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Best Overall: Burton "Has long dominated every aspect of the sport."
Best Budget: Public"Typically includes lower-priced options at less than $400."
Best for Split Boards: Salomon"Transforms its snowboards into twin skis."
Best for Snow Surfing: Bataleon "Has a leg up when it comes to deep, big-mountain riding."
Best for Women: Ride "Offers nine models for women in a range of different features and price points."
Best for All-Mountain Boards: Jones"Boards in their surf series can take all conditions, from piste to powder."
Best for Free Riding: Gnu "Their boards are also designed to relive the first powder turn you successfully executed."
Best for Custom-Made Boards: Franco Snowshapes "Helps design your own, custom-made ride."
Best for Contoured Riding: Lib Tech "Featuring the now-legendary Skate Banana."
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Burton
The reigning king of snowboard brands, Burton Snowboards have long dominated every aspect of the sport, from weekend warriors to the backcountry-obsessed to Olympic athletes. While continuing to innovate on board shape design, binding tech, and bold graphics, they’ve even branched out into tech soft goods and lifestyle products like packs. Still, their wide array of board options for men and women ensures that you’ll find something that’ll cater to your riding style, which includes all-mountain-, park-, and powder-specific rides.
Burton also caters to different skill levels, ranking their boards by beginner, intermediate, and expert, as well as by a variety of bends and shapes. Tech innovations in materials and off-axis construct consistently push the boundaries in board design, and sizes range from 100 to 170 cm wide to help you find the perfect ride. And while it’s almost impossible to narrow their arsenal into one pick, the Flight Attendant Camber is worth considering if you’re more about the mountain (and the powder) over park riding.
Best Budget: Public
As its name implies, Public Snowboards pride themselves on working with the public (riders, shop owners, pro riders) to determine how they architect their boards, which typically includes lower-priced options at less than $400. The line is relatively small compared to some of the bigger players on the market, but that doesn’t mean they sacrifice on quality. Founded by pro rider Joe Sexton, all boards deliver, but the Display Mathes stands out in particular. This medium-flexing true twin board features a frame camber curve and bullet-proof carbon, making it ideal for all-mountain riding. Kevlar Strips also make the board extremely durable for all terrains, from the resort to any daredevil exploits a snow-covered environment might inspire.
Best for Split Boards: Salomon
Salomon got its start in the ski space, but they quickly rose to the top in the snowboard market with their expansive, high-quality line. So, it should come as no surprise that they make some of the industry’s best split boards. This board style makes it easy for riders to head deep into the backcountry by “splitting” apart — transforming the board into twin skis that accommodate climbing skins so you can easily traverse into the deep, crossing fields and climbing slopes. Their Premiere Splitboard offers a cross-profile camber silhouette, with camber between the feet and rockers at the tip and tail, as well as a tapered directional shape and a medium flex. The board splits into four parts, so you can stash the extra parts in your pack when you’re touring. Even more, it includes custom skins, custom crampons (footwear attachments for safely traveling on snow and ice), and proprietary “PLUM” hooks that let you assemble the board quickly without worrying about mid-ride mishaps.
Best for Snow Surfing: Bataleon
Most snowboard companies make rides that allow you to conquer deep snow with confidence, but Bataleon has a leg up when it comes to big-mountain riding. They also make surfboards, so they specialize in smooth rides on bigger boards. Take the aptly-named Surfer, for example — a big monster of a board with a 3D nose that lifts you out of any drag. Its V-shaped swallow tail helps hold an edge in even the deepest of powder, yet it won't catch an unexpected edge that would otherwise send you tumbling. Available in both 154 and 159 cm lengths, the medium-flex board features a max-uplift nose and lower side bases, with a modest camber profile and strips of carbon at the tip and tail to add strength and reinforce confident turning.
Best for Women: Ride
Women-specific snowboards are designed to take into account a woman's lower center of gravity, wider hips, and the need to easily make power-transfers. And while all brands craft female-specific snowboards, Ride wins for offering nine models for women in a range of different features and price points — a lot more than most other brands. Check out the new Superpig, which boasts a tapered bi-radial sidecut for max grip and speed in all conditions. The use of carbon-infused glass adds a touch of pop, while a low-friction Race Base assures a fast ride for all-mountain exploration.
Best for All-Mountain Boards: Jones
Founded by snowboarding pioneer Jeremy Jones, the arsenal of boards in Jones’ line isn’t massive — they only have three options that are classified as all-mountain, but even boards in their surf series can take all conditions, from piste to powder. The Mind Expander snowboard, which has won legions of awards throughout the industry, is an all-mountain shredder with a medium flex, a directional flex pattern, and a progressive sidecut. A blunt nose lifts nicely in the deep and helps hold an edge on the progressive sidecut, even on rough terrain, with an updated FSC bamboo surf core and rounded ABS sidewalls. Better still, the same profile comes as a splitboard as well as models for women and kids. Plus, the brand is a climate change activist — Jones is the founder and president of non-profit Protect Our Winters, which has unified much of the industry to focus on ways to undo environmental impact in many of their practices.
Best for Free Riding: Gnu
Gnu proudly makes all their boards at the Mervin Manufacturing facility in Sequim, Wash. — the world’s most eco-friendly board factory. There, they use recycled materials, renewable eco woods, non-toxic lacquer coatings, and water-based sublimation and solvents, all powered through wind and water power. Their boards are also designed to relive the first powder turn you successfully executed. Its Billy Goat board typifies this, a free-ride rig for intermediate and advanced riders, with a “magne-traction” tech that delivers reliable edge control, a modest camber at the tip and tail, a mild rocker in the center, and a newly re-engineered directional nose that will blast through any sort of terrain.
Best for Custom-Made Boards: Franco Snowshapes
Given the sheer volume of options available, a bespoke snowboard might feel like a vanity purchase, but Franco Snowshapes helps design your own, custom-made ride. Hand-crafted on the slopes of Wyoming’s Teton Range, they use American hardwood for the board cores and house-cut the veneers. They also layer in tech elements like titanal (a type of metal), flax, and carbon resin to craft the snowboard that caters to how and where you ride, before applying a hand-sprayed finish. It all starts with creating a Rider Genome Profile on their website, which allows you to define your physical traits, preferred riding style and ambitions, and your preferred locales and riding conditions. Then, you work directly with the shaper to dial in the perfect kit before receiving your board a few weeks later.
Best for Contoured Riding: Lib Tech
Lib Tech lives and breathes boards — snowboards, but also surf, wake surf, and skateboards. The brand took the snowboard scene by storm in 2008 when they introduced the now-legendary Skate Banana, the first snowboard to utilize their “Original Banana Technology.” The board's profile added a mild rocker under the feet with mild cambers at the tip and tail to make it easy to ride in all conditions, from pulling pop-centric tricks in the park to cruising on hard terrain, floating through powder, and handling jibs. Today, most snowboarders play with the same general camber-hybrid contour architecture, dialing the angles and features to cater to different ride conditions. Lib Tech also worked with snowboarder Travis Rice to craft the perfect profile for all-terrain riding and a powerful camber silhouette for deep snow. That first Skate Banana will probably always be in their line, and it’s the perfect gateway to progressing deeper into all aspects of the sport.