How To Choose the Perfect Powder Snowboard
Learn more about what makes a good powder board and follow along with Snowboard Expert Noah Todd's quiz to find your perfect powder snowboard.
If you’re thinking about buying a powder snowboard, you’ve probably found yourself in a situation where your board let you down in powder. Maybe you hit the slopes after a big storm and left disappointingly early because you kept getting stuck, or maybe you found some hidden powder stashes but fell face-first into it because your board immediately sank. Regardless, in this article, I’m going to break down what makes a good powder board and which boards are ideal for you.
Features of a Powder Snowboard
Powder snowboards have a few features that make them especially good for keeping you on top of the snow. Here are some features to look for when browsing through powder boards:
Wider and shorter board
The biggest factor for determining float is the total area of the board. Widening the board even a little can add a large amount of area to the board, which will keep you on top of the powder. Many times, companies will also shorten the board, which makes the shape much easier to turn and more playful. Boards that are shorter and wider are oftentimes called volume-shifted boards.
Having a wider front and thinner back is beneficial because a taper like that will keep the nose up and the tail down. You can push down the tail of the board while riding on a board with less taper, but a taper will be less taxing on your back foot on the deep powder days. It also feels more natural to ride with a taper on powder days.
Longer nose and shorter tail
Like a taper, a longer nose and shorter tail will keep your board from nose-diving into the pow. Additionally, the larger nose will help with float.
Directional features like swallowtails and unique tail shapes can also help keep your nose up. In addition, different nose and tail shapes can direct the snow coming out the back of your board as you surf through powder. Swallowtails can also keep the tail area low while still giving you extra pop for jumping. They’re nice because they will push your rear contact point back without adding that extra tail area.
Like surfboards, the most dedicated powder boards have large rockers in the nose or have full rocker profiles. Powder boards can have a camber or a flatter base, but a rocker will have the most playful feel on deep days.
Some boards will have extra binding mounts that allow you to stand further back on your board. This setback stance will let you use a normal stance on less snowy days and then move your stance back for deep days
Soft to medium flex
Powder boards are more fun when they’re flexible because they’re easier to twist for maneuvering. It’s for this reason that many high-end powder boards don’t have carbon inserts or stiffer materials. Many powder boards also have a directional flex, with a softer nose and a stiffer tail for added pop.
Quiz: What Should You Ask Yourself When Choosing a Board?
The best powder board for you is going to depend greatly on a few factors. In this section, you’ll ask yourself a few questions. In the next section, you’ll see which boards are best for your needs based on your quiz answers.
1. When do you plan on riding this board?
This is important because some features will make riding powder much more fun. However, those same features will make riding on groomers and park features harder. Somebody who only plans to use their powder board after huge storms should get a different board than someone who wants to go powder hunting at a resort.
A. I want to have one board, but I want it to be powder-focused. B. I want a second board for hunting powder stashes at resorts. C. I want another board strictly for deep days.
2. Do you want to ride switch?
Some directional boards are terrible for riding switch, but their unique shape will make riding on powder glorious. Those more directional boards will keep your nose upright, make powder riding less tiring, and enable you to ride much harder terrain. However, there are many great boards that will let you ride switch on powder.
A. Yes, I want to ride switch. B. No, I’d rather have a more specialized board.
3. Do you prefer sending huge jumps for big air or would you rather play in the trees?
This is a softer decision because all boards will be able to do both, but some are much better for one or the other.
A. I want to send big jumps and charge down the mountain. B. I prefer slashing powder in trees and tackling difficult terrain.
The Best Board for You Based on Your Answers
I want to have one board, but I want it to be powder focused
AAA: Yes. Standard
Yes. took the most important features for a resort board and a powder board and combined them into this harmonious masterpiece. The Standard is shorter and wider to provide float and add maneuverability for powder riding. It also has slamback inserts which allow you to mount the bindings back for deep days. Meanwhile, it has a camber, directional flex, and midbite side shape, which are all ideal for holding an edge and jumping. In my opinion, this board is the perfect combination of features for the rider that rides purely for the joy of riding.
AAB: Never Summer Harpoon
Never Summer mastered the hybrid camber shape on the Harpoon which allows it to make quick turns through the trees extremely easily. The directional, volume-shifted shape helps the Harpoon stay afloat in powder, but it also won’t stop you from riding switch in the park.
ABA: Jones Hovercraft
The legendary Jeremy Jones makes many beautiful freeride and powder boards, and the Hovercraft is one of his original shapes. It’s a shorter, wider board with 3D contouring and a cut-off tail. The full camber profile and swallowtail make this board especially fun for jumps and charging. Meanwhile, the 3D contouring will make turning more surfy.
ABB: Lib Tech Orca
Travis Rice designed the Orca to tackle the most difficult backcountry terrain. Its extra-wide shape combined with a rocker-camber hybrid profile makes it extremely easy to turn. Meanwhile, it also has Magne-Traction, which makes it easy to ride at icier resorts.
I want a second board for hunting powder stashes at resorts
BAA: Lib Tech Golden Orca
Travis Rice made this board specifically for launching himself into the air on the Natural Selection Tour. He added features to the original Orca specifically so he could jump of features switch and land switch in deep powder. In doing so, he created a board that might be better than the original Orca.
BAB: Jones Mind Expander Twin
After the Mind Expander’s extreme success, some people wanted a twin version of it. Jeremy Jones responded with this interesting combination of a powder board and park board. He took the large nose and put it on the tail as well so people can ride switch in powder. In addition, he switched the rocker profile to camber and added contact points so it can take on hard snow and icy terrain. This combination of features makes this board perfect for freestyle riding in powder stashes throughout a resort.
BBA: Jones Storm Wolf
When Jeremy Jones released the Storm Chaser, people loved it, but they wanted a similar board that could also ride through a resort. Jeremy responded with the Storm Wolf, which took the best powder features of the Storm Chaser and changed some aspects so that it could be ridden in a resort. The result was a board that lets you charge through the resort and hunt for powder. The Storm Wolf has a camber, 3D contouring, and extra contact points for edge hold. These let you charge hard and fly off jumps, but it still has enough board to carve through deep powder.
BBB: Lib Tech Orca
Yes, this board is on here twice. Whether you’re getting this as your first or second board, it’s a great option if you want a directional board for difficult terrain and powder slashing.
I want another board strictly for deep days
CAA: Burton Hometown Hero
If you want a reason to buy this board, just look at the Natural Selection Tour podium; almost all the winners were riding this board. This is the board for huge stunts in the backcountry. It has a twin flex with a slightly longer nose, so it will feel great riding switch, but it will also let you charge down the mountain.
CAB: Jones Mind Expander
Admittedly, this isn’t the best board for riding switch, but this is the best powder surfing board you can get that still allows you to ride switch. It has a big, spooned-out nose that will keep you floating even on the deepest of days. Most people that own this board say it’s their favorite board to ride, but that might be because they’re only taking it out on the best snowy days.
CBA: Nitro Squash
Nitro embodied its name when designing this hard-charging, powder board. Instead of a soft rocker, Nitro put a stiff camber on this otherwise powder-focused board to add extra pop for jumping. Meanwhile, its large nose, swallowtail, and large shape make it perfect for powder riding and backcountry.
CBB: Jones Storm Chaser
This is the most powder-focused powder board. It’s for people with a quiver of boards who want a board specifically for deep days. It has all the ideal features for powder slashing in snow, so if you want the best possible directional experience on deep days, look no further.
Whatever you choose, your powder board will likely quickly become one of your favorite decks! If you have any questions about which powder board is right for you, you can chat with me or any of the other Snowboard Experts here on Curated! We enjoy helping people find good equipment, and we especially love shopping for powder boards with customers. Good luck finding some fresh gnar!