Types Of Snowboarding | 8 Different Ways To Snowboard

It’s perfectly normal to be intrigued by the different types and styles of snowboarding. You might have noticed that not all snowboarders use the same kind of snowboard, and they switch it up based on their favorite terrain they intend to shred.

The different types of snowboarding are all mountain, freestyle, freeride, alpine, splitboard, and backcountry. Terrain plays an important role in determining the type of board used, and snowboarders prefer specialized boards with unique design features based on the terrain they enjoy riding.   

Rider’s hone and challenge the technical aspects of various board types on the hill and in competitions throughout the year. This has led to the development of many boards to suit the various riding styles.

What Are the Ways in Which You Can Snowboard?

The type of terrain you like to shred determines your style of snowboarding. There are many types of snowboards, each with a specific design suited to a particular terrain.

We, snowboarders, are an exciting bunch and love to explore and have fun with the snow; hence there are different types and styles of snowboarding.

Your snowboarding style is ultimately based upon your snowboarding type. Here are the different types of snowboarding that you can enjoy:

1. All Mountain

This is the type most beginners to snowboarding start with. All-mountain riders are considered great all-rounders as they can handle anything the mountains bring about.

They love independence, and the snowboards designed for this type of riding are meant for riders who often love switching up their terrains, from parks or groomed runs to backcountry slopes.

These riders prefer boards with medium flex which gives them great flexibility and handling on turns and different terrain they enjoy cruising.

These snowboarders focus on having fun with shredding and place less emphasis on jumps, tricks, and other technical aspects of the sport.

All Mountain
Picture Credit: SnowboardProCamp on YouTube.com

2. Freestyle

Freestyle riding shares close cultural bonds with skateboarding, which can be seen from the techniques and tricks used in this type of riding.

They prioritize the technical aspects of the sport, like jumps and spins, and love riding the halfpipe and terrain parks with lots of boxes and rails that allow them to compete and showcase their skills on slopes.

Because of this, freestyle snowboards differ from all-mountain boards and usually have a softer flex for extra maneuverability.

3. Freeride

A slightly more advanced type of snowboarding in which these riders enjoy riding on high-speed slopes. Fresh powder and freeride riders are like best friends.

They differ from the all-mountain riders due to their preference for shredding on advanced runs.

Freeride snowboarders also love to shred down trees and slopes with lots of challenging terrain features; hence their snowboards have less flex, excellent float, and are a bit longer to carve through powder.

5. Alpine/Race

Alpine snowboarding revolves around intense carving with the board at high speed. This type of riding usually happens in groomed runs and on hard-packed snow.

The riders focus less on aerials and tricks but don’t let this fool you, this type of riding requires a great deal of effort and focus.

Alpine boards are longer than usual and have a narrow and stiff design, which gives them excellent stability, control, and grip during those hard turns on high-speed runs.

6. Splitboarding

Splitboards have a similar design as a normal snowboard but can be split in half to act like skis allowing the rider to tour the backcountry.

This dual-purpose board allows riders to climb the runs like a skier and then ride down the slopes like a snowboarder.

The switching-up process usually takes about two minutes, where the rider has to adjust the bindings and strap on some climbing skins to use in ski mode.

7. Backcountry

Backcountry riders love the excitement and risk of ungroomed slopes, isolated and filled with all sorts of adventures, from fresh powder to dangerous cliffs.

Riders are trained and carry special pieces of equipment to ascend on top of the slopes.

Avalanches can ruin the fun instantly; hence all riders are expected to carry emergency supplies and carefully observe safety precautions.

But due to the excellent powder conditions, there is a surge in the popularity of backcountry riding.

Picture Credit: GoPro on YouTube.com

8. Are These the Only Types?

When asked about the different types of snowboarding, people share different opinions.

Some people think there are only three types of snowboarding; all-mountain, freeride, and freestyle, and everything else falls in between these three spectrums.

While others argue for a separate classification based on the styles and equipment used for the different types of riding. Let’s examine these different styles.

Styles of Snowboarding

The different types of snowboarding have different styles that are associated with each of them. Our love for snow takes many creative forms on slopes. Here are some of them:

1. Big Air        

Put simply, big air is when tricks are performed in mid-air. Riders aim to achieve a considerable height and distance from the ground and then land smoothly after performing tricks.

It typically starts with snowboarders cruising downhill and hitting a kicker to hit the air. As you might have guessed, it is closely related to the freestyle type of riding.

2. Half Pipe

Riders utilize a semicircular trench made up of snow that is shaped exactly like a, you guessed it, halfpipe to achieve air and do tricks.

The pipe walls generate enough speed so that tricks can also be performed when riding from one end of the half pipe to another.  

3. Slopestyle

Another style that favors tricks. Instead of doing it in the air, riders cruise down the slopes and try to dominate the many man-made features such as rails and jumps.

It is fun and creative in that riders can pick and choose the terrain they wish to perform tricks and showcase their abilities.

4. Jibbing

A style that is closely influenced by skateboarding tricks and techniques. Basically, freestyle riding in both snow and urban settings.

The term “jibbing” simply means doing tricks on top of objects such as rails and boxes.

5. Big Mountain

A style that closely follows freeride snowboarding. Big mountain riding is performed on steep, challenging terrain, often with a lot of powder.

Riders may be dropped off at the top of a hard-to-reach mountain in a helicopter and make their way to the bottom, jumping off cliffs and carving through untouched pow.  .  

Design, Pros, and Cons of Each Snowboard Type

What are the advantages and disadvantages of each snowboard type?

If you are a newbie snowboarder, you might be tempted to pick up the all-mountain board, but before you make your choice, here is a general breakdown of their design and what each type can do for you:

1. All-Mountain Snowboard

Most all-mountain boards are designed to be ridden directionally, meaning that the nose and tail of the board are different in design.

While there are a variety of designs, most all-mountain boards are designed so that the nose is longer than the tail portion of the snowboard, giving it great balance towards the tail end.

This makes it harder to ride or land the board switch. If the all-mountain board is an excellent choice for all types of terrain, then what is the need for other types of snowboards?

Yes, the all-mountain board can deal with any terrain, but it’s not as specialized as other types of snowboards to deal with specific challenges of different terrains and styles.

Hence, as a choice, snowboarders swap these boards for a more specialized board as soon as they start liking a style and terrain.

The all-mountain starts lagging in aspects of what these other and more specialized boards can do. 

Let’s just say you suddenly feel like you want to hit some slopes in the backcountry; an all-mountain board can do the job.

But it will not perform as nicely as a freeride board because it does not have these necessary design characteristics to perform well in those conditions.

In the same way, you can go to the park with an all-mountain board and still do your tricks, but it won’t be as maneuverable as a specialized freestyle board; hence your performance might take a hit.

All-Mountain Snowboard
Picture Credit: evo on YouTube.com

2. Freestyle Snowboard

You may be familiar with many competitions where riders participate in the halfpipe. Their skill level is evaluated based on tricks and flips as they ride down the pipe.

In this professional setting, these riders use a freestyle type of snowboard due to its design and performance features that are suited for tricks.

Even with experienced casual riders in terrain parks, you will often find they have a freestyle board. The design features of each freestyle board vary greatly based on the brand.

But in general, you will find that these boards are lightweight, short, and can be ridden in any direction. These characteristics make riding a freestyle board fun and give riders good control.

Yet there are limits on what these boards can do in other terrains. If you like to ride fast on hard-packed snow, you might suffer from stability issues as they are not designed for speed under these conditions.

To sum up, riders who love the park and spend most of their time doing tricks will love this board; but people who switch up their terrains and love cruising on steep slopes might run into control issues.

3. Freeride Snowboard

Freeride boards are awesome for people who chase after deep snow in challenging terrain.

As running into unpredictable terrain is a real possibility for these riders, these snowboards usually come with a directional design meant to be ridden in one direction.

This helps the boards to be able to carve through deep snow while still maintaining control when riding in trees or jumping off cliffs.

Many freeride boards also have design features around the tail portion to help with this. An interesting thing to note about freeride boards is that they have a wide surface area compared to the other types.

This gives them excellent float on snow; as a rule, the bigger the board’s surface area, the smoother they float.

Generally speaking, freeride snowboards are more expensive because of the various manufacturing processes that give these boards their durability and stiff flex.

For example, multiple varieties of wood are crushed along with man-made synthetic fibers such as Kevlar under high pressure to produce their strong bases.

All in all, freeride snowboards are loved by experienced riders who love adventures in unpredictable snowy areas.

Because they know the sturdy snowboard has got them covered on dangerous and steep slopes. On the flip side, freeride snowboards tend to be bigger and are not good for riding in the park.    

4. Powder Snowboards

We have included this model because it’s uniquely designed for riding on powder. These boards can be easily identified from their directional design and tapered ends.

Powder boards have excellent floating capabilities and control over freshly fallen snow, thanks to their distinct features on their nose and tail portions. 

Traditionally, these boards have a wider nose and an elongated tail, and the rear binding is positioned closer to the board’s tail to prevent the rider from sinking into the snow.

The rocker profile usually found on these boards gives them excellent float, and the fishtail allows the nose portion to slide higher in deep snow.

At the moment, there have been efforts from designers and engineers from the snowboarding industry to work with surfboard manufacturers to design a powder board that can deal with the challenges of shredding on fresh powder.

So, in a few years, the design features we have listed here can completely change based on what these people can come up with.

In the end, if you have plans of hitting fresh powder, these boards should be your go-to pick. You will look cool carrying those intriguing fishtail designs across the hill.

As with other really specialized boards, the powder boards lose points in the versatility area. They are meant to ride in one direction and have features that only work on a single terrain.       

5. Splitboard Snowboards

Riders interested in experiencing the backcountry slopes love splitboards because they allow them to explore the more inaccessible areas of a mountain.

As we mentioned, these boards can be split in half, and with the attachment of skins, they can be used for climbing the backcountry.

Most have eight screws and two-disc systems that allow riders to quickly deconstruct the board and switch between skiing and snowboarding.

With minor binding adjustments, you can regain your regular riding stance. 

A splitboard rider blurs the definition of a snowboarder as they have increased reach and range and can do what regular snowboarders cannot do.

Despite having the same riding experience as any other snowboard, these boards allow you to explore and have fun on slopes inaccessible to other types of snowboards.

Splitboard Snowboards
Picture Credit: Search Of Snowboarding on YouTube.com

Final Thoughts

The major types of snowboarding are all mountain, freestyle, freeride, race, splitboard, and backcountry.

Snowboarders use different types of snowboards based on their terrain preference, and snowboards have features that are uniquely suited to take on challenges of a particular terrain.

Styles are like an offshoot of types, with each focusing on technical aspects of snowboarding. They are big air, halfpipe, slopestyle, jibbing, and big mountain. Happy shredding!

Shailen Vandeyar

A proud Indian origin Kiwi who loves to plant trees and play with my pet bunny when not digging my head deep into the world of snowboarding, tricks, techniques, and related safety measures.

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