What Is All-Mountain Snowboarding? [2024 Update]

by Fraser
Updated:

If you’re new to snowboarding, you’ve probably stumbled across a couple of confusing terms. For instance, what is all-mountain snowboarding?

All-mountain snowboarding involves riding varied terrain, such as groomed runs, powder, moguls, and snow parks. All-mountain snowboards are therefore highly versatile and able to handle a wide range of conditions.

Keep reading for the ultimate lowdown on all-mountain snowboarding. Or if you’re ready to check out some boards, head to the top all-mountain snowboards of the year.

A Guide To All-Mountain Snowboarding

Basically, all-mountain snowboarding covers every aspect of snowboarding. 

It’s for the rider who:

  • laps the park in the morning
  • hits the backcountry at lunch
  • and charges groomed runs in the afternoon

If this sounds like you, congrats… you’re an all-mountain rider!

This means you’ll be rapidly developing skills in each of the different riding styles. But you’ll also need a snowboard that can handle it!

What Is An All-Mountain Snowboard?

So we’ve established that you’re an all-mountain machine, but is your board up for the job? What is an all-mountain snowboard anyway?

An all-mountain snowboard is a snowboard designed to handle every riding style. They are typically capable of riding park, powder, groomed runs and pipe. All-mountain boards are therefore usually more stable and responsive than freestyle boards.

The main benefit of an all-mountain board is the ability to have just one snowboard, rather than buying a new board for each discipline. Basically, their ability to handle most situations makes them a very popular choice!

Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of all-mountain snowboards. 

The Benefits Of All-Mountain Snowboards

All-Mountain Boards
Benefits Of An All Mountain Snowboard?
  • Only one board needed for a full days riding!
  • Not limited by over-specialized features (e.g. swallow tails)
  • Ability to ride almost anywhere in any condition
  • Most well-rounded snowboard choice
  • Huge selection of snowboards in this category

✖️ Rarely "excel" in a specific area

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The Downside Of All-Mountain Snowboards

Ever heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none”?

All-mountain snowboards are adaptable to all different snowboarding environments.

But…

They obviously can’t compete with specialized snowboards in each specific area. 

For example, here’s a few boards I was asked to review. 

As you can see, the beautiful snowboard in the middle (the Bataleon Surfer)  has some major adaptations for powder:

  • A Swallow tail
  • Setback bindings
  • A Huge wide nose

On the right is an all-mountain snowboard.

This would really struggle to keep up with the Surfer in deep powder.

However, the all-mountain board could more easily hit the park and jib line on the way home.

This is due to the:

  • Twin shape (same forwards and backwards)
  • Softer flex
  • Narrower waist (meaning quicker turns)

Of course, the all-mountain board could still ride in powder, but doesn’t become a hindrance when the powder stops falling. 

Is Every Snowboard Technically An All-Mountain?

Of course. You can ride any snowboard wherever you want. 

Here’s Tyler Chorlton shredding the entire mountain on the aforementioned bataleon surfer

Remember though, Tyler is a snowboarding wizard! 

Results for us mere mortals are likely to vary.

Just imagine trying to learn switch riding (going backwards) on the surfer. Most riders would be better off on something more well rounded… 

What Are The Main Types of Snowboard?

Another place where beginners often trip up is the different kinds of snowboards.

These are the 4 main types of snowboard:

  1. Freestyle
  2. All-Mountain
  3. Freeride
  4. Powder

>> To see the full breakdown, head to our guide on how to choose a snowboard

1. Freestyle Snowboards

Freestyle snowboards are the smallest and softest of the three varieties.

They’re often “true twins” meaning they ride the same forwards as they do backwards. The result is a highly maneuverable ride, ideal for sharp twists and turns.

Freestyle boards can be more challenging to control as the softer flex reduces stability, particularly at speed. 

Learn more about freestyle snowboarding.

2. All-Mountain Snowboards

An all-mountain snowboard can be either a twin or directional (different nose and tail).

Often firmer flexing then freestyle boards, they tend to be more stable at speed but harder to press on rails and boxes. As discussed, they tend to be a happy medium. 

3. Freeride Snowboards

These boards are designed to hold an edge and maintain speed while carving. 

They are usually firmer flexing and far less forgiving for beginners. 

The firm flex also makes them less agile and less suited to performing tricks. 

4. Powder Snowboards

Powder snowboards come in all shapes and sizes. 

The aim is to increase surface area of the board, allowing optimum float. 

They often have much longer noses than tails, allowing the nose to ride up. 

Are All-Mountain Snowboards Good for Beginners?

When buying your first board, is it best to start out with an all-mountain snowboard?

All-mountain snowboards are good for beginners. They are well balanced and not overly specialized to a particular form of snowboarding. As a result, all-mountain snowboards do not require specific expertise to use, making them perfect for beginners.

But be careful!

All-mountain snowboards come in all different shapes and sizes. 

Some are super stiff or come with fancy modern features like asymmetrical edges.

what is an all-mountain snowboard? an image of an all-mountain snowboarder

Most new snowboarders should choose:

  • A true twin or directional twin snowboard.
  • A softer snowboard (range 3-6). This makes balancing more accessible and facilitates quicker results. 
  • A hybrid profile (avoid full camber)
  • The correct size! This is probably the most important aspect of your new board. You can calculate your perfect snowboard length here

Final Thoughts

Every snowboarder starts out as an all-mountain snowboarder.

Even the powder hounds chasing bottomless Japanese powder started out by riding groomed runs and lapping the park. 

I strongly encourage you to explore the whole mountain, at least until you find your niche. 

This allows you to develop a complete skillset, rather than narrowing down your abilities too early on.

Additionally, unless you plan on starting a snowboard collection (which will happen, be warned) then buying an all-mountain snowboard makes the most sense. 

Once you’ve got your board, be sure to make a pilgrimage to the 13 Best Snowboard Resorts In The World.

Happy riding! 

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