By Taylor Boyd, Seattle, WA: After manufacturing boards with nearly the same profile for over a decade, the snowboard industry is finally seeing a resurgence of unique shapes floating into the market. Snowboarders are seeking out a ride that differs from the traditional twin or directional twin and brands are answering. Looking forward to 2016, unique shapes have become a universal offering across the industry and there’s at least one in any brand’s line. We’re hyped. Below is a collection of some of the more unorthodox snowboards we’ve seen coming out for 2016.
There was a time in the 90s when asymmetrical snowboard shapes were not all that uncommon, meaning that one edge of the snowboard had a different sidecut and/0r running length than the other. A single model of a snowboard would have a version for goofy riders and version for regular riders. The concept is based on the simple and undeniable truth that a toeside turn is initiated and held in a different way than a heelside turn, and vice versa. GNU reintroduced the asymmetrical shape to the snowboard market in 2009 with their Pickle boards, featuring a deeper sidecut on the heel edge. Pickles are vertically asymmetrical, but still have the same nose and tail shape and size, making the nose and tail interchangeable. This allows one model to be ridden by a goofy or regular rider. The all new Zoid, however, is fully asymmetrical, vertically and horizontally. There is a goofy version and a regular version. There’s also a men’s and women’s version. These things rip, and are quickly becoming the GNU team’s banked slalom board of choice.
Introduced this season in a directional twin model, the T. Rice Goldmember from Lib Tech is a lighter, more powerful version of the T. Rice HP, which a lighter, more powerful version the T. Rice. For next season, the Goldmember becomes fully directional, with a swallowtail and a pointed nose, but maintains its ultra lightweight profiling. This is a high-end snowboard.
Next season is the second that evoCollective rider Austin Smith and his good buddy Bryan Fox have a Quiver series with Nitro. This season’s features Rail, Team and Pow models. For 2016, the stubby 154 Pow model remains, but two new models are introduced: a directional 160 called the MTN and a 183 swallow tail, aptly called the Cannon. That’s right, 183.
The 160 MTN is the most versatile of the Quiver series and will get you through just about any snow condition, from chop to fluff.
The YES. 20/20 is a twin board inspired by the popular directional 420 shape. Austen Sweetin filmed most of his part in Absinthe’s Heavy Mental on the 420, but wanted something slightly more freestyle oriented.
Born from Austen’s desire for a short, wide board that can rip pow in both directions, came the 20/20. Its 3D profiling in the nose and tail is designed to displace powder in the same way that concave hull on a wakeboard or surfboard displaces water.
The Sick Stick has been a staple of the Salomon line since its introduction in 2008. In 2012, Salomon introduced a shorter version of the Sick Stick’s classic directional, tapered shape called the Powder Snake, which has since been renamed the Derby. Due to volume distribution — the Derby is wider than the Sick Stick- a 147 will float like a board ten centimeters longer.
Now there’s a women’s version called the Pillowtalk, available in a 143, and designed to handle pow like a 153.
K2 is introducing two new directional shapes for 2016: the Carveair and Cool Bean. The Carveair is the product of Tim Eddy’s unique brand of carve-based all-mountain ripping. It’s a mid-wide board designed to be ridden about five centimeters shorter than a traditional board, and is a twin between the contact points. Where it differs from a traditional twin is in its shortened, blunted tail and lengthened, pointy nose. The Cool Bean is yet another example of how volume distribution allows a short board to float like one much longer. The ratio of material ahead of the front binding to material behind the back binding will keep the nose afloat in waist deep conditions and allow you to surf anything in your path. Just don’t plan on spending much time riding switch.
The Alter Ego is the creation of Sean Tedore, RIDE‘s Global Marketing Manager, who also happens to have an engineering degree and experience in snowboard design. This board was introduced this season and we’re happy to see it making a return for 2016.
The Alter Ego feature’s RIDE’s signature Split Tail, which unclips to give you a soft, loose feel in pow, or locks together, providing the pop and drive of a traditional board. If you’re looking for something to both charge and get surfy on, the Alter Ego truly is the best of both worlds.
The Flow Darwin is also returning next season with a graphic-free woodgrain topsheet. The camber that runs from the front inserts through the tail provides stability on steep terrain and hardpack, while the rocker in the nose, and swallowtail shape, allow for maximum flotation in pow.
The Darwin’s snappy and lively feel, created by the bamboo inlays, is balanced out by Flow’s brand new dampening system being released next season called Kush Control.
Jeremy Jones and Chris Christenson collaboratively designed the Jones Storm Chaser as a small board that will mash through the deep stuff. As a renowned surfboard shaper, Christenson is well familiar with using volume distribution to pack more float into a shorter length and the Storm Chaser’s strategic use of extra width in the nose and waist does just that.
Thanks goodness CAPiTA and Spring Break have continued producing boards together for 2016 because these are some of the most unique and rad shapes on the market.
New for this coming season is the Slush Slasher, which will come in at a lower price point than the rest of the CAPiTA x Spring Break line, giving everyone a chance to experience the unique feel of these Corey Smith creations.
The Slush Slasher is only 143 centimeters in length, but with a considerable amount of taper from the rockered nose to the swallowtail, this thing will float just fine.