Freeride snowboards are for those who love nothing more than the feeling of floating through crisp, unblemished powder. When the world is blanketed in a carpet of snow this is the board you reach for every time, it might not be great on the piste but it's tuned for maximum flotation and speed in the untracked goodness.
So if you're looking for a snowboard that's great off piste, whether through waist deep virgin powder or powering through chopped up ungroomed snow, read on for our pick of the very best this season.
Best in test: Jones Mind Expander
Jones’ magical Mind Expander is made for deep powder days. With a rocker shape, super early rise, swept up nose and stubby tail, it floats with minimal effort, even at the end of the day when your legs are tired and aching. The shape is seriously directional, with massive setback, and the board is fairly wide. But flicking through trees or navigating around chopped up, rutted powder fields is still a joy - you can move around so fast it feels almost telepathic. Traversing hardpack or riding pistes to access your lines is a surprising amount of fun, too, and despite the rockered profile, the board’s hold is decent in turns, helped along by Traction Tech edges. If you want a surf-inspired powder board to tear it up wherever you shred, then buy a Jones Mind Expander - it’s sick.
- Best for Floating through the deepest of powder days with ease.
- Verdict One of the most capable and fun freeride snowboards we’ve ridden.
- Overall rating 9/10
- RRP £529
K2 Party Platter
This year’s K2 Party Platter has been tweaked to offer extra stability and more edge hold in turns, which can only be a good thing. Last year’s directional rocker has been ditched in favour of a more carve-friendly combination camber, and increased edge contact means that the Party Platter can now rail a turn, only washing out if you’re really charging on hardpack. Flex has been tightened up with an ollie bar for a bit more pop without losing the easy-going surfy feel, making for an overall fun weapon for side hits and rollers. Buttering and pressing are also a joy.
- Best for Maximum riding fun without the hang-ups.
- Verdict For maximum grin-inducing fun, the Party Platter is very hard to beat.
- Overall rating 9/10
- RRP £395
Burton Flight Attendant
Not as stiff as your average freeride snowboard, but the Flight Attendant ticks all the other boxes of a great powder-hunting machine. Directional camber provides edge hold and stability between the feet but is set back with an early rise rocker, helping the nose lift effortlessly in deep snow. Although the nose is longer, sidecut is centred on your stance for a twin feel, and riding switch is surprisingly easy for a board with this amount of taper, making for more creative freeride opportunities. Directional flex gives stiffness in the tail, not just for powering through turns in powder but also for added pop.
- Best for True freeriders with no interest in the park.
- Verdict A great snowboard for deep powder days that somehow rocks on the pistes, too.
- Overall rating 9/10
- RRP £480
Gnu’s C2X profile is in use on the HyperKyarve, putting a short rocker section in the middle and long camber sections extending out to the tips. This profile feels loose, surfy and playful but takes away a little from low speed control on cat tracks and the like. Despite the loose feel when flat base riding, the HyperKyarve has good edge hold when carving in hard snow thanks to Magne Traction edges and those camber sections. Despite being a freeride board it’s forgiving enough to butter and press and even ride switch, but in the powder you still get massive float thanks to the tapered nose and set back stance.
- Best for All-rounders who love a playful, surfy feel.
- Verdict A freeride snowboard that’s forgiving and playful enough to butter and press.
- Overall rating 8/10
- RRP £470
Best value: Ride Warpig
We put the Warpig in our freeride section but could just have easily added it to the all-mountain mix. It’s popular for its versatility on piste and in the park, but the freeride credentials are also plain to see. With a directional shape and rocker profile with slightly early rise, the nose floats up in powder nicely. The setback makes sure it isn’t a leg burner, but stance is still centred on sidecut for excellent carving and control on hardpack snow. Sidecut radius is shorter at the front, which initiates turns nicely. Longer sidecut towards the tail gives stability and drive, making for a fun, versatile ride.
- Best for Having as much fun on piste as in the powder.
- Verdict A fun, playful snowboard that works as well on piste as it does in powder.
- Overall rating 8/10
- RRP £425
Buyer's guide: What to look for in a freeride snowboard
What flex should I go for?
Freeride snowboards for charging Alaskan lines (sometimes called big mountain snowboards) tend to be quite stiff and have directional flex patterns - usually with a stiffer tail than nose for driving off the back foot and letting the nose float in powder. If your powder hungry freeriding is a little more sedate than this, with laps through trees and side stashes within resort bounds on the menu then you'll probably want something a little more forgiving and playful.
Should the shape be directional or twin?
For maximum performance off piste - probably directional. And you should also look for a tapered nose giving a fatter spoon shape up front for really lifting you in powder. The longer nose than tail and set back stance will ensure that more of your weight is over the back of the snowboard so you won't feel like your back leg is a lead weight after a hard day powering through powder. A tail that's stiffer than the nose will also help drive through powder.
If you like to get more creative off piste then you should be looking at directional twins which encompass a seriously wide spectrum of snowboards. With these you can still reap some of the benefits of a twin snowboard for backcountry freestyle riding while retaining most of the things that make a snowboard float and send rooster tails in powder.
What about volume shift snowboards?
If you haven't already tried one, try one now. These snowboards shift volume from the length to the width so you get the same surface and contact area but a short shape for manoeuvrability and that extra width gives ultimate float. If you want to put the party back into snowboarding then these are the snowboards for you, they're often great on piste too.
Which freeride snowboard should I choose?
Assess your needs and riding style first and foremost. If you're only interested in powder turns then get the most spoony nosed directional snowboard you can find, probably with a funky swallow tail. If you also like a bit of versatility for less snowy days you should take inspiration from all mountain snowboards and reign in the directional shape a little. If you love to throw spins and grabs off cliffs (check you out!) then you're going to need a directional twin tuned for powder and freestyle in almost equal measures.