The shape of a snowboard plays a significant role in how it will perform on the snow and what style of riding you can do with it underfoot. Advanced riders will know their preferred shape, but beginners might not even realize it makes a substantial difference.
I’ve seen every shape of board you can imagine over the last ten years working as a snowboard instructor. From true twin park boards to directional freeride monsters, I’ve ridden just about every shape of snowboard as well.
In this post, I’ll break down snowboard shapes to give you a solid understanding of the differences so you can pick an option that will help your preferred riding style.
Knowledge is power, and knowing about your boards can pay off when you get out in the snow.
Let’s get to it.
What is Snowboard Shape?
If you have never learned about it before, you might be thinking that all snowboards have the same shape. But, in reality, subtle differences in the shape give a board different on-snow characteristics.
While all boards generally have the same shape (tip, center, tail in an hourglass shape), several main classifications lump all of the boards you’ll see on the mountain. These are twin and directional.
There are a few sub-categories that I’ll break down in the following sections, but those are the two big ones.
Twin shapes have a symmetrical shape, and directional boards are more asymmetrical. Twin shapes can be ridden in either direction, while directional boards are meant to be ridden with your dominant foot forward.
Shape can be simply explained that way. However, it’s more complicated than that, so let’s explore things in more detail.
Ok, let’s look at the main snowboard shapes here. While every single model can have its unique shape, they all will fall into one of the categories below.
1. True Twin
I’ll start by explaining true twin snowboards because they are the easiest to visualize. These boards will have a symmetrical shape that is very much the classic hourglass shape you would see if someone draws a snowboard on paper.
The nose and tail of a true twin board will be exactly the same width and cut. The center of the board will dip in to become more narrow in the same location on either side. If you folded a true twin in half, the sides would line up with each other.
A true twin board is the classic freestyle shape. The great thing about having a symmetrical board is that you can easily ride it in both directions-regular and switch. So you will get equal performance in both directions, which is needed in the park.
These boards are also really balanced, which makes them a good option for beginners. If you want to learn how to ride switch, a true twin can make it very easy to get a feel for how this is done.
A true twin shape does come with some drawbacks. You won’t get as much power in more technical situations, and you can start to experience chatter when you go at really high speeds. If you don’t ride in the park, you don’t want a true twin board.
If you like freestyle riding at all, I’d suggest having a true twin in your quiver. They do give you the best performance in the park. If you like big airs, rails, or spend any time at all in the halfpipe, a true twin is the way to go.
2. Directional Twin
One of the most popular snowboard shapes is the directional twin. This is the shape that you’ll find on nearly every all mountain board. It will appear almost symmetrical if you look at it, but it technically won’t entirely be.
Directional twin shapes don’t have one exact definition because they can use elements of symmetry and asymmetry in different ways. A standard directional twin shape will have a side cut that sits back towards the tail, making the nose longer.
This helps the board stay on top of deeper snow and keeps the nose up. It’s also how this shape earns the directional distinction. But it’s not entirely directional and can still be ridden switch reasonably easily.
Sometimes a directional twin board will have a profile that falls into this description as well. That means that the nose of the board will have rocker while the tail will have increased camber. Again, this gives you extra versatility.
I like having a directional twin for my go-to do-everything type of board. You can take it into the park if you want to play around, but it also has enough float to handle deeper snow. It’s an all mountain shape that is effective anywhere you want to ride.
Directional snowboards have an asymmetrical shape with a noticeably different nose and tail design. These boards are intended to be ridden in a single direction, and that’s how they get their name.
This is the standard shape for freeride boards, and they will generally have a wider (or pointed, or more rockered) nose than the tail. This allows them to work well in deeper snow and gives you excellent performance when riding at higher speeds.
Directional boards will also have a directional sidecut running down the length of the board. This comes into play during more technical riding situations. It helps ease you into turns without losing power when you need to turn the other way quickly.
Directional boards and freeriding go hand in hand. You’ll also find directional boards for the backcountry and for riding powder. Directional boards will also usually have a stiffer flex making them better suited for advanced riders.
A directional shape comes with some drawbacks, and the biggest one is that you won’t be riding switch on it. It’s possible, sure. But it won’t be easy to do, and you wouldn’t want to for any reason other than showing off.
You can see a directional board as an all-mountain board as well as a freeride board. The difference here is that a freeride directional snowboard will have a stiffer flex than an all mountain directional board.
The least common snowboard shape is the asymmetrical board. While a directional and directional twin shape is also asymmetrical, they do not fall entirely into the Asym category.
These boards have different sidecuts on either side, which is a somewhat radical design feature. This means that your heelside edge will have a different level of performance than your toeside edge.
This shape can give you better turning and control heelside, which is something some inexperienced riders can struggle with. In addition, Asym boards have a shorter but deeper heelside sidecut, which allows you to better dig in and maintain balance.
I don’t have a ton of experience using Asym boards, but I have a few friends who really like them. If you are experienced and used to a specific shape, these can be worth exploring because they are novel and might give you a slight control boost.
If you struggle with your heelside control or turns, an Asym board might be the answer you are looking for. They are still relatively rare, but there are more options out there than ever before in this category.
Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to snowboarding shapes.
What snowboard shape should I get?
This depends on what style of snowboarding you like to do the best. A twin shape is better for freestyle riding and is good if you love the park. A twin directional shape will give you lots of versatility. A directional shape will provide you with high-end performance.
What are the different styles of snowboarding?
The main styles of snowboarding are freestyle, all mountain, freeride, and powder. Freestyle is park riding with big tricks and features. All mountain is versatile and goes a little bit of everywhere. Finally, Freeride and powder styles explore more challenging and technical terrain.
What shape snowboard is best for beginner?
I think a twin shape is the best snowboard shape for beginners. This gives you versatile and forgiving performance. It can also help you ride switch, which is nice to play around with when you are just learning the basics of the sport.
Why are some snowboards pointed?
Pointed snowboards are usually freeride or powder boards that have a directional shape. This point helps you stay on top of deep snow or remain stable at high speeds. These boards aren’t meant to be ridden switch.
As you can see by reading this post, shape is an important consideration for every snowboarder. It plays a critical role in what a given snowboard is capable of, and there’s a good chance you will find a preferred shape.
I like having a few different boards in my quiver. This means that I like to take advantage of their different shapes for the various conditions I might encounter throughout the season. If you are an experienced rider, I suggest exploring all of the shapes you can.About Lorraine