“All-Mountain Freestyle” – do we need that category of snowboard? If you’ve got a freestyle board, you’re probably going to ride it around the whole mountain, right?. Likewise, if you’ve got an all-mountain board because that’s your focus, there’s not much stopping you from pulling tricks on it. Can’t we make do with either “all-mountain” or “freestyle”?
Well, you might be thinking that “all-mountain freestyle” is useful. After all, these boards are trying to cater for both tasks, and for a lot of riders, that’s what they want. A freestyle board that works well everywhere! Or is it an all-mountain board that won’t be crap in the park?
There’s still quite a bit of variation within this in-between category. It’s a breeding ground for hybrid base profiles and there are quite a few boards firmly towards “freestyle” that claim to be great everywhere. Is this where your riding sits? Freestyle plus the whole mountain? Read on…
Comparison of base profiles
It wasn’t that long ago when all we had was regular camber, which you’ll find on a number of all-mountain boards as well as boards that are straight up freestyle/jib. As such, you’ll find them within all-mountain freestyle, too.
But rocker boards did come along, and did get very popular.
It’s not necessarily this black and white, but a rocker design is likely to be:
- More “playful” with less tendency for catching edges
- Good for easy turn initiation, as the board is already in an arc when turned onto an edge
- Better at floating in powder, as the tip naturally rises up
Whereas a camber board will be:
- More powerful in the tip and tail, having more snap/pop for ollies
- Better for aggressive edge hold, as the camber in the base keeps pressure on the areas you need it when the board is turned onto an edge and flexed
- More stable at speed, on jumps and on big landings
And of course, there are the hybrid or combi profiles. Boards that use a combination of camber-, rocker- and in some cases, flat-sections for the base.
As an example, Never Summer’s R&C uses a rocker shape between the feet, with camber zones outside of the bindings:
With a hybrid approach, board manufacturers are trying to create something that has the advantages of both rocker and camber. Playfulness and float for jibbing and powder, but putting some of the shape and power back in for edge hold, stability and pop. “All-mountain and freestyle”.
Is it all too much?
There’s been an explosion of “new board tech” recently. Is it really necessary – can it make that much of a difference? Over-complicated? Some boards even come in two options, camber profile or hybrid-shape, as if they couldn’t make their minds up which one was best…
It can be confusing and it can seem a little like an overload of new ‘technology’ and jargon that’s being used to sell boards. But at the same time, the trend is fairly consistent across different board manufacturers. Following the introduction of rocker, they now seem iterating toward better designs for their snowboards. And in many cases there are some excellent riders on hand to help with the tweaks.
Whatever your view on the new ‘tech’ – it’s the ride that matters in the end, not whatever name is given to the shape of the snowboard. If a board is delivering for you, if it feels good for the type of riding that you enjoy, that’s a result. That could be straight up camber, banana style rocker or something in between. You just might have to wade through a whole load of options before finding what’s right…
Some All-Mountain Freestyle Boards for 2012
Below is a list of 8 snowboards that probably fit into the category of all-mountain freestyle. It’s not a specific 8; they’re just some boards that jumped out as interesting.
The links will take you to a preview of the board. I haven’t ridden these snowboards, so I’m not reviewing them. These pages take a look at the different designs being used each board for this season – and what they’re aiming to achieve. Where do they sit on the scale between freestyle and all-mountain?
- Burton Sherlock
- DC Ply
- Forum Youngblood: ChillyDog and DoubleDog
- GNU Park Pickle (BTX)
- K2 Fastplant
- Lib Tech Attack Banana (EC2 BTX)
- Never Summer Evo
- Rome Agent
If you’re going to buy a board but you’re not totally sure, try to get a demo on the board, or at least read a review from someone who’s opinion you trust.
Choosing a board – not always an easy task! Will that freestyle board work everywhere? How about this all-mountain stick, will it be too stiff for butters? Would two boards be better that one? You might be interested in the question: just how many snowboards do you need?