Freeride snowboarding is a blast. Whether you love to explore the backcountry or are on the hunt for hard-to-access lines hidden right inside your local resort, the discipline has a lot to offer.
It is also a demanding and often challenging style.
I’m a snowboarding instructor who has been teaching many of the skills needed for freeriding for the last decade. I’ve seen many good boards during that time and know what to look for in a top model.
The K2 Alchemist is my top choice for the best freeride snowboard this year.
If you take freeriding seriously, you need a board that will help you push limits and explore uncharted terrain. In this article, I will show you some of the best freeride snowboards on the market.
Time to get ready to ride!
- Quick Summary
- Who Should Get This
- Top Picks for The Best Freeride Snowboards
- How to Choose a Freeride Snowboard
- Useful Tips & Resources
- Final Words
- Best Overall: K2 Alchemist
- Best for Beginners: Rossignol One
- Best for Intermediate: Burton Family Tree
- Best Budget Option: Rossignol Sashimi
- Best Women’s Option: Jones Dreamcatcher
Who Should Get This
Freeriding is all about exploring natural features and exciting terrain. If you love riding powder, steep & deep lines, trees, and have the urge to venture into the backcountry; you know how amazing and fun freeriding can be.
This is a demanding and challenging style. In order to take things head-on, you need to get a board that can handle shifting weather or rapidly changing conditions.
Freeride boards are aggressive and built for high performance alongside excellent control. If you’re a beginner or more of a freestyle rider who likes to stay in the park, a freeride board might be a bit out of your league.
The high-performance nature of freeride boards means that they can be too much to handle for inexperienced riders, and their stiff flex makes them less-than-ideal for the terrain park.
Top Picks for The Best Freeride Snowboards
There are many different options for a freeride snowboard, but the boards you’ll find below all come highly recommended. You should be able to find something that meets your needs and riding style here.
1. K2 Alchemist
- Best for: Overall
- Key features: Strong and stable, lightweight, versatile profile, fast, carbon sintered base, glass laminate for added stability
- Flex: Stiff
- Profile: Camber/Rocker Hybrid
- Cost: $$$$
The K2 Alchemist is my top choice for the best overall freeride board. It’s a fantastic snowboard that will give you all of the power and response you need when taking on some seriously challenging conditions.
A glass laminate with a diagonal design adds stiffness and strength across the board. This gives it a very stable and strong feel that you can use to your advantage when hitting a huge line or bombing in the backcountry.
The carbon-infused sintered base helps keep the board fast, which is another big attraction for freeriding. The Alchemist is built to cruise, and I’m impressed with how well it does at higher speeds.
A hybrid profile gives you the best of both worlds and allows you to generate plenty of pop and response while staying entirely in control at all times. It’s a versatile profile shape that comes in handy in many different situations.
The downside to this board is that it’s one of the most expensive out there. It’s worth it if you have the cash, but it will cost you. It’s also not beginner-friendly at all.
- Best for: Beginners
- Key features: Forgiving for a freeride board, versatile, smooth and stable characteristics, durable, 5S serrated edges
- Flex: Medium/Stiff
- Profile: Hybrid camber/rocker
- Cost: $$$
If you are new to freeriding or want a good entry board into the style, check out the Rossignol One. This is a great all-around freeride board that is very capable while still being a little forgiving.
The One is somewhat of an all-mountain/freeride hybrid board, so you get a lot of versatility in where you can take it on the mountain. This opens doors to try new runs or terrain for the first time and will help you improve freeriding skills.
A L.I.T.E Frame technology helps keep the board playful and responsive while also giving you a stable and experience no matter what type of terrain you are cruising down. This feature also makes for added shock absorption, which caters to freeriding.
It’s not a top option for the backcountry, but most beginner freeriders won’t be exploring too far away from the resort.
- Best for: Intermediate
- Key features: Innovative shape and design, very floaty board, fun to ride and turn, directional shape great for freeriding
- Flex: Stiff
- Profile: Flat with rockered nose
- Cost: $$$
The Burton Family Tree is another amazing freeride snowboard that is a solid option for intermediate riders. It has a unique and innovative design capable of all types of conditions and really fun to ride in powder.
This is a very surfy and floaty board, making it a ton of fun to take in the backcountry when you want to search for fresh tracks. Whether it’s powder or a little bit of crust, the Family Tree can cut through it all and leave you with a smile on your face.
It has a tapered nose that is a little bit longer than the tail. This allows for easier turning in tight situations, and the rockered nose enhances this even further with stability in mind.
It’s not a great option if you never want to venture outside of the resort because it’s built for speed and variable conditions. But if you get it outside of the boundaries, you’re going to have a blast.
- Best for: Budget
- Key features: Affordable, stable, poppy and responsive, good edge control, old-school shape, AmpTeck rocker
- Flex: Medium
- Profile: AmpTeck Rocker
- Cost: $$
The Rossignol Sashimi will let you dive into freeriding without emptying your wallet. It’s a solid all-around freeride option capable of challenging conditions, and its throwback style looks cool and rides like a dream.
This is another in the Rossignol lineup that features an AmpTek Elite Rocker profile. This provides a lot of stability while still allowing for enough float and pop to give you power and control with a smile on your face.
Edge control is also impressive on the Sashimi. You’ll be able to bust through less than desirable conditions without worrying about catching an edge and faceplanting.
The shape is very directional, which means switch riding is challenging, if not impossible. It also has a medium flex which can limit the extent of technical train you can do.
- Best for: Women
- Key features: High-performance board, spooned out nose and tail, Contour Base 1.0, excellent edge control, sintered base
- Flex: Medium/Stiff
- Profile: Directional Rocker
- Cost: $$$
The Jones Dreamcatcher is one of the best women’s specific freeride snowboards. This is a high-performance option that will get you anywhere in the resort or backcountry without worry.
It’s a versatile board with a directional shape and profile. You’ll get good control in various conditions with a playful and powerful response to go from a big backcountry line to a steep resort groomer.
Traction Tech 2.0 edges provide you with serious edge control that is apparent and effective. A 3D Contour Base is designed to reduce edge catch and let you dig in when things get technical.
The Dreamcatcher is also very strong and durable, with a Sintered 8000 base that can withstand the rigors of a steady season of freeriding.
This board is relatively expensive and not a great beginner option. But if you are an intermediate or advanced freerider, it has a lot to offer.
How to Choose a Freeride Snowboard
Remember to keep the following considerations in mind to choose a good freeride board to meet your needs.
Most freeride snowboards have a directional shape that is designed to enhance performance. That means riding switch on them is not always easy.
Even so, the directional shape can allow for extra float in deep powder or better edge control with design elements such as a cutout tail. Each freeride board will vary in shape, but they are almost always directional.
If you want to ride switch and still freeride, you can get an option that uses somewhat of a twin-directional shape.
This is a solid middle ground that will allow you to launch huge airs and ride switch without taking away from the benefits of a directional shape. A true-twin freeride board is hard to come by.
You want your freeride board to be stiff. That will give you better performance and control when zipping down steep, uneven terrain. A soft board will simply not cut it when it comes to freeriding.
All of the boards listed here feature a very stiff flex that caters to the demanding nature of the style. You want control and stability. A stiffer board excels in both areas.
Board flex is typically described on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the stiffest. For a freeride board, look for stiffness of 8 or above. Beginner freeriders might want to go with a 6 or 7.
These ratings will vary slightly from brand to brand, but you want a higher number no matter what board you pick. Softer boards are more forgiving and suitable for beginners, but they simply won’t provide the level of performance you need when taking on serious runs.
Assess Your Style
Freeriding is a broad term. It’s important to take a look at your individual style, which refers to the way you like to ride and the types of conditions you most often find yourself in. This can help you further decide which freeride board is best for you.
If you like to chase powder, a wider board with a cutout tail will allow you to float and carve like you’re on a cloud. If you love going fast, look for a cambered profile that will give you plenty of pop, response, and stability when you’re really hauling.
Freeride boards come in many different shapes and sizes. Matching the board to your style can help you find one that perfectly fits your situation.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions relating to freeride snowboarding.
What is a freeride snowboard?
A freeride snowboard is a board that can do a little bit of everything and is designed to handle challenging conditions that you might find in the backcountry or outside of the resort. They are versatile but aggressive and a lot of fun to ride.
What is freeride snowboarding vs freestyle?
Freeride snowboarding is more focused on tackling challenging conditions such as steep and deep lines, trees, and big mountain situations. Freestyle riding is more trick and maneuver-focused. Think of park riding as freestyle and backcountry riding as freeriding.
What is the difference between freeride and all-mountain snowboarding?
This difference is a little bit harder to describe and is more about style than anything else. All-mountain snowboarding is more focused on resort riding, while freeride snowboarding can go into the backcountry.
Useful Tips & Resources
Freeriding can take its toll on your body, especially in the backcountry. It pays to be in shape, so you can hike up big slopes and still enjoy yourself thoroughly on the way back down.
While there’s no better way to get in shape for snowboarding than riding as often as possible, the video below has some good tips to help you prepare yourself for the season.
Also, whenever you head into the backcountry, you need to be safe. Your life very literally depends on it. Here are some good snow safety rules to keep in mind at all times.
Of all of the current freeride snowboards on the market, the K2 Alchemist stands above the pack as the best option this year. Any of the options you’ll find on this list are solid and will work for riders of different abilities and preferences.
Freeriding can be a challenging snowboarding style, and you’ll want to be strapped into a good board to make the most of it. It’s one of my favorite styles of the sport, and even though it can be difficult at times, it always makes for a memorable experience.About Lorraine