All-Mountain Snowboards: How to Choose the Right One for You

Published on 01/11/2024 · 12 min readDiscover your perfect all-mountain snowboard with this expert guide. Find the ideal ride no matter what kind of terrain or conditions you're in!
Gaelen Mast, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Gaelen Mast

Photo by Anatoliy Gleb

TL;DR: When buying an all-mountain snowboard, it’s not a “one size fits all recipe.” While they all may be advertised as a single board to shred the entire mountain, there are many minor differences between all-mountain boards that can drastically change a rider’s experience. Features such as the board's profile, flex, shape, construction materials, and size can all play roles in how a board performs. To pick the best combination of these features, you should consider your skill level, riding style, and preferred terrain.

My name is Gaelen, and I’ve been riding snowboards since before I could grow a beard (and I started growing facial hair at thirteen). I’ve ridden dozens of different boards over the last decade in a variety of places, such as Vermont, Oregon, Colorado, and even Alaska. Spending so much time around snowboards means I’ve spent countless hours learning about snowboard technology, and I’ve been lucky enough to share this knowledge with hundreds of customers right here on Curated to help them find their perfect new snowboard!

Photo by Gaelen Mast

What Is an All-Mountain Snowboard?

An all-mountain snowboard is designed to perform well in all types of snow conditions and terrain. Simply put, it’s a singular board that can shred the entire resort! This makes it a versatile choice for snowboarders who don’t want to haul around multiple more specialized boards, like a freestyle board or powder board. For the casual snowboarder, the all-mountain board is a great choice; however, it comes with the caveat of being a jack of all trades but a master of none.

What to Consider When Buying an All-Mountain Snowboard

Considering these questions will help you select the best possible all-mountain board to suit your unique snowboarding needs and wants!

1. What is your skill level?

Your skill level is crucial when choosing a snowboard. All snowboards come with an intended skill level rating, and it’s important to try to choose one that aligns with where you are at. While skill level can be subjective, a good rule of thumb is that if you’re only comfortable on green circle trails, you’re a beginner rider; if you’re comfortable on blue square trails, you’re an intermediate rider; and if you’re comfortable on black diamond trails, you’re an advanced rider. You don’t have to obsess over this detail, though. For example, if you’re an intermediate rider but a board is rated for advanced riders, this isn’t automatically a no-go. Just keep skill level in mind, and don’t select a beginner board if you’re an advanced rider or vice versa. If you need more help deciding if a board is appropriate for your skill level, feel free to message me right here on Curated, and I can help you determine that!

2. What kind of terrain do you frequently ride?

After considering your skill level, you should think about what sort of terrain you spend most of your time on, as this will also play a role in what sort of all-mountain board you should choose. Do you mainly stick to wide-open groomers (groomed trails), or do you venture off into the trees and other ungroomed terrain? Are you a total sucker for a fresh pow day, or do you prefer to spend your time jibbing in the terrain park? If you like to do a little of all of the above, that’s totally fine too! All of these questions will help you determine which features to look for in an all-mountain snowboard – we will discuss these features later in the article!

3. What is your preferred riding style?

Here’s where things get more subjective. While determining your skill level and preferred terrain is relatively easy, your riding style is something that you have to define yourself. It refers to how you ride your preferred terrain. For example, are you someone who rides as fast as possible down a groomer, or do you make long sweeping turns and take your time? Are you a cautious rider in the trees, or are you looking for the tightest trees possible to fly through? Do you prefer to hit big airs in the terrain park or like low-impact tricks such as butters and smaller rails? Knowing how you ride in your preferred terrain will help you further define your “must-have” list for board features.

4. How do you determine your board size?

Your height and weight are the main influences on the length of the board you should choose. Your boot size, ability level, and where you ride also play smaller roles in determining your board size. While there is not one “perfect board size” for you, there is a range of 3-5cm you should consider, and a quick way to figure this out is to use our free snowboard size calculator.

5. How much should an all-mountain snowboard cost?

Snowboard prices can range widely, so how much an all-mountain snowboard should cost is the million-dollar question. To give you a rough estimate, expect to pay around $400-$800 for the board itself (all-mountain bindings are another $150-$350). Beginner boards are on the lower end of this range, and the price increases as more features are included. While lots of high-tech features may sound appealing, the average intermediate-advanced rider can find plenty of appropriate options in the $500-$600 range. So remember, a higher price doesn't always mean it's the right board for you.

What Are the Different Types of All-Mountain Snowboards?

Photo by Rawpixel

While you can technically ride any snowboard anywhere on the mountain, all-mountain snowboards aim to be the most well-balanced option out there. Even so, the various features an all-mountain board can have will indirectly make it better or worse at specific areas of riding, mainly freestyle and freeride. Let’s explore what might make an all-mountain board better for one or the other.

1. All-Mountain Freestyle Snowboards

Photo by Pressmaster

These snowboards typically have a soft to soft-medium flex, camber or hybrid profile, and a true twin shape for easy switch riding. This lends them to performing particularly well in the terrain parks and sidehits as well as riding the whole mountain. Please remember, these are just generalizations, and there are plenty of all-mountain freestyle boards out there that don’t fit perfectly into this mold.

  • Benefits
    • Versatile enough to ride any terrain adequately
    • Will excel in the terrain park up to a certain level
  • Keep in Mind
    • Not the best option for pure freestyle riding
    • Will fall short in freeride terrain such as powder or trees

2. All-Mountain Freeride Snowboards

Photo by Merkushev Vasiliy

These snowboards typically have a medium-stiff to stiff flex, directional twin or directional profile, and a profile that has a large section of rocker in the nose for powder float. This lends them to performing well in in freeride settings such as fresh snow, trees, moguls, and other ungroomed terrain, as well as being able to ride the whole mountain. Like with all-mountain freestyle boards, these are just generalizations, and there are plenty of all-mountain freeride boards out there that don’t fit perfectly into this mold.

  • Benefits
    • Versatile enough to ride any terrain adequately
    • Will excel in the terrain park up to a certain level
  • Keep in Mind
    • Not the best option for aggressive freeride terrain
    • Will fall short for technical freestyle riding

Remember, there's no such thing as the perfect board – they all have some sort of downside. It's all about finding the best fit for your riding style, needs, and wants.

Features to Look for When Buying an All-Mountain Snowboard

Photo by Tomas Marek

As I mentioned earlier in this article, each all-mountain snowboard comes with its own set of features that can drastically change how the board performs. Let’s explore each of these features:

  1. Profile: This refers to the curvature of the snowboard when viewed from the side. I could dedicate an entire article to this topic, but I’ll keep it brief here. There are three main types of snowboard profiles: camber, rocker, and hybrid, which is a combination of the two. Camber provides superior edge hold and stability as well as pop. Rocker offers more float in powder, more forgiveness, and easier maneuverability. Hybrid designs combine these features of both camber and rocker to attempt to provide the best of both worlds.
  2. Flex pattern: The flex pattern of a snowboard refers to its stiffness. Some brands will rank a board’s flex from 1-10, whereas others will simply provide either a soft, medium, or stiff flexing rating. A soft flex is easier to control and is more forgiving, a stiff flex is more responsive and provides better edge hold and stability, and a medium flex aims to strike a balance between the two. To take a deeper dive into how a board’s flex ratings affect your ride, check out this article.
  3. Shape: A snowboard’s shape will play a huge role in how it rides. There are three main shapes: true twin, directional twin, and directional. A true twin shape means the snowboard is totally symmetrical. A directional twin refers to a board that is almost totally symmetrical but may have a small feature that makes it asymmetrical, such as a taper, setback stance, or a nose or a tail that is a slightly different shape. A directional shape has a nose and a tail that are distinctly different and is designed to be ridden exclusively in one direction as opposed to a true twin or directional twin, which can be easily ridden in either direction. To take a deeper dive into how these shapes affect your ride, check out this article.
  4. Base Material: Snowboards are typically made of two different bases: sintered or extruded. A sintered base is more durable and faster but requires more frequent waxing. An extruded base isn’t quite as fast but holds wax longer and requires less frequent maintenance.
  5. Width: While length is obviously important when choosing a snowboard, width is something a lot of people forget about, but it can be equally as important. After all, if you have a board that’s too narrow for your boot size, your toes will hang over and catch in the snow when you go to turn. Alternatively, if your board is too wide for your boot size, it’ll take a lot of effort to get the board from edge to edge. Typically, width is not an issue unless you have abnormally small or large feet in relation to your height and weight.
  6. Bindings Compatibility: It’s crucial to understand which bindings are compatible with your board. While most boards are compatible with most bindings, there are outliers like boards from Burton that use the “channel system” and require a specialized type of binding. You can always double-check a board’s binding compatibility with @@a Curated expert like myself@@!

Remember, all these features and technologies should be considered in relation to your own riding style, ability level, and the conditions you most frequently ride in. No single feature or technology is the "best" — rather, it's about finding the right combination that suits you.

How to Choose the Right All-Mountain Snowboard

Photo by Jag Cz

Below are a couple of scenarios of customers I’ve actually helped on Curated. We’ll go over their ability level, preferred terrain, and riding style, look at what board features they should consider, and then provide actual board examples that would work well for them.

James

James is looking for a higher-end board that he can ride all over the mountain, especially in the terrain park. He’s not a huge speed demon and won’t be riding anything steeper than a blue square, so he’s not overly concerned about getting a board with the best high-speed performance or edge grip. He just really wants it to work well in the park so he can progress in that realm.

Features to look for:

  • An all-mountain freestyle snowboard
  • A true twin shape for great switch riding capabilities, which are crucial in the park
  • A soft/medium flex since speed is not a concern, but park performance is
  • A hybrid profile: camber for pop and rocker for forgiveness when learning new tricks

Snowboards to consider:

Macy

Macy is a new snowboarder who’s ready to move away from rentals and get her own gear. She’s comfortable on green circles and hopes to progress to blues as soon as she gets her toe-side turns mastered. She’s on a budget, so she’s not looking to spend a ton.

Features to look for:

  • A pure all-mountain snowboard
  • A board in the $400-$500 range as this is considered more of a budget option
  • A snowboard with a rocker profile for forgiveness as she works on toe-side turns
  • A snowboard with a soft to medium flex for ease of use as she takes on new terrain
  • A true twin or directional twin for versatility as she expands her horizons with snowboarding.

Snowboards to consider:

Don

Don is an advanced rider who wants to ride the steepest terrain he can find and ride it as aggressively as possible. He doesn’t mind investing more money in a board if it gives him the performance he needs. He also wants it to be able to handle moderate amounts of powder since he lives in Colorado.

Features to look for:

  • An all-mountain freeride snowboard
  • A predominantly camber profile for the best possible edge grip and carving performance; small amounts of rocker in the nose will help with float in powder as well
  • A stiff flex for stability and responsiveness
  • A directional twin or directional shape to handle fresh snow when the occasion arises

Snowboards to consider:

Find the Right All-Mountain Snowboard for You

Photo by Mark Peugh

As you can see, there is no “best” snowboard – they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Rather, choosing the right all-mountain for you comes down to identifying some key aspects about you as a snowboarder and choosing the right combination of features. It can be an overwhelming process to start, but luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. That’s because this is where Curated comes in! Here at Curated, you can connect with me or any of the other Snowboard Experts, and we’ll provide free, personalized gear recommendations based on your specific needs and wants. It’s totally free and the quickest way to get all kitted and fitted for your next adventure!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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