Which all mountain snowboard provides the best all-around experience? To find out, we researched 30 top rated models of 2019 and purchased the top 10 to find out how they compared side by side. For two months we rode everything from hard pack to corduroy to powder. Every roller was boosted and every turn was enjoyed to rate each board on key metrics such as edging, float in powder and more. Why do you snowboard? For most, it's simply because it's fun. The advancement in snowboard technology has changed the way we interact with the mountain to enhance our quality of experience. Continue reading to find your perfect match and enhance your snowboarding experience.
The Best All-Mountain Snowboards of 2019
|Price||$600 List||$570 List||$449.99 at Amazon||$389.95 at Amazon||$388.99 at Amazon|
|Pros||Floaty, precise edging, good construction, playful||Lightweight, well-made, fun, responsive, user-friendly, made in the USA||Great value, versatile, stable, beautiful graphic||Great value, versatile, nimble, fun||Manufactured with 100% hydropower, beautiful graphic, playful|
|Cons||Tricky to size, unappealing graphic||Below average float||Can slip on hardback||Below average float in powder||Back half of the heel side edge feels like it can slightly disengage under certain circumstances|
|Bottom Line||"That was totally wicked." -The Incredibles||Snowboarding can be hard; help lower the learning curve with this model.||Porsche performance at Honda prices.||The Fury has everything you need and nothing you don't for the sunny everyday board.||Built for riding every condition with power and finesse in a playful style.|
|Rating Categories||Yes. Optimistic||Proto Type Two||Jones Explorer||Nitro Quiver Fury||Capita Kazu Kokubo Pro|
|Float In Powder (20%)|
|Stability At Speed (20%)|
|Pop And Jumping (15%)|
|Specs||Yes. Optimistic||Proto Type Two||Jones Explorer||Nitro Quiver Fury||Capita Kazu Kokubo Pro|
|Camber/Rocker||Hybrid-Rocker/Camber||Hybrid-Rocker/Camber||Hybrid-Rocker/Camber||Hybrid- Rocker/Camber||Hybrid- Rocker/Camber|
Best Overall All Mountain Snowboard
Give it up ladies and gentlemen, for the 2019 OutdoorGearLab Editors' Choice for Best All Mountain Snowboard: the Yes Optimistic. Its tight side cut, coupled with a large nose and wider platform, mitigate toe and heel drag, allowing you to rail turns to new depths. It was very consistent in other categories; the camber profile makes it stable at high speeds and can pop you to new heights off of rollers and jumps. The wide waist width and natural setback stance promotes powder floatation and allows you to downsize, which maintains a playful all-mountain ride.
Aside from the board's less then appealing graphic, the only downside our testing uncovered is it can be slightly challenging to maneuver between inconsistent and bumpy terrain. This can be accentuated if the board is oversized. The Yes Optimistic is best for those who like to rail turns of all shapes on groomers, slash around the mountain in the sunshine, and experience superior powder floatation when the resort is calling for 24" overnight.
Read review: Yes Optimistic
Best Bang for the Buck
After you ride the Jones Explorer, you might think they made a mistake at the register. Coming in at a modest price of 449 dollars, this board displayed premium performance in all metrics. The athletic sidecut and rockered tip and tail allowed for a diverse turn radius with easy initiation and exit and its ease of use allows it to be maneuverable in-between bumps. The board provided above average floatation based on its blunted tip with a rockered nose.
The Explorer performed better on hardpack than some competitors with traditional edges. This board features a mellow serrated edge to assist in edge grip on firm surfaces. The rockered nose and tail, coupled with the stiffness of the board, create an opportunity to slip on hardpack. The Explorer is for someone looking for an everyday board that can excel in all conditions and terrain types - at an affordable price.
Read review: Jones Explorer
Top Pick for Rapid Progression
Never Summer Proto Type Two
From fine-tuning your heelside turn, to your first 720, the Never Summer Proto Type Two can be there to expedite your progress every step of the way. A hybrid profile allows this model to be competitively stable on edge while maintaining park board-like playfulness and pop. The medium flexing profile paired with a tight and asymmetrical sidecut allows the board to be very user-friendly to help expedite your progression.The Proto is one of the best generalists out there. It received a competitive score in every category and as the saying goes, "Jack of all trades and master of none." This model breaks the mold by being a master in edging and playfulness. The well-roundness of this board provided top of class on-mountain experience. The Jack is found in its powder performance. The twin and cambered nose are not intended to provide superior floatation but an all-around great time. The Never Summer Proto Type Two is best for that lower level intermediate to expert all mountain rider who is constantly looking to improve. This rider likes to ride a little of everything without having to change boards but might have a powder-oriented board waiting for those deep days.
Read review: Never Summer Proto Type Two
Top Pick for the Quiver Killer
Google the Ride Warpig. Most likely you will see media of it ripping the mountain in different conditions, jibbing, or jumping. The playful yet supportive character and tight sidecut allow for this board to easily roll and hold a strong edge while remaining nimble enough for use in the park. The setback stance and wider profile of the Warpig unlock the attributes of powder floatation and stability at speed. The Warpig is meticulously designed to be a quiver of one for freestyle and powder alike.
There are some tradeoffs here. The rockered tip and tail that helps provide flotation and increase the playfulness of the board can make it challenging to grip on hardpack. The graphics and shape also aren't the most aesthetically pleasing. However, graphics don't affect the ride of the board, so weight that according to your level of importance. It performed well in all metrics and was a blast to ride; this board is for the someone who loves riding everything, every day on one board whether it be groomers, park, or powder.
Read review: Ride Warpig
Why You Should Trust Us
Our tester Isaac Laredo has structured his life around outdoor education and recreation. He is working toward becoming an AMGA Splitboard guide in which gear must perform in all contexts. Snowboards and splitboards have become critical tools to optimize both work as an educator, and pleasure as a snowboarder. Isaac received a bachelor's degree from Sierra Nevada College in 2019 in Interdisciplinary Studies; Environmental Science and Outdoor Adventure Leadership. Since moving to Lake Tahoe in 2014, he has been able to maintain 100 + days per season in some of the most diverse terrain in the US.The validity of tests and experiments is in part driven by the quality and quantity of your data. Our testing took place in Lake Tahoe, a ski destination that has earned its place for its world-class snow, scenery, and terrain. The access and terrain allowed our tester to collect large amounts of quality qualitative data. This was used in the final product to give you an objective review to help find the perfect model for you.
Related: How We Tested Snowboards
Analysis and Test Results
Imagine taking part in a blind taste test, tasting one percent and whole milk; easy peasy! Now imagine that you're tasting milk ranging from 1.1 percent to 1.9 percent. Your job is to pick the best. That's harder. Each milk is so close in taste that, in the end, they just taste like milk. See what we're getting at? But wait. What if one milk had a touch of chocolate in it? That would make things easier. We're here to help you determine which all-mountain board is YOUR chocolate milk. Your friends' opinions might vary, and other factors might weigh in. But if you know what characteristics are important to you, we'll tell you the board that has them.
Related: Buying Advice for Snowboards
Where's Your Heart (At)?
If you love railing turns on groomers, we recommend the Yes Optimistic. A beefed up camber profile with a mellow rocker tip and tail, a stiff flex, and short side cut make you feel like you're carving on rails. Are you a Powderhound? A wider, tapered, directional board with a rockered nose sized a few centimeters longer will become your best friend such as the Burton Deepthinker. If find yourself doing it all, jibbing, jumping, carving, and seeking day old stashes, then the Never Summer Proto Type Two is a great generalist for your do it all riding style. Whichever it is, there is a board for you within this review.
This review only covers all-mountain models, which aim to perform well in all types of terrain and to be your daily driver. However, many other styles and shapes exist. If you plan to only ride in specific conditions and terrain, such as powder or park, a niche board could be something worth looking into.All-Mountain
This is the most versatile, do-anything-anywhere style of board you can buy; they are designed to perform in any snow and riding situation. Whether you ride 100 days a year or are just starting out, an all-mountain board will keep you happily surfing powder, airing in the park, riding the half-pipe, or carving groomers. All mountain boards cover a large category of design techniques. They can be directional or twin tip, and come with different camber profiles, flexes and edge patterns (Magne-Traction). Each design combination cultivates a different rider experience. Most manufacturers make a great board; the goal is to match the snowboard to your riding style, like Cinderella and her glass slipper. The enhanced experience will keep you coming back turn after turn, day after day, and season after season.
The Best All Mountain Snowboard Review has been updated for the 2018-19 season. Our favorites from last season were included in this review set, paired against different up and coming models. As you read through this article, pay close attention to the metrics that matter to you most, look at the numbers, and use the links to individual reviews to streamline your process.
The performance of the board in each of the tested metrics dictate the user's quality of experience in all different conditions. The testers strategically selected these metrics because they are the deciding factors when considering your new board purchase. This review has two goals: the first is to objectively crown the highest all-around performing model, while the second is to provide a guide for you to find your chocolate milk that elevates your snowboarding experience. Whatever your priority is, pay additional attention to that metric throughout this review.
Almost every shaping consideration has a trade-off. Generally speaking, camber profiles are better for carving but provide lower levels floatation because of its frowned shape, while rocker profiles provide better floatation but less edge hold. The following section discusses each metric and outlines the models that excelled in each category.
Two things every snow-enthusiast loves: free refills and a good value. The lower the price and higher the performance score indicate a better value. Check out the Jones Explorer , Ride Warpig, and the Nitro Fury; these were high performing and lower cost models. The Explorer and the Fury were able to nestle out the Warpig by a few performance points. If you were able to get the Warpig on sale, it could become the better value. In contrast, testint of the Salomon Sick Stick indicated a less than premium performance with a premium price.
Have you ever been on the lift and seen someone laying down a crisp edge in fresh cord and thought "that was beautiful."? Fortunately, over the last 10 years, snowboard design has progressed to accentuate the carving experience. Carving is one of the most enjoyable parts of snowboarding, particularly since it can be done anywhere on the mountain. Manufacturers have utilized different edge styles such as Magne Traction; Magne Traction aims to obtain better edge hold in icy condition but feels catchy at slow speeds. Magne-Traction boards such as the Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Pointy, have a wavy edge that aims to cut into firmer snow, much like a serrated knife.Another notable change in technology is volume shifted snowboards. Volume shifted snowboards such as the Ride Warpig, or Yes Optimistic are short and wide. The wider platform provides stability and mitigates toe and heel drag due to the horizontal increase of surface area and material. These boards are generally downsized to achieve additional playfulness. The progression in board design will help you hold an edge that people from the lift say "that was beautiful."
In the quest for the best edging board, we looked for a model that got on edge easily, maintained good edge hold, and finished turns with ease and power. We tested every board in hardpack and pristine groomers. We dunked heelside turns and surfed toe side turns to find our stand out models.
A post-testing-analysis of the specs revealed that wider boards with stiff to medium flexes thrived in this category; this was a very competitive pool of carvers with (1) ten and (6) nine out tens being awarded. The three standouts for the most fun edging experience were the Yes Optimistic, Nitro Fury, and Never Summer Proto. The Optimistic scored a 10 in-part for its ability to perform powerful, tight radius turns, and exit turns with ease. The asymmetrical heel edge of the Fury and Proto provided extra edge grip for those inherently challenging heelside turns. The Jones Explorer surprised us with its athletic ability and ease of turning despite its stiffness. If these characteristics are not your chocolate milk, then consider the Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber, or Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Pointy for their longer sidecut and long radius turning ability.
Stability at Speed
A snowboard is the foundation for your riding security. Riding security means the rider feels in control at high speeds whether that be straight lining or carving edge to edge. If your board feels squirrely at high speeds, you're likely to fall; that is no fun, except for the people on the lift. To help you avoid this situation, we tested each board by straight lining, carving at high speeds and some wrecking. Primarily the board's camber profile, flex rating, and side cut determine its performance in regards to high-speed stability. Boards with longer sidecuts, stiffer flexes, and cambered profiles, generally perform better at high speeds. In contrast, they are generally less playful can be hard to ride when going slow. While boards with rocker profiles (due to the raised contact points), and softer flexing boards excel at slow to medium speeds and provide a playful ride. However, they can feel loose when opened up. These two designs are at the polar opposites of the spectrum. Like the story of Goldilocks, most are looking for something in the middle; just right.
Certain models that performed well in the edging category also did exceptional in the stability at speed metric. The Jones Explorer, Lib Tech T-Rice Pro Pointy and the Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber scored a 9/10. This is attributed to their stiff flex pattern and camber dominant profiles. Their ride's lacked nose chatter and their sidecuts were conducive to longer radius turns. The Capita Kazu Pro was another strong competitor, with a high score attributed to its chatter-free ride, good dampness, and directional flex. This board still scored high in playfulness despite its high score in this category which can often be a tradeoff.
Float in Powder
Few things can top fresh powder turns with effortless floatation. In contrast, few things are more frustrating than nose-diving and continuously tomahawking. The rider experiencing effortless floatation is happily shredding powder from 9-4, while the freshly tomahawked rider can be exhausted, frustrated, and potentially injured. When riding powder, the design of the board can work either for or against you. The question is how hard do you want to work?
Fully cambered boards have a downturned (frown face) profile and contact points. While they are stronger carvers, they tend to dive into the snow. This makes you work significantly harder than rocker profiles. The uplifted (smiley face) profile of a rocker model is looser when carving but works to keep your tip up so you can focus on your turn rather than anticipating your next tomahawk.
To test this metric, we rode as much powder as the winter allowed. Through turning, jumping and tomahawking, we were able to assess each model's powder prowess. The testing process and prior experience have shown that hybrid profiles such as the mostly cambered profile with a rocker tip of the Burton Deep Thinker mitigate the trade-offs in edging and flotation.
Keep your nose and your head up! Even Travis Rice had a hard time on his first ever deep powder day. The learning curve is steep, but powder riding provides arguably the best onboard experience. After you have selected a model that does some of the heavy lifting for you, the next step is to ride powder. Soon you will unlock the euphoric feeling that individuals dedicate their lives to. These three will help get you there.
The Yes Optimistic, Ride Warpig, and Burton Deep Thinker share a tapered profile (nose is wider than tail), rocker in the tip and a setback stance. These are design characteristics that allow the board to work for you rather than against. The Ride Warpig and Yes Optimistic have wider waist widths which increase surface area providing more float. The added width allows the board to be downsized in length. Boards with cambered tips and tails such as the T-Rice Pointy or Proto Type Two provide less float and require more speed to keep afloat then the models described above.
What is your primary goal on a board? Are your ears and eyes waiting for the race gates to drop to bash gates on a slalom course? Are you looking for the gnarliest line at your local resort? How about stomping that triple-cork 1440 while the world watches you on ESPN 8? You may want to do all this, but our guess is that you're simply looking to have a fun day with your friends. Only you can decide what constitutes fun, and we can help you find the board to match that. To test this metric, we made the tightest turns possible through the range of sidecuts. We popped off of side hits, buttered and pressed our way around the mountain, and wandered through trees. Big, stiff, and longer sidecut boards were not nearly as fun or versatile as smaller, softer and shorter sidecut models.
The most playful boards have medium flex patterns, tight side cuts and are generally twin tip. The attributes are synonymous with freestyle riding. Freestyle riding is defined by the playing on jumps, rails and snow features and certain boards in this review exhibit some or all these characteristics - and are categorized as all mountain freestyle. This discipline of boards performed exceptionally well in this category.
The medium flex and tight sidecut of the Never Summer Proto Type Two, Nitro Fury, and Salomon Sickstick provided versatile and fun riding that could be taken anywhere. In fact, one tester couldn't stop talking about the first two for days after riding them. Additionally, the short radius turns, butters, and the forgiving ride awarded the first two the coveted 10. A strong competitor was the Ride Warpig also for its versatile ride and fluid flex pattern. We have seen this board ridden in powder, park and boardercross races. Our testing confirms that these are all appropriate applications of this model.
Pop and Jumping
It would be rad to ollie over that SLOW sign at the bottom of the run, wouldn't it? Yeah. Then you can go tell your friends how rad it was and pop a beer. How do you know what model has what it takes to pop you that high? In testing pop, we ollied, hit park jumps with varying kick, and flexed the competitors in the parking lot. Then, after snagging the nose on the sign, shoulder checking the hardpack, having the patroller take my ticket, and sulking as we walked to my car, we looked down and realized we were using the wrong board for the job.
Did you have a trampoline when you were growing up? The spring from the mat launches you higher in the air then possible with just your legs. Pop is the same concept in snowboarding when you ollie (squat and pop of the tail of the board); the board springs upward and provides additional lift to get you higher in the air. More pop means you can jump over that sign or tree and go bigger on that hip. Speaking to model shape and design, camber (frown-faced) profiles have better pop than rocker (smiley face) profiles. This is due to the downturned profile which resists and then magnifies the power you put into the initial loading of your ollie. Hybrid camber profiles can provide exceptional pop as well. The take away here is that good pop, and landing security is driven by the profile and flex of the board.
What goes up must come down. This metric also tested landing security. When you are not able to put down a clean landing on the balls of the feet, the board should prove a margin for you to recover. Rather than the alternative of looping out and sliding down the landing; ending your sweet jump line. Generally, boards with cambered tips and tails that feature stiffer profiles and a user-friendly ride help provide a larger margin for landing. Twin boards like the Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Pointy will provide a larger margin for back seat landings then set-back boards with smaller tails such as the Yes Optimistic.
The best performing models in this metric feature predominately cambered profiles such as the Capita Kazu Pro and the Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber; these models received an 8 and a 9 respectively. This is due to the exponential energy return that is provided from a camber profile. That being said, it is more work to generate pop from camber because it requires additional loading. Hybrid models with rocker in the middle, such as the Never Summer Proto Type Two, provide solid pop due to the camber tip and tail with less loading requirements. Hybrid models are traditionally more user-friendly to receive sufficient pop, especially if you're starting out. The Salomon Sickstick uses three different camber profiles (rocker, camber and, flat) to provide pop and stability and security.
The goal of this review and our testing is to match you to the perfect board. We hypothesized and tested to communicate to you the character, benefits, and drawbacks of each board. Remember that question earlier in the article, "why do you snowboard?". Think about it. There is a board in this review to support that objective to its fullest. Read the reviews for the individual boards and be sure to look at their scoring metrics. Personally, we snowboard because it is fun and it allows us to live in that moment of stoke. Whichever board you choose, you 'll be happy because they all provide a high-quality experience to cultivate that stoke. Happy Turns.
— Isaac Laredo