Snowboard brands like Bataleon and Burton are constantly releasing new tech, like 3D construction for example.
But what is a 3d snowboard?
Let’s find out!
What is a 3D Snowboard?
3D snowboards feature a three-dimensional, concave shape on the base, instead of the traditional flat design.
This forms contours or waves on the base, allowing for smoother turns, improved control, and a more forgiving ride, especially in powder.
The History of The 3D Snowboard
In the 70s and 80s, the majority of ski areas didn’t permit snowboarding (some still don’t). Snowboarders were forced to explore untamed areas, such as the backcountry, forests and even golf courses.
This terrain favored surf-inspired snowboards, with a V-shaped design to enhance float in powder.
But in the early 90s, a new wave of innovation emerged. Rob Morrow, founder of Morrow Snowboards, designed a board that would offer consistent performance regardless of whether it was ridden nose-first or tail-first.
His creation, the Morrow Spoon Nose Snowboard (pictured), showcased a distinctive spoon-like shape at both the nose and the tail. This feature was warmly embraced by freestyle riders due to its forgiving nature!
The groundwork for modern 3D snowboarding tech lies in these early surf-influenced boards. However, with the rise of resort snowboarding, the industry gravitated towards flat-based boards which were easier to handle on groomed runs.
But… the tide seems to be turning once again.
3D is back baby!
The 3D Snowboard Design
Conventionally, a snowboard has a flat base with a slight curve on the top, a design that has served riders well for many years. However, the 3D snowboard comes with a bit of a twist.
In contrast to the conventional board, 3D snowboards feature a three-dimensional concave shape. Let’s take the Bataleon Surfer as an example.
Notice the significant uplift on either side?
How 3D Snowboards Work
Using the same 3D construction as an example (Bataleon’s proprietary 3BT), here’s a detailed breakdown during a turn.
What Kind of Riding Are 3D Snowboards Best For?
3D snowboards are designed to excel in a variety of conditions, but they particularly shine in powder.
Often described as “boat hulls”, 3D boards float effortlessly through powder. Loose snow is pushed sideways by the 3D shape, rather than dragging the nose down.
Combine this with the right shape and you’ll float on even the deepest of days.
3D boards can be great for freestyle riders too, as the 3D design makes it harder to catch an edge. As you can imagine, this is perfect for buttering!
The Downside of 3D Snowboards
Historically, these boards didn’t perform as well on hardpack or icy conditions. Brands like Bataleon have combatted this by using camber-dominant profiles, which has certainly helped.
Some riders also describe them as feeling “loose” underfoot. This can be perceived as either a fun and surfy ride, or feeling out of control. Personally, it took me a couple of runs to adjust to a 3D board. After that, I was hooked!
As with any equipment choice, it’s crucial to consider the specific conditions and style of riding you plan to tackle. Size is equally as important, so use our size calculator before pulling the trigger.
The Best 3D Snowboards
Profile: Medium Camber
- One of my favorite boards of all time!
- Incredible use of 3BT (3D) technology
- Excels in powder and hard carves
- Outstanding build quality
Shape: True Twin
Profile: Medium Camber
- An outstanding all-mountain freestyle board
- Manages to be catch-free but still hold an edge
- Incredibly fun through the park (and natural features)
- Excellent construction quality
Profile: Medium Camber
- An insanely fun board!
- Super bouncy and buttery
- Designed to be ridden 5-10 cm shorter, so is super maneuverable.
- Slightly less versatile than others, but still incredibly fun across the whole mountain
Bataleon know what they’re doing when it comes to 3D tech. They’ve been refining 3BT for nearly 20-years!
You’ll find that every Bataleon board uses 3BT to different degrees. For example, Pow 3BT™ (featured on the Surfer) features a narrower centre with maximally uplifted 3D sides. This bad boy can float!
The Evil Twin however, has a much wider centerbase, with a gentler uplift. This provides a more stable platform for landings and tricks, whilst still being forgiving.
Here’s a quick video that explains 3BT better than me.
Profile: Flat Top
- A legendary powder-slaying shape
- Features a huge taper and substantial setback
- I will always have a soft spot for the Fish - it's such an incredible freeride board
Profile: Christenson Surf Rocker
- Features their 3D Contour Base 3.0
- A huge spoon-like nose for powder float
- The best board I rode in Japan!
- Turns on a dime
Tips for Riding a 3D Snowboard
Snowboards incorporating 3D designs tend to offer softer rides with easier torsional flex. This allows quicker edge-to-edge transitions, resulting in a more responsive board.
Now, when you first ride a 3D board, this might make the board feel loose (squirrelly). My advice? Go with the flow… Relax your ankles a little and experiment.
The 3D shape creates more contact points between the board’s base and the snow, enabling your weight to smoothly “roll over” when shifting from heel to toe.
You should start to feel the “rolling” motion as you transition edge to edge. Don’t worry too much about catching edges, the 3D should take care of that (within reason!).
There you have it folks, 3D snowboards in a nutshell.
Ultimately, 3D tech has been around for years. It’s not just some scary marketing gimmick.
You’ll meet some riders who swear by it (particularly Bataleon riders) and others who avoid it at all costs.
You’ll never know until you try it!
But you know what they say, once you go 3D, you never go back…or something like that. But in all seriousness, give it a shot!