Much like surfing or skating, snowboarding is a boardsport that’s heavily dependent on style. Meaning, there are several types of riding and riders out there who prefer specific conditions, mediums, and even certain types of slopes. From here, it only makes sense that there are tangents of snowboarding gear outfitted for these particular riding styles.
What follows are our picks for three different types of riders out there: the free-rider, mountaineer, and freestyler. Now, we’re not naive enough to assume only three variants exist, or that only three types of riders hit the mountain each season. These are just a few combined archetypes in order to hone in on the best gear currently on the market whether you’re more of a backcountry tourer, park rat, or versatile enough to hit the entire mountain in a single weekend. From boards to jackets; boots and goggles, we worked to cover all the proverbial bases for these three commonly found riders on the mountain. So, before heading out on the next excursion, consider what sort of conditions and runs best suit your individual style. Then, go ahead and take a gander at the list below and scoop up some gear that will work with you, not against, when the time comes to hit the mountain at dawn.
If you’re a free-rider, taking things off the beaten path is simply part of the routine. These riders thrive in the unknown, dropping off-piste at a moment’s notice while treating fallen trees buried in the snow like moguls. They’re also the powder junkies, who live for backcountry knee-deep powder while threading the needle through wooded forests and steep slopes.
It’s here where we find the need for dependable and warm gear that can stand up to the elements. Because who knows where that non-existent trail may lead. Free-riders also look for dependable boards that aren’t necessarily built for the park. Instead, it’s a one direction board that performs in both powder and harder snow – purposed for speed and carving. Alone at the top, that’s where the free-rider harness their energy.
The Board: Yes. Pick Your Line
Outfitted as an ideal backcountry board suited to survive whatever hellish terrain it’s put through, the Pick Your Line is designed to work wonders on the mountain. Whether in deep powder or challenging run conditions, Pick Your Line will thread whatever obstacles may be in the way and serve as a dependable option for those looking a board that’s both responsive yet controllable. ($599)
Jack of All Trades
Mountaineers are snowboarders with multi-personality disorders. Meaning, they find solace both in the park and out and about in the chutes and bowls on their favorite mountain. It’s best of both worlds here, groomed trails, powered backcountry exploration, and the park. You name it, the Mountaineer is up to give it a try.
And while these riders do spend a fair bit of time in the park, the Mountaineer treats the entire peak as their park. So it only makes sense that an all-mountain board is ridden in such situations. Not only are these boards designed to float well on powder surfaces, but they’re ideal for all aspects of riding – making them fantastic beginner boards. Needless to say, getting the most out of the mountain is the name of the game here.
The Board: Slash Brainstorm
Since mountaineer riders are all about storming the entire mountain, it only makes sense that the board at hand is meant for said use. The Brainstorm does just that, boasting medium flex handles, a directional twin shape for all-terrain versatility, and a reactive flex that adapts to terrain changes at a moment’s notice. ($449)
The Park Rat
Also known as the park rat, the Freestyler is the spotlight seeker of the bunch – wondering why the entire mountain can’t just be one giant park. It’s with the freestyle rider that we find a whole slew of tricks complemented by off-the-wall names. From rails to jumps; boxes to pipes, the freestyle rider is all over the place – as long as it’s within the confines of the park.
Naturally, freestyle boards are going to be light, short, and flexible – designed particularly to perform in specific conditions. They also boast limited edge grip resulting in less stability for carving or speed and you’ll also find that freestyle boards are symmetrical in shape with a centered stance, allowing for an easy transition to and from Switch. Style is also an important asset to consider here. And not just riding style, but the style of your gear. Remember, the terrain park is where you’ll garner the most eyeballs so best look that part as well as walk the walk in these parts.
The Board: GNU Space Case
Boasting an asymmetrical sidecut allowing for effortless toeside turns in conjunction with enhanced control and stability for technical lines, the Space Case from GNU is one Freestyle board worth every penny. It’s purposed to tackle the park with ease – facilitating a bit of creative flair in the process. ($580)