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In design terms, the shape of a snowboard refers to its outline when viewed from above. These days there are hundreds of shapes on the market and it’s easy to get lost in all the options, but it’s worth remembering that every shape falls into one of four basic categories:
Each of these categories offer pros and cons in terms of performance; and just like a surfboard, shaping trends come and go. These play a big role in the overall aesthetic and that feeling when a board just calls to you!
While a cool new shape might speak to you, it's helpful to assess what kind of rider you are and which style will suit you best. Let’s take a look at them all in more detail.
With a directional shape, the nose is slightly longer than the tail and will often feature a steeper kick. The sidecut and inserts are set back, and the flex pattern tends to be directional too – getting stiffer towards the tail.
Directional boards are all about flow. They’re designed to turn better in your regular stance, mow down bumps, plow through deep snow and generally draw lines across the groomers or through natural terrain.
Boards that get narrower towards the tail are called tapered. This helps sink the tail and lift the nose, so tapered boards are usually aimed at backcountry riding. If you’re all about riding deep snow then check out our pow oriented boards – the Ravine, the Stalefish and the Service Dog – and if you want to find out more about what makes a great freeride snowboard, we’ve put together an in-depth explainer here.
Nose, tail, sidecut, flex, stance… on a true twin, every feature of a snowboard that can be symmetrical is symmetrical. The nose and tail are basically a mirror image, with the narrowest point exactly halfway down the length.
True twins were first developed as snowboarding exploded in the mid 90s, when terrain parks began to spring up across the globe and riders were pushing the boundaries of freestyle. Their biggest advantage is that they feel exactly the same riding forwards or backwards (assuming you’ve got a centered duck stance – see our article on setting up your bindings). This makes them great for switch takeoffs and landings on the jump line, as well as butters and rail combos. If that sounds like your kind of snowboarding, then a true twin like the Agent or Heist will help you take your tricks to the next level.
The obvious downside of true twins is that they don’t perform as well in powder. But what if you want to take your freestyle game to the backcountry – or you just want one board to ride the park and the trails? The answer is the directional twin.
At first sight directional twins look much the same as true twins, but there’s a subtle twist. While the sidecut is symmetrical (meaning it’ll turn great going switch) the nose is a touch longer to improve performance when you’re in your normal stance, both on hardpack and deep snow.
The flex on directional twins can also be customized from nose to tail, and the shape of the tips can be tweaked slightly to improve flotation – at Rome, for example, we blunt the tail on our directional twins like the Stale Crewzer and the Warden, which reduces the surface area a little and helps it sink. For us, there’s no better all-mountain shape.
Searching for the ultimate quiver killer? You can find out more about our all-mountain snowboards here.