What is Freeride Snowboarding?

Freeride snowboarding is one of the primary styles of the sport. It has a broad definition but generally involves a skilled level of riding outside of average resort runs. To put it simply, freeriding seems unreal. 

I’m a certified snowboarding instructor who has been riding for decades. Freeriding is one of my preferred styles of the sport, and I have plenty of experience with it. 

In this post, I’ll explain freeride snowboarding. I’ll show you what type of terrain it covers and a few specific equipment considerations you’ll want to keep in mind. 

Let’s get after it. 

Freeride Snowboarding 

The main goal of freeride snowboarding is to experience the mountain in a more natural and untouched state than what you typically find at the resort. Backcountry snowboarding and freeriding are sometimes used interchangeably. 

This snowboarding style doesn’t have an exact definition, and one of the primary goals of freeriding is to push boundaries and limits. It’s a very technical and challenging style that is only done by experienced riders with high-level skills.

I’ll try to paint a quick picture so you can get a better idea of what freeride snowboarding is. Imagine going down a gentle groomed run on the resort, making smooth and effortless turns at a leisurely pace. That’s the exact opposite of freeriding!

Now imagine a steep and deep run through two cliff bands or a sparse outcropping with a few lonely pine trees. Imagine your heart racing with both fear and excitement and you point your tail downhill and start to go for it. That’s the spirit of freeriding!

Freeriding is all about getting out on the mountain and exploring new and rugged terrain. You will be on the hunt for fresh tracks and untouched lines. You’ll seek challenging runs that will put your skills on the spot and push your limits as a rider. 

There are several other terms you’ll hear that encompass freeride snowboarding. Backcountry, off-piste, and side-piste are all snowboarding terms that are synonymous with freeriding. Basically, anything that is outside of the resort. 

And while pure freeriding is generally done away from the resort, you can still freeride by using a chair lift. With that in mind, it’s more of a mindset than an exact style of riding. The goal is to discover a new challenge every time you ride, push your limits, and go hard. 

Freeride Terrain

Another way to picture freeride snowboarding is to consider the various terrain you’ll experience when riding in this style. You can find this at a resort, but often it will be unmarked or off limits to the average rider. 

Steep runs that involve a lot of natural obstacles are a standard baseline for freeriding. You won’t find any groomed runs that qualify. If you look at a run and think, “that looks rough,” then it probably is a freeride run. 

Big powder and big mountain runs are also in the freeride description. Hike-to bowls that have endless stashes of fresh snow and are hard to reach meet the mark as well. Tree runs, cornices, and chutes are also standard freeride fare.

Freeride Equipment

If you want to become a freeride snowboarder, you’ll need advanced-level skills to handle the challenging terrain and conditions that come with the pursuit. You’ll also need some specific gear to help you in these situations. 

Your board is a critical element of the freeride puzzle. Most freeride snowboards will have a directional shape with an aggressive and stiff flex. This makes them very capable in rapidly changing and intense conditions. 

While you can technically ride any type of board on a freeride run, a stiff board built for higher speeds will do a much better job than a soft board with a twin shape. It’s an aggressive style that demands aggressive equipment. 

You’ll also want to get boots that cater towards freeriding. A good set of freeride boots will be on the stiffer side to give you extra power transfer and control when you need it most. You might also want to look for boots that have extra traction so you can hike easily if required. 

A Word on Safety

Snowboarding can be a dangerous sport. And freeriding presents added elements of danger that you might not be accustomed to if you usually ride at the resort. You always want to play it safe, so you don’t risk your life or your season. 

Always wear a helmet and any other protective gear that you want to. A helmet can very literally save your life. Avalanche education and equipment are also essential for every freeride snowboarder. If you head into the backcountry, you need to keep yourself prepared for anything. 

Freeriding isn’t for beginners. You can become a good freeride snowboarder, but you can’t start there. Don’t get in over your head before you are ready.     


Here are a few quick answers to some common questions relating to freeride snowboarding. 

What is the difference between freeride and all mountain snowboarding? 

The main difference between freeride and all-mountain snowboarding is that freeride is more focused on technical terrain and requires advanced-level skills. All-mountain riding is more approachable for beginners and also includes some elements of freestyle.   

What is freeride snowboarding vs freestyle? 

Freeride and freestyle snowboarding are on two opposite ends of the sport’s spectrum. Freestyle riding involves hitting the terrain park and is generally focused on tricks. Freeride snowboarding involves technical lines and big-mountain runs.

Also Read: Freestyle vs Freeride

Final Thoughts

Freeride snowboarding is one of the most exciting expressions of the sport. From wild backcountry lines to challenging and technical terrain, it lets you harness the power of a mountain under your feet! 

About Lorraine
I'm a certified snowboard instructor. My first experience with snowboarding occurred at an indoor resort. One run had me hooked, and it has turned into a lifelong passion ever since then. I'm here to share with you some of the tips and advice I have learned along the way.

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