Everyone has their own unique style and their own preferences as to how and where on the mountain they ride. But what style of snowboarder you are will fit somewhere within 6 broad types.
It’s a spectrum rather than a black and white ‘this is you’ kinda thing, but where you are on that spectrum will be somewhere within or between these 6 broad style types.
For example, I would say I am an All Mountain Freestyler but leaning slightly towards the all-mountaineer end of that particular spectrum at the moment.
If I was to choose just one snowboard, I would go for an all-mountain snowboard. In a two board quiver, I'd go with an all-mountain-freestyle board and a freeride or powder board.
Why Should I Want to Know my Riding Style?
The main reason you want to define your snowboarding style is for equipment choices. Your board, binding and boot choices in particular will be largely influenced by what your "style" is - (aka what you like to do on the mountain on your snowboard).
This is important. For example, if you only want to spend all day in the park jibbing then you aren’t going to want a stiff board that is designed to excel as a big mountain board. Likewise, having a board that is great for doing tricks and riding switch isn’t going to serve you if all you want to do is cruise the groomers or bomb the backcountry.
Wherever you fit on the spectrum, you will want to define your style to some degree (if you are anything above a beginner) before making any equipment decisions. Check this out if you are a beginner.
So, what are the 6 Riding Styles?
The following is how I break down the different riding styles. You should fit somewhere in here. Though not necessarily perfectly. There is a board, bindings etc out there for every style, so once you know where you sit you can use that information for helping your buying decisions.
In my experience most people fall somewhere in between Freerider and Freestyler but there are definitely some Powder Fanatics and Urbaneers out there.
If you are a Powder Fanatic, you reserve your snowboarding energies for powder days.
You seek out powder wherever possible and don’t even bother going to the mountain when there is no powder (or you have a specific board just for powder days).
You might need your board to be able to get through some hard snow or ice patches to make it to the powder pockets in the backcountry, but for you this just a means to an ends to get to the pow!
Most powder fanatics own two boards so they can ride when powder isn't present.
Freerider's are at home surfing powder or carving groomers. But mostly, the backcountry (and off-groomer/off-piste) is your country - and chutes, speed, bowls, cliffs and trees are your friends.
You struggle to fathom the need for a board to be able to go in both directions - there’s only one way down the mountain baby!
You don’t care for the park (or have a separate board for that) - you just want to explore the whole mountain all day (everyday if you could!).
Freeride boards are great in powder but also for bombing harder snow. They tend to be more aggressive and stiffer than the average board - and more directional. Most freeride boards are made for advanced riders.
All-Mountaineers do a bit of everything. But want one board to do everything on. You want one board to be able to take you over the whole mountain, groomed trails, back country, uneven terrain, trees, the park, you name it.
As opposed to the next category (All-Mountain Freestylers) you are a do-it-all rider that is leaning a little more towards freeride than freestyle. But freestyle would certainly come into your repertoire at times.
The more aggressive options are particularly suited to bombing and carving - whilst the others are less aggressive, but are the real all-rounders.
All-Mountain Freestylers are versatile snowboarders, like all-mountaineers, but leaning more towards freestyle than freeride.
You tend to spend a little more time in the park than all-mountaineers, and when you are riding the groomers, or off-groomer, you tend to treat them like natural parks - finding whatever natural features you can.
But you also like to carve and bomb too - and just ride sometimes. You want to be able to go off groomer, but don't tend to see any really deep powder (or you have a separate board for backcountry/powder days).
Again your riding might be more aggressive or more casual and there are boards to suit both.
You wouldn't be adverse to the whole mountain being a park.
Jumps, spins, flips, rails, butters, tricks - are the only words in your snowboarding vocab. Oh yeah and things like cab 900 double cork might come out from time to time too!
You don’t want a noodle - you need something that can handle a solid landing and have good pop, and you need something that can still ride a groomer - but mostly just on the way to the park - the most important thing is that your board can handle the park and the rest of the mountain is just a nice scenic backdrop to help you enjoy the views on the lift ride!
If you even go to a ski resort, it's strictly to use the park - and in the park, you're going to be mostly sticking to the jib line. But why go to the mountain, if the streets are covered in snow!
You want what is known as an urban board - aka street board, aka jib board.
You want your board to flex over those rails and pipes like a….. bendy piece of wood 🙂 - o.k. so I’ve never been good at metaphors - you get the drift!
Where do you Fit in?
O.k. so now you should have a good idea where you fit in. There will be a snowboard for every style you see above and you should fit in, at least to a large degree, with one of the above types.
Your style is unique but it’s important to broadly define your style so that you get the board that will help you to do what you love to do most.
Also - it may be the case that you like to do a variety of things like an all-mountaineer but would prefer to have a multi-board quiver. This is also a good way to go. For example, you might get a freestyle snowboard for the park and a freeride snowboard for when you want to hit the backcountry or want to carve the groomers.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this article has been helpful. I’m always curious to know what riding style other people are into so if you feel for it, leave your style in the comments below. Any other comments or questions very welcome also.
Photo Credits from Top
All-Mountaineers: Photo by Mike Lahood [GFDL or CC-BY-3.0]
Freestylers: Photo by maureen [CC-BY-2.0]
Hi Nate, I would really appreciate some advice: I am looking at buying a Yes Women’s Basic or Yes Hello board. I am between beginner and intermediate (or a low intermediate), I am mostly all-mountain but want to ride switch too and learn to do some small jumps (so maybe all-mountain freestyle).
I’m 163cm, 55kg and size 8 US boot size. Should I go for the 143cm or the 146cm board?
Thanks for your message.
Both would work for sure. I might be leaning slightly to YES Hello if it wasn’t for sizing, but in this case the smallest Hello is a little big for your specs, IMO. For your specs and how you describe your riding style/goals, I think 143 would be a really good size, but 146 is a little too big – and the smallest Hello is currently 146, unfortunately.
The Women’s Basic won’t be as good at speed, in powder or for carving. But it is better for switch and should be a touch easier to learn jumps on too – and is the slightly easier ride too and is the best fit in terms of sizing, so I would be leaning Women’s Basic, in this case.
Hope this helps with your decision
Hi Nate, thank you so much for your advice – it’s so helpful and means so much!
I was also looking at the Yes Hello but was concerned about the smallest being 146cm. I’ve been assured by other people that the 146 will be suitable for me as I’m right in the middle of the weight range, but the board comes up right on my nose, whereas the 143 comes up to my top lip. I was also concerned that the YES Hello would be slightly too stiff with a rating of 6, but perhaps that’s better for carving as it would be more stable.
What other board might be good if I’m mostly doing All-Mountain riding?
The best board I rode as a rental was a Salomon Oh Yeah 143 (which I was tempted to get, but it has a Flex rating of 2 and is a Freestyle board). I then started looking at the Saloman Wonder with a Flex rating of 5, the Jones Twin Sister but that’s likely too stiff with a Flex of rating 7, the Yes Hello sounded really good with a flex rating of 6 and then I landed on the Yes Basic – which seemed like a good fit for my ability level between beginner and intermediate. One part of me wants to get an easy board I can keep learning on and perfecting my turns and another side of me feels I should get a better board that will help me level up. What do you think? Any further advice for me? I have looked at your lists for Women’s All-mountain Boards and All-Mountain Freestyle Boards. I was considering the GNU Ladies choice but that might be too advanced for me and I’m not too sure about their C2x profile – it might be too advanced for me.
I like to take more than just the weight recommendations into account when sizing. 146 isn’t monstrously big for you or anything but it’s bigger than ideal, IMO. I would say the Hello isn’t as stiff as YES rates it, but would feel stiffer in the bigger size.
The Salomon Wonder could work in the 144.
The Twin Sister is a little over rated flex-wise, too and we feel it’s more of a 6/10 flex, but still going to be borderline a little too much. Same with the Ladies Choice. It might be OK, but there’s certainly a greater risk that you’ll find it a bit too much.
I think the Basic would be a really good bet for your current level. The Never Summer Infinity would be another good option – as would the GNU Velvet and Capita Paradise.
If you wanted something a bit more challenging, you could try stepping up to the Twin Sister or Ladies Choice, but they would likely be a steeper learning curve.
Thanks so much Nate. I’ve decided on the Yes Women’s Basic 143cm, I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and more importantly your advice and reviews have helped make a very tough decision.
Just out of interest, and for future reference, what would you put my regular All Mountain size at?
You’re very welcome Jess.
I would put your standard all-mountain length at around 144. You could go a little longer than that if you were looking to get a freeride board (because they tend to have more of their length outside the effective edge), but for an all-mountain board, around 144/145.
Hey! I am a female boarder 5’2 138lbs. I wouldn’t say I am a beginner, because I can carve down blues, but I definitely am not advanced. I also just like to carve the whole mountain, not really into jumps, boxes or rails. I have only rented from the ski resorts but I am looking to buy gear. There is a 143cm Salomon Gypsy that is new and at a good price point. Would this not serve me well since I won’t be in The park? It’s got a twin, flex 5 and I think a hybrid camber. OR I can get a new 144cm Arbor Ethos, on a pro deal. Which do you think would be better for my experience/weight/height.
Thanks in Advance!
Thanks for your message.
I think the gypsy would be better for your ability level and should match your style of riding fine. Not going to be great in powder but if you’re only going to be on groomers, then should work fine. Ethos more of a beginner board and you may find it lacks performance for your level of riding.
Size-wise I would put your “standard all-mountain size” at around 147. However that assumes an advanced level and as an intermediate rider, you can size down a bit from that. Also being an all-mountain freestyle board you can size down a little, particularly if you wont be going in any deep powder. So I think 143 works, imo. But if you could also let me know your boot size to confirm that sizing is appropriate.
Hope this helps
Guddu Mony says
I am an intermediate rider looking to do mostly groomers (no park) in good and also in icy conditions (we get a lot of that in the northeast)
Based on the above article would you recommend an all-mountain, all-mountain aggressive, or a free ride board for that?
Thanks for your message.
As an intermediate rider, I wouldn’t go with an aggressive all-mountain or a typical stiff freeride board. An all-mountain should work well – or if you thought you were never going to ride switch or any type of freestyle stuff, even outside the park, then you could also look at more forgiving freeride boards. The first list below is all-mountain boards worth checking out (look out for those that are particularly good in hard/icy conditions). The only ones you might find a little too much as an intermediate rider would be the Niche Story or Capita Mercury, but if you’re a higher end intermediate even those should be fine.
The second list is for more forgiving freeride boards. That list is quite eclectic, so there are some in there that are more powder specialized and not as suitable if you’re mostly on groomers, but some in there are good groomer options.
>>My Top 10 All Mountain Snowboards
>>Top 10 Surfy (mellow) Freeride Snowboards
Hope this helps
Nice article. I would consider myself a freerider. Although I become a powder fanatic when there is fresh stuff and a freestyler when off-piste is out of action. To be honest I love any snowboarding.
You’ll probably like this article I wrote about 28 different types of snowboarding: Styles and Types of Snowboarding did I miss any styles?
Thanks for sharing Luke.
Jacob D. says
Hi Nate, I’ve read through most of your articles, which are SUPER helpful btw. I’m pretty comfortable snowboarding but have just rented for the past few years as I was in college in FL. Now I live in AZ and have access to mountains (going to Telluride, CO in a couple weeks) and want to buy a board. Here is my info…any suggestions for boards/bindings?
Height: 5′ 10
Boot size: 10
Level: High Intermediate (4-5). i can’t destroy parks or crazy tricks off jumps, but I’m a speed demon and love navigating the woods.
Optimal Board Height: 158-160cm
Binding Stiffness: 7-8 (I think)
Base: Sintered (I think, I like speed)
Style: Free Rider/All Mountain (I love to get max speed carving down blues/blacks, but also REALLY enjoy going through woods-like trails like a toboggan, and taking jumps occasionally, but I never touch park rails/boxes)
I had never thought about doing a purely directional board, (I switch sometimes when going down the mountain, mainly to control my speed) but think they would be interesting. I’m leaning towards a directional or directional twin board.
Current boards I like: Jones Explorer, Never Summer Chairman, GNU Mullair (I like that it can maneuver trees), Jones Flagship, Burton Flight Attendant (Love its versatility), YES Typo, One LF, Niche Story, YES standard.
My problem are there are so many boards and I need to narrow it down to one. Would you suggest renting a few different ones this season and trying to pick one up at the end of the season?
Thank you so much!
Thanks for your message.
I would say that as an intermediate rider, that something between 156 and 158 would be a good length, but since you like speed, then going to the higher end of that range would be a good idea to help with stability at speed.
Usually I wouldn’t recommend anything too stiff as an intermediate, but again, since you like speed, then going a little stiffer is a good idea. I still probably wouldn’t go as stiff as the Flagship, Chairman, Mullair and Flight Attendant, though you might get away with the Flight Attendant for stiffness but it’s quite aggressive camber-wise. The YES Typo on the other hand is probably too soft, and might not have the stability at speed that you’re looking for. If you were going to go for a freeride board, I would more look at the PYL – which I found to be the best in trees. Though it is still quite stiff too.
So, I would be leaning towards Explorer, One LF, Story and Standard. Not to say that you couldn’t go with the others, but it’s possible you might find them a bit stiff at this stage.
If you have availability to rent those boards, then you could certainly rent them throughout the season, to get an idea of which ones you prefer. The only downside to that is you don’t have a consistent board to progress on over the season. But it would help to be more sure of the board you want for future seasons.
Hope this gives you more to go off. Let me know if you have other options or want to narrow it down further.
Hey Nate. your reviews are super helpful. I’m trying to figure out what kind of board to get. I ride mostly in the Northeast(icy!) i’m too old to do tricks so i don’t venture into the park, and i don’t ride switch. but i have no hesitations riding down steeps and i’ll do small jumps. would i be classified as a free rider and should i look towards getting a free ride board?
Thanks for your message.
If you ride in powder/off-groomer a fair bit, then I think freeride might could be a good call for you. But it also depends on how aggressive you like to ride. Freeride boards tend to be stiffer and quite aggressive/unforgiving (though there are some that are less so).
If you don’t often ride in powder, then you could look at an aggressive all-mountain board or an all-mountain board, depending on how aggressive a rider you see yourself as. If you want something aggressive and aren’t really interested in slowing down and playing around at all, then an aggressive all-mountain might be a good option for you. If you’re more casual and want something with a bit of forgiveness, then all-mountain might be the better option.
Check out the following for some options, you can weight up the score breakdowns to see where (IMO) the boards strengths and weaknesses lie. And for each of those lists, I have also tagged those that I consider to be the best in hard/icy conditions. There are some that are not tagged that are still good but just not quite as good, so if there is something you like the look of, and it’s not tagged as “HARD/ICY” let me know and I can give you my opinion on how good it would be in those kind of conditions.
>>My Top 10 All Mountain Snowboards
>>Top 6 Aggressive All Mountain Snowboards
>> My Top 5 Freeride Snowboards
Hope this helps with your decision
Wanting to buy another board to give me more options to suit the conditions
I ride all mountain (more to the free ride end though as I don’t want to do tricks) and am looking at doing more pow going forwards (would probably want to take the board to Japan)
Don’t want to go over 157cm as I like a shorter board, currently have a Saloman sight 153cm (2018) (Directional twin) with Burton Cartels (2016) which is ok but looking for something more responsive and better suited to what I want to do going forwards
I am 5’11” currently 75kg but I move between 68-78kg and have been as low as 63kg
Previous board I was riding was a 152cm Rome so have always ridden shorter boards
I class myself as an upper beginner to intermediate rider and am looking to improve with 34days on mountain in the coming Australian season.
What are your suggestions? I am also looking at getting bindings with it, was looking at the X base, Genesis X, Genesis or the Malavita’s I am a 10.5boot so try and stick to Regular boards with Medium bindings
Way to many options and choice please help 🙂
Thanks for your message.
I think given everything you’re describing, an “all-mountain” board would be a good choice. Something that can ride pow well but isn’t too stiff. As an intermediate rider and with your specs, something too stiff wouldn’t be ideal. That’s one reason I think an all-mountain board, rather than a freeride board would suit you best, as freeride boards tend to be quite stiff.
Usually I would say something around 157, 158 for your specs, ability and preferred riding style, but personal preference and what you’re used to riding factor into it as well, so you could certainly go shorter than that if you wanted to – but maybe a little longer than 153 is a good idea.
The Sight is an all-mountain board, but it’s a beginner all-mountain board, so it’s on the softer side. I think you could certainly move up to a medium flex, especially if you are going to be riding something a little smaller.
Based on all of that, plus the fact that you are on the freeride end of all mountain riding, and that from what I hear you can get some hard/icy conditions in Australia, then I would say the following would be great options for you:
~ Rossignol One 156 (252mm waist)
~ Jones Mountain Twin 157 (253mm waist) or 154 (250mm waist) – usually I’d say 157 but I think with your personal preference for shorter decks, the 154 might be a good choice. The 154 with a 250mm waist is something that I’d be a little cautious about with 10.5s but since you’re used to the 153 Salomon Sight (246mm waist) I think you’ll probably be fine, if you haven’t been experiencing any drag issues with that. Also, the Mountain Twin is wider at the inserts compared to the waist than a lot of other boards, so that gives you a bit more leeway.
~ Slash Brainstorm 157 (250mm waist) or 154 (248mm waist) – same considerations size-wise as Mountain Twin, except a little narrower. Though, again, if you haven’t had issues with Sight, I’d say you’d be ok.
~ Never Summer West 154 or 156
~ Nitro Team Gullwing 155
Most of these boards are from this list below (except for the Team as I hadn’t ridden the 2018 version (recently rode the 2019 model) and chosen based on everything you’re describing:
>>My Top 10 All Mountain Snowboards
In terms of bindings, if you’re looking to go Burton, I would say the X Base and Genesis X might be a little too stiff (especially the X Base), but the Genesis, Malavita or Cartel would all be a good match for you and any of those boards (just make sure to get the Re:Flex model as the EST model won’t fit on anything but Burton boards).
Hope this helps and gives you some options.
thanks for your article ，i have learned a lot form it. but i still have a question，i usually play at some small mountain with 1-2 km length trail ,and the slope is about 30°.and the trail is treated by the snow track machine everyday.So how can i define this place? and what style suit it ?
I find on smaller mountains that you don’t necessarily get the chance to open out too much in terms of bombing at speed. You get sections but it’s not for that long. On that kind of terrain I like to try to find trees, side-hits or rollers or lips to do little jumps/spins off – that kind of thing, but it’s down to personal preference how your style develops.
One thing though is that it can be an idea to go a little shorter and a little softer flexing for your board – this is because shorter and softer tends to equal more agile at slower speeds – and if you’re having to ride slow a lot of the time, then that’s nice to have. If you have a tank that’s long and stiff, it wants to bomb the mountain as fast and straight as possible, which isn’t necessarily the most fun way to navigate a small resort, IMO – and also not that doable in some cases.
Those are just some general thoughts, anyway, hope this helps
I’m 165 cm and weight 50 kg. I wear US 7.5 boots.
How I should choose snowboard size for all mountain.
Looking forward to your reply and thanks so much for the help.
Check out the following links for a guideline on choosing snowboard length and width. I think this should answer your question.
>>Choosing Snowboard Length
>>Snowboard Width Sizing
Hope this helps
I’ve been searching ebay for the past month for a snowboard and bindings for my son. I just happened upon your site when I googled best snowboards for beginners. Now I’m relieved I didn’t “just buy anything close to 155cm” like my son asked. What do you think of those off brands they sell on ebay like Liquid Storm, BTM, Felice, FS, M3 Convoy, etc. that sell on ebay brand new. Or if you’ve heard anything from a boarder who’s tried one. Are they crap because they’re inexpensive and may hinder his learning progression? Thanks so much for your great site and all the info. You rock! (is that a snowboarders term) 🙂
Yeah definitely not just about grabbing whatever – always a good idea to research first.
In terms of the brands you mentioned, I honestly couldn’t tell you. They’re not something I’ve ever considered buying and not something that I’ve ever demoed – or ever even seen available for demo. I haven’t heard of anyone else having ridden them either so I haven’t even heard opinions of them. Sorry I can’t be more help on that front. My instinct is that they’re not worth it – but I don’t really have anything concrete to base that on.
How much cheaper are they?
75.00 – 120.00 for just board and 110 – 150 for board and bindings. i just found another one brand name “play” that says it retails for 350.00 and is on ebay for 80.00.
That’s super cheap. Like I say, I can’t comment on the quality – I would have my suspicions at those kinds of prices but I couldn’t say for sure.
Hey Nate! Thank you so much for your article. It’s really helpful! I consider myself as freestyle all-mountaineer. I’m a small girl in terms of height. Is there any snowboards you recommend? I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for your message. Check out the link below for what I consider some of the best women’s all-mountain-freestyle decks. Once you find something let me know and I can recommend the best size for you, if you’d like.
>>Snowboarding Profiles Top 5 Women’s All-Mountain-Freestyle Snowboards
I initially thought the ‘Powder Eater’ category would be a complete beginner who constantly falls over when I first saw you use the term! I think I’m too beginner to even rank in one of these categories lol. I’d go mountaineer. There’s nothing like nature combined with an awesomely fun sport.
Ha ha – now that you put it that way it does kinda sound like that – maybe I need to rethink that term! I have to agree with you on the whole nature/awesome sport combo – nothing like it!
Nice article and the site looks terrific! I haven’t snowboarded in ages but I see myself as an all mountaineer – It’s probably because of my personality, I don’t want to miss anything haha!
Hey Ermin. Yeah fair enough on the not wanting to miss anything call! I think a lot of people probably fit in and around the all-mountaineer style. You should get back into it – if you’ve got snow that is…. still waiting for it here! Thanks for the input
Freestyle is my choice. Since in my country there is not really anything that great to ride so have to go with the most “all-around” option.
Hey Jesse. Thanks for your input. I’m guessing it’s quite common for styles to come about due to local conditions. It’s probably often a big influence on board choice too. Where are you from?
Hey Nate. Thanks for another great article. If I had to choose, I would definitely go with free style. Trail riding is great,but I like to jump anything put in front of me. See ya soon. -Jeremy
Hey Jeremy. I’m definitely heading in that freetyle direction myself. Will never lose the thrill of a good backcountry expedition or carving up the trails but definitely getting my thrills more and more from a few feet above the snow! Thanks for commenting!