An Expert Guide to Gnu SnowboardsPublished on 09/25/2023 · 12 min readSnowboarding Expert Tyese Messerman gives a comprehensive guide for riders of all levels and styles to find their perfect GNU snowboard!
Powder with GNU. Photo by Tyese Messerman
Buying a new snowboard is no easy task, but let’s say you’ve narrowed it down to a brand you love: GNU. There are many reasons to go with GNU, but you still need to decide which board in their line-up is right for you. This article will help you to consider your skill level and preferred terrain and then match it up to a GNU board that is perfect for you.
I have been snowboarding for over 23 years across the US and in different countries around the world. I have had the chance to demo countless designs and brands to understand the nuances of different technology and how it affects the overall ride experience. I absolutely love chatting with people about gear and ultimately helping pick the perfect board for each person's unique riding style.
Who is GNU?
GNU is a US-based snowboard company renowned for its innovative and eco-friendly products. GNU has continued to gain popularity since they were founded in 1977, when Mervin Manufacturing started making GNU snowboards with zero hazardous waste. They have aroused interest hugely due to their unique advanced contour designs like C3 Camber, C2 Camber, and Banana Tech, which can add tons of stability, response, and pop to their boards. As part of the Mervin Manufacturing family, GNU snowboards are made using environmentally friendly materials and manufacturing techniques in a Washington State factory. Renowned for quality, performance, and sustainability, GNU snowboards offer an excellent option for both beginners and professional riders seeking high-performance gear that also respects the environment.
What to Consider When Buying GNU Snowboards
1. What is your skill level?
Knowing your snowboarding proficiency helps in selecting a board suited to your needs. GNU offers a range of boards for beginners to advanced riders. For novices, look for forgiving and easy-to-ride models. More advanced riders might prefer a board with greater agility and stiffness for stability at high speeds.
2. What size snowboard should you choose?
Selecting the correct snowboard size is essential for getting outside and having fun on your new board. Your weight, height, and boot size influence the appropriate board length and width. GNU's sizing charts will help you find the perfect fit. A shorter board can be easier to maneuver, while a longer one may offer better stability at higher speeds.
3. What type of terrain will you ride?
Different boards are designed for specific terrains, from powder to park. GNU's diverse product range caters to all types of riders, whether you prefer freeride, groomed runs, or freestyle snowboarding.
4. What type of snowboard flex do you prefer?
The flexibility of a board impacts its responsiveness and control. GNU provides options from soft (better for beginners and freestyle riders) to stiff (suited for high speeds and aggressive riders). Choose based on your riding style and comfort level.
5. How much should a GNU snowboard cost?
GNU snowboards range from around $400 for entry-level models to over $600 for advanced, feature-rich models. Cheaper boards offer basic functionality and ease of use for beginners, while pricier ones come with enhanced tech for performance and durability. Consider what you need and your budget before making a decision.
6. Are you interested in sustainability?
If eco-consciousness is a factor for you, consider GNU's commitment to environmental stewardship. Their use of sustainable materials, eco-minded construction, and manufacturing processes take eco-design to new heights and set them apart in the snowboarding industry.
What Are the Different Types of GNU Snowboards?
1. All-Mountain Snowboards
If you're not sure where you'll be spending most of your time, or if you love dipping your toes in a bit of everything, then all-mountain snowboards are for you. GNU's all-mountain snowboards are designed to conquer any part of the mountain, whether you're carving groomed runs, bouncing in powder, or hitting up the park. They're the Swiss army knives of snowboards.
- Versatility to handle various terrains and conditions
- Suitable for all skill levels
- Keep in mind
- May not excel in any one area, as specialized boards do
- Might be harder to handle for beginners compared to softer, more forgiving boards
2. Freestyle Snowboards
If you're all about nailing tricks, catching air, and living it up in the park, freestyle snowboards are your ticket. GNU's freestyle snowboards are lighter, shorter, and have a true twin shape, which makes spinning, flipping, and riding switch a breeze.
- Designed for tricks and jumps
- Light and maneuverable
- Symmetrical shape makes switch riding easier
- Keep in mind
- Might not perform as well in powder or at high speeds
- Not ideal for long, carving turns
3. Freeride Snowboards
If you're the adventurous type who loves seeking out fresh lines away from groomed runs, you'll want to check out GNU's freeride snowboards. These boards are built for off-piste and backcountry snowboarding, with a focus on control and stability over challenging terrains.
- Excellent control and stability
- Designed for challenging terrains and deep snow
- Great for carving and maintaining speed
- Keep in mind
- Not designed for park riding or tricks
- Can be challenging for less experienced riders to handle
4. Powder Snowboards
If you dream of floating through deep, untouched snow, GNU's powder snowboards are going to be your best friend. Their unique shape and features are designed to help you keep afloat and maintain control in deep snow conditions.
- Designed specifically for deep snow
- Offers excellent float and control in powder
- Keep in mind
- Not as versatile in other conditions
- Not ideal for park riding or hardpack conditions
For those who thirst for the untouched slopes of the backcountry and aren't afraid of a little uphill travel, GNU's splitboards are a game-changer. These boards split into two skis for ascending slopes, then reconnect as a snowboard for the ride down.
- Enables access to remote backcountry areas
- Versatility for both climbing and descending
- Keep in mind
- Requires additional equipment (skins, bindings) and knowledge for safe use
- More expensive than regular snowboards
- GNU Banked Country
- GNU GORP
6. Women's Snowboards
GNU has snowboards designed specifically for women, accounting for differences in weight distribution, center of gravity, and even aesthetics. You get all the tech you'd find in the other types of snowboards but in designs made with you in mind.
- Designed specifically for women
- Variety of styles and models for all types of riding
- Keep in mind
- Depending on the model, it may not offer the same range of sizes as men’s boards
- Some advanced female riders might prefer unisex models depending on personal preferences
- GNU Barrett C3
- GNU Free Spirit C3
- GNU Asym Ladies Choice C3
- GNU Asym Velvet C2
- GNU Frosting C2
- GNU Gloss C2E
- GNU B-Nice BTX
Features to Look for in GNU Snowboards
When searching for a snowboard, remember that various features and technologies can impact your riding experience, so in addition to the below, consider your style, skill level, and where you'll be snowboarding the most.
- Profile: Camber, rocker, or hybrid profiles affect the snowboard's performance in terms of edge hold, pop, and flotation. Choose based on your preferred riding style and conditions.
- Shape: Directional, true twin, or directional twin shapes influence the board's performance in different stances and terrain.
- Flex: The snowboard's flex (soft, medium, or stiff) impacts its responsiveness, stability, and suitability for specific riding styles.
- Construction: The core material, sidewall construction, and laminates determine the board's overall weight, durability, and performance.
- Base material: Sintered or extruded bases affect the board's speed, durability, and maintenance requirements.
Specific features and technologies unique to GNU Snowboards include:
- Banana Technology (BTX): Here's a feature that truly sets GNU apart. Banana Technology, or BTX, is their original rocker profile. This design places the board's contact points closer to the center, lifting the nose and tail. This tech gives your board amazing float in powder, superb maneuverability, and makes it catch-free, perfect for freestyle moves or if you're still learning.
- Magne-Traction (MTX): Now, this is a game-changer! Magne-Traction is edge control technology like serrated edges on your board, providing incredible grip and effortless edge hold. Picture the edge of a bread knife but for your snowboard. No matter how icy the conditions, this tech bites down and keeps you from slipping out. It's like having 4-wheel drive on a slick road.
- C2, C3, and C2X Camber Profiles: GNU uses various camber/rocker combinations, namely C2 (Rocker between the bindings, camber underfoot), C3 (mostly camber with a slight rocker in the middle), and C2X (an extreme version of C2). Depending on your riding style and the conditions you'll encounter, one of these might suit you better. For instance, C2 is a great all-rounder, while C3 offers more control and precision for advanced snowboarders, and C2X gives an even more aggressive ride.
- Asymmetry: People aren’t perfectly symmetrical, so why should our boards be? GNU's asymmetry snowboard design considers the different mechanics involved in toe-side and heel-side turns. It aligns the board's sidecut and core with your body, making your turns more natural and intuitive and reducing fatigue. Honestly, once you've tried it, it's hard to go back.
How to Choose the Right GNU Snowboard
Let’s run through what three different riders should consider when picking out a new GNU board.
Needs: Danny loves the park. He is a freestyle rider at heart, and that’s where you’ll find him most days. He loves hitting jumps, rails, and boxes and is a stylish snowboarder all around.
Features to look for: Danny should check out GNU’s freestyle boards and look for a mid-flexing (not too stiff) board and a true twin (a board that can be ridden the same in either direction) if he likes to land switch a lot. He may also be interested in an asym design, which often helps riders with their spins.
Snowboards to consider:
- GNU Riders Choice Asym C2X: The Riders Choice is ideal if Danny rides the entire mountain a fair bit and not just the park. It has the C2X profile that is useful for stability and control, is lightweight, and even floats in powder. This asym board is a great quiver-of-one board that shines in the park.
- GNU Money C2E: The Money is a great board featuring the C2E profile. It’s an easy-going board if Danny is predominantly into jibbing and riding rails. It also has a soft/medium flex and is super poppy and fun.
- GNU FB Headspace C3: This board is a bit more aggressive, with the C3 Camber, for tons of pop. It also is an asymmetrical board, which is ideal if Danny wants help with spins. With a medium flex, it is perfect for freestyle riding with enough flex to stomp big landings.
Needs: Katie is a pretty advanced rider looking for a board that can keep up. She rides the entire mountain, hits big bowls, likes to go fast, and even has some playfulness when she sees a windlip. Katie isn’t quite sure what type of board would be best for her.
Features to look for: Katie should look for a higher-end board that can keep up, like a directional board on the stiffer end that holds stability at speed. She should check out the C3 Camber profile if she wants something aggressive.
Snowboards to consider:
- GNU Ravish: The Ravish is an everyday go-to board that lets riders rip on but also cruise with friends and feel in total control. This board features a C2 camber profile with good pop and precision but isn’t too aggressive for the everyday rider.
- GNU Barrett: The Barrett is a bit more aggressive, featuring the C3 camber profile. This board runs a little wide and has a large sidecut radius of over 8m, which will bomb any bowls with power. The directional design and Magne-Traction make this a speed machine and off-piste beast.
- GNU Free Spirit: The Free Spirit is the stiffest yet and has the aggressive C3 camber profile like the Barrett. The tip width is significantly wider, though, making this board beyond capable in powder while also bombing the big stuff. It has a sidecut radius of around 6m, making this the choice for tighter turns through trees, as opposed to the Barrett, which likes the wide-open bowls.
Needs: Jared loves to ride off-piste. He is a highly advanced rider who loves trees, bowls, powder, and any terrain he comes up against in the sidecountry. He is looking for a board that can keep up with his aggressive riding style.
Features to look for: Jared should choose a fairly stiff directional board with a relatively aggressive camber design. All of GNU’s boards come with Magne-Traction, which is ideal for Jared since they have serrated edges to dig in and fly even in icy conditions.
Snowboards to consider:
- GNU Hyper C2X: The Hyper is a strong, poppy board featuring the C2X camber profile. This isn’t the most aggressive board, but its directional design and large sidecut radius make it perfect for bombing groomers and big open bowls. It can also slow down and ride with the fam.
- GNU 4x4 C3: The 4x4 takes the park offroad. This board is stiff and features the aggressive C3 camber profile for tons of stability, but its directional twin design is perfect for spins and cliff drops in the backcountry. This board is fun, poppy, and can really shred.
- GNU Banked Country C3: The Banked Country is the stiffest yet, with a wide floaty nose that tackles powder with ease. This board is an aggressive directional design that rides any off-piste line with ease and doesn’t slow down in deep snow. If Jared is focused on speed and powder, this could be the board for him.
Find the Best GNU Snowboard For You
GNU offers a ton of great choices for every rider out there. They are extremely eco-friendly and have tech like Magne-Traction and Banana Rocker that not many brands have. Whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned pro looking to up your mountain exploration, check out a GNU board. Chat with me or one of my fellow Snowboarding Experts here on Curated for free, personalized advice on the best board for you.