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Burton Instigator vs Descendant: Which Snowboard To Choose?

Burton Instigator vs Descendant: Which Snowboard To Choose?

High-quality gear is as important at the foundational stage of your snowboarding career as it is for advanced riders, and the Burton Instigator and Burton Descendant are testaments to this.

The Instigator is one of Burton’s most highly rated male beginner boards, crafted to support and stabilize learners through linking their first turns to riding in shallow powder. The Descendant is a mid-level park board designed for upper-intermediate riders looking to expand their park horizon.

Key featuresBurton InstigatorBurton Descendant
StyleAll-mountain, directionalAll-mountain, true-twin, park, freestyle
StiffnessSoft twin flexSoft twin flex
Rider levelBeginnerIntermediate
Size140, 145, 150, 155, 160, 150W, 160W, 165W148, 152, 155, 158, 160, 155W, 158W

See the Instigator on Evo or on Amazon
See the Descendant on Evo or on Amazon

*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you). As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: who are these snowboards for?

Stocked in a variety of sizes to suit all ages, the Instigator is a focused male beginner board with a flat-top profile providing stability, balance, and strong edge hold for those first turns

With a directional shape, the Instigator has a longer nose than tail. This classic snowboard shape is designed to assist with riding over choppy terrain and floating through powder. The larger surface area of the nose is great for beginners who need extra stability in these varying conditions.

Both the Instigator and the Descendant have a soft flex, making for a playful and forgiving ride. The flex is helpful both for a beginner learning how to link turns together and for a more seasoned freestyle rider who needs pop and flex in the park. 

The Descendant has a true twin shape which gives it additional mobility to spin, jib, and press on. The symmetrical flex and shape help to give the board a lot of stability for landing switch kickers, hitting rails and boxes, and riding fakie.

The Descendant is designed for intermediate boarders and freestyle park riders. The board is fitted with Burton’s PurePop camber. Boasting camber between the bindings, a short flat section underfoot, and a flick of rocker towards the tips, this profile combination gives the board plenty of pop, snap, and agility for the park.

All of Burtons new boards are fitted with their Channel board mount, which is compatible with all major bindings.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: powder

The directional shape and 5mm taper on the tail on the Instigator give the board additional nose length and width while allowing the tail of the board to sink better in powder.

Combined with the board’s flat profile, the rider has added contact with the snow, making for an easy powder float.

With the soft flex, you won’t have to put in too much effort to lean into your back foot and lift the front of the board above powder.

While not designed for powder specifically, the Descendant’s PurePop camber will be able to handle itself in powder better than the average traditional cambered board. This camber gives the rider extra stability and float in powder.

Of the two boards, the Instigator floats better in powder because of its long nose and soft flex.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: carving

The Instigator’s asymmetrical shape and increased taper help you to commit and link your first carves seamlessly.

The added surface area is great for boosting beginner confidence on rugged terrain and in powder, and helps you cruise over all terrains with stability.

Compared with more technical boards, the Instigator doesn’t have an impressive carve and will leave an advanced rider wanting more. But for what it’s made for, it serves the average beginner well on their first carves.

Carving on the Descendant is smooth and the board has relatively fast turn initiation. If you push the board to its carving limits, however, you might be disappointed with the lack of speed and feel like the board could wash out underneath you.

All in all though, the PurePop camber on the Descendant makes this board a better carver. The cambered profile gives you stability on low and hard carves whilst the soft flex is very forgiving and gives you room to correct your mistakes.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: turning

The Instigator has a relatively fast turn initiation for an entry-level board and turning this board can be compared to the Burton Ripcord and the Amplifier. 

For the average beginner who is learning how to connect turns and carves, the Instigator’s flat-top is ideal because it falls between an aggressive camber and a loose rocker feel.

The PurePop camber profile, soft flex, and twin shape make the Descendant the clear winner for tight radius and quick turns

The board has a great balance between agility and stability and is forgiving enough for freestyle riders to chop and change their lines when approaching and landing kickers in the park.

That said, the Descendant can feel a little bit loose and can wash out easily if you push your limits in hard snow or icy conditions.

While the Instigator is perfectly adequate for learner turns and carves, the Descendant is a better option for tight radius turns and serves an intermediate rider well as their skills progress.

Check out the Instigator on Evo or on Amazon
See the Descendant on Evo or on Amazon

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: trees & slow sections

The Instigator has ‘pro tips’, meaning it has slightly reduced thickness at the nose and tail. This reduces the rider’s swing-weight and makes the board more maneuverable and agile – both in the trees and when spinning in the park.

As mentioned, the Descendant does well with tight radius turns, giving the rider the ability to ride through tight tree lines with ease. 

The Descendant has stiffer and softer flex spots across the board, designed to allow extra torsional rigidity. This helps make tight turns a lot more effortless on the legs.

While both boards would work well when riding slowly in the trees, the Descendant is slightly more agile and maneuverable and is a better option to take into tight and unpredictable lines.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: speed

Although the Instigator has an extruded base, which provides speed and strength and doesn’t require much wax or maintenance to maintain its quality, it doesn’t do so well at speed. 

The base of the board isn’t very damp and vibrates a lot when riding fast, whether over rugged terrain or smooth corduroy groomers.

The board is designed for beginners to ride slowly with stability and isn’t ideal for those looking to hurtle down hills at high speeds.

The Descendant isn’t much of a speed machine itself but does much better to maintain stability and control when riding fast. It has a sintered base that absorbs wax well and feels a lot faster and more durable when riding fast on-piste.

Overall, the Descendant is a better option than the Instigator if you’re hoping to max out your speedometer.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: rugged terrain

Of the two boards, the Instigator wins for riding over rugged terrain. The elongated nose of the board plows through messy terrain with ease compared to the twin shape of the Descendant. 

Considering this, on the Descendant riding over choppy snow should generally be done at slower speeds to avoid passing vibrations through your legs. 

Check out the Instigator on Evo or on Amazon
See the Descendant on Evo or on Amazon

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: jumps and tricks

Although designed primarily for beginner riders, the Instigator is also a valid park option. The board’s soft flex gives it an abundance of responsiveness in the tips where the rocker starts to flick. 

As you advance into freestyle riding, you’ll easily be able to pop off small kickers on the Instigator. However, unless the lip of the kicker has a bit of pop, you might struggle to get the dynamic bounce needed to get some real air.

The Instigator’s soft flex and rockered tips also make for a playful jib and easy butter. However, the flat-top profile doesn’t give one sufficient edge hold for the steep and icy walls of a pipe.

It’s a great board for first-timers to experiment playing around in the park and can guide you through beginner to intermediate freestyle levels. 

The Descendant, for its part, is a solid park board, primarily for intermediate riders looking to advance their freestyle skills but also suitable for advanced park riders.

It’s super stable and agile for approaching kickers, yet forgiving enough for quick corrections on landing.

This board is an ideal intermediate jibber. The flat section under the feet acts as a lever, making it easy for learner jibbers to press one foot into the snow.

Although a rocker profile would act as a better seesaw and lever, the Descendant performs well with butters, presses, and jibs

Compared to the Instigator, the Descendant is a better park board. For more options, you might also want to check out the Burton Flying-V rocker or camber version for that extra pop and flex.

Burton Instigator vs Descendent: switch riding

With a soft flex, both boards are equally easy to swivel around and change directions. However, the Descendant’s twin shape is better-suited for riding switch, as riding in either direction feels the same.

See the Instigator on Evo or on Amazon
See the Descendant on Evo or on Amazon

Final words

The Instigator is a perfect board for a beginner on a low budget. The board is stable and agile and helps build up a beginner rider’s confidence for taking on lower carves, steeper terrains, and more butters and jibs.

The Descendant is a great park board for the intermediate freestyle rider and those hoping to ride more in the park than on groomers. It’s a stable and flexible foundational park board also suitable for more advanced park riders. It offers notably good pop and flex for kickers, butters, and jibs.