All mountain snowboards make up a large portion of the boards available on the snowboard market today. They come in a wide variety of shapes, camber profiles, edge tech and flex ratings….. and you need to find one that matches your skill level and riding style. The good news is they tend to be pretty versatile and make a good ‘swiss army knife” for those riders that want only one board for everything. Many all mountain boards can be great for bombing down runs, side-hit freestyle tricks, park terrain, pipe, riding through trees and flying off of big jumps. They also tend to be durable enough to last the average rider at least five years. This allows one to progress over long period of time on one board.
So let’s go over some of the main features to look for when trying to decide which all mountain board to go with. As in our previous post on choosing a beginner board, the first thing you need to do is try to get an idea of what types of riding you will be focusing on. Some all mountain snowboards have a softer flex and so they also make good boards for park terrain. Others have a stiffer flex and are oriented towards steeper terrain. On average, all mountain snowboards are usually in the middle of the road in terms of flex.
Your average all mountain board will have a flex between 4 and 7 on scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the stiffest. Manufacturers will describe the board on the sales sticker indicating the type of terrain the board is designed for. If you want a board that can handle high speeds on the mountain and perform well in the park here’s what to look for.
- A flex rating of 4 to 5: The softer flex will allow you to press your nose and tail and help keep you stable when sliding rails and boxes.
- A twin shape: This allows you to ride switch with the same feel as when you ride normal.
- 2×4 insert pack for added stance options: You may want to slightly adjust your stance wider for park to make spinning and swinging you board around easier. You can bring your stance width in when riding around the mountain because it reduces stress on your legs.
- A rocker or flat profile: Rocker or flat camber between your bindings will be more stable on boxes and rails and reduce your chances of catching an edge when landing spin tricks. Also, rocker and flat camber will give you a feeling similar to riding a skateboard. Small adjustments with your feet will allow the board to turn giving you better board feel, which is great for freestyle tricks.
If you’re looking for an all mountain snowboard that can handle natural features like steep chutes, cliff drops and powder, as well as steeper icy conditions then consider some of these features.
- A flex rating 6 to 8: The stiffer flex will keep the board stable at high speeds as it picks up vibrations from the terrain you are riding over. On a soft board, the board is much more vulnerable to bumps and changes in snow consistency making it vibrate and shake violently at higher speeds. A stiffer board will hold steady and handle the higher speeds much better.
- A directional shape: True directional boards have a longer nose than tail and the sidecut is positioned farther back towards the tail. These boards are great for riding fast down steep terrain because the tails are stiffer and this allows the rider to initiate more powerful turns. Directional boards also reduce fatigue when riding through deeper snow since the board is already weighted towards the tail keeping the nose from diving under the snow. Directional twin shaped snowboards also have a longer nose than tail but the flex of the board is centered. This makes riding and landing switch more comfortable than on a true directional board. Directional twin boards are some of the most popular board that you will find.
- Camber profile: Today, more aggressive all mountain snowboards can benefit from full rocker, positive camber, flat camber or hybrid camber. Manufacturers have even figured out how to build full rocker snowboards that perform well in steeper, natural terrain (Arbor Coda). The main thing to consider is that a full camber snowboard will take more effort to float in deeper snow because its shape wants to pull the nose down. This means you will need to put constant pressure on your back leg to keep it up above the snow in powder conditions. Other than that, they work great for high speed, all mountain riding because they offer precision turning and a lot of pop for going off jumps and natural features.
- Edge tech: Camber may offer the best edge control because of the natural downward pressure generated by its shape. But if you want the benefits of rocker here are a couple options you can consider.
A) Magnetraction, found on Mervin and Niche snowboards, uses a wavy steel edge that creates multiple contact points (where the edge digs into the snow) along the board’s side. This is a highly effective design for holding an edge in steep and icy terrain.
B) Arbor Snowboards Grip-Tech, places a bumped out contact point in front of your toes and at your heels. These are the areas that receive the most direct pressure from your weight as you turn. They use this tech on their full rocker boards and it works great.
So there are a few ideas on what to look for when choosing an all mountain snowboard.
* If you want a board that can play in the park and bomb down your favorite runs try something with a medium flex, a twin or directional twin shape and rocker or flat camber between the bindings.
* If you are looking for a board that works well in powder and will hold up at high speeds down steep terrain check out something with a medium-stiff flex, directional shape and a rocker profile.
Check out our next post picking out a good powder board!