What is a Freeride Snowboard?

If you love pushing your skills and exploring new types of terrain while snowboarding, then chances are you’ve come across freeride snowboards.

The thing is, freeride snowboards are made for a specific style of snowboarding despite having a name that is close to freestyle, which is very different from freeride.

Still confused? Don’t worry, the ASO Mammoth team has broken down exactly what a freeride snowboard is, when you should ride one, and when you shouldn’t. Check out our guide below, then visit the ASO Mammoth shop on your next visit to Mammoth Mountain for the best ski and snowboard rentals in Mammoth Lakes!

Freeride Snowboards are:

  • Stiffer than your average snowboard
  • Typically directional or a twin directional hybrid that performs best when ridden regular
  • Designed to float through deep powder while still holding an edge on steep terrain

Freeride snowboards are designed for hard charging, off-piste snowboarding on steep slopes that you’d struggle to hold your edge on with a traditional snowboard. The tradeoff is that a stiffer board will be less playful when buttering on a groomer or popping off a jump or rail. You also need more speed to engage their designs to their full potential, which makes them uncomfortable to ride for most beginner or intermediate riders.

Although freeride snowboards are designed to float on powder thanks to rocker profiles and directional shapes, they’re not powder boards.  A powder board can be ridden all over the mountain, but they’re not necessarily designed for steep and technical terrain the way a freeride snowboard is.

If you love riding away from the groomed runs where you could carve through trees, drop off cliffs, and make high speed turns in bowls on a single run, then a freeride snowboard could be the right choice for you!

Freestyle Snowboards vs. Freeride Snowboards

One thing to consider when looking at freeride snowboards is how well you actually know freestyle snowboarding.

Although freeriding and freestyle sound similar, they’re very different styles.

Freestyle includes hitting large jumps and rails while doing spins, flips, or a combination of the two. You can do all those things in the backcountry where freeride boards are at their best, but a freeride snowboard is not the best type of snowboard for that kind of riding.

To start, many freeride boards have directional designs, which makes them difficult to ride switch, much less land a jump switch. It’s not impossible to ride or land switch on a directional board, as demonstrated by Zeb Powell, but it is harder.

Plus, there are twin boards which can hold a solid edge on steep terrain without giving up the ability to ride freestyle lines.

Then of course there are all-mountain snowboards which fit every style of riding and terrain. All-mountain snowboards are even further away from freeride boards despite being able to ride off-piste, so if you’re unsure of your favorite riding style then an all-mountain board could be the best option for you!