards excel in areas others aren’t willing to ride, due to tightly spaced trees preventing access to the goods. Like others on this list, this board definitely isn’t a daily driver, but it’s a great addition to the quiver for exploring the nooks and crannies of your local mountain.
Inspired by snowy forests and powder fields of Japan, the Burton Family Tree Branch Manager rides like a boss as you slash between trees and arc gorgeous turns across open bowls. It’s a brand new creation for this winter season, belonging to Burton’s Family Tree of freeride-focused shapes. The directional camber profile prioritizes floatation above all else, matched with a pointy nose and tapered tail for buoyancy in the deepest snow.
Although the board’s accentuated nose and pinched-in tail make it a powder specialist above all, it’s certainly a fun choice on days without fresh snow, lending a surfy vibe to your all-mountain cruising. It turns extremely quickly between tightly spaced trees and narrow chutes, thanks to a shortened effective edge and tight sidecut radius making it feel much smaller than its size would suggest.
Looking at its standard width and available sizes of 155 and 159 centimeters, the Branch Manager is meant to be ridden in the same size that you’d choose for an all-mountain snowboard. Plentiful floatation allows you to ride it a few centimeters shorter than a traditional powder board, but it’s certainly not wide enough for dramatic downsizing like the smaller, fatter shapes in this list.