When selecting your primary snowboard gear (e.g. snowboards, bindings, and boots) it is often helpful to consider some generally accepted categories of snowboarder styles.
This is especially true for you beginner riders outgrowing your gear. These categories also come in handy for more experienced riders planning to expanding your pallet into snowboarder styles outside of your comfort zone.
Manufacturers develop and market snowboarding gear for specific snowboarder styles. They tune their designs to be more suited to one snowboarder style over another.
So, keeping in mind snowboarder styles help give you a starting point to narrow down your gear choices from among what can be an overwhelming number of options.
There are no official definitions of snowboarder styles, but the three categories described below are used fairly consistently among manufacturers and retail outlets in the industry. So it makes sense for you to understand these categories too.
A side note is within the snowboarder styles categories below I’ll briefly mention the snowboard gear response or flex ratings that are most suited to each category. The flex rating of snowboarding gear is used to describe how responsive it is to various rider movements and is an important part of gear selection.
All mountain is the category that the majority of riders are likely to fall into.
As the name implies these are snowboarders that ride all over the mountain from top to bottom.
All mountain riders are likely to spend quite a bit of time on groomed runs but are up for steep un-groomed terrain that may be much more challenging. They may take a few laps through the park at the end of their runs to try a few rails or to hit some jumps too. And when the powder day comes along, they're all over it.
Since these riders typically do it all they should gravitate toward gear that provides a more balanced response that is compatible with a variety of terrain. Check out our All Mountain Snowboard article for more.
Freeriders tend to seek out and ride more challenging terrain that is frequently steep and un-groomed that they usually ride at very fast speeds. If there's powder to be found, then these riders are not afraid of a hike to get to it.
Along their way down the slope they may hit a range of challenging terrain, obstacles, and snow conditions from powder to ice. Given this riding style they may prefer stiffer flexing gear that provides a quick response that you can depend on during these more critical and unpredictable conditions. Check out our Freeride Snowboard article for more.
These riders spend most of their time in the park riding rails and hitting various features including small to big jumps.
Many freestyle/park riders seem to prefer softer flexing gear which serves two purposes.
First, they allow you to tweak into odd positions to get set up for tricks and ride butters.
Second, they are more forgiving during landings where your body position may be a little out of balance.
I sort of feel like snowboarder styles read like horoscopes. They are so general that you can find yourself fitting into several of them.
But getting a grip on snowboarder styles will help you be more specific regarding how you intend to use your snowboard gear which will greatly narrow down the choices you should be most considering.
But don’t get too hung up on these general categories. Within these categories, and a few others I haven’t even mentioned, there are unlimited shades of snowboarder styles so keep your options open.
What inspires your snowboarder style?
When we look to our favorite snowboarders for inspiration, we naturally try to put them in categories of snowboarder styles. But the best snowboarders transcend any labels that are put upon them because at the core of snowboarder style is artistic self-expression that is far too nuanced.
When an individual snowboarder expresses themselves, they draw upon their personal experiences and influences and the output is their own individual snowboarder style. No individual can have the same set of experiences and influences so there are an infinite number of styles.
One of my favorite riders is Jamie Lynn. He’s known for developing a style using natural terrain rather than focusing on the carefully sculpted terrain parks you’ll see at the big resorts and big competitions.
His style is inspirational for me because my favorite part of riding takes place when I spot natural terrain that engages my brain and evokes my brand of creativity in how I attack it.
Jamie Lynn’s style and influence certainly has had a huge influence on the design of snowboard gear both directly through his relationship with Libtech and other manufacturers and indirectly through all the riders he has inspired.
But I’ll bet he didn’t let his equipment limit the development of his style!
I encourage you to get inspired, develop your own snowboarder styles, and think deeper about how your snowboard gear can help you push your limits.
Don't Limit Yourself!