So you’ve just found that awesome Ride or Burton park & freestyle snowboard at a killer price. Only problem is, you don’t really ride park, you only ride on groomed terrain – including smooth hardpack snow, powder, and occasional moguls. But this board is such a good deal!
Can you ride a freestyle board everywhere on the mountain?
Park boards have features that are specifically crafted for parks including the twin shape, soft flex, strong camber, thick edges. Riding a freestyle board for fast carving on groomers or for slashing powder comes with serious challenges like lower edge hold and loss control at speed.
In this article, we’ll look at how park boards differ from so-called all-mountain boards, and whether the former can be used for “normal” carving or freeride.
See also: Are stiffer snowboards harder to ride?
What are freestyle/park snowboards?
Park & freestyle snowboards are primarily designed for riding snowboard parks. With features such as thicker edges and grind plates, they can take more of a beating on rails and boxes than any other type of board.
Typically, these boards are twin tips to allow you to easily ride switch, They have a soft flex for maneuverability in tricks. Riding in a park with a stiff board can be a nightmare and very restricting, which is the last thing you want.
The Lib Tech T. Rice pro snowboard is a good example, one of the best for advanced park riders. It has a medium flex and twin shape. Lib tech’s C3 camber profile allows for great balance and responsiveness. Lib tech is one of my favorite snowboard brands by the way, highly recommended.
The Burton Custom Twin is another awesome park board. The twin camber profile is what you want in a park setting. The board has a lot of pop to it for taking off of jumps and jumping onto rails, and boxes. This is a great board if you’re looking to take your park skills up a notch.
See also: What is freestyle snowboarding?
What are all mountain snowboards?
All mountain boards can handle a wide variety of snow and terrain including powder, groomers, steeps, or flats. While they come in different shapes and sizes, they are typically directional boards. Directional boards are usually on the stiffer side and the nose is longer than the tail, allowing for a one dominant direction of riding.
Though not ideal for parks, all-mountain boards can still be used on smaller jumps, rails, and boxes. If you want to excel with an all-mountain board, however, stick to the powder and groomed runs. If you’re primarily an all-around rider, this is a good style of board for you.
The Burton Custom (my current board) is a great option for an all-mountain. Although I’m restricted with what I can do in the park, I’ve found it to be great in powder and on groomed runs. The speed I can achieve on it is sometimes frightening. It’s really fast, but its defined edges keep me in control in all conditions.
The Arbor Element is another top all-mountain board on the market. The hybrid camber design allows maximum control in different terrains. Though targeted towards intermediate and advanced riders due to its medium-stiff flex, it is a board that can handle whatever comes its way with ease.
See also: Burton Custom vs Arbor Element?
Can you carve in powder on a freestyle/park board?
While it’s possible to ride pow on a park board, you will face greater challenges than if you were to use a board specifically designed for carving. Whereas the directional shape of all mountain boards helps them float in powder, a park board’s twin tips will not provide such smooth riding.
The stiffer flex pattern of all-mountain boards is there for a reason, it provides better control in deep powder. With a park board, you may feel the snow is in control of you rather than you dominating the terrain.
The edge control on a freestyle board is lower than on a stiffer board due to the high flex. This will make carving in powder difficult as your board will not respond effectively. Carving in powder on a freestyle board is comparable to lag in a video game. That split second longer response time can mess up your line, or even cause an accident
You don’t want to bring a knife to a gunfight, so if you’re planning on riding some powder I suggest you save the freestyle board for shredding some park.
See also: What is an aggressive snowboard?
Can you carve groomers on a freestyle/park board?
Though it may be a safer bet than riding in powder, using a park board on groomers isn’t ideal either. You’ll likely find it more difficult to carve due to the camber of the board.
The camber of a park board is designed with maximum pop in mind, so don’t be surprised if you’re trying to carve and end up flat on your face as this is not the primary intention of the board. The park board’s camber profile makes it a lot harder to maintain an edge.
The softer flex of park boards can also be a limiting factor on groomed runs. So much responsiveness, though great for jumps and jibs, is not something you want at higher speeds. The high flex reduces stability and results in speed wobbles.
A sudden change in posture can throw you toppling down the mountain and may result in injury. All mountain boards are much more forgiving to small movements.
See also: What are the best snowboards for groomers?
Pros and cons of using a freestyle/park board for all mountain
Though having both a park board and an all-mountain board is ideal, not everyone can afford such luxuries.
If you mostly ride park, and rarely the rest of the mountain, using your park board everywhere regardless of terrain can obviously save you from buying a dedicated board. Whether the money saved outweights the drawbacks depends on how much riding you do outside of the park.
Where you save on price, you loose in performance. A freestyle board is what I would call “sketchy” on terrains other than a park.
If you’re picking up high speeds, you are more susceptible to catching an edge and wiping out as these boards are extremely responsive. Even the slightest movements can send you out of control.
Build with less focus on control, park & freestyle boards provide very limited edge hold. They are made to pop off the ground as easily as possible, so trying to hold an edge, especially at high speeds, is challenging even for an experienced rider.
There is not a lot of room for error with these boards outside of a park.
Using freestyle/park bindings for all mountain
Freestyle bindings are also designed to excel in a park setting. They are made with more flex than other bindings and provide a more of a “loose” feel to them.
Just like for snowboards, not having to switch out your bindings depending on the kind of riding you’re doing is one less hassle if you have only one setup.
However, just try doing a 360 while your feet are cemented in your bindings! this is what an all mountain binding feels like. This is great for riding steep slopes and powder, but let me assure you it’s going to make your favorite freestyle tricks a lot harder to execute.
See also: Hard vs soft snowboard boots
As you now know, you can use any kind of snowboard anywhere on the mountain. But using a board designed with your type of riding is always a better choice. The cons of doing otherwise far outweigh the pros, and if you want to be the best rider you can be, having the right board is important.