snowboard shapes guide

The Ultimate Snowboard Shapes Guide!

by Fraser

These days, snowboards are as varied in shape and size as the riders who use them.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a good thing! But it can be confusing, especially for new riders.

But fear not… for you have stumbled across the ultimate snowboard shapes guide (I don’t always speak like this, I promise). 

Let’s begin…

Which Snowboard Shape is Right for Me?

Modern snowboard catalogs are stacked with innovative shapes. This can be a little daunting at first. But remember, every snowboard fits into one of six broad categories:

  1. True Twin
  2. Asymmetrical Twin
  3. Directional Twin
  4. Directional
  5. Tapered Directional
  6. Volume-Shifted

Some shapes look relatively conventional, while others are more dramatic. But each one is designed for a particular riding style or purpose.

Sadly, I can’t tell you which exact board shape work bests for you. But by going through each one in a little more detail, I’m sure we can work it out. 

True Twin Shape

You’ll notice that a true twin snowboard is completely symmetrical. The nose and tail are exactly the same length and width.

The bindings are also mounted in the center of the board; therefore, you have the same amount of nose as you do tail. Consequently, a true twin snowboard performs identically whether you are riding forwards or switch.

True Twin Snowboard Shape diagram

Best Suited To: True twin snowboards are best suited to freestyle and all-mountain riders. These riders will often flip between riding forwards and switch. The symmetrical shape and flex of a true twin makes landing and taking off in switch much easier than with other shapes.

Less Suited To: Freeriding

Asymmetrical Twin Shape

An asymmetrical twin snowboard is a modern variation on the true twin shape. These snowboards have an asymmetrical sidecut, contact points, flex, or a combination of all three.

These variations are designed to compensate for the natural imbalances in our body, giving us a similar feeling on our heel and toe side edges when turning.

The board still performs identically whether riding forward or switch (the nose and tail are the same). 

Asymmetrical snowboard shape diagram

Best Suited To: Asymmetrical snowboards are still “twins” and are therefore suited to freestyle and all-mountain riders. I’ll let you in on a secret, even advanced riders sometimes struggle with their heel side turn. Asymmetrical boards are just a way to compensate for this. More on this here

Less Suited To: Freeriding

Directional Twin Shape

A directional twin snowboard looks very much like a true twin. But under closer inspection, you’ll see some subtle differences.

These snowboards either have a slightly longer nose than tail, or their binding inserts are setback slightly towards the tail.

The sidecut radius, flex and profile are still identical end-to-end. Between the contact points is therefore still a “twin,” but outside you’ll find a slightly different nose and tail.

Directional Twin Snowboard Shape Diagram

Best Suited To: Directional twin snowboards are for those who ride everywhere, from groomers to powder. They are extremely versatile and have become the classic all-mountain shape. 

Compared to a twin, they’re slightly better at carving and tackling powder. You can easily ride a directional twin in the park (including switch), but true twins are slightly better for park rats. 

Less Suited To: Pure freestylers or powder hounds.

Directional Shapes

Direction snowboards have a longer nose and setback binding inserts (usually). This brings your weight towards the rear of the board, providing more float in powder and keeping the nose out of the snow.

They will often also have a sidecut that gets progressively deeper towards the rear, so you can ease into each turn.

Most directional boards will also have a directional camber profile and directional flex (different flex patterns in the nose & tail). 

Directional Snowboard Shape Diagram

Best Suited To: Directional snowboards are for free-riding and chasing powder. They excel in riding in one direction, making them addictive to carve on… especially when you start getting closer to the snow!

You’ll find that many directional boards are pretty high-end, featuring fast bases and premium construction. They’re often built with a stiffer flex, for aggressive riding and high-speed performance.

Less Suited To: Beginners and freestyle riders.

Riding switch on directional boards is more challenging. They also tend to be less forgiving. With this in mind, they’re not the best choice for new riders. Beginners will benefit more from a less directional snowboard and a lower flex rating.

Tapered Directional Shapes

Essentially a more powder-focused variant of directional snowboards. The term “tapered” refers to the tail being narrower than the nose, which promotes better float in powder.

Just like ‘directional shapes’, these boards are made for riding predominantly in one direction: forward!

Brands will often now change more than just the tail width, for example:

  • Stiffer tail flex: helping the tail to sink and the nose to float.
  • Different tail shape: often fish tails or cut-outs (also sinks the tail).

Best Suited To: Tapered directional snowboards are best suited to riders who spend a good chunk of their time off-piste, exploring backcountry trails and deep powder. But they’re not just for the powderhounds  – intermediate riders looking to push their boundaries, especially in powdery conditions can also benefit from a tapered directional board. 

Less Suited To: Beginners, freestyle and all-mountain riders (due to the asymmetry and lack of switch capabilities).

Volume-Shifted Shapes

Volume shifted snowboards are an entirely different breed. They’re short and wide with a setback stance.

These powder specialists were designed as a more maneuverable alternative to longer powder boards. To maintain float, they offer the same board volume, but “shifted” towards your back foot. 

You can usually ride them 3-10cm shorter than your ideal length, enabling fast turns around trees. This also makes them super fun to throw around on groomers!

volume shifted snowboard shape diagram

Best Suited To: Volume Shifted snowboards are best suited to powder, especially through the trees and on shallow pitches. If you’re heading to Japan, you’re bringing a volume-shifted board! Notable examples are the infamous Lib Tech Orca and the beautiful Jones Storm Chaser

Less Suited To: Hard-pack and icy conditions. Beginners, freestyle and all-mountain riders are better with a more versatile snowboard shape (unless you plan on having multiple boards). 

Snowboard Nose Shapes

snowboard nose shapes

Your snowboard nose (or tip) shape impacts how your snowboard floats, turns, and cuts through the various snow types.

There are several key nose shapes, each offering unique advantages and disadvantages. Let’s discuss a couple of the more common options. 

1. Traditional (Round)

The OG snowboard nose shape! Round snowboard tips provide a smooth and predictable ride. Pretty much every brand uses them. Why? Because they work!

all round snowboard nose shape

2. Blunt

A blunted snowboard nose shaves a little weight, making jumps and spins easier. They also provide a solid platform for buttering and floating in powder. 

blunt snowboard nose shapes

3. Diamond

Diamond snowboard noses are pointy, with a wider base. This allows them to cut through slush, chunder and crusty powder with ease. 

diamond snowboard nose shape

Snowboard Tail Shapes

snowboard tail shapes

Snowboard tail shapes evolved and diversified. catering for different riding styles and terrains. Much like the nose, tail shape plays an important role in the board’s performance and handling. Here are some common tail shapes and their characteristics:

1. Traditional (Round)

Just like traditional nose shapes, a rounded tail provides a classic and predictable ride. In fact, true twins utilize this shape on both ends, enabling perfect switch riding. 

round snowboard tail shape

2. Blunt

Being wider, blunted tail shapes provide a large platform for jumps and landings.

They also reduce swing weight and enable a disproportionately long effective edge (as the contact points can be closer to the tip).

blunt snowboard tail shape

3. Diamond

Building on the classic rounded tail shape, diamond tails reduce resistance, cutting through less-favorable snow. 

diamond snowboard tail shape

4. Fish Tail

The most legendary snowboard tail shape for powder!

Fish tails reduce the surface area, sinking the tail in powder and keeping the nose afloat. They also allow shorter snowboard lengths, for a more nimble powder-slashing ride. 

The most recent evolution of the fish tail is the beautiful swallow-tail snowboard.

fish snowboard tail shape

The Best Snowboard Shape for Beginners

For beginners just starting out on their snowboarding journey, a true twin or directional twin shaped snowboard is probably best. 

True Twin

Twin shaped boards are symmetrical, with an identical nose and tail. This provides a balanced and predictable ride.

They’re great boards for learning as they perform equally well in both directions. This is a major help whilst getting the hang of the basics, especially when learning to ride switch (riding backwards). 

Directional Twin

A “Directional Twin” is a hybrid, designed to perform in either direction but with a slight bias towards going forward. It offers a blend of control and versatility, making it a great choice for beginners, especially if you plan to explore a variety of terrains.

Both of these shapes are forgiving, offering good stability and control, which is obviously important!

There are some great examples of these shapes on our list of best snowboards

Remember, the best board for you also depends on your personal goals and the type of riding you plan to do most, so it’s always a good idea to try out a few options and see what feels right for you.

What Snowboard Shape Should I Get?

I’m hoping that after reading every single word of my snowboard shapes guide, you’ve already got a pretty good idea. 

Unless… you skipped ahead!

Either way, here’s a very simple way of looking at it. What is your preferred riding style?

  • Freestyle: Get a true twin!
  • All-Mountain: Spend over 50% of your time in the park? Get a true twin. Less than 50%? Get a directional twin. 
  • Freeride: Focused more on carving and bombing the groomers? Directional. Focused more on backcountry and the pursuit of powder? Tapered directional. 
  • Pure Powder: Hitting dramatic, Alaskan-style steeps? Tapered directional. Hitting tree lines and shallower pitches? Volume-Shifted. 

I know what you’re thinking, what about asymmetrical boards?

Well, if you’ve decided on a true twin but would appreciate a little extra help with your heelside turns, go asymmetrical!

Snowboard Shapes Guide Summay

As you can see, there are quite a few snowboard shapes available!

So before you choose your new snowboard, you need to have a clear idea of the style of riding you like. You also need to take into account your ability (some snowboard shapes are better suited to beginners than others).

However, you may want to start a quiver of snowboards. This allows you to choose the perfect board for your mood and the snow conditions. But be warned, snowboard gear addiction is a slippery slope!

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