The industrywide movement away from the park and toward freeriding keeps gaining momentum, which is a good thing. During our weeklong test in Crested Butte, Colorado, we specifically sought out the best all-mountain boards. Here we present our seven favorites, selected for their superior ratings in our two most important criteria: response and versatility. Each of them can handle everything from surfing rope-line powder and negotiating tight trees to managing steep, technical lines and carving crisp corduroy. Now it's your turn: read up, choose your weapon, and pray for snow.
Burton Flight Attendant
BEST FOR: Powder freeriding.
THE TEST: As the name suggests, pro Nicolas Mueller's design flew over pillowtops and handled well in soft, uneven terrain. The Flight Attendant's light spin weight and good flex from nose to tail make this directional twin tip a go-to on days with four inches or more of fresh. Burton's S-Rocker—lots in the front, little in the middle—requires what one tester called "less work to float in powder," and camber behind the wide nose adds rebound and edge control for exploring the woods and lapping groomers. The topsheet is made from recycled Mountain Dew bottles (seriously) and weighs next to nothing, a big reason why throwing the featherlight Flight Attendant ($500) around on big days feels so effortless.
THE VERDICT: You can't get better float than this on soft snow.
Head Instinct DCT i. Kers
BEST FOR: Steep and variable terrain.
THE TEST: Testers had a blast on this -directional twin tip everywhere but the park. It offered what one called "perfect torsional flex" but was too rigid lengthwise to really press the nose or tail for freestyle antics. Head placed camber underfoot and flattened the middle for a shape that "holds a mean edge on steep slopes," said another tester. The rigid tail supports powerful landings, and riders agreed the Instinct ($499) "guides you through turns quickly," but beginners will likely find it too stiff. "It felt slow at first," said one tester, "but lean on it and it responds accordingly."
THE VERDICT: A stable board with well-balanced flex for powerful riders.