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Snowboarding

Best Snowboards

Fifteen years ago, it was easy to pick out a snowboard. All you had to do was decide whether you wanted a freestyle or freeride board (maybe, but unlikely, a carving board), compare a few prices and features among the handful of top brands, and find a local shop to buy it at. While actually buying the board is easier in 2011 thanks to the number of online snowboard shops and shopping comparison engines out there, deciding which board to buy is exponentially more difficult. Not only are there multiple times more brands out there, but there are far more specialized categories of boards.

Try sorting through the never-ending sea, and it can quickly become frustrating and mind numbing. We've cut through all that mess and provided some short, simple recommendations. Consider this your industry cheat sheet.

Rossignol Men's Trickstick Amptek Twin Freestyle Snowboard

The best pound-for-pound value on the list, the Rossignol Trickstick reeled in a Good Wood Award from Transworld and a 92 rating on Boarder Insiders. And it did it while keeping its price just below $300, making it the cheapest board to earn Good Wood.  Reviewers appreciated the floaty 80/20 rocker-camber shape; playful, park-specific design; solid tips; and soft but ample flex that helps to give it better edge-to-edge stability. The board also gives you a unique amount of customization: the tips and tails were designed to be cut with a jigsaw to your specific dimensions (Rossi recommends taking it into a shop). You can forget stickers too, Rossignol does its own version of scratch-and-sniff, letting you scratch off the top layer of the topsheet to reveal the design underneath. Make it yours.

Nidecker Axis Snowboard

Nidecker Axis Snowboard

A solid intermediate board for an impressive price, the Nidecker offers legit details without the excess. While other boards in this price range are using a cheaper, slower extruded bases, the Axis keeps things sintered with a fast, smooth 6000 sintered base. Don't flinch at the "STD CamRock"--that STD just stands for "standard," a blend of cambered middle and rockered tips that delivers all mountain versatility. How often do you get to use "$300" and Kevlar in the same sentence? The Axis' Vibra-Kevlar under your feet eats up vibration to keep you smooth and comfortable. Add in a directional shape and setback stance, and this board is great for budding freeride, powder and all mountain riders.

Ride Snowboards Manic Snowboard

The Ride Manic slides in at a MSRP of $340, and delivers an easy going all-mountain ride. This one wins a Transworld Good Wood award for its mellow Lowpro directional-rocker shape, which makes the board float and swing with ease, and its 90A Slimewalls, a Ride innovation that helps to eat impacts for a smoother ride on jumps and rails. Linear carbon stringers put a little more oomph into your jumps and ollies.

Morrow Fury Snowboard 2012

Back in its heyday, Morrow was one of the top names in the snowboarding biz. Fast forward a decade and a half later and the company has been restructured into a beginner/low-priced snowboard manufacturer. You may not find Morrow boards on the podium these days, but the company does offer some of the cheapest rides for beginners and intermediates out there. The Fury is a beginner-specific board that retails for a very reasonable $270. The Fury offers a combination of powerful speed and lively tricks. Its 360-degree structural caps and edges add durability so that when you take the inevitable fall, you won’t have to look for a new board when you pull yourself back up. Morr-Rocker provides maneuverability in the park. We’ve all got to start somewhere, and nothing caters better to first timers than the Fury.

Burton Clash Snowboard 2012

The Burton Clash is a beginner/intermediate-specific board that gives newer riders every tool they need to progress while keeping pricing down to $330. The board has a soft flex; EZ V camber shape for easy, no-hook turning; and edges tuned for a forgivable hold. The twin flex helps when learning to ride and trick switch, and the directional shape puts the pop in the tail where you want it most. This board gives up-and-coming riders every advantage they need: a forgiving progression-inspired ride, low price, and a fun, playful build.

Never Summer Proto CTX Snowboard

Never Summer Proto CTX Snowboard

When Never Summer does something new, the riding world pays attention. This year, Never Summer has achieved some hype by combining two popular freestyle designs into one versatile, all-mountain freestyle design. The Never Summer Proto CTX combines the flex pattern of the SL and the dampening of the EVO to create a board that can do it all. The Proto CTX is basically a combination of the EVO and SL models. This brand new model was recognized as a top pick by both Snowboard and Snowboarder magazines.It gets top Never Summer technology including Rocker Camber, Carbonium Laminate Technology and Superlight wood core.

Burton Nug Snowboard

Burton Nug Snowboard

The single-board quiver is sort of the "white whale" of the snowboarding world. Everyone whispers about it, but it's all but impossible to find. But that's not to say it isn't worth trying for. Burton has a fast, new boat and a full arsenal of harpoon guns, and it may have just have hauled it in. The Nug packs a big board into a little package by reworking the dimensions and materials. According to Burton, you can downsize by 8 to 10 centimeters and still enjoy the same stability of a standard board. The smaller size makes the board lighter and more willing on jumps, hits and features. Burton uses a V-Rocker for float and pop, Frostbite edges for surer hold and Jumper Cable carbon stringers for liveliness. Strap this white whale to your back and venture all over the mountain.

Lib Technologies Skate Banana Original BTX Snowboard

One of the true originators of the rocker craze, Lib Tech injects the Skate Banana with its Banana Tech (BTX) rocker. This not only delivers a playful, catch-free board with a low spin weight, prime for rails and boxes, but also a flotatious shape that soars through thigh-deep powder without getting weighed down. While a rocker shape cuts down on edge hold, Lib-Tech's Magne-Traction technology solves the problem, delivering maximum edge hold on any snow surface including ice and hard pack. The H Pop core provides amazing strength, light weight and power. The Skate Banana has won so many awards from so many snowboarding magazines that they are too numerous to mention (Snowboarder Magazine "Best of Test" and Transworld Snowboarding Magazine "Good Wood Test Winner" to name a few). So it should be no surprise that this continues to be one of the best of the bunch and what the others strive to attain. If there's one board that anyone riding on the intermediate level or above should try, it's the Lib-Tech Skate Banana.

Arbor Element RX Snowboard

This incredible all-mountain board is built for both aggressive all-mountain and loose park riding. Not for the timid, the Arbor Element delivers solid control and power with a flex and shape designed for all mountain and freeride. Arbor's "The System" combines the float and flow of a true rocker profile with powerful Grip Tech edge hold. That's what you call "the best of both worlds."  The bamboo inserts in the poplar core liven up longitudinal flex. Like generations of Arbor boards before it, the Element RX looks like it just fell in a forest (and everyone heard). The Arbor Element can handle any element you throw at it but is best for intermediate riders and above.

Rome Mod Rocker Snowboard

If freestyling--park, backcountry or both--is your thing, then look no further than the Rome Mod. Designed to launch and play off of pretty much anything, the Mod Rocker is an all-mountain freestyle machine.  Rome's Airpop Core Matrix features a mix of woods that keeps it lightweight and ultra-snappy. Throw in a set of restructured Carbon Double Barrel HotRods and you'll barely need to use your muscles when ollying. The Quickrip sidecut lets you play when you want and push when you need. Don't be left behind--give the Rome Mod a try.

Roxy Women's Eminence C2 BTX Snowboard

Not every board is blessed with Olympic Gold Medal credentials, but the Roxy Eminence is. This board graced the feet of dominating rider Torah Bright when she took home gold in Vancouver. And according to Transworld's Good Wood people, who've awarded it for four years running, it hasn't lost a step. You probably recognize the "BTX" as your friendly neighborhood Banana Technology--the curvy rocker shape that keeps your flow meter at max in the park and helps you ride powder without even trying. While the board has earned most of its props on the freestyle circuit, features like cambered tips, Magne-Traction edges, medium flex and Sintered 9900 base ensure that it performs well all around the mountain.

Never Summer Womens Lotus Snowboard

Never Summer is known for its durable, bomber boards and the Lotus is the Denver company's answer to an all-out freeride weapon for women. The board is essentially a women-specific Premier F1 and delivers the same rock-solid stability, high-speed hold and F1 Elastomeric Stabilizer-derived vibration absorption as the Premier, but with a softer flex and narrower waist for the ladies. Famed female tester and blogger Shayboarder ranked this the top women's powder board for 2012, despite the fact that it's not even a pure powder board. She admits that it's her go-to for everything from Champagne Powder days to park days. The board has a rocker-camber hybrid profile and Vario sidecut.

GNU B-Nice BTX Series Womens Snowboard

Gnu calls the B-Nice its "all terrain freestyle fun banana." It's hard to think of a more giddy description for a snowboard than that, but it's also hard to trust marketing speak. More trustworthy is Transworld Snowboarding's panel of testers who awarded the B-Nice a Good Wood award for the fifth year in a row. Gnu has built this board to perform across all types of terrain and all levels of riders, so it's no wonder that a panel of testers have been loving it for half a decade. The board features an effortless Banana rocker shape, grippy Magne-Traction edges and EISS 5 UHMW sidewalls for durability and snap.

Burton Womens Feelgood Snowboard

Feel good with the Burton Feelgood. This board is great for any girl looking for a responsive option that leaves everything on the mountain but doesn't sacrifice anything. The camber design offers unparalleled control and on-a-dime turns, while Burton's Frostbite Edges allow superior grip on the hardest of snow conditions. Lightning Bolts Hi-Voltage weaves energy transfer strands into the fiberglass beneath your feet for top-notch power and response. The Feelgood comes complete with Burton's ChannelM6 binding mounts for the most adjustable, tunable binding experience you'll find on any board.

Ride Snowboards Ride Compact Snowboard - Women's

The Ride Compact is a loose, poppy board that comes at a very affordable price. Ride keeps things light with its Membrain urethane topsheet and free-swinging with its LowRize rocker shape.

The urethane 85A Slimewalls are damper than a PNW valley during a four-day Pineapple Express, eating up big landings and cold rails with ease. If you can forgive the cheesy pun, "Cleave Edges" will have your back, offering a burly steel interface that cuts into snow and absorbs impacts.

The Flagship Snowboard by Jones Snowboards

There&'s Jeremy Jones and then there's Jeremy Jones. Literally--there actually are two professional snowboarders named Jeremy Jones. No put-down on Burton's guy, but this Jeremy Jones is the premier big mountain rider in the world. He builds it, tests it on insane terrain in the likes of Alaska, Antarctica and Norway, and then stamps his name on it. The Flagship is Jones' big mountain freeride board. It combines a directional shape with a rocker-camber hybrid for powder float and stability on harder stuff and Magne-Traction for gripping where lesser boards let go.

Salomon Snowboards Mans Board

When you think about it, big mountain freeriding is really the manliest form of snowboarding. While the toddlers and tweens are jibbing to the latest rap track in the comforts of the park, the men are out trudging through freezing temperatures, howling wind and blinding snow, scoping descents, hiking blade-like ridge lines and slaying area that the masses won't touch. Their loss, because the Man's Board gets it done. It lives up to its name by offering high-speed stability, camber-rocker float and edge hold, and multi-radius sidecut to deliver sure turning and stable bombing. In a world of loud, garish boards, the simple beer bottle themed-graphic is a refreshing breath.

While Salomon labels this an all-mountain board and gives it a directional twin tip, some reviewers said the board's stiffness and reluctant spring make it a poor choice for park riding.

Venture Johan Olofsson Signature Odin Snowboard

Venture Johan Olofsson Signature Odin Snowboard

A product of collaboration between Silverton-based Venture and pro rider Johan Olofsson, the Odin is a top-notch big mountain weapon. The board is rockered at the tip and tail for enhanced float and flat in the middle for better grip and stability. The setback stance adds to that float. The Odin’s quadratic sidecuts provides the perfect blend of radii, delivering stability through high speed runs and large, picture-perfect turns. The Odin is available in both regular and splitboard models. Greenies and POW donors will appreciate the sustainably grown poplar and ash wood core.

Never Summer Premier F1 Snowboard

Never Summer invented the rocker-camber hybrid, which delivers the perfect combination of float and rock solid speed that big mountain boards thrive on. The company’s R&C technology works in conjunction with its Vario sidecut, providing ample performance in all types of terrain. The Premier F1 has long served as Never Summer’s venerable freeride stallion, delivering speed, hold and surefootedness around the mountain. The board’s F1 Elastomeric Stabilizers eats up bumps while its Durasurf sintered base flies over the groomed stuff. The board's big mountain graphics just provide a reminder of where you like to be. The multi-flex core delivers a variable flex profile, delivering the versatile performance you need when encountering ever-changing on-mountain conditions.

Yes. Pick Your Line Snowboard

From its name, to the billowing spine graphic on its top sheet, to its bomber construction, the Yes Pick Your Line is a big mountain board through and through. The board is purposely built for big, natural terrain, pairing a hard-charging directional shape with a freeride-specific camber-rocker hybrid underneath. Fancy materials like Kevlar (shock absorption) and carbon (pop and response) enhance the board's performance. That's why it's the board of choice for Yes teamer and Whistler-area big-line guru David Carrier Porchern (DCP).

Jones Snowboards The Solution Splitboard

"Deeper" is the snowboard flick that brought the unlimited potential of the earn-your-turn ethos into the spotlight. Jeremy Jones, star of the film and founder of Jones Snowboards, offers the Solution as his dedicated splitboard. The board is designed to tackle all types of terrain and features a directional rocker at the tips with camber under the feet, Magne-Traction edges and a directional freeride flex that's forgiving when you need it to be and like a rock when you don't. Topo map graphics remind you of all that untapped terrain out there.

Never Summer SL Split Snowboard

This year Never Summer took its versatile SL board, a freestyle board that's solid enough to be comfortable all over on, and cut it in half for a split version. The board delivers everything that riders loved about the SL--Rocker & Camber float, pop, stable edge hold and fast turning, to name a few--but it just delivers it a little farther into the mountains. If you want the freedom to leap and spin with ease, the SL Split's lightweight build and forgiving flex will keep you smiling.

Rome Whiteroom Split Snowboard

Even the most sponsored-to-the-teeth pro never claimed that snowboarding was cheap. Splitboarding is even less cheap, with many boards exceeding $800 and $900. The Rome Whiteroom delivers a poppy ride injected with all the latest technology for the bargain price of $600. Shop around for a while and if money's key, you'll no doubt find yourself back at the Whiteroom product page where you'll find a spec sheet full of light, responsive materials like Rome's Airpop Core Matrix and Carbon V Powerbars. The powder-specific camber will unleash plenty of butterflies in the stomach during long, dreamy float sessions.

Voile Mojo RX Split Snowboard

Voile was doing splitboards back before splitboarding was even a thing. A true originator and innovator in the niche, Voile continues to offer top-notch splitboards today. The Mojo RX offers a quality, all-mountain package, and that package is available complete with Voile's mounting hardware, bindings and skins. Or you can buy just the deck and use your hardware of choice. The Rome Whiteroom may be the cheapest splitboard deck around, but if you factor in the cost of the included skins and hardware, the Voile is a very attractive package.  The Mojo RX keeps you nimble in the powder with its big, rockered nose and tapered tail. Meanwhile the board's camber keeps your feet locked into the terrain.

K2 Panoramic Split Snowboard

K2 Panoramic Split Snowboard

K2's first splitboard, the Panoramic Split underwent three years of development before hitting the market for the 2011-12 season. The board features an all-terrain rocker and K2's Bambooyah core. Carbon Web technology increases the rider's terrain sensitivity and response. The Hyper Progressive multi-radii sidecut delivers a quick-turning but stable ride. On the trek up, K2's innovative skin clips on the tip and tail make attaching your skins easier than ever. It's available as a deck for the Whiteroom-rivaling price of $600 or in a $900 package with skins and hardware.

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Burton After School Special Snowboard Package

The Burton After School Special is the easiest, cheapest way to get into snowboarding. It packages everything you need--board, boots, bindings and travel bag--into one big box listed at $300. You get to be the hero of birthdays or Christmas morning and your child gets a super-soft, super-forgiving ride that will have him progressing rapidly. Easy Rider edge tune provides a stable but hook-free ride.

Nidecker Score Jr. Snowboard

Nidecker Score Jr. Snowboard

The Nidecker Score Jr. is a versatile, all-mountain freestyle board that shrinks Nidecker's big tech down to size for the wee ones. The board features a soft flex, directional shape and kids' version of Nidecker's CamRock camber-rocker design. It'll let kids explore the resort and decide which type of riding gets their blood flowing.

Salomon Team Kids Snowboard

Salomon Team Kids Snowboard

Salmon's least expensive youth board, the Team retails for $200. The Team is aimed squarely at beginners and combines soft, light, twin-tip construction with a durable build that will hold up to the inevitable falls. This board will get your child comfortable in snowboarding and move him to the next level.

Burton 2012 Youth Custom Smalls Flying V Snowboard

Not all kids are beginners--heck, some excel past adults within a matter of hours. The Burton Flying V takes kids to the next level with more serious components. Flying V combines the advantages of rocker and camber to keep things lively in the mini-park and stable on the groomers. The tapered tip and tail makes the board easier to control.  The Custom Smalls Flying V will deliver your child from the bunny hill to blue squares and beyond.

Nitro Demand Kids Snowboard

A performance-oriented youth board, the Nitro Demand packs enough technology to keep the young rider moving on up the trail map. The Gullwing puts rocker between the feet for a loose, tricky ride and camber at the bindings for added control. The Powercore full poplar core delivers the right blend of power and snap. The Demand is an excellent choice for fast learners and intermediate + rippers.

K2 Happy Hour Snowboard

Those goofy, pointy tips may look like they belong on a powder board, but the K2 Happy Hour is all freestyle. The board delivers the smoothness of an apres ski libation thanks to its combination of flat profile and carbon fiber- webbed tip. K2's Ollie bar is a carbon-Kevlar strip that helps to mend the pop deficit typical of a flat-rocker board. Both Transworld Snowboarding and Snowboarder magazines were impressed enough to give the Happy Hour their respective awards.

GNU Park Pickle BTX Snowboard

The Gnu Park Pickle gives you banana from tip to tail and pickle from side to side. The curvy rocker profile gives you freedom to trick with ease and the float to soar through powder. Meanwhile, Gnu's Magne-Traction edges provide grip and stability when you need it. The asymmetric sidecuts--that's the pickle--deliver more specific heel- and toe-side turning dynamics. The Gnu Park pickle won a Transworld Good Wood for this thoughtful design combination.

Smokin Superpark Snowboard

Born and bred in Tahoe, the Smokin Superpark is a serious freestyle ride for those that take freestyle seriously. Smokin's Clash Rocker (CTX) gives you rocker between the bindings with camber out to the tips. The camber gives you solid contact with the snow and combines with Magne-Traction edges to deliver grip and stability. The rocker, on the other hand, gives you the maneuverability on every feature you encounter. Snowboard magazine slapped a Platinum Pick on this park weapon.

Nitro Rook Snowboard

The Angry Snowboarder describes the Nitro Rook as a board that feels like you've already put 100 days on it your very first trip out. If that's not a compliment for a freestyle snowboard, then compliments don't exist. The Rook gives you Nitro's Zero Camber for seamless transitions from snow to rail to snow to box to snow to jump, and so on. The sidecuts were carved specifically to prevent hooking and catching. Add in a twin tip shape and super cush flex and you have a freestyle beast.

Rossignol Men's Trickstick Amptek Twin Freestyle Snowboard

The best pound-for-pound value on the list, the Rossignol Trickstick reeled in a Good Wood Award from Transworld and a 92 rating on Boarder Insiders. And it did it while keeping its price just below $300, making it the cheapest board to earn Good Wood.  Reviewers appreciated the floaty 80/20 rocker-camber shape; playful, park-specific design; solid tips; and soft but ample flex that helps to give it better edge-to-edge stability. The board also gives you a unique amount of customization: the tips and tails were designed to be cut with a jigsaw to your specific dimensions (Rossi recommends taking it into a shop). You can forget stickers too, Rossignol does its own version of scratch-and-sniff, letting you scratch off the top layer of the topsheet to reveal the design underneath. Make it yours.

Never Summer Proto CTX Snowboard

Never Summer Proto CTX Snowboard

When Never Summer does something new, the riding world pays attention. This year, Never Summer has achieved some hype by combining two popular freestyle designs into one versatile, all-mountain freestyle design. The Never Summer Proto CTX combines the flex pattern of the SL and the dampening of the EVO to create a board that can do it all. The Proto CTX is basically a combination of the EVO and SL models. This brand new model was recognized as a top pick by both Snowboard and Snowboarder magazines.It gets top Never Summer technology including Rocker Camber, Carbonium Laminate Technology and Superlight wood core.

Lib Technologies Travis Rice Pro Snowboard

The sickest board in the sickest movie from the sickest rider, the Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro let Travis Rice destroy it all over the map in his new film “The Art of Flight,” one of the best films you’ll see all season. Just like Travis, the board looks and feels good in pretty much any mountain scenario—fresh pow, hardpack, mank, slippery sketch, rails, etc. The board’s C2 Power Banana (BTX) rocker-camber provides rocker between your feet and camber at the edges. Magne-Traction edges are like an orangatan grip on the slick stuff.

Burton Nug Snowboard

Burton Nug Snowboard

The single-board quiver is sort of the "white whale" of the snowboarding world. Everyone whispers about it, but it's all but impossible to find. But that's not to say it isn't worth trying for. Burton has a fast, new boat and a full arsenal of harpoon guns, and it may have just have hauled it in. The Nug packs a big board into a little package by reworking the dimensions and materials. According to Burton, you can downsize by 8 to 10 centimeters and still enjoy the same stability of a standard board. The smaller size makes the board lighter and more willing on jumps, hits and features. Burton uses a V-Rocker for float and pop, Frostbite edges for surer hold and Jumper Cable carbon stringers for liveliness. Strap this white whale to your back and venture all over the mountain.

Ride Snowboards Manic Snowboard

The Ride Manic slides in at a MSRP of $340, and delivers an easy going all-mountain ride. This one wins a Transworld Good Wood award for its mellow Lowpro directional-rocker shape, which makes the board float and swing with ease, and its 90A Slimewalls, a Ride innovation that helps to eat impacts for a smoother ride on jumps and rails. Linear carbon stringers put a little more oomph into your jumps and ollies.

Capita Totally FK'N Awesome Snowboard

If you’re a sheep, you’ll be sold by the name of this Capita board: Totally F’KN Awesome, how can you go wrong? Savvy riders will want to be sold by features, and the selling points include cambered midsection with rockered tip and tail for corner-to-corner versatility, carbon V-Tech reinforcements for power, and a medium flex. The Totally F’KN Awesome slots in at a solid mid-range price point, and the 80’s ski graphics are a slick bonus to anyone that respects neon tights and big, frosty hair. The board offers plenty of pop and play, but powers through crud, chop, powder and whatever else you’re into.

Unity The Whale Snowboard

Unity The Whale Snowboard

Looking at that bulbous nose and curved tail, it's not hard to realize where this board gets its name. Its whale tail details as much about it as the one on the girl at the bar details about her. Namely, this one tells you that this board was born and bred to empower you on thigh(+) deep powder days. Unity extends the tip rocker to coincide with the wide nose, making for a shorter effective edge and a quick-turning board that rides shorter than it looks. Snowboard magazine slapped a Platinum Pick onto this powder whale.

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Prior Fissile Snowboard

Probably two out of every three photos depicting big, puffy marshmellow goodness originates in the Whistler backcountry. And that's where Prior Fissile hails from.  The Fissile is a dedicated powder board designed to meticulously meld the attributes of both longboard and shortboard. It combines Prior's big, rockered nose with a short radial sidecut that will give you float and nimble turning. Raft your way through big, open steeps and bowls; slice with precision when you get down to tree line; and power your way through the chopped up runout back to the lift.

Lib Technologies Birdman Btx Snowboard

Lib Tech helped to write the book on what we've come to call rocker profile, so it knows a few things about float. The Birdman puts Lib Tech's Banana Technology (BTX) to work in a board with a big, curvy nose. The "Flotation Device" floats easily through powder but still rips hardpack admirably. It only comes in 170 or 180 centimeter sizes, so meeker, less experienced riders will want to stay away.

Jones Hovercraft Snowboard

Jeremy Jones isn't the type of rider that hits snooze on days when the storm drops less than a foot. He's out there shredding some of the gnarliest terrain on some of the most exotic mountains in the world all season long. That means he's riding everything--from chest-deep pow to chunder to windblown ice. So Jones' powder board may be influenced by powder riding, but it's designed to rip through his full resume of riding. The flattened nose and directional rocker increase float in powder and the firm tail and Magne-Traction edges help you rip through other conditions.

Salomon Snowboards Sick Stick

Unlike the bulbous noses and split tails that you find on most powder boards, the Sick Stick is an unassuming powder stick. In fact, if it weren't for those pointy tips, you could easily mistake it for a freestyle or all mountain board. The tapered twin shape and centered stance keeps you loose on jumps and features, letting you enjoy seamless switch and forward riding, something you wouldn't enjoy on the average directional powder board. The Pow-Rocker takes care of the powder part, while the Popster feature adds extra oomph to your ollie. Since powder relies on a cold, clean climate, the Sick Stick uses eco-conscious bamboo-based construction.

Lib Tech Cygnus X-1 BTX 157 Snowboard

$2,500 for a snowboard? When you're buying a board from an "experimental division," you'd better believe you're paying top dollar. Or top dollar plus a thousand. The good folks at Lib Tech may have decided to make a hyper-eco-friendly board, but it’s less like driving a Prius than it is flying an F-16. Sintered base? Psshhh...try a sintered carbon base. The board's magnesium oxide strand base uses 30 percent less petroleum products but is still twice as strong as fiberglass. The top sheet is made from castor beans and is still the toughest thing going. The self-healing bipolymer sidewalls are super impact resistant, glow in the dark and offer healing properties that would make Wolverine jealous. And Lib Tech's Vectran Torsion Rods are 25 percent lighter than carbon...the material that we swore was the lightest thing on Earth.

Head I.CT KERS Snowboard

Head I.CT KERS Snowboard

Imagine James Bond takes a blade of a super-chopper prototype, straps it to his feet, and snowboards down a mountain. That may sound like a movie scene or video game, but it's actually not that far from what went down at Head Snowboard USA. The company's ICT KERS snowboard steals tech that was intended for helicopter blades. As you speed up, fibers inside the board vibrate and become more rigid giving you more torsional rigidity exactly when you need it. So you get a softer, easier ride at slow speeds, but a powerful, stable ride at faster speeds. Combine that with KERS and you're going to smoke everyone on the mountain. Head didn't invent the concept behind KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System)--you'll find it in F1 racing and experimental Ferraris--but Head did apply it gorgeously to a snowboard. KERS captures energy usually lost in vibrations and throws it into your turn or jump to give you a little extra speed and oomph.  A relative bargain compared to these other military-grade sticks, the ICT KERS prices in just under $800.

Burton Vapor 159 Snowboard

Burton Vapor 159 Snowboard

The Burton Vapor is the lightest board in all the land, plain and simple. Carbon in the I-Beams and topsheet help keep it that way. While its sensitivity and design might not be suited to neophytes, anybody who’s logged major hours on the mountain will be able to appreciate just how special this board is. The tech that went into this piece of art may be unprecedented, but it rides pure and gets you in-tune with what’s going on under your boots. You may think that such an expensive, technology-savvy board must use the latest rocker hybrid, but this one delivers the tried-and-true power and control of camber.

Palmer Honeycomb Snowboard

Palmer Honeycomb Snowboard

Forget for a second that Shawn Palmer (one of the original rock stars of snowboarding to you young bucks) stamps his name on each and every Palmer board and does what he does on them. Even if this board was totally no frills, it would be one of the lightest, most capable boards in the world. Outside magazine awarded it a 2010-11 Gear of the Year award for its combination of stability, speed and float. The Nomex honeycomb core in the tip and tail is 10 times lighter than wood and consists of 99 percent air. Four tip-to-tail carbon fiber strips add power and snap. A 7200 graphite base provides a slick, fast ride.

Burton Method Snowboard

When the Burton Vapor first came out, you probably thought, "Wow, that's what happened when Burton 'gave R&D an unlimited budget to advance the state of the snowboard art.'" But no, that's actually how Burton describes the $1,500 Method. The Vapor opened the door and the Method walked right on through and asked for a bigger allowance. Unlike the Vapor, which is a powerful, responsive camber board, the Method utilizes Burton's Flying V rocker-camber construction. This provides a little more giddy-up in the park and better flow on days when it's puking. Don't worry about loss of control, though; Multizone EGD has perpendicular wood grain in four separate zones, a design that delivers more power and control to the edges. The Ultrafly Core, Vaportech construction and Carbon Vaporskin help keep this board as light as possible.

CC Weiss
I've been an outdoor sports guy for nearly 30 years, biking singletrack, riding steeps and scrambling trails. I've covered the outdoor sports and equipment industry for three years for blogs and publications that include Bomb Snow, Trails.com and Uncooped.com.

I love finding a piece of gear that makes my experience in the outdoors better (rather than finding a piece of outdoors that makes my gear work better).
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