Carving is exciting! When you know how to carve, chances are you are an advanced snowboarder.
What is Carving? It means when you are riding with your edges dipped into the snowboard instead of your base and edge are touching the snowboard while turning. After a carved turn you can see a thin line on the snow since only the edge of your snowboard is touching the snow.
It’s an important yet more advanced technique that you need to learn because you will ride faster as carving allows you to ride with only your snowboard’s thin edge and hence there is less friction. A carving turn is also more stable at high speed since the edge of your board is dipped into the snow. Meanwhile, when you want to do the jump, carving provides more stability before you take off and upon landing. That’s why you need a reliable and great board that fits.
So, how to choose and which snowboards are the best for carving? I’ll share some of my personal takes, along with a number of features that you should consider during selection.
I have summed up the best carving snowboards so as to save your time a bit:
- Burton Story Board Snowboard: a stiff, aggressive and very responsive board that can perform hard and fast turn.
- Slash ATV Snowboard: a beast that serves for hard and fast turn, you will need strong leg muscle and great skills to master it.
- Lib Tech TRS HP C2X Snowboard: a looser board which is great for carving and freestyle, it’s more an all-round snowboard though.
Best Snowboard for Carving: What to Look for?
Flex is very much your own preferences but then you will know what flex you want to get after riding two or three snowboards. The ideal case is: you choose a board that can match your weight and the speed you want to ride, the higher the speed, the larger G-forces will be generated, and therefore the stiffer the board you will need so you can gain a balance.
If you are riding too fast with a soft board, your carve will loosen since your weight and speed would fold up. On the other hand, a board that’s too stiff you would find it difficult to carve and ride. Generally speaking, you will need a stiff or medium-stiff board for carving, if you want to do the extreme carving, you need a very stiff board, since it is very likely that you will be riding at a high speed for carving:
- A stiffer flex would gain you a better edge grip and improve the stability when you are riding on high speed.
- A stiffer board would also allow you to respond quickly with the snow in case of any changes of condition.
- When you are planning to start carving, very likely you are an intermediate or advanced snowboarder, and therefore you should be able to handle a stiffer board.
As mentioned in my other article about the best women’s snowboard, a longer board would be more difficult to turn since it would be slower in changing direction. However, this won’t be affecting you that much if what you want to do is carving since we rarely need to force the board to change direction in case of carving. In my experience, it’s kinda like a “direct the force and follows the flow with you stands and positions”.
Get a longer board if you are planning to do carving, the shorter the board, the more stable it will be at high speed, and vice versa. There are several reasons why a longer snowboard would be more stable.
- The longer and heavier the board is, the damper it is, and hence more vibration resistance it comes with. The impact of different snow conditions would be able to spread out on a longer length and therefore caused less disturbance to you and your snowboard. A good example is a longboard vs. shortboard if you know how to surf as well.
- The longer the board, the more edge hold you can have and therefore the more stable it would be.
- 2 – 3 cm longer than average is always a good start, I have friends getting a board that’s almost the same height as himself and he is super duper good at extreme carving. But honestly, it all depends on your preference and experience at the end of the day.
Most carving snowboards would be in some sort of directional shape. They could be directional twin or directional, but usually not true twin shape. They are mostly designed for better performance to ride at high speed, it is very likely that you would be riding in only one direction if high speed is your goal. You can still ride switch with a carving board, but honestly, it would be much more difficult.
Again this is more a personal preference option but most traditionally, a camber profile would offer more stability at a higher speed so a lot of freeride snowboards are traditional camber or hybrid camber.
The narrower the snowboard, the quicker it is from edge to edge, the wider the board, the easier for the riders to ride on different terrains and the looser the carve would be. Therefore, if you are a carving fan, it’s a good idea for you to get a narrow board.
- Do make sure your width is not too narrow for your boots, always ensure your boots won’t overhang and drag the snow when you turn.
- Get a pair of low profile snowboard boots would be better (same size but with less mass). But you still need to make sure that the board isn’t too narrow for your boot size – if your boots overhang too much you might get boot drag on hard carves. Check out our snowboard size calculator to learn how to choose the right width.
Set Back Stance
A setback stance enables you to carve deeper into the snow, most freeride snowboards would come with a setback setting, or else just move your stances a bit backward to the tail would do. There is no standard setting for your stance, what I normally do is keep trying with different stance settings to find one that suits me the most.
Most carving lovers would set their binding at a relatively aggressive angle, e.g. front foot between 30 – 12 degrees and back foot with 12 – 0 degrees. It is difficult to say what is the best but you can also play with different angles until you find the one that fits you the best.
Edge Pattern (Wavy Edged vs Straight Edged)
Nowadays there are quite a few snowboards that come with a wavy edge instead of the classic straight-edged, also called Magne-traction, for more details about this tech, please click here.
The main reason for getting a wavy-edged snowboard is because you can gain better control on icy slopes, but then according to my experience, it is better for you to ride with a classic straight-edged snowboard since there would be more contact point of the edge of your snowboard to the snow and therefore it offers more stability at high speed. But for sure, this is more your preference, if possible it would be better for you to try different types of boards so you can find out your favorite one.
I realized quite a lot of riders would have the impression that a carving snowboard should come with a square shape nose – I would say this is not true… a carving board could be with a round nose just like a traditional all-mountain board and they are easier to turn and carve too. It’s just with a square-shaped nose there would be an even longer edge for carving on a wide, open slope while a snowboard with round shape nose would be better to carve on narrow runs.
Carving Snowboard vs. Freeride Snowboard
I found it very common for people to look for a freeride snowboard when they are actually considering a carving snowboard, in my opinion, they do share some common features but they are not the same.
For example, a wide fishtailed board would also be classified as a freeride board, they are great for powder and backcountry but not for carving! I noticed some websites would still categorize them as “freeride snowboard”. Therefore it is very important for you to understand the features a carving snowboard is needed before you pick the right one.
If you are looking for more information about how to buy a carving board, do read more information about alpine snowboard like this one, which gives useful information about how to set up a carving board. Both articles talk about more professional content like sidecut radius, running length, and turn radius … etc. I would say these terms are too professional so I would give a pass on them.
For those who want to know more about the carving world, you can check more information out about “Hard Boot Snowboarding”. This is more the racer side so I am not going to drill into it in this article. The easiest way to explain this is: for riders who are after high speed, they would consider a soft boot (normal snowboard) too forgiving and therefore they tend to wear something as stiff as ski boots so they can tolerate riding at a higher speed.
Best Carving Snowboard: Our Pick for 2020
This is a very stiff, aggressive women snowboard with scope nose and taper tail. It’s great for tree runs, landing after big jumps and most importantly, carving. If you have strong legs and great skills, this is your baby. What is not that nice about this board includes: it’s not that good in looking, and it would be a bit too difficult for riders who are less experienced or without strong leg muscle.
This is a beast! It’s specially built for riders who love hard and fast carving turns. The directional twin shape would allow you to perform switch riding too. It’s a very solid, quick response, stiff and aggressive camber board. The only con may be that this is a snowboard you need a certain level of skills and muscles to master it.
This is a more playful board with high maneuverability and yet very aggressive and stable, suitable for riders who love carving and freestyles at the same time. It’s more an all-round board but carves well. Very beautiful and nice artworks! The only downside is that since it’s more all-rounded, you may find it less aggressive than a specially designed carving board.
So we’ve talked about most of the common features that the best carving snowboard should have, but honestly, you don’t need a carving board to perform carving. Among all these factors I would say the most important one is the stiffness of a board. But it is my own personal experience so you’ve got to ride more and try more in order to find out what suits you the best.
Most of the time we are riding very fast when we practice carving, therefore, do make sure you are wearing protection gear when you go for your rides. And do some workout at a gym before going for carving as you will need much stronger leg muscle to perform carving than just normal riding.
Anyway, that wraps up this article. Do let me know if you have any questions, leave a comment below.