Freeride and all mountain snowboarding are two popular styles of the sport. And while they both involve exploring the mountain and can fully challenge your skills as a rider, they are also very different in a few ways.
I’m a certified snowboarding instructor with over a dozen seasons in the snow. I’ve used many different freeride and all mountain snowboards and understand their key differences based on first-hand experience.
In this post, I’ll examine the main differences between freeride and all mountain snowboards to give you a better understanding of which you might prefer.
Both of these boards can be really fun to ride, but one style is far more versatile than the other. One is suited for all ability levels, and the other is best left for intermediate and advanced riders only.
Let’s get rolling.
- What is Freeride Snowboarding
- What is All Mountain Snowboarding
- The Differences Between Freeride and All Mountain Snowboards
- Final Thoughts
What is Freeride Snowboarding
Freeride snowboarding is one of my favorite styles of the sport. In a nutshell, you can think of freeriding as a style that focuses on avoiding the resort. Or at least the easy, groomed runs on the resort.
Freeriders live to explore challenging and technical terrain that is often hard to find and even harder to get to. Backcountry riding and freeride snowboarding are somewhat synonymous, and the same skills and equipment are often needed for both.
This is a challenging style that is not for beginners. The terrain can be varied, but it’s usually off-piste or in not as heavily trafficked areas of the resort. Unless she’s skilled, you won’t be taking grandma out freeriding.
What is All Mountain Snowboarding
All mountain snowboarding is one of the most popular styles of the sport because of the versatility it allows. You can literally go all over the mountain and explore every inch of it when you are on an all mountain snowboard.
You can take a few laps on groomers, go chase steep and deep lines until you get hungry, and then spend the afternoon in the park and this would be considered a pretty solid all mountain riding day.
All mountain snowboarding is fun because just about anyone can pursue this style, and it allows you to focus on your favorite aspects of the mountain without being limited to one exact thing. All mountain very literally means all over the mountain.
The Differences Between Freeride and All Mountain Snowboards
Sometimes the lines get blurry between what separates one style of a snowboard from another. That’s why it’s good to learn about these things so you can get the best equipment available that can help you become a better rider.
I’ll break down the most significant differences between freeride and all mountain snowboards in the following sections.
One of the biggest differences between freeride and all mountain boards is their flex. Flex is the amount of stiffness or flexibility that a board has. It’s typically listed on a scale from 1 to 10, with lower numbers offering a softer flex and higher numbers a stiffer flex.
The vast majority of all mountain snowboards will have a medium flex. Flex rating numbers for these boards will fall anywhere from 4-7 on the rating scale. Medium flex gives you good versatility that can handle many different situations.
Freeride snowboards will have a stiffer flex. Most will fall between 7-9 on the scale. A 10 rating is extremely rare, and usually, 9 is the highest you will see. A stiffer board gives you better performance and response during challenging conditions and at higher speeds.
Shape is another difference between freeride and all mountain snowboards. Even if you have never snowboarded before, you can quickly tell differences in shape by looking at a board from an overhead angle.
All mountain boards will have a directional twin or slightly directional shape. This gives you versatile performance in terms of having the ability to ride switch if you want to. You can explore freestyle lines with a slight twin shape.
Freeride boards will have a pronounced directional shape. This means that the tip and tail of the board will look different. They are intended to be ridden in your dominant direction and will give you the best performance that way. These boards are hard to ride switch.
Snowboard length can be a personalized decision based on individual preferences that a rider might have or how tall they are. But length also comes into play depending on what style of riding you want to focus on.
All mountain snowboarders usually use a standard length board, meaning an option that comes up somewhere between their chin and nose when the board is standing upright. This ‘regular’ length helps give the board versatility.
Freeride boards are usually longer than average. A longer board can have benefits in more challenging conditions because you can go faster. Longer boards can also have more stability and edge control, which are added benefits.
The profile of a board is how it is shaped when you are looking at it from the side. The two main profile shapes you’ll hear about are camber and rocker, and these play a significant role in how a board performs on the snow.
All mountain boards will have a hybrid profile that combines elements of rocker and camber. A rockered tip and tail give you good float in deep snow and freestyle capabilities. Camber lets you get extra power in more challenging situations.
Freeride boards will also have a hybrid profile but can lean more heavily towards camber underfoot to give you additional power and control at higher speeds. Freeride boards can also have a directional profile with camber in the back and rocker in the front.
The base of a board will also be different depending on what style it is built for. The two main types of bases are sintered and extruded.
All mountain boards can have both sintered and extruded bases. Sintered bases are generally higher quality and better suited to riding off-piste or in more technical terrain. Extruded bases are more affordable and better suited for the park.
Freeride boards will almost always have a sintered base. This gives you added durability and performance in challenging terrain but also makes the board more expensive. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a freeride board with an extruded base.
6. Ability Level
The last difference worth mentioning between freeride and all mountain snowboards is related to the rider’s ability level. If you get a board that doesn’t match your skills, you will have a tough time enjoying the experience.
All-mountain boards can be used by all ability levels of riders. If you are a beginner, you’ll want a softer flex all-mountain board because this will give you the versatility that will be relatively easy to control.
Advanced and expert-level riders can also use all-mountain boards. They’ll just want to get a stiffer option that is better suited to more technical terrain.
One of the best things about getting an all mountain board is that it can help you progress through ability levels. This means you can buy a board, and it will help you go from intermediate to advanced without changing up your equipment.
Freeride boards are only for advanced and expert riders. Some intermediate riders will be able to handle a freeride snowboard, as well. These boards are much stiffer and less forgiving. This gives you great performance when needed but can be too much to handle for the average rider.
Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to freeride vs. all mountain snowboards.
What is the difference between freeride and all mountain snowboards?
Freeride boards have a stiff flex that caters to high-performance in challenging conditions, while all mountain boards have a medium flex that is more versatile all over the mountain. Freeride boards are also not good for beginners, while all mountain boards can be used by everyone.
Should I get an all mountain snowboard?
All mountain boards are a favorite option for many riders because they let you do a little bit of everything. If you want to explore the entire mountain and enjoy a board that can handle it all, an all mountain option is a good choice.
Can you use a freestyle snowboard for all mountain?
Technically yes, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. If you are an advanced-level rider, you might be able to use a freestyle board in more challenging terrain. But it will usually be too soft to go really fast with or take into more freeride-focused areas.
No matter what style of snowboarder you are, it’s always best to have the proper equipment to match your preferences. This goes for freeriders, all mountain riders, and freestyle riders alike. Quality equipment is quality equipment, and everyone will benefit from this.
Now that you know the differences between freeride and all mountain snowboards, you can get an option that works for your ability level and favorite areas of the mountain to explore. If you start to love the sport, I bet you’ll get both of these eventually.About Lorraine