To the unassuming eye, it might seem as though all snowboards are exactly the same. However, due to the many styles of snowboarding that exist out there, an equally large number of snowboards have been created. It’s therefore important to learn the various snowboarding styles and types.
The 8 main styles of snowboarding are:
- Piste snowboarding
- Carve snowboarding
- Off-piste snowboarding
- Powder snowboarding
- Freestyle snowboarding
- Big mountain snowboarding
However, it’s often more than just the snow you’re riding on that dictates which board or style you’ll be using. Below, we take a look at all the factors that come into play a little more depth, so you can choose the right style of snowboarding – and the right type of snowboard.
Table of Contents
Piste snowboarding is perhaps the most basic of all snowboarding styles. Snowboarders stick to the groomed slopes in the resort which allows them a perfect place to practice their turns and technical drills.
It’s a general style of snowboarding that allows you to hone your technique so that some of the more specific style disciplines prove not to be a problem. Though, depending on the conditions, you may be forced to choose another style to confidently get down the mountain.
Carving is a snowboarding style where you are constantly on the edges of your board. This means a tight grip on the slope and extreme control over the board. That makes carving on a snowboard particularly useful in certain situations.
Though you can use this technique in any condition (and you should, because it’s fun!), anywhere that’s icy or hard-packed makes for the perfect place to try it out. The key to this style of snowboarding iskeeping your entire body stackedover the edge that’s touching the snow.
That means not leaning too far back or forward during your turns and traversing, but instead staying centered on the board. While this is important in all styles of snowboarding, the risk of catching an edge while carving is heightened. That’s partly due to the speed, and partly due to the terrain you’re riding on.
Practice on a wide-open slope, with (hopefully) ideal conditions, and traverse all the way from one side of the slope to the other. Do this on both your toe and heel edge while paying specific attention to the contact your edges have with the snow. If you feel yourself skidding or sliding a little down the mountain, reposition yourself so the edges grip the snow more.
Off-piste, or backcountry snowboarding, is where you’ll venture away from the resort to find interesting and technical terrain to tackle. That doesn’t always mean venturing miles out into the wilderness, however. Sometimes it only means boarding a few meters past the flags.
Unlike piste snowboarding, off-piste terrain requires constant micro-adjustments and awareness to properly tackle. That means your posture and body need to adapt to many different situations while keeping the fundamental stacked form (over your edges) in mind at all times.
Off-piste is one style that would require you to be a jack of all trades snowboarder. Because you’re venturing away from the resort, it’s hard to know what conditions you’re likely to get. But that’s all part of the fun!
Powder snowboarding might not always be possible, but it’s an important style of snowboarding that you need to learn so you can be confident in all conditions. You can be an expert at riding groomed slopes, but cruising through powder is a completely different story.
For one, your edges won’t work like you’re used to. Instead of continuing your aggressive turns as you do on-piste, make soft, fluid motions from one turn to the next. If you go too hard on your edges, you’ll lose balance frequently and end up with your face in the snow every other turn.
You’ll need to still keep centered over your board, even though it will feel like you should lean back. Leaning back is a common misconception with skiing too, but it’s a surefire way to lose your balance and mess up your form. It’s tricky to get your head around if you aren’t used to snowboarding in these conditions, but once you get it, you’ll love it!
Freestyle snowboarding generally incorporates ground and air tricks and goes into a number of sub-disciplines of snowsports. Typically, the disciplines you see at snow events are big air, slopestyle, halfpipe, and various smaller park competitions.
Each of these freestyle disciplines requires different techniques and large amounts of courage, determination, and rotational flexibility. It’s one thing to ski down a steep icy slope, but it’s another to throw yourself off a ramp twice or three times the height of you.
Out of all of the snowboarding styles on this list, boardercross is perhaps the only one you won’t ever try. It’s a strange event that sees boarders fly around a prebuilt course full of jumps, tight turns, flats, bumps, and anything else the creators decide to throw at them.
Not only does this test their skills as a snowboarder, but it also throws them into an event where multiple people race at the same time, which is something many people won’t be used to. It’s entirely possible to see a few of the racers collide while making their way down the course.
If you look hard enough next time you’re at the resort, you might be able to find the boardercross track. The track is a great little place to cruise down at your own speed, though it might be different with four or five others chasing after you!
Touring is a style of snowboarding similar to off-piste but a little more in-depth. At an early level, the two overlap quite a bit but touring quickly becomes far more advanced in terms of equipment and technique.
That might mean you’re venturing miles into the wilderness on a splitboard (more splitboards below), or using ropes and ice axes to get through extremely technical terrain. Nine times out of 10, you’ll be carryinglots of different pieces of equipment for the safety of yourself and your friends.
Unlike some snowboarding styles, touring requires you to be extremely fit. That’s not to say that the others don’t, but touring can only be done by either hiking up or using skins on a split board. Then you have the descent afterward, so technically, there are two separate parts to touring.
Big mountain snowboarding is the definition of an extreme sport. Snowboarders are susceptible to avalanches, dangerous wipeouts, and uncertain snow conditions. They often travel at high speeds and need to be able to react instantly to any change in terrain while traveling down.
Which Style of Snowboarding Is Right For You?
Which style of snowboarding is right for you depends on your skill level and what you want to get out of your experience. If you are a beginner, you might want to avoid off-piste snowboarding. If you’re an advanced snowboarder interested in extreme sports, snowboard cross might be more your style.
Is Piste Snowboarding Right For You?
Piste snowboarding is the perfect place to start if you’re a beginner. You can take it as fast or as slow as you like, and you never have to put yourself in a situation you aren’t comfortable with. It’s also a perfect style of boarding if you are with family or children, because it’s safe and has all the amenities you need to help them improve their snowboarding.
Normally, the terrain isn’t too challenging, and you’re still in the safe confines of the resort. There are, however, a few things to look out for when you’re boarding on groomed slopes. Early in the morning, when the sun has yet to rise, you could find yourself on an extremely icy patch of the slope. If your board isn’t correctly set up for this, that could be a shock.
Piste boarding is also ideal for anyone looking to take it easy on the slopes and enjoy their time in the resort. Additionally, the convenience of the chairlifts gives you the opportunity to push it as hard as you like, even if other members of your party may choose to take it easy.
In ideal snow conditions, you’ll be softly skidding from turn to turn, safe in the knowledge that you won’t need to tackle any surprising terrain. Depending on how hard-packed the snow is or isn’t, you may choose to activate the edges of your board to a higher or lower degree. If it’s hard-packed or nearing ice, you’ll want to carve.
Is Carve Snowboarding Right For You?
Carving on a snowboard is, technically, the fastest and potentially safest way to snowboard. Of course, that depends on a whole host of other things, but by staying directly on your edges all the time, you don’t have to account for the second or two it takes to transfer weight onto your toe or heel.
If you’re at an intermediate-advanced level, you’ll probably find carving an extremely relaxing style of snowboarding on almost all areas with groomed slopes. It takes a lot less effort than conventional turning, and gives you the opportunity to go fast!
Is Off-Piste Snowboarding Right For You?
Depending on your ability, backcountry-style snowboarding could look completely different from one person to the next. For lower-ability snowboarders, crossing from one slope to the next over side country might provide just the right amount of difficulty for them.
For more advanced snowboarders who want to travel further out of the resort, that could mean taking courses in avalanche safety, planning routes, and going up against some of the hardest technical terrain around. We’ll take a look at that in more detail further in the article when we come across snowboard touring.
Is Powder Snowboarding Right For You?
For most people, snowboarding in powder is the holy grail of conditions. It doesn’t happen all the time, but that’s part of what makes the experience so special. For instance, Japan has an average of 300-600 inches of snow each year, making it a prime destination for snowboarders wanting to experience the famous champagne powder of Hokkaido’s mountains.
If you’re wondering whether powder snowboarding is right for you, you need to first understand what you’re getting yourself into. If you’re a beginner snowboarder, the sheer amount of snow is going to be a challenge.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t snowboard in powder as a beginner. In fact, snow just a few inches deep could make for incredible skiing conditions. Just be prepared to persevere, because you might not get it instantly. Snowboarding in powder is a completely different experience from anything on the mountain, because it feels as though you’re floating on the snow rather than sliding through it.
Is Freestyle Snowboarding Right For You?
Learning freestyle snowboarding is often secondary, and it comes once you have at least the basics down. Some of the styles of snowboarding mentioned here are invaluable for helping you confidently get down the mountain, but freestyle is a bonus.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t pick it up. It could act as a playful and interesting addition to your snowboarding arsenal, especially on those days when you’re only boarding piste runs. Plus, learning certain freestyle snowboarding styles will quickly improve your balance because of all the strange situations you’ll find yourself in.
While lots of these snowboarding styles can be self-taught (as long as you have the basics), freestyle is often so specialized that many people don’t know where to start. Of course, you don’t need an instructor, but it will help you become better a lot quicker than not having one.
Even professional snowboarders like world-famous halfpipe rider Shaun White still have a coach to help them become the best they can be. If the best freestyle snowboarder in the world has an instructor, there’s no reason you shouldn’t either!
You might never become as famous or as good as Shaun White, but at the very least, you’ll be able tofeel comfortable in the snow park, pop in and out of trees where little jumps start to form, and get that steezy snowboarding style all your friends will be jealous of!
Is Boardercross Right For You?
If you’re even considering participating in a boardercross-style snowboarding event, you’ll need to live near a resort soyou can join a club that should be able to get you into the local league. After that, it’s up to you and your ability as to how far you go.
Boardercross isn’t for beginner snowboarders, and even advanced abilities might find the aggressive nature of it quite off-putting. That’s not to say you can’t find and ride on a track while it’s not in use, but technically that’s not what boardercross is.
Due to the extremely tight turns, and challenging terrain, you’ll have to be at the top of your game and be able to adapt within a split second, especially as there are other people on the track. Balance is key with boardercross. Not only do you have to deal with a man-made track, but you also face the possibility of being knocked out by another rider. Time to get those core muscles ready!
Is Touring Right For You?
Touring is just as much about snowboarding as it is about trekking to a destination. If you enjoy being outdoors, surrounded by mountains, with hardly anyone else in sight, then touring could be a great choice for you.
Due to thespecific advanced skills and safety knowledge needed, it’s not a style of snowboarding you’ll likely attempt when you’re still a beginner. Even if you’re an extremely confident and advanced snowboarder, you still need to be taught the nuances of snowboard touring.
As we mentioned above, touring is a style of snowboarding that always requires you to be with other people. It’s a very bad idea to attempt touring on your own and will almost definitely put you in a risky situation, which in turn will put those potentially rescuing you at risk.
Is Big Mountain Snowboarding Right For You?
First off, unless you’re a highly advanced or expert snowboarder, this kind of thing won’t even be on your radar. It’s possibly the hardest snowboarding discipline out there, with a lot of different moving parts.
If it does sound interesting to you, start by building a solid foundation for your snowboarding technique. After that, learn to board off-piste and in side-country while learning as much as you can about mountain safety and snow conditions.
It typically requires great ability to read the snow, pick a safe yet challenging line down the mountain, and gain access to a helicopter or otherwise specialized equipment. And while snowboard touring includes hiking, big mountain snowboarding always has the end goal of, you guessed it, big mountains.
Once you begin learning how snowboard touring works and become fully comfortable with all of the gear, you should find a group of people more experienced than you and follow them to a big mountain spot. If you’re unable to find anyone, consider getting an instructor or tour guide to show you the ropes.
Snowboards have different shapes to suit different terrains and purposes. Not all snowboards look the same, and this isn’t just a cosmetic decision, (although sometimes it can be). Many snowboards have different shapes to help the rider navigate the terrain and snow conditions more favorably.
As we’ll find out, some snowboards are good for all conditions, whereas some are far more specialized. While there are only technically three different styles of snowboard, each board may be cut slightly differently, use different materials, or have the bindings set back further. That means in reality, there are hundreds of unique offerings on the market.
It’s important to pick the correct snowboard shape for your skill, the snow you’re riding, and your aims in the snowboarding session. Not only will it mean you’ll have more fun on the slope, but depending on the snowboarding style you’re practicing, it will catapult your learning much faster than if you were using the wrong board.
Cambers are in-built modifications that all 3 of the snowboard types can come with. It’s vital to choose the right camber with the right snowboard, as it changes how the snowboard interacts with the snow, and therefore impacts your snowboarding experience.
If a snowboard is placed on the ground, the side profile of the board will have certain bends in it, or none at all, depending on its intended use. The bends of the board relate to how it will interact with the snow and will hopefully make for a better experience for you, the rider. Let’s take a look at the most popular configurations of snowboard camber.
Flat camber is a snowboard profile that is best suited for groomed piste riders. The board has only a slight rise at the very top of the tail and nose. This gives incredible stability and almost complete connection with the edges and the snow at all points on the slope.
This snowboard profile is perfect for those wanting to perfect their technique and charge through the ice with a strong grip. As the board is able to do this, it often has very sharp, pronounced edges that seem to magically find their grip on each turn.
While that’s fantastic for experienced boarders who are trying to get the most out of their equipment, it can be more of a problem than a help to beginners. If you’ve ever tried snowboarding, you’ll know how easy it is to accidentally catch an edge and face-plant in the snow, so you really don’t need anything making that more likely to happen.
Traditional camber snowboards are regarded as one of the most aggressive kinds due to the raise in the middle of the board. This allows experienced riders to drive more power out of every turn and crush hard packed or icy snow.
As such, much like the flat camber profile, these aren’t at all forgiving when it comes to learning as a beginner. Sometimes, they’ll be the only choice you have to practice on (from rental shops), so if that is the case, just keep in mind that catching an edge is a likely occurrence.
The reverse camber, or rocker, as it’s sometimes known, is a snowboard profile that has the biggest lift on both the nose and tail of the board. This pretty much allows the snowboard to float over the mountain on a powder day and bounce over any form of crud the mountain has to offer.
Both the tip and nose are rockered, which technically reduces the amount of board that comes into contact with the snow. This means you won’t have as much control as some of the other profiles, so riding hard-packed snow or ice might be a little bit of a challenge.
However, they are a great choice for beginners, because the potential of catching an edge is drastically reduced. Just watch out for the instability that may go with this. Sadly, you can’t have everything!
The hybrid camber board profile combines the best of the playfulness of the rocker profile and the stability of the camber. As such, it’s extremely versatile, and depending on the rider, it can find itself on pretty much any point of the mountain.
All-mountain snow gear is always a great choice for a beginner as it doesn’t pigeonhole the rider into a specific style, however you need to be careful when buying a hybrid camber board. The intensity of the camber or rocker and the length of each of them can be set to almost anything.
This level of customization means you really need to understand what it does to your boarding style before you commit to buying it. It might be an extremely versatile camber profile, but that’s not always easy for a beginner to sort through.
However, if you do know what you want and you completely understand your riding style, grabbing a snowboard with a hybrid camber might just be the perfect option. A board that can handle almost any situation a mountain throws at it is a board everyone needs to own!
The hybrid rocker is another versatile snowboard profile that’s more suited for experienced riders who enjoy riding a bit of everything. It’s a great option for the snow park and also plain old groomed runs.
If you aren’t used to it, the rocker at the very center of the board may leave you feeling unbalanced, and in some cases, out of control. It’s for that reason that they’re almost exclusively used for experienced boarders who won’t really find that a problem.
The final type of snowboard camber is the backseat camber. If you’ve never looked at snowboard cambers before, it’s likely that you won’t ever have seen a setup like this. The board will have an elongated rocker towards thenose and a small camber underneath your rear foot.
This style of camber is for one thing only, and that’s powder. Its long, drawn-out design makes floating through powder a piece of cake and likely one of the best boarding experiences you’re going to have. So if you enjoy shredding through the deep stuff, keep this profile on your radar.
A true twin snowboard is completely symmetrical. That means you can spend your day switching from regular to goofy while knowing your board will do just as good a job either way.
These are the snowboards best suited to people who ride freestyle or those who just enjoy frequently riding switch. The design of the board means your experience will be identical no matter which way you land, which is perfect for that 540 you’ve been practicing!
These are the “all-mountain” versions of a snowboard. Their design is relatively similar to the true twin boards, but they have a nose slightly shorter than the tail. This helps the back drive power into the turns and allows the boarder to get more power out of the turns.
Like the true twin snowboard, this shape allows the rider to ride switch whenever they want, though it’s slightly less comfortable than the true twin. The point is, the option is there, and it’s a viable one at that if you only ride switch on the odd occasion.
Directional shape snowboards are built to travel in one direction. One of the greatest signifiers of a directional shape board will be a completely different shaped tail to the nose. That’s often to aid with snow contact throughout the entire turn, making them perfect for carving.
There are even some that are based on surfboards, absolutely perfect for big mountain and powder snowboarding (if it has the relevant camber). In situations like these, you don’t need to ride switch so it makes sense to make use of the entire board.
A splitboard isn’t a regular style of snowboard, but it will absolutely appeal to some of you so it’s worth mentioning. If you love touring and exploring the backcountry, using a split board will allow you to hike up the mountain on skis and skins, which allow for easy grip onto the snow. Afterward, you can clip the skis together and snowboard down.
The splitboard will give you a large amount of flexibility for touring and let you choose whether to ski or snowboard in certain situations. It’s a must-have for anyone considering touring with a snowboard.
What Type of Snowboard Is Right For You?
What type of snowboard is right for you depends on skill and experience level and what you want to get from your snowboarding session. Some snowboards are better for beginners and others for advanced. Some snowboards can suit both beginners and more advanced snowboarders.
Is A True Twin Snowboard Right For You?
True Twin Snowboards are fun, there’s no other way to put it. Not only can youplayfully pop in and out of the trees at the side of a run but also practice riding switch and have an incredible time in the snow park.
True twin snowboards come in a variety of cambers, so whether you’re a beginner or advanced snowboarder, you’re bound to find something that works. They’ll often come in smaller sizes to help with rotational movements and tight turns.
Is A Directional Twin Snowboard Right For You?
If you’re someone who loves each and every part of the mountain and struggles specializing in a specific discipline, this is the board shape for you. You can be confident in the knowledge that your board is able to shred hard-packed groomers and feel equally at home riding off-piste.
Is A Directional Shape Snowboard Right For You?
If you have no interest in going to the snow park or doing flips and spins, you’ll love the benefits of riding a directional snowboard. It’s likely the best shape for any technical riding as well as carving over groomers.
The board may not be as playful as some of the other types, but it makes up for that with its ability to power through almost anything with ease. If you want to get down the mountain in style and with perfect turns, this is the board for you.
Is A Splitboard Right For You?
Splitboards are incredibly niche and will only appeal to a few people. As such, a large amount of you reading this won’t ever need to buy one, but for those of you that go touring, you’ll definitely need one.
The other great thing is, you won’t need to use different boots as long as yours aren’t absolutely ancient. That makes trekking a comfortable experience and the snowboarding back down a familiar one.
There are many styles of snowboarding and different snowboards. This can be confusing for a beginner, but it ensures every style of boarder is catered to. Some of the more advanced styles of snowboarding require specific boards, so make sure to choose the right one for your situation.