You don’t want your snowboard to end up like your smartphone: Outdated in a year or two.
Buying a snowboard is an investment. You always want to make sure your choice will last a long time.
The best way to do that is by looking to snowboarding technology.
You might be surprised to hear the word “technology” when talking about snowboards. As someone who loves the great outdoors, you might be resisting this high-tech mumbo jumbo. That might be the last word you want to hear. In this modern world, technology touches everything else in our lives. Why wouldn’t it affect our snowboarding gear?
Luckily, I’m not talking about technology involving microchips, LCD screens and processors. (Unless you want to get into some crazy gear which analyzes your ride and hooks your board up with wireless—yes, seriously.) I’m talking about high-tech materials that build stronger, more resilient boards and better, tech-savvy designs that allow for smoother riding.
There’s even a green trend in snowboarding technology. Some of the best snowboard brands are looking towards making their products more environmentally-friendly and sustainable.
That’s what you get from a sport that was hugely influenced by Vermonters and Vermont culture. We love us some green technology.
Tips for Getting the Best Ride from These Snowboard Brands
- A great deck isn’t enough. Sure, it’s the best possible start to get yourself a sweet deck from a tech-savvy snowboard brand, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. You need a great pair of snowboard boots that fits just right, plus bindings that suit your board—and both the boots and bindings need to be carefully purchased in order to match the flexibility and size of your snowboard.
- Pair your deck with XON‘s crazy, techy gear. This is for the truly tech-committed. Their bindings will track everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your ride with GPS and sensors. They’ve even added LED lights to make for badass nighttime snowboarding.
- Want to look like Robocop on a board? Pair the high-tech snowboard gear with an Air Dog—a sports drone that follows you, buzzing around like a fly and recording while you zoom down the hill. After watching my dad ski backwards into a ditch trying to film my family snowboarding on a handheld, point-and-shoot camera, I’m thinking this is a pretty nice tech solution. I’m saving my pennies right now, but definitely share some sweet footage with me if you treat yourself to a sports drone.
I’m perhaps not the super techy person you need to explain the deeper nuances of the best snowboard brands and their technology, but goddammit I love snowboards and have a STEM degree, so let’s hope that that passion and experience carry us through.
If you’ve done any poking around online, you’ve probably already seen that the FLOW snowboard brand loves to highlight its tech focus, and customers love the results they get on their rides. This is one of the best snowboard brands out there, tech or no tech, and its technology is the epitome of smart boards.
You’ll also spot FLOW technology appearing in all kinds of other snowboards and bindings. The FLOW bindings in particular are a popular choice.
The snowboards themselves offer quite a lot in the way of technology, including Kush-Control Urethane. In the base, sidewalls and topsheets there’s this cool stuff, Urethane, which strengthens the board without inhibiting flex. It’s a chemical compound used for binding things together in the board’s manufacturing process—something you definitely don’t want to eat, not exactly all natural, but hey, that’s technology for you. It’s known for absorbing impacts and chatter, making for a super smooth ride and and insanely strong board.
But they say it’s not just about the compound itself, its about the placement of these layers within the board during manufacturing. The technology quality really just boils down into a matter of smart craftsmanship.
Here’s a little taste of their gear, some recommended picks:
2. Lib Tech
Hey, this snowboard brand has “tech” right in its name, so it’s gotta be good. And it is. This brand is widely known for its excellent, durable and fun-to-ride snowboards.
The best tech feature worth discussion here is probably the weirdo Magne-Traction technology. The more you’re looking into snowboards, the more you’ll spot this phrase now. It’s catching on big time because it solves a common problem that we all face, as all great inventions do.
The problem? Think about the last time you hit a patch of slick ice while snowboarding—close your eyes and try to clearly remember that horrible scratching, scraping sound, and the skidding, slipping feeling you felt under your feet. You might have even lost control and done a faceplant or whacked your tailbone on that hard ice patch. Ick. We all hate those ice patches.
Magne-Traction solves that problem by giving you more traction on this type of hard-to-handle surface. It does that with many fine grooves on the bottom of the snowboard which makes it a bit like the serrated edge a bread knife. You can use this technology to avoid losing control in even the slickest conditions. I have to admit, I’ve never tried this technology out before, but I’m really tempted to go this way on my next snowboard purchase (if my trusty 10-year-old GNU deck ever stops performing) because I’m clumsy and awkward on ice.
Lib Tech is the creator of the original Skate Banana board which is a mega crowdpleaser. They say it’s for men, but what the hell—this is a fun, classic ride for anyone. I’d ride it (and I am no man).
3. Arbor Collective
We’re going a slightly different direction with the technology in this snowboard brand. This is easily one of the best snowboard brands made in the USA and with a more environmental-slanted tech focus.
First, they start each board off with the Starter platform technology, which is meant to improve the ride of every board style. The unique Arbor Grip Tech makes for wicked sharp turning, and that plus the Parabolic Profiling avoid any “grabby” rides, where your board is getting stuck on surfaces and catching edges. It’s ridiculously streamlined, and every curve and arc has been carefully planned out to give you the smoothest possible ride. So, friends, it’s not just about the planet—but you can feel good riding this board knowing that the wood is all sustainably sourced.
That’s why these boards can get a bit pricier, though—it’s pretty labor intensive to make this all by hand from natural sources, rather than cheating with man-made, chemical-laden shortcuts. The boards I most often recommend for a wide range of riders are their rockers:
For men, the Arbor Coda Rocker:
And for ladies, the Arbor Swoon Rocker.
All in all, the snowboarding industry is making a steady march towards better tech without reinventing the wheel. After all, there are plenty of essential aspects of snowboarding form and function that need to be preserved each year, and you can really only add or change so much.
But maybe I’m just not forward-thinking enough, and the future will surprise me.