The Best Snowboards of 2016
6 boards to keep you carving hardpack or powder, from dawn to dusk
Our 45-member test team spent a week riding 94 new snowboards in Crested Butte, Colorado, last March, shredding from dawn till dusk until our legs could take no more. The first few days on hardpack and a choppy mix of ice and snow taught us a lot about how the boards performed in dicey conditions. Then the storm gods dropped a foot of fresh powder. What we learned: today’s top boards are as capable banging through bumps below the lift as they are floating over a powder field. The trick is finding one with a ride that matches your style.
High Society Temerity
Gear of the Year
Merriam-Webster defines temerity as “foolhardy contempt of danger.” That about sums it up. Testers found this all-mountain hero to be solid in even the nastiest conditions. It’s a robust platform that dampens hard landings and offers a firm grip in no-fall zones. The directional twin shape makes it adept going switch without losing its freeride characteristics, and it manages to be soft and playful but also impressively stable. It’s too stiff for beginners, and you’ll want something else on powder days, but for all other situations, it’s a near perfect daily driver.
Price $450 Response 4.5 Versatility 4
Lib Tech TRS
Best For: Freestyle riders conquering big terrain.
The Test: The Total Ripper Series is for advanced riders who see the entire mountain as their playground. Just enough rocker between the feet keeps this board afloat in soft snow, while extended camber offers what one tester described as “reliable stability” and another simply called “boing!” on harder snow. It carves quickly and fluidly from one edge to the other, and the low swing weight and high energy made for a playful ride. Seven serration points along the edge increase grip on hardpack and add stopping power. The board comes in a smaller size for shorter riders.
The Verdict: The ideal blend of flex and power for hard chargers.
Price $560 Response 4 Versatility 3
Never Summer Funslinger
Best For: Parks and pipes.
The Test: The aptly named Funslinger excels in the terrain park. Riders who prefer soft rides that can absorb heavy impacts said it was their favorite board of the test. “Smooth as butter and makes you want to rip,” said one. It turns on a dime, with a long sidecut that initiates edges with minimal pressure. The wide platform keeps ollies and landings aligned and simplifies rail slides. Outside the park, the Funslinger is a bit noodly in steep, technical terrain, but it’s responsive enough to handle moguls. Concluded one giddy tester: “Pop. Snap. Spin. Stomp.”
The Verdict: A playful park board that absorbs impact.
Price $510 Response 5 Versatility 3
Best For: Going fast and hard.
The Test: On powder, groomers, and steep terrain, the Mercury is a beast. “As soon as you put down the landing gear, you know it was made to stomp big airs,” said one tester. Camber between the feet gives it energy with powerful recoil, and Capita added bamboo rods and carbon stringers to lighten the load and further boost spring. Testers reported little to no chatter in crud and found the Mercury extremely stable at high speed. The nose and tail are flat but rock upward symmetrically, so the directional profile floats in powder. Freestyle riders wanted more flex for flatland tricks, but it excelled in the pipe.
The Verdict: An energetic board for heavy hitters.
Price $520 Response 3 Versatility 3
Jones Storm Chaser
Best For: Powder parties.
The Test: Jeremy Jones partnered with a surfboard shaper to design this powder hound with a wide profile and rocker from just inside the front foot to the blunt nose. Combined, those elements make for a lean, mean carving machine. “I didn’t think riding powder could get any more fun. Then I stepped into the Storm Chaser,” said one tester. Not that this board can’t handle the hard stuff. “Surprising support on crusty traverses,” noted another. And don’t let the two length options (147 and 157) throw you: the Storm Chaser rides about ten centimeters longer than it is.
The Verdict: A premier powder board that doesn’t mind hardpack or even catching air.
Price $599 Response 4 Versatility 3
Best For: All-mountain freestyle.
The Test: Serious shredders who prefer twin tips for riding big, rowdy lines swear by the Diablo. It likes being driven with force, so lighter riders need to steer like they mean it and give it a good strong pop to catch decent air. The camber extends to the nose and tail before rocking upward, so the Diablo is damp over chunder and holds a great edge. The shape begins tapering out at the inserts to add even more direct control, and riders with large feet said they felt absolutely no toe drag. All our testers reported that landings were extremely solid, giving them the confidence to go big.
The Verdict: A devilish board for skilled big-mountain riders.
Price $500 Response 3 Versatility 3