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.