Park & Freestyle Snowboards: How to Choose the Right One for YouPublished on 06/14/2023 · 10 min readReady to dominate the park and freestyle scene? Read on to find out how to choose the perfect snowboard for your style. Get ready to ride with confidence!
That’s me! Freestyle Lip at Carinthia Parks (Mt. Snow, VT, 2021). Photo courtesy of Gaelen Mast
TL;DR: When choosing a freestyle snowboard, you should first consider how you like to ride in the park and your goals. Based on this information, you can figure out the perfect board flex, shape, profile, and length combo to get a board that’ll help you excel in and out of the park!
Hi! My name is Gaelen, and over the past 11 years, I’ve been able to snowboard 50+ days yearly in locations such as Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. In addition, I’ve worked as a snowboard rental technician at multiple mountain resorts and in a snowboard shop. I’ve also worked with almost seven thousand customers on Curated to help them find the right gear for their specific needs and wants!
Although I like to ride all over the mountain, I spend a lot of time in the terrain park, so I’ve become well-versed in freestyle riding and, by extension, freestyle snowboards. I understand what makes a “park snowboard,” what features to look for and avoid, their benefits and limitations, and when park boards are the best option for riders. Today I hope to share all this information with you!
What Is a Freestyle Snowboard?
Freestyle snowboards (often called park boards) are not the magic solution to getting better in the park. Not even the best park board will give you the sudden ability to learn all your dream tricks. However, park boards are specifically designed for the type of riding known as “freestyle.'' Every park board is a bit different, but in general, they’re designed to help you get better at jumps, rails, boxes, and other jibs by being lightweight, poppy, and maneuverable. They’re typically not a snowboard you’d take out daily unless you spend every day in the terrain park.
Big Considerations When Buying A Freestyle Snowboard
Are All Freestyle Snowboards the Same?
No, not all freestyle snowboards are built the same. While they’re all designed to perform well in the terrain park, you shouldn’t just mindlessly purchase a board that’s labeled “freestyle,” as there are a variety of boards out there catering to all types of freestyle and all different ability levels (we’ll get into this more later). So remember, even if someone else is shredding on a freestyle board, it doesn’t mean it’s the right board for you.
Do I Really Need a Freestyle-Specific Board?
This is perhaps the most important question, and it all comes down to what type of snowboarding you mainly do. Think about how often you end up in the terrain park. Are you going out of your way to find it on the mountain and repeatedly take park laps? Or do you cruise through the park, hitting a few features whenever there’s a terrain park trail in a convenient location?
Honestly, you probably don’t need a freestyle board unless you’re spending more than half your time riding in the park. This is because many all-mountain boards work just fine in the terrain park for the casual jibber. Do not buy a freestyle-specific board as your only board if you’re not a committed park rider, as it’ll limit your riding capabilities outside the park.
Can I Ride a Freestyle Board Outside the Terrain Park?
Yes, technically, you can ride any board anywhere on the mountain. However, a freestyle board will be average outside the park for a wide range of terrain and downright horrible in a few specific types of terrain. Freestyle boards are typically built with a soft flex for the park. However, this softer flex means the board will lack edge hold when carving, so they’re not great for stability at high speeds. They also don’t float well in powder, so they’ll perform poorly for freeriding. If you enjoy riding park and the rest of the mountain, consider getting an all-mountain/freestyle board that’ll give you more versatility.
How Much Are Freestyle Boards Compared to Other Snowboards?
There are so many different freestyle-branded boards from so many companies that pricing for these boards is all over the place. The average all-mountain snowboard costs about $400-$600, so freestyle boards are comparable to this. You can certainly find much cheaper snowboards under $400, but these are targeted at beginners.
However, on average, you should expect to pay somewhere around $450-$600 for a dedicated freestyle board. There are exceptions to this, like the Salomon Sleepwalker and Rome Artifact, two popular freestyle boards under $450.
On the flip side, snowboards for advanced riders can reach upwards of $800+, so freestyle boards fall in the middle of the range of overall snowboard prices.
Features to Look for in Park and Freestyle Snowboards
Remember how I mentioned freestyle boards are designed to excel in the terrain park? Here’s the specific technology they have that allows them to do that:
Regarding freestyle boards, there is every type of board profile variation out there: full camber, rocker, and camber hybrids, and even full rocker (sometimes called reverse camber). Camber gives snowboards pop, a ton of pop compared to rocker, and is great for hitting bigger features. However, rocker can make a board feel more playful, and people find them to be easier for butters and low-impact park riding. Many freestyle boards have a hybrid profile with camber and rocker to get the best of both worlds.
Since many park riders will ride regular and switch in the park, a twin-tip with a centered stance is the go-to for many freestyle boards. This type of board is often called a “twin shape," which is indisputably the easiest board shape to ride in both directions.
As I’ve already mentioned, a softer flex is common on freestyle boards, but this isn’t always the case, as many freestyle boards have a medium or stiff flex. A soft flex will be the most forgiving and easiest for small park features, whereas a stiff flex is designed for bigger park features, particularly jumps and pipe riding. Medium flexing boards strike a healthy balanced feel between the two and allow, for the most part, versatility.
Your boot size will determine the width of your snowboard, but it can have some implications on your riding. The wider a board, the less maneuverability it has (which is something you want in the park), so choosing a board that’s not unnecessarily wide for your boot size (more on snowboard width here) is important..
What Are the Different Types of Freestyle Snowboards?
Three types of freestyle snowboards are balanced, jump-specific, and jib.
Balanced Freestyle Snowboards
This is the most common type of freestyle board and a great option for any skill level. These boards are well-balanced, typically with a medium flex, true twin shape, and a hybrid camber and rocker profile. They provide enough versatility for riders to hit small, medium, and large park features (although things might get sketchy on extra-large features) and work well for both jumps and jibs (rails/boxes).
- These boards offer enough versatility to tackle most features in a terrain park.
- These boards offer an entry point into park riding for the rider who may not know what types of freestyle features they like yet.
- These boards will not excel at either jumps or rails.
- There are different levels of “balanced” freestyle boards, so get one that suits your ability level.
Jump-Specific Freestyle Snowboards
Jump-specific snowboards are usually more advanced boards that are stiffer and have more camber than rocker, sometimes even a full traditional camber profile. This stiffer flex and camber help provide solid pop-off of jumps as well as better control and stability on take-offs and landings. These boards can also work well for carving up groomers outside the park due to their stiffness and camber profile. However, I wouldn’t recommend a board like this if you hit many rails and boxes.
- These boards excel with speed, pop, and stability for larger jumps.
- These boards can work well outside the park due to a stiffer flex and camber profile.
- These boards are more advanced and aren’t suitable for beginner park riders.
- These boards won’t feel very lively and may not work well for jibs or butters.
Jib Snowboards (Rail, Box, and Butter Focused)
Jib-specific snowboards are specifically meant for boxes and rails, typically small to medium-sized ones. They usually have a softer flex and a full camber or a hybrid profile. They’re meant to be playful, forgiving, and easily maneuverable so riders can get creative. These are great boards for the jib-focused rider or the newer park rider hitting small features. However, of all the different kinds of freestyle boards, these will perform the worst outside the park, especially at higher speeds.
- These boards will excel at rails, boxes, and butters.
- Due to a softer flex, these boards are more beginner-friendly to new park riders.
- These boards will become unstable when hitting large terrain park features with speed.
- These boards are not good options for aggressive riding outside the terrain park.
How to Choose the Right Park and Freestyle Snowboard for You
In this next section, I’ll run through several scenarios of snowboarders interested in getting a freestyle board. I’ll cover their needs and wants, features they should look for to fulfill them, and finally, actual snowboard examples that would work well for them!
Henry is an intermediate-level snowboarder and jib lover. Small to medium boxes, rails, and tubes are his main jam, and he spends all his time on the mountain taking park laps to hit these types of features. He’s now looking for a board that will allow him to get as creative as possible.
Features to look for:
- Soft flex for playfulness
- Mellow full camber or hybrid rocker for easy butters, presses, and pop
- True twin shape for easy switch riding
Brandon is an advanced park rider looking for a board to help him hit large and XL park features. He tends to mostly hit jumps but will hop on rails from time to time. He wants to ensure his board is stable for high-speed features and has tons of pop to get the most airtime possible!
Features to look for:
- Medium/stiff flex for stability when hitting bigger features
- Full camber or dominant camber profile for pop
- True twin shape for switch take-offs or landings
Jenny is just getting into the park and needs a well-balanced board to let her explore both jumps and jibs. She really wants to ride switch more, but she’ll also likely be riding this board outside the terrain park occasionally, as the friends she rides with aren’t all that interested in freestyle.
Features to look for:
- Hybrid profile for versatility
- Medium flex for some playfulness but also stability outside the terrain park
- True twin shape for the easiest switch riding experience
Finding the Best Freestyle Snowboard for You
In an ideal world, you now know everything there is to know about freestyle boards and are ready to pick out yours. Educating yourself was the easy part, though; now you’ve got to choose from the plethora of options from dozens of companies. Luckily, you don’t have to make this choice alone!
That’s because here at Curated.com, you can connect with a real-life Snowboarding Expert (like myself) and message them in real-time. They can suggest different board options or help you narrow down your top choices; they can advise you on anything snowboard gear related! The process takes only a few minutes, is free, and is the best way to ensure you get the right snowboard the first time!