Powder slashing backcountry warlords
If you live for those deep days, floating through open powder fields or darting through the trees with your friends, a freeride snowboard makes the perfect companion. It offers the ultimate escape from the daily grind and is guaranteed to put an even bigger smile on your face during the best days of the season.
So what makes these boards so special? How is the size, shape and profile different to a regular park or all-mountain deck – and why do we believe Rome builds the very best freeride snowboards on the market?
Read on and we’ll tell you!
How are freeride snowboards constructed?
A good freeride snowboard needs to move smoothly through deep snow while retaining control and stability for critical situations. We achieve this by combining a number of features.
All Rome freeride snowboards are based on a tapered directional shape. Taper means that the board starts off wide in the nose and gets narrower towards the rear. This encourages the tail to sink and the nose to rise above the surface, without the rider having to lean back. The effect is increased with a setback stance which reduces the length of the tail.
Lots of taper translates into a lot of float, but it limits the snowboard's ability to ride backwards – especially in deep snow – because the effect would be reversed. We’ve therefore developed two variations on the tapered shapes in our line. The Ravine series has a relatively modest amount (between 5.5 and 7.5 mm), which is great for laying down powder turns in your regular stance but can still step up to the plate when it comes to backcountry freestyle, including riding or landing switch.
Genuine powder boards need a little more taper, so our Stalefish and Service Dog pack a full 20 mm for guaranteed float. The narrower tail offers awesome maneuverability – whether you’re threading fast, nimble turns between the trees or smashing the doors off a windlip.
We love the extra lift you get from a rockered profile, but you can’t beat the level of control you get from a classic camber – so for our powder boards, we’ve drawn on decades of testing to create the perfect hybrid profile. We call it Free-The-Ride Camber.
It begins with a set-back camber section, which offers plenty of grip and response. This blends into rocker from just in front of the lead binding, essentially extending the nose to create effortless float. We’ve combined this profile with our Directional Diamond 3D technology, which helps the board plow through freshies and ensures turns feel super smooth to initiate.
Not every powder hound is the same. If you’re a powerful rider that enjoys high speed turns and steep descents then you’ll benefit from a stiffer flex, whereas a softer model will feel more agile at low speeds and generally more playful over mellow terrain. We therefore offer a variety of flex patterns throughout our freeride range depending on your riding style.
Aside from adapting the blend and thickness of wood within the core, we have developed a proprietary technology to add targeted snap and deliberate flexes to our boards which we call Hotrods. These precision-milled inlays of bamboo or carbon make a huge difference to the board’s response and can be positioned in different areas to fine-tune its performance.
For example, our Ravine models generate extra ollie power and drive through turns via twin Hotrods in the tail. On the flipside, we’ve made the Stalefish and the Service Dog a little less aggressive edge to edge but placed a single Hotrod in the nose to deliver liveliness and stability at high speeds.
Over the past few years, a lot of what we thought we knew about snowboard design has been thrown out the window with the arrival of a new breed of shapes. The truth is that there’s more to floating in deep snow than a few extra centimeters in length; you need to have volume in the right places – just like a surfboard.
For our freeride boards we’ve therefore shifted the surface area – sometimes more, sometimes less – from length to width. The result is a shorter, more agile powder craft like the Stalefish, which boasts a massive width of 26.25 cm even in its shortest length (148). The Stalefish is the perfect choice for relaxed backcountry lines, but if you’re into steeper and more challenging terrain then take a look at the mid-wide Ravine, which packs a slightly less extreme 25.98 cm width into the 162 version and turns like it’s on rails.
*Carousel of all directional snowboards*
Best Freeride Snowboards – The Bottom Line
Nothing beats a powder day, and a dedicated freeride board will have you running for first lifts on those cold, greybird mornings when most of the resort has stayed in bed.
Look for a directional shape, with plenty of width in the nose and a tapered tail to help you float. Our Free-the-Ride Camber blends edge control where you need it with a surf-like rocker in the nose, and thanks to the latest geometry you can ride many of our pow-focused models in a shorter and more agile length than you might imagine.
All that’s left is to decide on the right flex. If you’re all about big lines, burly cliff drops and warp speeds then go for something stiff like the Ravine Select, or if trees, pillows and powder butters are more your jam then look towards a more playful deck like the Service Dog.
Either way, we’ll see you out there.