Snowboarding, with it’s reputation for counterculture and extreme thrills, might not seem like a sport rooted in technological advancements.
However… as with many areas of our lives, technology is seeping into the snowboarding world.
Some of these “advancements” have inevitably turned out to be useless gimmicks. But certain snowboard innovations are worth your attention!
Here are a few fan favorites…
1. Magnetraction Edges
Originating from brands like Lib Tech, Gnu and Roxy, Magnetraction introduced serrated edges to snowboards. This innovation provides better grip on icy and hard-packed conditions, enhancing the carving experience and control.
Far from being a gimmick, this tech has now been “borrowed” by most brands on the market. You’ll find very similar versions, with names like Grip Tech, Underbite, and Frostbite edges.
2. Profile Innovations
Brands have been experimenting with snowboard profiles for decades. In fact, over 100 different profiles were “invented” in the past 5-years alone!
Of course, in reality these are all just slightly different variants of Camber or Rocker hybrids.
But the benefit of so much experimentation is that we know what works (and what doesn’t!). Some of today’s top snowboards feature innovative but effective.
3. Sustainable Manufacturing
Snowboarding brands are increasingly conscious of their environmental impact. From using bio-based resins to recycled cores and sidewalls, the move towards sustainability is evident in modern board construction.
In fact, the infamous CAPiTA Mothership Factory is now almost entirely carbon neutral.
I’m sure this is one of the snowboard innovations we can all get behind!
4. Fast Entry Binding Systems
Bindings like the Burton Step-On system offer riders a strapless binding experience. Their quick-release mechanism saves time, whilst still providing a secure attachment to the board.
Since first publishing this article, Nidecker have also dropped their long-awaited Supermatic binding. This functions like a step-on binding but can also be used like a traditional one. They’re awesome!
5. Integrated Electronics in Helmets
Modern helmets come equipped with built-in speakers and Bluetooth technology. This allows riders to listen to music, take calls, or even use voice assistants without removing their gear. A far cry from carrying a boombox in my early riding days!
6. MIPS Helmet Technology
MIPS, or Multi-directional Impact Protection System, represents a major leap in helmet safety.
Designed to reduce rotational forces during angled impacts, MIPS helmets have an inner layer that rotates slightly.
This movement reduces the risk of brain injury, making MIPS-equipped helmets a favorite among safety-conscious riders.
7. High-tech Base Materials
Your snowboard base plays a crucial role in its speed and performance. Newer materials and treatments are constantly being introduced, reducing friction and increasing your board’s glide over snow.
I actually recently dug out my first ever snowboard, dating back almost 20-years (yep, I am that old). Despite being one of the best on the market, it now has the speed of a snail compared to today’s entry-level options.
8. Action Cameras with Enhanced Stabilization
Brands like GoPro have revolutionized the way snowboarders capture their rides. The latest action cameras come with improved stabilization, ensuring that even the most aggressive runs look smooth in playback.
I genuinely hurtled down a mogul field the other day. Somehow the footage makes it look smooth as silk (once you edit out my grunting).
9. Virtual Reality (VR) Training
While not limited to just snowboarding, VR platforms are now offering training sessions for riders. These simulations allow beginners to familiarize themselves with the sport in a controlled environment.
I’m yet to get my hands on one myself, but I hear good things!
10. Enhanced Impact Protection
My knees are particularly grateful for this snowboard innovation!
Materials like D3O, which harden upon impact, are being incorporated into protective gear. Whether in jackets, shorts, or gloves, this smart material provides dynamic protection, hardening on impact and remaining flexible otherwise.
11. Magnetic Snowboard Goggles
Switching lenses was once a particularly cumbersome task. Enter magnetic goggles.
These allow for quick and hassle-free lens swapping, ensuring riders always have the optimal lens for the conditions at hand. Moreover, they often come with secure locking systems to ensure the lens stays in place during intense rides.
I highly recommend this one!
12. Evolving Snowboard Shapes
Gone are the days when snowboards came in one standard shape. Now, there’s a shape for every rider and condition.
From asymmetrical decks, to swallowtails, to powder guns. But one of the finest snowboard innovations has got to be the volume shifted concept.
These boards are shorter and wider, retaining float in powder whilst borrowing some agility from their freestyle siblings. I would never plan a powder trip without one these days, that’s how good they are!
13. 3D Snowboards
Not just a flat plank anymore, some snowboard manufacturers are introducing 3D base profiles.
These boards have sculpted base contours that change the way the board interacts with the snow. The aim? Enhanced edge grip and smoother turn transitions.
This innovative tech offers a unique feel and a new way to engage with the mountain’s contours. Personally, my Burton 3D Fish is one of my all-time favorite decks!
14. Heat Moldable Snowboard Boots
Personalized fit has become a significant trend in snowboarding gear, and heat moldable snowboard boots are at the forefront.
Using heat-moldable liners, the boots are custom-fitted to your unique foot shape. Whilst this concept has been around for years, the tech has come a long way recently!
The newer boots offer a super snug and comfortable fit, minimizing pressure points and enhancing warmth. The result? A boot that feels like an extension of your foot!
15. Asymmetrical Snowboard Design
Taking into account the different mechanics of our toe and heel side turns, asymmetrical snowboards have different sidecut radii and flex patterns on the heel and toe edges. This design tweak provides a more natural and intuitive turning experience.
Don’t worry, I was sceptical at first too. But I was convinced within the first 5-minutes on my beloved Yes Greats. It’s one snowboard innovation that I hope sticks around!
Other Notable Snowboard Innovations
I’m sure I could keep going for at least another 10. But you’re probably hoping I don’t!
To avoid this article becoming an essay, here are a few other noteworthy snowboard innovations:
- BOA Snowboard Bindings
- Bi-radial Sidecuts
- Anti-Chatter Technology
- Toric Snowboard Goggle Lenses
- Electronic Fan-Driven Avalanche Airbags
Snowboarding has come a long way since the early days. As technology advances, so does the sport, offering better performance, increased safety, and a more enjoyable experience.
And this list merely scratches the surface. As materials and technologies continue to advance, we can expect many more snowboard innovations in the years to come!
What are you hoping for? Hoverboards? Rocket-propulsion? Drop yours in the comments below.