When you’re buying a snowboard, the most important question to ask yourself is: what kind of snowboarder am I? That is, what kind of snowboarding do you most like to do on your winter holiday? Do you like to ride fast and hard or cruise about? Do you head straight for the snow park to practise your jumps and spins?
Or perhaps you’re a more advanced freeride snowboarder who likes nothing more than seeking out fresh snow off-piste. Or are you a beginner learning to link your first turns on the nursery slopes, who wants a forgiving board to inspire confidence?
The shape, firmness, edge design and length of your snowboard will affect how it performs on piste, in the park or in the backcountry. Soft boards are more forgiving, easier to turn at slow speeds and better to learn tricks on. Stiff boards are good for freeriding and riding fast in demanding terrain, while medium-flex snowboards are great all-rounders.
Boards for children, such as the Burton Chopper, have upturned edges, making it harder for kids to catch an edge and fall over. One thing is for sure: having your own snowboard is so much better than borrowing a board from a hire shop, as rental boards will often be heavy and about as easy to manoeuvre as a tank.
Do women need a specific women’s snowboard? Not necessarily, though women’s designs are made with smaller and lighter riders in mind, and they’re usually narrower, as on average women have smaller feet. Lots of women ride men’s snowboards; however, men rarely ride women’s boards.
What size of snowboard should you go for? This depends on a number of factors, including your height, weight, whether you prefer to do tricks – where shorter boards works best – or ride powder, where a longer board will help. It also comes down to personal preference. Most brands will explain more about their specific take on sizing on their web sites.
Here is our selection of the 12 best snowboards for this winter. We’ve included two women’s specific boards, two children’s boards and a splitboard, for snowboarders who want a board that splits in two to act as touring skis.
Capita Defenders of Awesome Snowboard: £390 Snow + Rock
Living up to its hyperbolic name, Capita’s Defenders of Awesome board has won multiple design awards in the past five years, and this year’s model continues to impress. Ideally suited to intermediate and advanced snowboarders, this is a light, responsive, high-performance snowboard for a decent price. It feels fun and stable when you’re riding fast but also performs well in the snow park. It’s a great all-rounder that is available in sizes 152, 154, 156 and 158cm, with slightly different versions of the same design.
Roxy Sugar Women’s Snowboard: £307.89, Blue Tomato
The Roxy Sugar is a solid beginner board on which to build up your confidence as it’s flexible and forgiving, easy to manoeuvre at low speeds, and hard to catch an edge on, as there’s nothing more dispiriting than constantly going splat in the snow when you’re trying to progress. It has good spring for when you do want to start popping ollies, though this isn’t a board for speed demons as you will get some wobble when you pick up a lot of pace. Available in five sizes, starting at 132cm.
DC Comics x Burton Chopper Snowboard: £175, Burton
The dominant thinking used to be that children should learn to ski first and not try snowboarding until they were eight, but in recent years Burton has blown that wisdom out the window with their pioneering kids-specific board range. The Chopper has a convex base, upturned edges, soft flex and a flat profile, which all go towards making it extra stable and hard to catch an edge on. Kids will love the DC Comics’ graphics, which also feature Superman depending on the size. And on the smaller models, you can attach the brand’s Riglet lead and tow them along while they find their feet.
Salomon Assassin Snowboard: £400, Snow + Rock
If you’re snowboarder who likes to ride aggressively on piste, in the powder or especially in the park, the Salomon Assassin is worth considering. Suitable for all riders, except complete beginners, it’s one of the softer flex boards in our selection. It rides smoothly and loves to fly off jumps of all sizes – although be warned: tricks are easier at faster speeds. Comes in three sizes, from 153cm.
Jones Snowboards Explorer Splitboard: £599, The Snowboard Asylum
Splitboards, which are snowboards that split into two to act as touring skis, are a relatively recent but revolutionary way for snowboarders to explore beyond the pistes and into the backcountry. They don’t come cheap, but the Explorer from Jones (the market-leading brand), is a great value option, especially if you’re new to splitboarding. But despite the price, it doesn’t skimp on performance. It’s firm and grippy when touring, and rides like a dream on powder or soft snow on the way down. Available in sizes 161 and 164cm.
Burton Skeleton Key Snowboard: £470, Burton
If you’re the kind of snowboarder who is not fussed about the park but loves to freeride, that is find the freshest snow on the mountain and float down on top of it, then the Skeleton Key would be an excellent board choice. While not suited to complete beginners, as long as you can link your turns this playful snowboard would work for you. It loves surfing through powder but also carves nicely on the piste, is easy to manoeuvre and holds its edge well. Overall, a really fun snowboard. Comes in 154 and 158cm.
Bataleon Distortia Women’s Snowboard: £385, The Snowboard Asylum
If you’re an intermediate or advanced rider looking for a women’s snowboard that performs well all over the mountain, from the powder to the park, with particularly great pop, this should be top of your list. It’s a stable, mid-flex snowboard that it’s easy to control, fun to ride and forgiving when you’re trying new tricks. Available in four sizes from 140cm.
YES Fun Inc Kids’ Snowboard: £240 The Snowboard Asylum
As more children learn to snowboard at a younger age, a gap has opened up in the market between boards designed for young kids and bigger adult boards which teenagers can use. Yes is seeking to fill that gap with the Fun Inc. It’s aimed at the 8-12 year old ripper whose skills and tricks are progressing, but their size and weight mean they still need a small, light board, that is stable and easy to control. Available in sizes 127, 133 and 138cm; colour varies according to size.
Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro HP Snowboard: £539, Snow + Rock
Travis Rice is a rare example of a celebrity snowboarder – in the US he is so famous he sells out film tours and appears on late-night chat shows. His signature snowboard is powerful with a high-performance spec, but its relatively stiff flex means it’s not for beginners or the faint-hearted. It rides really nicely in powder and while you’re going fast, but it can be harder work on the piste and at slow speeds. Available in size 155 or 157cm, and wider versions are also on sale for those with bigger feet.
DC Mega Snowboard: £380, DC
Given that DC is originally a skate brand from California, it’s not surprising that their boards are designed with snowboarders who like to hit the park and perform skate tricks on snow in mind. And the Mega is no exception. Whether you’re jumping off kickers or just riding hard through powder or choppy snow, this intermediate board is stable and powerful, with plenty of spring when you need it. Comes in four sizes from 150cm, plus DC has extra width options.
Jones Project X Snowboard: £1285 The Snowboard Asylum
It’s hard not to be fascinated by a snowboard that costs the price of a peak-holiday chalet rental, not to mention more than twice the price of any other board in our selection. Is it worth it? Will you have twice as much fun as you would riding any of the other boards featured? That’s hard to measure, but the Project X certainly boasts some impressive tech.
It’s very light yet strong, thanks to a carbon fibre laminate used in Tour de France-winning bikes and America’s Cup-winning boats. While a fibreglass layer brings good pop to the nose and tail, and the kind of durability you’d expect with the price. It is a fast, powerful board though that’s best tamed by advanced to expert snowboarders – albeit ones with seriously deep pockets. Available in size 158cm.
Ride War Pig Snowboard: £399.99, Surfdome
Don’t be put off by the short length of this board; it isn’t for kids, Rome has just transferred the board surface area that would have gone into the length into the width. The result is a lovely-riding snowboard that floats beautifully on powder even at low speeds, but is also easy to manoeuvre and carve with on the piste. Though it is best suited to more advanced snowboarders. Available in sizes 142, 148, 154 cm with the same graphic.
The Verdict: Snowboards 2017/18
Capita’s Defenders of Awesome snowboard is our Best Buy as it’s a great all-rounder’s board that rides really well for a decent price. We also rate the Burton Skeleton Key, DC Mega and Bataleon Distortia, if you’re looking for a women’s specific choice. Parents of young children can’t go wrong with the Burton Chopper, while those with older kids should look to the YES Fun Inc. For those with deep pockets and a love of new tech, the Project X from Jones provides the ultimate on-snow bragging rights.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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