With so many different types of snowboards available nowadays, beginners are having a tough time selecting the one that’s right for their type of riding. The biggest debate most beginners have is whether they should go for an all-mountain or a freeriding snowboard. While both types are similar in some ways, they differ in others, and those differences can make or break your snowboarding experience. In order to pick the right all-mountain or backcountry snowboarding gear, you need to understand the following differences.
Backcountry (Freeride) Snowboard Characteristics
These snowboards have a stiff or medium-stiff flex. On the stiffness scale of 1-10, they range anywhere from 7 to 10 (10 is stiffest). The reasons for this is because stiffer boards go faster from edge to edge and have a better edge-hold, making them more stable and high speeds and allowing them to go through rugged terrain much better than softer flex boards.
Further, when browsing for backcountry snowboarding gear, you’ll notice that most snowboards in this category are always directional shaped. Directionally-shaped snowboards are ideal for riding in one direction because most freeriding doesn’t require switching. Their nose is longer and wider than the tail, and they have a directional flex, camber profile and side-cut.
Most free riders prefer longer snowboards because the length gives them more speed, stability and a better edge-hold when skiing in deep snow. A rule of thumb is to find the “ideal length” snowboard for your size, then add 2-5 centimetres.
All-Mountain Snowboard Characteristics
These snowboards have a medium-stiff flex, and they can be anywhere from a 4/10 to 7/10 on the stiffness scale. The most common flex for all-mountain snowboards is 5/10 and 6/10, and that’s due to the fact that these boards need to be versatile enough to be able to do everything you throw at them. In other words, they need to have stability at speed, a good edge-hold, proper response, but they also need to be forgiving and flexible for hitting jibs, landing jumps, tweaking grabs, etc. Having a soft flex when riding casually and slowly is also helpful.
All-mountain boards have a directional twin shape, although there are some that have a directional shape as well. This is also a result of the need for flexibility and the need to be capable of performing a little bit of everything. That being said, you can pick an all-mountain board that’s shaped for your individual riding style.
And as far as length goes, they’re quite similar as freeride snowboards, because you don’t want to miss out on the stability, the edge-holding ability. However, you don’t want to go with a board that’s too long, simply because it won’t be suitable for performing tricks, and it will make the board be less nimble at lower speeds.