The 8 Best Men's Freestyle Snowboards to Buy in 2018

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By already narrowing the wide world of snowboards to those optimized for freestyle riding, you’ve honed in on boards that are typically light, short, and flexible — in other words, boards tailor-made for tricks rather than an all-mountain rig or something focused on the backcountry. Freestyle boards are almost universally twin-tipped, meaning that the tip and tail and the rest of the board are symmetrical, so you can easily control them going forward or backward. Most are less suitable for deeper powder or hard-packed groomers, but they’re tops for terrain parks, hucking off natural features on most groomed runs and cat tracks, and launching cliffs in the side country.

As with all outdoor gear, even within the genre of freestyle snowboarding, most boards focus in on a particular activity to optimize the needs of the rider. Some boards are tailor-made for parks — think jibs, pipes, drops, and rails, while others deliver an all-over-the-mountain experience, and some are even built to help beginners dial in the freestyle tricks of the trade. In general, board profiles are distinguished by one of the following profile shape configurations: camber, which gives the board a slight bend under the waist to provide a pop and responsiveness on groomed runs; rocker (or reverse camber), where the board is overall upturned, from the waist through the tip and tail, like an inverted half-oval to give you a softer ride that excels in jibs and rail riding; flat, save for the tips and tails, to enable quick turns and better float in the deep stuff; and mixed camber, which marries camber and rocker features in wave-like profiles that have been engineered to handle a variety of special circumstances. Trick boards also typically have deeper sidecuts (or narrower waists) so that they turn quickly and easily, softer flex to make it easier to trigger that coveted pop you want when you go big, and shorter overall impact points for the edges, making it easier to turn and spin.

Beyond that, consider the types of tricks you prefer to help further curate your options. Those who love jumps likely want a board that’s slightly longer for stability and speed than park boards, who typically run a bit shorter with more flex and a buttery core to let the board bend. All-mountain freestylers, meanwhile, can lean into either shorter or longer boards depending on personal preference, with a more moderate flex to handle a hybrid of situations and — typically — benefit the most from mixed ​camber.

Here’s a handful of the best on the market right now.

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best Overall: Public Darrell Mathes Display

Public Darrell Mathes Display

Amazon

Boasting a new “frame” camber profile from Public, the Darrell Mathes Display runs flat between the feet, with a float-friendly gradual rise in the tip and tail to deliver optimal performance and glide through the snow. Its burly overall construction will stand up to hard hits on the rails, but will also deliver serious control for freestylers who love to find natural features deep in the backcountry. The true-twin design allows for quick-and-easy entry, with urethane sidewalls and Kevlar strips and Carbon stringers in the core for added flex and strength.

Much like the board’s namesake Darrell Mathes, whose rides through the park are a beautiful sequence of perfectly smooth rail slides and confident jumps, the board doesn’t overthink anything. The ride leans to the stiffer side, which can help snap and control things in variable terrain. And though it only comes in 153cms, that length should suit most riders of all styles.

02 of 08

Best Value: Salomon Craft

Dubbed the “ride-anything machine” by pro rider Nils Mindrich, the Craft will please all types of freestyle riders, from cliff-droppers to park rats, with a proprietary Rock Out Camber that’s flat under foot suitable for all terrains. The tip-and-tail rocker delivers some playful hop to the equation, boosting the already flexible features of its Aspen core, which is composed of FSC-certified wood strips for the inserts and rail zones, along with medium-density European fiberglass layers.

Riders report that the board architecture almost feels like you’ve got the same control you get from a skateboard kickstand, so it’s easy to make micro and macro adjustments. Most importantly, it rides predictably. The EQ Rad sidecut delivers agility, balance, and easy turn control. But it can also handle deeper snow and butters with ease. A variety of lengths are available, from 149 cms all the way up to 160.

03 of 08

Best for Serious Pop: Rome Buckshot

With features everywhere you look — the sides of groomers and on the cat track, deep in the pipe or lapping the park, or during deep backcountry forays — the aptly-named Buckshot delivers some serious spring to let you pop to perform. This comes from its aggressive camber profile, along with rises at both the tip and tail, but the freestyle flex lets you easily press and lock onto rails without feeling like you’re standing on a balance board.

The brainchild between Rome Snowboards and World Champ Brandon Davis, the new Buckshot has a new shape that’s shorter, wider, and more tapered than its predecessors, which enhances maneuverability but still floats like a board twice its size. Rebound sidewalls and Basalt Impact Plates help lessen the hit that comes from launching huge kickers.

The board doesn’t deliver all-mountain performance, and likely won’t butter without some experience in deep powder, but tricksters probably won’t care. It comes in yellow, orange, blue, and greed models and three lengths, 147, 151, and 155 cms.

04 of 08

Best for Loose — and Packed — Snow: Burton Free Thinker

The Free Thinker still qualifies as a park/freestyle board but, as its name implies, just because it’s one thing doesn’t mean it can’t be another. Devised by pro rider Danny Davis, it can handle serious laps in the park, pipe, or side hits across the mountain, with a slight hourglass shape to allow for creative expression in any direction.

Made with the advanced/expert rider in mind, the slight camber keeps things quick and poppy, and Burton’s 45-Degree Highlights fiberglass provide snap without adding stiffness. As you’d expect from the company that invented snowboarding, this Burton board packs in a legion of other proprietary features — Frostbite Edges, Super Sap Epoxy, Pro-tip, Infinite Ride, Sqeezebox , a WFO base, and FSC-certified Super Fly II 700-gram core with Dualzone EGD. But really, only Burton employees can probably decode what that all means. Riders, however, just know that they’ve got a playful, go-anywhere workhorse strapped to their boots. It comes in a variety of lengths and features striking graphics from legendary skateboarder/artist Mark Gonzales.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best for Park Rats: Academy Propaganda

Academy Propaganda

Academy Snowboards

The Propaganda might be the easiest way to improve your park exploits. The twin tip model boasts a wood core that stretches from tail to tip, with Academy’s Zero Camber that generates pop without packing out like lesser jib-centric boards. The blunted tip and tail make re-entry from the atmosphere a breeze, with an overall soft flex pattern that’s forgiving without feeling too wobbly.

In fact, riders report that the Propaganda responds well even when riding slow or when coming in off-kilter, making it easy to recover from a less-than-stellar trick. More suitable for rail lines, pipe runs, and smaller kickers, this isn’t the board for sending 80-foot jumps. But for agile playtime in the freestyle park and steady progression from intro-level to intermediate tricks, the board keeps thing simple and predictable, so you can level up, run after run. It’s available in four lengths: 146, 149, 152, and 156.

06 of 08

Best for a Fun and Fast Ride: Rome Warpig

The brainchild between Rome Snowboards and World Champ Brandon Davis, the new Warpig has a new shape that’s shorter, wider, and more tapered than its predecessors, which enhances maneuverability but still floats like a board twice its size. It flies on the groomers, and handles the packed snow in parks with aplomb, with a directional rocker and edges that boast nearly 50 percent more steel than other models to give you a hard bite when edging, even at a larger radius.

Rome also employs their Slimewalls, with 3D fiberglass to increase board strength while also absorbing impacts, and urethane to smooth interaction with the snow, wood, and metal. Inside, impact plates at each binding area improve compressive strength while carbon array laminates reach out from the binding zone to channel the opposing contact point for maximum control; both features are offered at two levels, catering to your ride style.

It also comes in a new XS version (in addition to its small and larger sizes) for smaller riders or those who want something nimble and fast rather than an all-mountain monster.

07 of 08

Best for Going All Over the Resort: Burton Kilroy Process

This revamped version of Burton’s original Process focuses on strength, speed, and pop — the three essentials for easily and confidently transitioning from groomers to powder to the park. A slight camber bend offers a riding experience that bridges soft and playful without becoming overly stiff and aggressive (which is why it’s suitable for all-resort riding rather than the backcountry).

You also get a sintered base, an FSC-certified Super Fly core paired with Biax Fiberglass, Super Sap epoxy, and Burton’s famed three-year warranty. Both its name and the graphic echoes back to World War II. American GIs drew Kilrow, the bald-headed man with the big nose on the walls of the places they were stationed, becoming — much like Jake Burton himself — a U.S. icon. It comes in sizes that range from 148 to 159 cms, and, with a price that hovers around $400, doesn’t require a second mortgage to acquire.

08 of 08

Best for Novices: Lib Tech Skate Banana

Look at the Skate Banana’s edge and it almost seems like it was designed by someone with shaky hands who tried — and failed — to draw a straight line. That signature profile, with mild caber at the feet and a rocker between the bindings, became an instant classic when it first introduced and still ranks as one of the best boards on which to learn how to ride.

It’s easy, jibby, and floaty, with a serrated edge that deepens as you travel from the tip to the feet before thinning back at the tail, giving you confident purchase even on the choosiest of terrain. Aspen and Columbian Gold wood make up the core, with birch internal side walls, UHMW tail and tip impact deflection, and an eco-sublimated poly top. It also comes in a huge range of sizes and widths, from 145 CMs all the way up to 162.