This Winter's 4 Best Snowboards

Advances in technology makes these four boards some of the best we’ve ever tested. (Inga Hendrickson)
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Presenting our favorites from the annual test in Crested Butte, Colorado. 

K2 Split Bean ($850)

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(K2)

Best For: Surfing the backcountry.

The Test: “This is the Danny DeVito of splitboards,” joked one tester. “Short, fat, and hilari­ously fun.” The Bean runs a mere 144 centimeters in length, but with a 287-­millimeter waist it’s remarkably buoyant. Flat camber between the rockered nose and swallowtail had testers lauding the Split Bean’s stomping potential, turning chops, and sprightly feel. You’ll want a narrower board in steeper terrain.

The Verdict: A wacky deck beloved by riders of all shapes and sizes.

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Gnu Space Case ($850)

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(Gnu)

Best For: Defying convention (and gravity).

The Test: The Space Case transforms average snowboarders into astro­nauts. Moderate ­stiffness and an aggressive camber-rocker-camber profile led one hard-carving tester to describe it as “soft enough to party, stiff enough to rip.” A freestyle-minded rider said the pop encouraged “antigravitational ollies.” The asymmetrical shape rides switch with finesse, whips through turns, and straight-lines with stability.

The Verdict: A snappy twin for the park—and the entire resort.

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Burton FT Branch Manager ($670)

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(Burton)

Best For: Seeking out and shredding powder.

The Test: Burton hits the sweet spot with the Branch Manager. The directional shape indicates a deep-snow tool, but this is no one-trick pony. The wide, stiff nose delivered enough float to traverse big open patches, while the soft, rounded tail, tight sidecut, and short contact length made it nimble and responsive in trees. One tester dubbed it “the most agile pow board—ever.”

The Verdict: A spot-on blend of playfulness and power. 

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Rome Blur ($580)

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(Rome)

Best For: Winning all-mountain races.

The Test: While the Blur’s rounded gun shape has a retro vibe, the technology is anything but old-school. Two free-flexing carbon stringers run parallel to the sidewalls, affording control, responsiveness, and pop. Said one tester: “It loads well, building momentum and accelerating as you launch out of a turn.” Put simply, the board is fast enough to merit its moniker.

The Verdict: From conquering big lines to carving groomers, this is a speed demon’s all-mountain dream.

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Filed To: Gear / Snowboard Reviews
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