What are the Different Types of Snowboards?

Snowboards and Snowboarding Styles Guide

Whether you’re an experienced rider on the mountain or just starting out, there’s always more to learn when it comes to snowboard styles and the various types of snowboards. Companies like Burton, NeverSummer, Roxy and more are consistently creating new shapes, allowing for more variety in boarding style and the opportunity to branch out and learn different skills with the right board!

In this article, we’ll cover

  • What Snowboard Shape Should I Get?
  • A Brief Overview of Different Snowboards
  • Camber Versus Rocker
  • Soft, Medium, and Hard Flex
  • A Guide to Different Snowboarding Styles and Shapes
  • Frequently Asked Questions

What Snowboard Shape Should I Get?

Shopping for a new board or your first board can be daunting. There are many different choices on the market and you might have questions like what length board you should get? What’s the right type of bindings for my riding style? What kind of terrain am I going to be riding on?

For beginners, I would recommend starting with an “all-around” board, also known as an “all-mountain” snowboard.

All-mountain simply means it’s a well-rounded board for various conditions on the mountain. This board is a great choice for beginners because of its ability to handle different conditions, riding styles, and terrain.

Depending on the style you prefer– freeriding (primarily carving down the mountain) or freestyle (where you hit jumps, do tricks down the mountain as well as carve) you may look into getting an all-mountain board. As for snowboard length, your board depends on your height, weight, and riding style.

Other board styles include directional and tapered directional snowboards, twin and true twin boards, splitboards, and other specialized shapes that I’ll dive into in the A Guide to Different Snowboarding Shapes and Styles category.

Camber vs Rocker

In this section, we’ll go over the definition of camber, rocker, the benefits of both, the best conditions for high performance riding, and my recommendation for beginners

What is a Camber Profile?

Camber is the “pop” or springy feeling when you carve (push from edge to edge on your board) and in the past has been the forefront of boarding shapes. Boards with a traditional camber have a distinct arch in the mid-section (the part between your bindings when you ride), with the primary contact points at the board’s nose and tail (or front and back of the snowboard).

Other variations include the flat camber and modified camber. The flat camber has less arch in the middle of the board (between both bindings) for sharper turns and increased floatation, making it a better option for powdery conditions. The modified or “mixed” camber has two arches instead of one, located closer to the board’s nose and tail. Freestyle riders may prefer a hybrid (or mixed) camber because of their ability to maintain good “pop” while still traversing fresh powder decently. Like other snowboard options, the length of the board depends on your height, weight, and choice of riding style.

The benefits of having a board with more camber include:

More Control — Those who like to “bomb” or go quickly down the mountain like the security that boards with more camber allow. This is because when you press between toe-edge and heel-edge (or “carve” down the mountain), you’re redistributing your weight, which makes the arch (the camber part) flex with you. This allows for more control and stability.

The Grip Factor — We all wish each day on the mountain could be filled with fresh powder and rainbows… Unfortunately, sometimes the mountain is icy or has hard, compact snow. On the days where the conditions are sub-optimal, a board with more camber could be just what you need! This is because camber boards allow for constant contact with the snow as you go from edge to edge– giving you more grip and therefore control.

Stability — Camber boards allow for more stability, letting you “hold” the snow in icy conditions. When turning, you may feel more secure or stable because of these factors.

The best conditions for camber boards are groomed slopes and all-mountain, although a mix of camber and rocker is recommended for the all-mountain snowboarder.

Traditional Camber

Shows side profile of a camber board.

Flat Camber

Shows a side profile of a traditional camber board

Mixed or Modified Camber

Shows side profile of a mixed or modified camber board

What is a Rocker Profile?

Much like an old-school rocking chair, rockers have the most contact directly in-between the boarder’s feet. Rocker boards are also known as “reverse camber” boards because instead of having more arch in the middle, it’s relatively flat, somewhat resembling a smiley face.

The benefits of having a board with reverse camber or rocker include:

Better Park Riding — If you like to hit small jumps, rails, pole jams, boxes, or table tops, then a board with more rocker might be right for you! Since the bottom of the board is relatively flat, it allows for better control and is relatively forgiving when hitting rails– especially for those pesky round ones!

*Please note if you’re hitting large jumps, you will want a cambered board because of the stability, hold, and pop factor.

More Maneuverable — Boards with more rocker have less contact with the snow, allowing the rider to turn on a dime. If you’re an avid jibber (someone who likes to hit boxes and rails), you might want a board with more rocker because it lessens the chance you’ll “hang up” when coming off the box or rail.

Float Factor — Rocker boards flourish in fresh powder! The nose and tail (front and back of the board) are naturally lifted off the ground, making it less likely that you’ll catch your edge. It can also reduce the burning sensation snowboarders experience when riding because you’re more centered on the board.

The best conditions for reverse camber boards include powdery conditions, park riding, half and full pipe riding, and all-mountain riding. Please note that when hitting large jumps, a board with more camber is recommended.

My recommendation for beginner riders would be to shop for a board with more camber, a little bit of rocker and take it on well-groomed slopes.

Rocker or Reverse Camber

Shows side profile of a rocker or reverse camber board

Soft, Medium, and Hard Flex

Soft Flex (Flex Rating of 1-3)

Before diving into the different types of boards and rider styles, knowing the “flex rating” (either soft, medium, or hard) can act as a good guide when determining how stable or loose the board will feel when riding.

Snowboards with a soft flex rating are great for beginners, light-weight riders, and freestylers. This softer board allows for more flexibility and control when turning at a slower speed. It also lets freestyle riders hold nose or tail presses and is suitable for sliding on rails and boxes.

**Please note, a soft flex board will not do well at higher speeds or in icy, un-groomed trails

Medium Flex (Flex Rating of 4-6)

Medium flex boards are the most commonly found on the market because they can provide the widest range of uses for various riders. These boards are best for heavy-weight beginners and intermediate riders allowing for the flexibility to go a bit faster while still maintaining a good amount of stability. A board with a flex rating between 4 and 6 would suit any freestyle rider looking to hit well-groomed trails or obstacles at the park at a slightly faster speed. All-mountain boards often have a medium flex rating.

Hard Flex (Flex Rating of 6-10)

Hard flex or “stiff” boards are much less forgiving than soft or medium. It’s often difficult to manage at slow speeds but is perfect for steep terrain, where you need to turn on a dime. Hard flex boards can be extremely stable at high speeds and can handle icy conditions if the boarder is highly skilled.

For beginners, I would recommend shopping for a soft flex board, while intermediate snowboarders might consider a medium to stiff flex, depending on terrain and style preference

A Guide to Different Snowboarding Shapes

Maybe you’ve seen funky shaped boards while getting on the lift or aimlessly scrolling through board options on the internet. Along with different types of flex, and various amounts of camber or rocker, snowboards also come in a variety of shapes. This includes directional and tapered directional boards, twin shaped boards, directional twins, and splitboards

Twin or “True Twin” Boards

A twin board is just like it sounds. It has an identical nose and tail, priding itself on its symmetry and often soft or medium flex pattern. Freestyle riders, park rats, and beginners alike favor this board because of the easy maneuverability and ability to comfortably ride switch or set up for a trick switch, or non-dominant foot leading. The best conditions for twin boards vary and can perform well both in the park and on trails. Lengths of these boards vary, depending on the ability, height, weight, and style of the rider.

Directional Boards

Directional boards have a very distinct front and back or are asymmetrical. They are often compared to the look of surfboards as some do have a “V” cut on the tail much like a fish-shaped surfboard. These one-direction boards are meant for the avid hill bomber since the nose seamlessly glides above the powder, making it easier to maintain stability at high speeds. The best conditions for a directional board include powder and freeriding. Powder boards are also one-directional although they are often wider than the average directional board to make traversing powder easier. Lengths of these boards vary, depending the style of the rider.

Directional Twins

The directional twin is the hybrid of both directional and twin boards. Having a slight variation between nose and tail, they are meant to have a distinct front and back but still have the soft flex of a twin board. This allows the all-mountain rider to be able to hit DIY jumps, do presses, and flat-ground tricks while still maintaining a good amount of speed and control.

Splitboards

A splitboard is exactly how it sounds– this snowboard can literally split into two halves for when you need to travel uphill while touring. The only type of board that can also be ridden as skies, the adhesive backing allows for more traction and grip on the snow. Known as the ultimate backcountry board because you can use the board to hike up the mountain then remove the adhesive skin, attach the board back together, and happily bomb down the hill!

These boards often have either soft or hard-boot bindings because of its backcountry purpose. If you’re looking for a more surf-like feeling, go with a soft-boot binding. Just be warned, soft-boot bindings do tend to wear out faster.

This type of board style is only recommended for the advanced snowboarder since backcountry terrain can be hazardous.

I would suggest beginners start out with a true twin board that has traditional camber, for well-groomed slopes

A Guide to Different Snowboarding Styles

Along with different amounts of rocker and camber, there’s a variety of boards for different riding styles. For example, do you like bombing down the mountain with your hair blowing in the wind? Then a tapered directional board might be for you. If you’re a park rat who loves jibbing it up, then a true twin with some rocker would be the way to go.

  • All-mountain: Best for any terrain
  • Freestyle: Best for park
  • Freeride: Best for ungroomed snow in any terrain
  • Powder: Best for deep powder
  • Splitboard: Best for the backcountry
  • Alpine Boards: Best for racing & carving at high speeds

This section will cover types of boards and the best conditions, and my recommendation for beginners.

All-Mountain Boards

All-Mountain or “Freeride” boards may be the most versatile type of board. They’re purposefully designed to handle all different types of terrain, being able to coast on top of the powder or carve in more compact snow, handling uneven terrain, park riding, and groomed trails beautifully. Freeride boards are also a good option for the person who is a less-aggressive rider and tends to carve down the mountain at moderate speed, instead of the full-fledged hill-bomber.

Flex: Medium

Shape: Directional Twin, Directional, True Twin

Setback Stance: Slightly off-center, between 5mm – 20mm

Board Profile: Mixed Camber or Mix of Camber and Rocker

Type of Base: Extruded and Sintered

I would recommend a true twin shape board with a hybrid camber and soft flex for beginners.

All-Mountain “Freestyle” Boards

Although these boards still handle all sorts of terrain, they’re better suited for both the avid hill-bomber and park rat because of their ability to handle high speeds while still maintaining stability. An all-mountain freestyle board will allow you to traverse the park more adequately because of the medium stiffness and centered stance.

All-mountain boards often come with the standard strap-in binding (one strap around the toe area and another around the ankle), since they tend to be the most comfortable type of binding and can be adjusted to add support or more cushion. A more aggressive all-mountain rider may also choose to have canting added to generate more drive and “pop” to the board.

Flex: Soft to Stiff Depending on Preferred Features

Shape: Directional Twin or Directional

Setback Stance: Slightly off-center, between 5mm – 20mm

Board Profile: Varies but Often Mixed

Type of Base: Both Extruded and Sintered

If you’re in the market for this type of board, we recommend the Cardiff SnowCraft Crane Snowboard.

Freestyle & Park Boards

Do you like to hit jumps, jibs, and rails at the park? Maybe you like finding DIY jumps on the mountain or doing flat-ground tricks. Either way, freestyle boards are well-suited for either, but the amount of flex depends on the type of features you’re trying to enjoy. For example, if you like doing jibs, smaller jumps, and flat-ground, you may want a softer flex board because of how forgiving they can be. If you’re doing large jumps and spend most of your time in the halfpipe then you’ll want a stiffer flex board to allow for stability at high speeds.

A stiffer board, between 5 and 10 on the flex scale can also give the feeling of a more balanced landing after coming off a big jump. Freestyle or park boards often have the average strap-in binding because of the comfortability. Although the impatient rider (like myself), prefers a speed-entry binding that allows you to quickly step into your bindings, making the most of your time on the mountain!

Flex: Soft to Stiff Depending on Preferred Features

Shape: True Twin

Setback Stance: Centered

Board Profile: Mixed with Some Rocker

Type of Base: Both Extruded and Sintered

If you’re in the market for this type of board, we recommend the Salomon Huck Knife.

Freeride Boards & Splitboards

Freeriders often like to go fast or feel “free.” These riders tend to find the fun in carving down the mountain, exploring the backcountry while simultaneously being able to take on icier, compact conditions.

Unlike the freestyle board, it’s not fit for park riding and shines best in powdery conditions or just for going fast! Splitboards often come in soft and hard-boot bindings as well as puck or non-puck bindings. This is because of their special ability to split in half.

Flex: Stiff

Shape: Tapered Directional or Directional

Setback Stance: At Least 20mm

Board Profile: Hybrid Camber

Type of Base: Sintered

*Split boards require a different type of binding, although there are tools on the market (sliders) that allow you to still use your regular bindings on your split board.

If you’re in the market for this type of board, we recommend the Cardiff Snowcraft Goat Solid & Split boards.

Alpine “Race” Boards & Powder Boards

The average alpine or race board is narrower than both freestyle and freeriding boards. They often have more length and a tapered, stiff build that makes them perfect for carving out turns at high speeds. This is because the alpine board can hold an edge when faced with a more speed and driving power, even on compact snow.

These boards are not meant for park riding and are often tapered one-directional, asymmetrical, and often have a shovel-like nose. Their main purpose is to maintain control in untouched powder and gain speed! Alpine boards also can have hard or soft bindings, commonly known as “plate-bindings.” These are stronger than the average strap-in binding and gives the rider the ability to “step” into the binding, clicking the toe clip and set of bails into place.

*This type of board is not recommended for beginners but instead for the advanced rider.

Flex: Stiff

Shape: Tapered Directional, Directional

Setback Stance: 20mm or More

Board Profile: Hybrid

Type of Base: Sintered

For beginners, I would recommend a true twin, all-mountain snowboard with a centered stance and a hybrid camber.

Frequently Asked Questions About Snowboard Types

Why do snowboards have different shapes?

Snowboards have different shapes because of the various types of styles preferred by riders. Some types of snowboards, like all-mountain boards, can handle all sorts of terrain but aren’t particularly well-suited for doing large jumps or halfpipe riding. Directional boards for example, are specifically meant for maintaining stability at high speeds.

A rider that prefers a directional or tapered directional board would probably want to bomb (or race quickly) down the hill, instead of performing tricks at the park. If you’re just starting out and are unsure about what type of riding style you prefer, it’s best to go with an all-mountain, true twin board shape. This will allow you to feel out different types of riding styles, conditions on the mountain, and figure out what your preference is!

What are the different styles of snowboarding?

Here is a list of different styles of snowboarding:

  • Freestyle (Riders who like doing flat-ground tricks and DIY jumps on well-groomed slopes. They also might hit the park every once in a while.)
  • Freeride (These riders are less into doing tricks and more into carving down the mountain. They often prefer backcountry riding.)
  • Alpine or Race (Alpine riders’ number one concern is speed, speed, speed!)
  • Park Rats (From jumps to jibs, boxes, rainbow rails, and more, these park rats love all the features of the park.)
  • Urban DIY Rat (Not to be confused with the park rat, these riders don’t bother going to the mountain when there are perfectly good rails to hit around town!)
  • All-Mountain Freestyle Riders (For those who like creating their own obstacles and enjoy doing flat-ground tricks.)
  • All-Mountain Freeriders (For the mountaineer that primarily likes carving.)
  • Powder Fanatics (Those who seek fresh snow, or “powder,” these riders may also like touring or backcountry riding.)
  • Backcountry Riders (For riders looking for untouched powder, enjoy traversing through the trees instead of well-groomed slopes.)

What is an “aggressive” snowboard?

An aggressive snowboard tends to be a stiffer type of board that’s very receptive to sharp turns for getting through those pesky trees! Freeriders tend to favor an aggressive board because of their directional or tapered directional shape, meaning they have a distinct tail and nose, or front and back of the board. Since this type of snowboard has a harder or stiffer flex (ranging from 6-10 on the flex scale) it makes it easier to manage at high speeds; no one likes getting speed wobbles down the mountain! An aggressive board may also be a “splitboard” for the avid backcountry snowboarder. It may come with a different type of binding as you can literally split the board in half to create skis, making it easier to climb up the mountain, even on top of soft powder.

Although it’s not always the case, aggressive snowboards may also have plate-bindings because these bindings allow for much steeper angles, amply found when backcountry boarding. The aggressive all-mountain rider may also opt to have a small amount of canting added to generate more drive and “pop” to the board.

What kind of gear should I get? What kind of gear do I need?

For both the eager beginner and the seasoned specialist, here’s our recommendation for what type of gear you need to have for the best day on the mountain!