“Freestyle” Equipment Used for “All Mountain” – What Do You Think?

I like to jib around, hit jumps, rails and boxes, and when I’m riding the rest of the mountain I like to either bomb it fast or try to make use of natural features.

As you might expect, I love to ride powder. That doesn’t happen as often as the other stuff, so my snowboard setup is skewed towards freestyle for the whole mountain.

I do however have a dedicated “powder board” – that I take with me in case it snows a lot. So, until recently my setup has been as follows:

  • Lib Tech T.Rice Board (2009, so it’s just banana and a little softer than the current T.Rice)
  • Burton Mission Bindings
  • Burton Hail Boots
  • Capita Charlie Slasher Pow – powder day board

The board is good for the whole mountain. Stable enough, good base, good edge hold but short (blunt tips help) with some softness around tips for pressing and jibs.

The bindings are perhaps on the soft side of all-round, but they do the job everywhere.

The boots are soft. No doubt. They’re a replacement for my previous 32 Lashed boots, which were more towards “all-round” than the Hails are…

Recent changes: board and bindings

During my time in Breck, I took a pretty big gouge out of the base of the T.Rice. I used that as an excuse to pick up the K2 WWW Rocker; I’ve been wanting a short, jib-stick for use inside the UK snowdomes, it was available for demo, it was in the sale and I was paying with dollars… it made sense.

I also need to swap my bindings – they’re just too big. Straps are at the shortest and I’m reaching the end of the available notches when I crank them up. The question is, which bindings to get?

Jib/freestyle setup for the whole mountain?

The Burton Hail boots are soft. The K2 Weapon is pure jib/freestyle, plus I’ve got it in a 147; noodle. I could just size down with the same bindings and stay with the Missions. I want to stay with Burton bindings, simply because I know I’ll get a good fit with the boots…

However, I could go with something like the Burton Cobrasharks. I don’t really know much about them – and to be fair they’re not much of a leap from the Missions in terms of flex. But they are moving away from “all-round” and more towards jib.

It’s a jib setup to be sure.

I don’t mind making a compromise. You trade all-mountain performance for flex, fun and agility. But is this setup a step too far?

  • K2 WWW, Burton Cobrasharks & Burton Hails for use in the fridge, the park and all over the whole mountain
  • Powder days: strap the Hails and Cobrasharks onto the Capita Charlie Slasher and ride the fresh…

Alternatively, I could keep the Lib Tech T.Rice around for trips to the mountain, stay with something like the Mission bindings, or maybe even the Union Force – and use the K2 Weapon for the indoor park only?

What do you think?

A lot of people like to ride a mixture of terrain. How do you approach the compromise between all-mountain performance and freestyle performance? What’s your current setup and what will your next change be?

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Comments
8 Responses to ““Freestyle” Equipment Used for “All Mountain” – What Do You Think?”
  1. Josh says:

    I am a one or two quiver guy. One for park, resort and pow. The other for urban riding, I has the three boards one time and never used my longer stiffer one. I have found if you are riding everyday on the same board it’s like an extension of your body and your able to destroy anything. That all being said I understand your wanting multiple swords in the sheath. I personally would recommend the Union Force, or a middle of the road Flux. If you want to wait until next season, JF Pelchats new binding company called NOW are the best bindings I have had on my feet, hands down.

  2. Paul Matthews says:

    Hey! This article peaked my interest because last year I went to Sun Peaks British Columbia, and tried to use my Nitro Swindle on the groomed runs. It just didn’t feel right. So I never managed to get to the power runs and bowls because I switched it up with my Lib Tech Travis Rice. I am going to Vail in a few days and I am wondering if I should give it another try!? (The swindle)

  3. Alf says:

    Recently I have been using a shorter park board for everything apart from deep deep pow.
    Did a board test of about 10 boards in October. Frankly it didn’t change my mind.

    Really I have to face it, I’m just about an OK rider and a parkboard that allows me to goof about, hit small bumps jumps n rails…have fun without killing myself.
    I think “All mountain” can be a trap some riders (especially new punters) can fall into, they end up with a stiff directional board that requires levels of ability and agression that are not suited to their riding.

    For “do everything” I use a Forum younglblood (cambered) 154
    For those rare powder days..A stepchild corporate 158.5

  4. dewei says:

    Buying a snowboard, has been one of the most exciting but also one of the most vexing aspects in my first year of snowboarding. It seems that it doesn’t get better with experience, Gavin! I’ve read your article “How Many Snowboards Do You Need?” http://www.afterbang.co.uk/blog/2010/09/10/how-many-snowboards-do-you-need/ a few times. I’m very curious to know how you got on with the K2www in Les Arcs as a do-it-all board?

    Within a few weeks of starting, I knew I needed my own gear. I did a lot of online research which is essentially a mixture of conventional wisdom, personal anecdotes and manufacturers’ marketing hype. I believed that I needed a middle of the road all mountain board. I went on eBay and I ended up with 09 Salomon Answer 157 (directional camber mid-flex) which I would keep for my next trip to the Alps.

    I then got sucked into trying the box and the kicker at the Snowdome. I needed a jib board for my indoor slope visits. It was the wrong time of the year to demo and the choice was limited late in the season. After sleepless nights (!) reading and posting questions on the net, I ended with the Forum Youngblood Chillirocker 152. At that point, I’d been using rental Burton boards (LTR -camber). The Forum was a shock. It took 3-4 weeks to get used to its looseness and jitteriness and get back to my previous level. Eventually, I grew into it and now love the way it handles.

    From last November, I demoed a few all mountain boards and then for the first time rode the Salomon Answer (I rashly bought months before) thinking about the approaching trip to Les Arcs. I found it hard to get it to carve. It was possibly too big for me at 157 (I’m 65kg) and I resold it. Directional twin camber Artec Gabe Taylor felt lively and sharp. I loved the graphics of Bataleon Evil Twin (camber TBT) which was very confidence inspiring and forgiving although a bit wishywashy flatbasing to the box or kicker. Salomon Grip felt difficult to handle (demo was again a bit big at 157). I settled for the Head The Evil KERS 155 (flat) which seemed eager to carve but I couldn’t really assess the KERS technology in the dome. The graphics left me cold, my heart still wanted the Bataleon ET.

    I have since spoken with a number of snowboard instructors (mostly freestyle orientated) who seemed all to be riding short park (often rocker) boards for the whole mountain!! Why did I buy a second board I asked myself! In Les Arcs, I rode the Head mostly. It felt great to carve, very stable flatbasing on the cattracks and I felt secure about my edges (It did very well on sheet ice on a subsequent trip in Borovets). The only time I tried the Forum was one half-day in deep powder when it performed well and felt more lively.

    After the trip, I started demoing a few jib boards at Tam Snowdome. I still couldn’t get on with TBT (Lobster, Bataleon). Salomon Drift Rocker seemed to be a lighter version of my Forum. The Academy Propaganda was nicely soft, light and lovely. I wished I had this board instead of my stiffer heavier Forum Youngblood. I’m also thinking of the deep powder I encountered in my 2 trips this year. Should I get a dedicated pow stick? The Salomon Powder Snake looks attractive.

    So what is true? Is there a particular type of board for each type of riding you do? Or, with good technique, a short flexy park board will be fun for the freestyle orientated rider on piste, park, pie and pow?

    The hunt for the perfect snowboard or the perfect quiver of snowboards is never-ending and makes the fortune of snowboard manufacturers. Maybe it’s a good thing that I’m moving to the tropics soon and will be riding less often. I cannot really justify buying any more snowboards, can I? ;)

  5. dewei says:

    … on piste, park, PIPE and pow? :)

  6. David Z says:

    I’m a 2-board guy but always in search of that elusive quiver killer. I have been downsizing a bit (from 160+) to 157 or 156. Like you I rarely get a chance to ride pow, so the tradeoff is worth it 99% of the time. I try to stick with a medium-flexing all mountain board or a medium-stiff freestyle board. Picked up an Arbor Blacklist at the end of this season, 157 midwide, full rocker with grip tech, it slays the mountain pretty much everywhere. I’ve got another softer board that I can abuse on jibs but for a little bit of everything that Blacklist works well for me. IDK about taking a noodle board for all-mountain, it’s a noticeable difference and it does limit you…

  7. Gavin says:

    Hey David,

    Yeah I’m not too sure about taking a noodle for general use around the mountain. It does limit you, you’re right.

    I bought the WWW for use in the fridge – its gonna be great for that. Didn’t want to take three boards to Les Arcs, do ditched the t.rice… For next season, I need to return to something like the t.rice…

    That said, I did buy an especially short WWW, 147 when a short board for me is in the range 151 – 153. Still, there are other freestyle boards, more suited to all mountin use. It’s nice to mess around on though ;)

  8. kiwi says:

    hey gavin,

    firstly great blog. been lurking awhile here now and some great topics of interest. you have inspired me to start my own writing soon!

    on this topic i just returned from canada after doing half a season. i purchased two boards whilst out there.

    capita ultrafear 147 and capita indoor survival 152. almost similar boards & could have just left it @ the indoor survival really but with ultrafear being so limited i couldn’t help myself.
    add to the fact i already have two boards back @ home lol stairmaster 148 and horrorscope 147 and i now have four boards in the quiver.

    when i look @ it it has taken sometime to narrow down my style of riding which i think is most important. when riding pistes i tend to like cruising and hitting feature after feature so as a result i don’t need an aggressive board.
    i think once you really start getting into boarding sticking to only 1 board really won’t happen & you realise that all elusive quiver killer really doesn’t exist. if i could afford it i would have a powder board but just don’t hit pow enough (lazy looking out for it- plenty of it in canada!) but my indoor & ultrafear handled the pow pretty well and is still flexible enough to mess about on. so makes me think whether i need a dedicated pow board. i think given the right spots and guranteed pow yes maybe then but whilst pow is fun just not my preferred style of riding.

    i have become somewhat of a board collector as snowboarding really is my passion now, but all in all when it comes to making compromises for the terrain i ride on am sticking to my short fun flexi boards (yes in chop their rubbish!) but for that fun factor and flexible bending, forgiving performance on mountain i get it makes it worth the while sticking with fun short freestyle boards for me personally. doubt i would invest in a stiffer aggressive freeride board. saying that capita black snow board of death or TFKN awesome does tempt me… :-)