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Freeride snowboards are tuned for taking on deep snow off the beaten track, we pick the best for the 2021 season.

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.

Lib Tech Orca

The Orca is basically a Fish board - a short, fat model with a wide nose built for quick turns in powder. But as the name suggests, it’s one that eats most fish for breakfast. It’s softer than some freeride boards, making it easier to throw around in the air, and more forgiving to carve. However, thanks to Lib Tech’s patented Magne Traction serrated edges, this grips hardpack and ice like a much stiffer board. The shape and the setback stance suggest a highly directional board, but you can actually ride this switch too. “I thought this was going to be a quiver board for me last year,” says Travis Rice, who helped to design this strange looking beast, “but I rode [it] for most of the season”. Given that he’s arguably the best all-round snowboarder in the world, that’s high praise indeed. 

  • Best for Deep days, and British Columbian pillow lines.
  • Verdict  This is now one of Lib Tech’s most popular models. One run is all it takes to see why.
  • Overall rating 9/10
  • RRP £580

 

Jones Stratos

The Stratos was initially built as an experiment. Legendary freerider Jeremy Jones was wondering what might happen if you combined a powder-friendly shape - wide nose, tapered tail, cutaway at the back - with a freestyle flex. What happened, apparently, was that Jones had one of his best ever days on the hill, and immediately ordered a limited production run. They sold like hotcakes, so unsurprisingly, Jones included it as a proper production model this winter. One of the most versatile ‘freeride’ boards out there, this floats like a dream in powder, and carves like a beast on piste. It can even be ridden switch.  

  • Best for Carving, whatever the conditions.
  • Verdict  Powerful without being too stiff, this is an expriment that’s paid off in spades.
  • Overall rating 8/10
  • RRP £550

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Burton Big Gulp

At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that we’ve printed the picture of this board upside down. This fat, snub-nosed board, named for the outrageously oversized soft drink cups that you get at American fast food outlets, certainly looks strange. But that shape allows it to float like almost no other board of the same, short length. An extra deep, 12mm sidecut helps with turn initiation, and the narrow, tapered tail helps keep your weight back. It’s not the most elegant looking stick out there, sure, but it’s so much fun in soft snow.

  • Best for Powdery bowls and cutting through tight trees.
  • Verdict  Such a fun freeride board. You’ll never have to worry about nosing under again. 
  • Overall rating 8/10
  • RRP £490

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Jones Solution Splitboard

The Solution was the first splitboard in Jones’ line, so-called because it was the answer to the problem of how to continue accessing awesome backcountry lines without using helicopters or snowmobiles. This year, the brand has given it the most complete overhaul since it was first released, adding a greater taper at the tail and their new 3D contoured base. The latter, which makes turn initiation smoother and easier, was introduced on Jones’ solid models a few seasons ago, but for obvious reasons putting it on splits was trickier. But the effort was worth it - you can feel the difference.

  • Best for A splitboard for all seasons.
  • Verdict  Arguably the most versatile splitboard going. Will handle anything you throw it off. 
  • Overall rating 9/10
  • RRP £795

 

Weston Japow Split

A small, brand based out of Colorado, Weston only make a small, hyper-specialised range of backcountry-focussed boards. Perhaps understandably, their splitboards are generally reckoned to be some of the best in the business. The Japow is the brand’s powder gun for truly deep days (or every day in Niseko). With a massive, spoon nose, and one of the deepest, swallowtail cutaways you’ll see this side of 1989, you’ll never have to worry about back leg burn again. Because the brand have worked hard to reduce their emissions, you can feel good about minimising your impact on the planet too. 

  • Best for Shredding Niseko-deep powder. 
  • Verdict  If deep days and treelines are your thing, this is the split 
    you need beneath you.  
  • Overall rating 8/10
  • RRP £680

 

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. New for 2021 Jones have also added Carve Pack inserts that offer the option of a more centered stance for ripping hard pack as well as a sintered 8000 base for even more speed. 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

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K2 Party Platter 

K2 Party Platter.jpg

The 2021 version of K2's Party Platter offers extra stability and more edge hold in turns over previous years, which can only be a good thing. A carve-friendly combination camber, and excellent edge contact means that the Party Platter can seriously rail a turn, only washing out if you’re really charging fast on hardpack. The ollie bar offers playful pop and a slightly stiffer flex 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

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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 HyperKyarve 

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

 

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

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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.

All our reviews are independent and unbiased. We may earn a commission when you buy from links to Amazon and other affiliates on this page.