A fresh dump of snow just covered your resort last night. You’re eager to get out there and shred that fresh powder… the only problem is that you opted for a park board, and don’t have the money (or will) to go buy a dedicated powder board.
In this post, I take a close look at how a park board will ride in pow, how to improve your ride experience on this type of board in powder conditions, and whether some park boards fare better than others for powder freeride.
Drawbacks of riding a park board in powder
The main drawback of a park board in pow will be its lack of floatation. These boards are designed with a lower profile and more flex, which makes them great for freestyle riding and park. The lack of floatation makes it harder to stay on top of the snow, causing you to sink and slow down.
Trying to keep your nose above the powder is possible, but you’re going to work a lot harder at it. With the board typically being shorter in length, resulting in less control, plus the extra effort of leaning back to keep your nose up, you’ll be in for quite a workout.
You have to work harder to keep the nose up, so you use a back stance and put a lot of strain on your back leg, which is exhausting.
The strain on your back leg after trying to survive in the powder with a park board is in my experience, painful. Sure, if you’re used to it, or have a killer gym routine, it may not be the worst thing in the world, but do not underestimate how much harder it will be.
If you don’t have the dexterity that it takes, you may let off the back pressure for a second or two. This is just enough time for your board to tomahawk and send you into a face full of powder – usually, we like the powder best when it’s under our board.
Besides lack of floatation, park boards are also harder to turn in deep powder due to their greater flex. This makes navigating through trees and steep or narrow terrain (common when riding powder) more challenging.
A park board will also get damaged more easily if you hit snow-covered rocks since it will generally have thinner edges.
See also: What are aggressive snowboards?
How do park boards differ from powder boards?
Park boards are generally shorter compared to powder boards. Typically when choosing a park board, you want one that is as short as comfortably possible.
The shorter length of the park board makes for great maneuverability, and easier execution of tricks and jumps. However, shorter boards are less floaty in pow, especially full camber boards.
Opposite of a park board, for powder you want to get as long as a board you can ride. The longer your board, the more effortlessly it will float in powder.
A park board also will have a much softer flex, which is great for popping, jibs, and jumps. In powder though, the softer flex will result in a lot less control and edge hold. The stiff nature of a powder board is ideal for cutting through the thick soft snow.
Powder boards have a directional shape, meaning it can only be ridden one way. A directional shape provides excellent control in powder and leaves everything up to the rider. In contrast, the wide twin tips of park boards will require a lot more effort to keep the board afloat.
See also: Are Stiffer Snowboards Harder To Ride?
Tips for riding a park board in powder
Though there are many drawbacks to it, there are some helpful tricks to make riding a park board in powder a little easier on you.
Setting your stance back on your bindings can be very helpful in powder. This helps your board float as more of your weight will be shifted towards the tail, thus lifting the nose higher up.
For extra float, you adjust the pressure on your back leg, which helps control the amount of rise for your board nose. Adjusting the pressure on your rear leg is finicky, but with practice it will come in handy.
Riding switch from time to time can help you build your fitness and you’ll be able to better withstand the shifted stance.
Some good park boards for powder
The Capita DOA, despite being a classic freestyle board with twin shape and camber, has medium stiffness and performs surprisingly well in the deeper powder for this kind of board.
The Capita indoor Survival, marketed as a resort and park board, also will give you less fatigue in powder compared to other pure park boards (though the DOA rides better in deep stuff).
See also: 4 Top Snowboards For The Halfpipe
Should I get a pure powder snowboard?
The greatest thing about riding powder is the effortless floaty, fly-like feeling. A park board in powder will often ruin that experience as you’ll be working so hard to keep the board afloat, even though you’ll still be riding OK.
Something like the Bataleon Goliath is awesome for park and all mountain, but in powder it will wear you out after an hour or two. In contrast, a true powder board such as the directional, stiff Jones Hovercraft will give you a feeling akin to floating in the clouds.
If you only have a full rocker twin park board and you’re used to riding it in powder snow, try to rent, borrow, or steal a powder deck for riding in real pow. You’ll be blown away by the difference in how great it rides.
If you’re still relatively new at snowboarding, you may feel your park board is just fine for powder. Once you make the switch, however, you’ll wish you had done it earlier, and never look back.
If you plan to spend a lot of time in powder, you’ll generally be better off investing in a dedicated powder board with a wider profile and stiffer construction for better floatation and control.
See also : What are the best snowboards for speed?
Boards are rarely good at everything. Shapes and features that will make a board great for jibbing in the park will likely make it lame for deep powder.
If you have a rocker (or “rock cam rock”) wide park board with a set back stance, you can typically make it work in powder if you have the skills and stamina. A park board will also do better in powder on steep slopes and at higher speeds.
All in all though, nothing beats a powder board for deep pow. Figure out your priorities and get a board that suits your most frequent type of riding.