Just when you think you’ve caught up with the latest in snowboarding technology, it changes again. Fads cycle in as new materials are developed or people dabble in new ways of training, boots and bindings change, helmets and goggles get better, hell, even colorways morph into new palettes and previously unseen shapes and designs shift the landscape. So, what about the snowboards themselves?
At the moment, surf-inspired styles continue to dominate the powder scene, featuring widening noses and an ever-expanding range of tail shapes. There are poppy park boards with pressy noses, free-riding pow slayers stocked with backcountry slash-tech, and an expansive array of all-mountain shredders. There are so many exceptional choices out there, it’s difficult to narrow it down to the absolute best snowboards; however, we’ve managed to pull out a handful that we think perform a notch above the rest. Here are the best snowboards currently on the market.
Best all-mountain boards
Coalition Snow Queen Bee (Women’s)
If you’re tired of women’s snowboards which are essentially men’s boards shrunken in size and slapped with a pretty graphic, you need to check out the Queen Bee from Coalition Snow — a Lake Tahoe-based company founded by women, run by women, and who makes equipment exclusively for women. This tough-as-nails, all-mountain boss is a no-apologies alpine ripper built with a full birch wood core and enough grit to last all season.
Made with rocker at the tip and tail, the Queen Bee rides like butter and feels as if Coalition Snow custom designed it just for you. Part of this feeling in the board is attributed to its hybrid camber profile that offers a floaty, chatter-free ride while still delivering reliable grip and edge control. It has camber between the feet which provides stability and its solid flex allows it be robust enough to charge downhill at whatever speed you fancy. Take this board into the park, pop it out onto groomers, or dip into the trees or side country — wherever your fantasies take you, this board offers a stellar ride.
Gnu Klassy (Women’s)
The Gnu Klassy comes via retired pro rider Kaitlyn Farrington, who, aside from being the first female rider to pull a backside 1080, also managed to snag a U.S. gold medal for women’s half-pipe at the Sochi Olympics. It’s no surprise her namesake board is fun and poppy while also being aggressive and hard-charging, designed to slay whatever conditions the sky throws down.
With Mervin’s XC2 hybrid profile that places rocker along the waist which blends to camber underneath and outside the feet, the board is solid and grippy while still having a lot of flex. Its aspen-poplar wood core is lightweight yet still powerful, and the board knows how to initiate turns with ease. This is a snowboard that knows how to perform in the park and pipe if that’s where you decide to take it but also stands out when rallying around the other parts of the hill.
Burton Skeleton Key (Men’s)
Many boards market themselves as the go-anywhere, do-anything, all-mountain type of board. In reality, finding a stick that rips corduroy as well as it surfs powder is a rare discovery. If the elusive all-mountain deck does exist, the Burton Skeleton Key is it. This fish-tailed quiver killer does just about everything — and does it better than most of its peers.
Blending elements of similar Burton boards like the Con Artist and Flight Attendant, the Skeleton Key’s directional design delivers power and precision on the groomers while managing to float over powder with ease. If you’re after slashing powder turns, this has 10 millimeters of taper to help its nose pop out and keep the board afloat. Back on-piste, the camber underfoot offers great grip and stability while the slightly extended waist makes carving turns smooth and precise. The board’s Dualzone EDG wood grain at the toe and heel edges adds to the board’s responsiveness and, with a flex rating of 6, it’s bendy enough to feel playful yet solid enough to plow through chop.
The recycled sintered WFO base sucks up wax and keeps you hard-charging and fast as hell. Although beginners may find the Skeleton Key tricky to maneuver, the intermediate and advanced rider will truly enjoy the ride.
Salomon Ultimate (Men’s)
The Salomon Ultimate is the type of board where if you don’t ride it, it rides you — but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for the right type of rider, it’s a snappy, poppy, beautiful board that offers a fast-as-lighting sintered base with seamless edges and a stiff, stomp-ready flex. The Ultimate’s twin shape is designed with a positive hybrid camber profile, with mini-rockers at each contact point and extra curve on either side of the bindings, giving it great pop with minimal twitch.
Salomon built it using its Gunslinger sidewalls, including carbon along the edge to further enhance the board’s responsiveness. Additionally, its Quadrilizer sidecut blend offers riders smooth transitions and outstanding grip. Off piste, the board’s Quad camber offers solid lift for powder runs, helping users sail through fresh areas of the mountain. If you want a board that performs at the top of its game in varying conditions — and you know how to ride it — the Salomon Ultimate won’t disappoint.
Best powder boards
Rome Winterland (Women’s)
If surfing powder-filled bowls or charging steep vertical is how the mountain calls your name, then Rome’s Winterland is the snowboard for you. Billed as an all-mountain board with powder and freeride elements, this new directional deck from Rome does just about anything you want it to. Featuring Carbon Single Barrel technology, it features a turbo-rod that runs down the middle of the board and sticks out of the top sheet, offering dynamic flex and pop without being too torsionally stiff.
This feature also bolsters the board’s responsiveness and keeps edges clean and less washy. The core itself is made of solid poplar wood sections that give it stability and power while still retaining a good amount of bounce. Its front-end rocker helps your nose pop out of the powder during deep turns and the camber toward the back keeps the grip while carving lines. Its SinterTrue base is fast and provides fun glide, offering precision at high speeds for the aggressive female rider who wants to charge like hell.
Franco Snowshapes RPK-2 (Women’s)
Finally, a women’s snowboard truly shaped for deep and steep, face-spraying powder. This maple and poplar-cored swallowtail is an authentic pow deck with pure-and-simple intent and flawless design. Custom made and hand-crafted in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the board is part of Franco’s Rendezvous Peak (RPK) line — a nod to Jackson’s winter weather alerts that tell hungry locals how much snow to expect the following day. With a traditional camber and early rise nose, the board floats and glides effortlessly through powder bowls, offering spoony turns and a surf-like feel.
Franco boards are made at the base of the Teton Range with house-cut veneers and a hand-sprayed finish. This board is part of an elite small-batch run that produced just 15 boards, making it a collector’s item in addition to being an all-around amazing powder surfer. The custom crafting doesn’t come cheap as the price tag clocks in at $1400. However, if you can afford it, this high-end, artisan board is worth every penny.
Ride Alter Ego (Men’s)
The concept of a convertible, two-in-one board made a few industry folks skeptical when the Alter Ego launched in 2014. However, Ride’s powder surfer-meets-hardpack shredder exceeded expectations the minute it hit store shelves. Designed with a split-tail you can unlock for surfy pow lines — or clip back together for a stiffer, more stable ride on groomers — the board offers a boatload of features in a single stick. On a day where you’re barreling through two feet of fresh powder, for example, the rockered nose centers you on the deck and maximizes your leg life.
Clipping the tail together takes the flex from a four to a seven (out of 10), giving you killer edge grip and stability. This is further enhanced by the mostly positive camber throughout the rest of the board, as well as its dampening urethane and carbon sidewalls. The overall result is a board that gives you permission to crash through the choppiest of conditions, knowing you won’t slip or wash out. Rounding out the features is a set of carbon-fiber stringers that add pop to the tip and tail, making the Alter Ego a fun, fast, and awesomely aggressive ride.
Arbor Terrapin (Men’s)
Some snowboards attempt to be everything to everyone, bogging themselves down with extra features and gimmicks. Arbor’s brand-new surf-inspired Terrapin isn’t that board. Released in 2017 after much anticipation, this snowboard is meant for one thing: slashing powder. That doesn’t mean the directional rocker board fails to perform on-piste or when navigating hardpack, but if you’re looking for a true powder surfer, this should be your go-to board.
Featuring a retro shape with a spoony nose and tapered tail, the Terrapin is built with Arbor’s Uprise Fenders. This system gives the outer contact zones extra lift, creating a dreamy, floaty sensation that feels like you’re riding an alpine hoverboard. Its parabolic rocker profile helps it move dynamically across variable terrain while the tri-radial sidecut creates pivot zones to ease turn initiation. The resulting combination is a versatile powder board that can hold its own on the groomers while saving its shine for the soft and pillowy backcountry.
Best park boards
Niche Theme (Men’s)
Some park boards excel at crushing giant big air landings while others are engineered for an all-day trickfest. Niche’s Theme, however, is one of those rare park boards that does it all. Slides, presses, bumps, rails, boxes, logs, ledges — and did someone say pop? The Snappy Sap Bio-Resin paired with camber zones and medium flex gives this board enough spring to enjoy a full day in the park, while the Basalt Magma Fiber offers grounding stability and a honey-smooth glide.
Niche built the Theme to be lightweight with a true twin-tip centered stance so you can spin and turn with ease. The traditional camber and flatter mid-section delivers steadiness and ultra-responsive edge control. The Theme is one of those boards you can talk about all day but the best way to convince yourself is to go to the demo shop and take one for a ride.
L2R Herman Neal Pro (Men’s)
L2R’s Hermal Neal Pro board is a fast, aggressive twin-tip with an asymmetric cut, built for taking big jumps and stomping hard landings. Featuring a full tip-to-tail, paulownia-poplar wood core with carbon stringers and medium flex, it’s smooth, balanced, and easy to press. It also features an added contact point at the inserts to give it a welcome bit of fierce, commanding edge control. The finished product maneuvers quickly and knows how to hold an edge during big, heavy turns.
Although the board — with sintered Ptex Sidewalls and a Ptex 4000 Electra Base — is designed to be more of a park jumper, it nevertheless locks into rails with precision and offers the versatility to jump, slide, grind and ride whatever the park throws at you. In addition to being one of our favorite boards, L2R was originally founded to support Mt. Hood snowboarder Luke Dorsey in his fight against cancer. Although the beloved local passed away in 2010, the company continues to donate portions of sales to cancer research and many of the boards feature his initials in the graphic.
Best freeride boards
YES Hel Yes (Women’s)
Pro rider Helen Schettini — who hails from Whistler, Canada — is well-known for her ability to spot burly, unique lines and play hard amid chutes, rocks, and cliffs. Her riding preferences are evident in her signature deck, the eponymous Hel Yes, which is in its third year and is still going as strong as ever. The company’s first-ever female-specific board is a backcountry beast, built to rip down pillowy staircases and launch off rocky ledges with style and grace.
With a rocker-camber-rocker profile, directional twin shape, and medium flex, the board’s been enhanced even further with a feature called the underbite. This technology brings the edges in slightly at the bindings, creating less contact with the snow directly under the rider’s foot and rebalances pressure to the most effective parts of the sidecut. The result is a grippy, ultra-precise edge you can use to power-start your turns while staying in control and minimizing twitch.
Off-piste, the front-end rocker pulls the rider’s nose toward the sky to float through powder, and its lightweight poplar-bamboo core makes the deck slide through trees with ease. This is probably not an ideal snowboard for a beginner but the advanced freeriding female will go nuts over this backcountry charger.
Pallas Girl Scout (Women’s)
Pallas’s Girl Scout isn’t a board meant for casual groomer days. This is a bonafide big mountain board designed by a pack of Utah women who wanted a board that handles the backcountry while performing reliably in-bounds. The directional, tapered design offers powder hunters a straightforward big line-shooter with a light aspen core and textured top sheet that sloughs off layers of snow while you plow through powder. The early rise, spoon-shaped nose and stiff tail deliver all the irresistible float of a true powder board with a less aggressive shape, keeping it versatile for when you’re riding hardpack.
Around the resort, the board’s zero camber profile offers supreme edge control for firm ground and its slightly squared nose supplies extra surface area to reduce swing weight, resulting in a smooth, calculated ride. Additionally, if you’re cutting through trees or making quick turns, the tighter sidecut allows for the precision necessary to hit narrow lines on target. All told, the Girl Scout is a nimble, playful board that shines brightest when you take her for a spin outside.