Platinum Picks: Our top powder snowboards of 2017
It can be extremely difficult to keep up with all of the new shapes, technology, and board designs that are released every season, especially when it comes to powder-specific decks. That’s why at Snowboard Magazine, we cruised out to The JH Pow Wow in Jackson for the chance to ride all of the new powder boards for the coming year, and a chance to speak with each of their creators.
Float, speed, and maneuverability are undoubtedly the most important factors.
From the sea of products on the market each year, we then compile The Product Collection, the best and most exciting offerings of the year, and within that we focus boards by category. But even those lists can be a mouthful to swallow, so we refine and narrow things again for you. What’s left are our Platinum Picks.
What makes a board deserving of the title ‘Platinum Pick’? With each category we look at what is most important for each style of riding, and which boards surpass our expectations for those qualities. After all, you don’t need a park specific board to hit a jump, but undoubtedly certain boards will handle transitions better than others.
When we look at powder boards, float, speed, and maneuverability are undoubtedly the most important factors, and raise a series of must ask questions for each board analysis. Does your nose stay up on its own, or are your legs screaming at the end of each run? Can you turn quickly between trees and obstacles, or has turning become lethargic and boat-like? Are you able to hold speed through flat zones? Lastly, and most importantly, snowboards are expected to take a beating after a season of charging, but we don’t think that means your board should only last a season. Any board that can’t handle regular use won’t be making the cut.
Of course, we also recognize that no two snowboarders are the same, so there will never be one supreme powder board to rule them all. That’s why we bring you the hand-selected collection below, four of our top powder boards, all for a different reason. We hope this collection helps you in make the decision for which board you will be adding to the arsenal this season.
YES 420 Powder Hull
By taking the surface area of a 160cm board and redistributing it within a shorter length, YES designer Alex Warburton was able to create a stick that excelled in the deep while holding its own on hardpack. It’s an approach adopted from our beach-ridden kin, whose focus is on how changes in volume can displace water, thus affecting the ride of a surfboard. The Powder Hull design features concave zones in the nose and tail that generate lift in deep snow by channeling air beneath the nose and funneling snow out the back. It’s about as close to flying as you can get. And when you’re on groomers? That was the question we needed to answer. Despite our preconceptions, the added Powder Hull tech is barely noticeable in both flex and stability. The YES 420 Powder Hull snowboard is for the rider that feels at home in a lineup, but is stuck in Jackson with 30 inches of fresh.
Burton Gate Keeper
The Burton Gate Keeper was designed in collaboration with some of the top backcountry guides across North America and excels in both speed and float. Being a directionally shaped, and traditional-cambered snowboard, there is a classic feel to its ride that is lost among many boards with more innovative design. But the traditional design be not a deterrent, not only will this board stay afloat and carry you through the flats, but boasting a 15mm sidecut – it will turn quickly while also remaining light and fast. Whether you are pinning it through tight New England trees or charging a face deep in the Wasatch, the Gate Keeper is truly powerful. The designers went a step further and centered the sidecut and camber profile under foot, this gives the board gains a playful twin feel, while still retaining the aggressive nature of a directional deck. The Burton Gate Keeper is perfect for the freestyle-inclined rider who likes a little more board under their feet and is always on the hunt for that fresh line and untapped pocket.
CAPiTA Kazu Kokubo Pro
While many great powder boards are large and floaty, deliberate 747s, the Kazu Kokubo Pro from CAPiTA is a fighter pilot. It is not engineered for lazy pow days. Every detail on the Kokubo Pro accentuates the freestyle capabilities of the user, rewarding quick decisions to get airborne and the impulsive slash with a satisfying responsiveness you probably won’t find in other powder-specific rides. Carbon arcs placed at inserts and running to the nose and tail add the strength required to keep you pointed downhill, and small strips of bamboo underfoot transfer power into every turn. The CAPiTA Kazu Pro is for the rider looking to trade surfy laid back pow riding for an aggressive freestyle approach to deep snow.
K2 Cool Bean
At first glance, the K2 Cool Bean snowboard is a trip. It’s short, wide, swallowtailed, and is accompanied by an air of intrigue that few boards on the market truly have. But when it comes to design that performs, few radical board shapes can match the Cool Bean. Its massive nose is nearly impossible to sink, keeping you above the snow while the stubby swallowtail acts a counter, sinking that back foot and all but eliminating leg burn. A result of its short stature and subsequently low swing weight is that the Bean is a surprisingly agile turner, and will make work of tight proximity trees or the lethargic group of skiers. But that’s not all. Large-hoofed brethren rejoice, now is your chance to indulge in the freedom that size 9s have enjoyed for all these years. Rail turns, chase the uphill Euro-carve, revel in the fact that toe drag is a thing of the past. The K2 Cool Bean is for the rider who is excited about new shapes and is searching for that one-of-a-kind extremely playful pow board.
Explore more 2017 snowboards and more in The Product Collection
Explore your favorite brands in the 2017 Brand Guide