Picking out a good snowboard is always dependent on your style of riding and competency level as well as your weight and height. You may need a different snowboard depending on your focus, groomers, powder, or park and freestyle.
Even within the freestyle board category, some boards work best for the halfpipe might while other are better jib or rail boards.
A good halfpipe board usually has a stiff flex, either a hybrid camber or hybrid rocker profile, depending on your weight and riding style, and traction control edges that offer solid edge hold in icy snow.
|Yes Basic||$550||Confidence booster for intermediates, forgiving flex, stable in hard snow pipes, maintains speed well|
|Never Summer Proto Ultra||$630||Dynamic power and flow, surfy feel, grips to icy pipe walls well, ultra technical|
|Salomon Assassin||$500||Super light, great for spins and hops, max power at high speed, nimble on icy lips|
|GNU Pro Choice (womens)||$580||Assymetrical for heel edge stability, easy to load up and release pop, stable and responsive riding|
What is a good halfpipe snowboard?
Modern resort built halfpipes that can reach 16 to 22′ feet deep and contain two vertical and icy walls.
A decent halfpipe board should be able to effectively hold its edges on the walls while being stable at speed for pumping from one wall to another.
Pipe specific boards are designed to gain and maintain speed and momentum, allowing riders to boost into the air at the top of a vertical pipe wall.
Choosing the right line is important as it lets you kick into the air and spin at the perfect angle of the lip.
For this reason, halfpipe snowboards need to have a stiffer and more technical flex rating, allowing the rider to pick a line and commit while protecting their ankles.
Features of a good snowboard for the halfpipe
Pipe riders looking for reliable edge hold and technical control favor boards with the following general features.
Depending on rider preferences, pipe boards are usually regular length or slightly shorter than all-mountain boards.
Regular length boards have better stability at speed when pumping up the sidewalls of the pipe, as well as when approaching and landing jumps.
Slightly shorter boards make it easier to swing the back of the board around when spinning above the lip, best for more advanced riders riding switch in the halfpipe.
Halfpipe snowboarders prefer boards with stiffer flex between the feet, transitioning into a softer flex towards the tips and tails.
Stiffer boards (above 6/10) have a more technical and energetic core which offers better edge control as well as pop for approaching and landing airs at vertical angles and high speeds.
Shape and camber profile
Park snowboards in general, especially pipe boards, are designed symmetrically to allow for easy switch riding. For this reason, the best pipe boards are true twins with a symmetrical nose and tail.
Typically, hybrid camber boards are ideal for providing optimal edge hold. This edge hold gives the board additional pop, which is essential for carving off the halfpipe lip and taking off on fast and powerful spins.
Heavier, more powerful riders may prefer hybrid rocker boards for pressing into the base of the board and achieving good edge hold and precise riding.
The ideal halfpipe snowboard has a medium-shaped sidecut arc with a deeper radius, allowing you to initiate sharper turns and spins.
Note that progressive sidecuts, which allow the board to respond differently depending on the stage of the turn, are not typically desirable for halfpipe boards.
Boots and bindings for the halfpipe
Just as a stiffer board offers more edge control, stiffer boots will help you to precisely edge across the walls while providing safe support for big landings.
Stiff boots let you fully commit to spins and jumps without the worry of washing out on landings, and should be solidly supportive of your ankles and feet.
To match your stiff boots, stiff bindings with a solid highback will make your ride more technical and will feel extra responsive. What might be too aggressive on the mountain often works better in the halfpipe.
Binding highbacks sit flush against your ankles and help transmit power and maintain control on your heel and toe edges.
Adjusting the forward lean angle of your bindings (moving the slider of the highback) can make it easier to hold a stiff edge while improving responsiveness on your heel edge.
Next, we look at 4 of the best pipe snowboards on the market.
#1 Best halfpipe snowboard: Yes Basic
The Yes Basic is a great option for intermediate to advanced pipe riders looking to gain confidence on a slightly more forgiving board.
A more expert rider, however, might outgrow this snowboard quickly.
With the Yes Basic, it’s best to size up one size for the pipe – if too small this board might feel a little bit chattery and unstable at speed.
|Key features||Yes Basic|
|Stiffness||Upper Medium flex 6/10|
|Size||143, 146, 149, 152, 155, 156W, 158, 159W, 161, 163W|
The Yes Basic has an upper-medium flex rating of 6/10. It’s stiff enough to feel stable and predictable on hard snow in the pipe, yet soft enough to be playful in other parts of the park too.
The base of the board is sintered and damp, making it easy to maintain speed from one side of the pipe to the other.
Shape and camber profile
The Basic has a true twin shape with a centered stance and a hybrid camber profile. It has camber between the feet, a flat section underneath the bindings, and rockered flicks towards the tips.
The hybrid camber acts as a shock absorber for the edges, loading up energy for later release. This is ideal for the halfpipe, where momentum is necessary to carry you from one wall to the next.
The edges have a slight underbite which helps to grip into hard snow. This helps you drive into halfpipe carves without losing an edge and sliding out.
#2 best halfpipe snowboard: Never Summer Proto Ultra
The Never Summer Proto Ultra is another great men’s pipe board with a stiff flex and a hybrid rocker.
|Key features||Never Summer Proto Ultra|
|Stiffness||Stiff flex 8/10|
The Proto Ultra has a stiff flex rating of 8/10 and is made out of durable materials including bamboo and carbon.
The carbon core gives it a great balance between durable, stiff, and poppy.
Shape and camber profile:
The Proto Ultra is a true twin snowboard set up in a centered stance. It has a hybrid rocker profile with camber underfoot, rocker between the bindings, and a rockered flick towards the tips.
This rockered profile, labeled as the Shock Wave Rocker Camber gives the board dynamic power and flow. It makes the pipe feel like surfing a wave and cuts through hard snow with precision while holding a strong edge.
The board has a grippy sidecut mechanism that grips the snow with multiple contact points.
The flat sidecut section of the rocker between the feet acts as a broad contact point when flexed, yet allows the board to slide on its edges when not flexed.
#3 best halfpipe snowboard: Salomon Assassin
This board is made using super-light materials and is great for spins and hops.
If you’re planning to spin and land switch in the halfpipe, a smaller size will allow you to swing the back of the board around more easily.
|Key features||Salomon Assassin|
|Stiffness||Stiff flex 8/10|
|Size||150, 153, 156, 158W, 159, 162, 163W, 165|
The Assassin also has a stiff flex rating of 8/10. This makes for a technical ride and offers stability when pumping from one side of the wall to the other.
Shape and camber profile
Salomon’s Assassin is made for the park and pipe with a twin shape, centered stance, and hybrid camber profile. The board is flat between the bindings, has camber underfoot and rocker towards the tips.
The flat section between the bindings is great for maintaining stability, yet the camber underfoot makes the board easy to press down on and load up some pop.
The board is stable yet nimble on icy snow which makes it ideal for approaching the lip of a pipe. It’s also wide enough to offer a solid landing platform.
Unlike the other boards, the Assassin has a directional flex which offers maximum power at high speeds. Even with this minor directional quality, the board is equally easy to ride switch or natural.
The sidecut mechanism gives the board ultra-strong edge hold and controlled high-speed turning ability.
It’s second to none when it comes to holding an edge in hard and icy snow, yet still manages to avoid grabbing onto snow when you don’t want it to.
#4 best halfpipe snowboard (women): GNU Pro Choice
The GNU Pro Choice is one of the best women’s pipe snowboards on the market. The board was designed for hard pack and icy snow and holds an edge like no other.
|Key features||GNU Pro Choice|
|Stiffness||Stiff flex 7/10|
|Size||145.5, 148.5, 151.5|
The Pro Choice has a medium-stiff flex (7/10) which gives it a dynamic and aggressive feel on the snow.
Shape and camber profile
The Pro Choice is an asymmetrical twin shape with a hybrid rocker profile. The asymmetrical outline of the board is unique for a pipe board, however, it does well to give the rider extra contact on the heel edge when riding up the backside wall of the halfpipe.
It feels easier to press into the board and pop into a jump as it gives you a lower activation angle, and therefore better balance on your heelside.
The board has what GNU calls its C3 profile. It’s a hybrid rocker that has a mild rocker between the feet and a more dramatic camber on either side of the feet.
This gives it the feeling of a traditional cambered board, increasing stability and reducing the loose feeling common to rockered boards.
The GNU Pro Choice is crafted with balsa, paulownia, and aspen wood, making it ultra-light and responsive.
It also boasts GNU’s Magna Traction edges which act like serrated knives cutting into hard snow, keeping you in control on icy pipe walls.
While pipe boards should have a stiffer flex and be as responsive and technical as possible, there is leeway when it comes to choosing the shape and profile of the board.
Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and that every rider’s style and gear preferences will determine the correct equipment for them.
(1) Featured image: “HP13” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by m.kibo
(2) “Neil in the half pipe, Panorama” (CC BY 2.0) by Ruth and Dave
(3) “Men’s Snowboard Halfpipe Finals – The Br” (CC BY 2.0) by bobaliciouslondon