You’ve read the reviews, you’ve asked the questions, and you’ve probably waited for this post if you give a shit about online reviews. Frankly we believe you should just go ride boards for yourself and gauge what you like and don’t like but since most people have this belief that they can’t demo we’ll continue to pour out reviews. For now here’s a comprehensive break down of all the decks from 2012 that we were able to ride and how they stacked up as our favorites.
Here’s the break down of where we thought boards we rode sat in terms of our choices of price and how badly we wanted to ride everything. Sure you’ll see some old favorites maybe some new ones and of course some that might blow your mind. Take it how you will these are just our opinions on them much like how Transworld shoves Good Wood at you, Snowboarder has the Best in Test, and of course the Platinum Picks of Snowboard Mag.
Next year we have something bigger in store for you guys that drool over reviews. The best way to sum it up is with this photo:
Yeah we’re going there so fuck it. Bring on the hate and if you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in a product review series/test for top gear feel free to either leave a comment or send an email.
Freestyle Under $300
Arbor Formula: Sometimes when you get on a board that’s designed for the beginner to advanced market you get let down. This is not one of them. For a board that retails for $299.99 it doesn’t disappoint. While having a slightly more forgiving flex it still was enough to keep me satisfied while bombing around the resort.
Freestyle Under $400
Salomon Drift Rocker: You want bang for your buck? This is the deck to achieve that. Surprisingly more versatile than than just a jibstick it was able to handle it all. For $349.99 you can get this and still have enough money left over to get a solid set of bindings.
Rome Factory Rocker: Rome came out the gate swinging with this deck. Making something that was fun to ride around the mountain and play on while still being consistent in the park. For $330 bucks you can’t really go wrong and it’s a top contender for that price range.
Arbor Relapse: New for 2012 is the cambered Relapse. It’s meant to be the cambered version of the new Blacklist. Over all it had great snap for jumps and just enough give to make it fun on jibs. With a price tag of $399.99 it’s right on par where a deck like this should sit and won’t make you feel bad for having something this fun in your quiver.
Signal Rocker Lite: While not over indulging the idea of monster rocker the Park Rocker Lite keeps it real. Pressy and poppy all at the same time you can send a jump or hit the jib line with this board and still cruise the mountain. Another American made option with a price tag of $399.99.
Flow Verve: Flow might be known for taking it in the rear but their boards are more likely giving it. This stunt stick delivers and keeps pushing back for those that want a bit more. With a cost of $339.95 it’s comparable to other decks in this review series.
Nitro Pro Series Kooley: Kevin referred to this as a “true quiver of one” and was super impressed with how it rode. Comparing it to other decks he said it ranked high on his list of wants. For $370 bucks it won’t break the bank and you could even slap a set of Raidens on there for good measure.
Signal Yusaku Park: American made and with camber. Holy crap we might have found the holy grail. Oh no wait we found a deck that was fun and poppy that could still press. For being a cambered deck it definitely didn’t feel like one. The $369.95 price tag makes this an affordable American made option and if you ever watch Every Third Thursday you know Signal is a solid creative company to support.
Arbor Del Rey: A price point park board that still has camber. Yep they do still exist and they still ride good. Arbor has a solid board that can handle jibs, jumps, and tranny’s on its hand with this $350 dollar gem. One of the better cambered park sticks I was able to ride for the 2012 season.
Technine Icon: Camber isn’t dead as I’ve repeatedly said in this review series. The Icon is a board that can press, jib, jump, and cruise all while maintaining a certain level of fluidity. I was blown away with what this board could handle and the fact it’s pushed into a $390 price point was even better.
Nitro Swindle: Another one of those decks that makes freestyle fun on a budget. For $359.95 you can press a box or hit a jump and not be disappointed. This is one of those boards to keep on the radar if you’re looking for something on a budget.
Technine Team Kennedy: If you want to make the mountain your skate park this is the board for you. Bonking, jibbing, mild jumping, and playing around it could handle. Big jumps weren’t it’s jam which I think is this boards downfall but then again when was the last time you saw TK sending jumps. Another affordable option from T9 with the $378.95 price tag.
Technine Mascot: Park friendly flex that can hit jumps. Best way to sum up this board in a nutshell with a sprinkle of affordability. Can’t go wrong with a deck that has a $325 price tag. Technine boards a little under appreciated so if you get a chance and you’re on a budget give them a look.
K2 WWW: The original rockered jibstick got a slight tweak to its shape for 2012. With that more blunt shape it allows for a wider spot to press and pop off of in the tips. Would I recommend hitting a jump over 30 feet probably not but if you want to hit rocks I’m all for it. This is the true definition of meat and potatoes as there’s nothing but wood, metal, and plastic to the board. Screw those bells and whistles. But what more can you expect for a $379.99 price tag?
Ride Kink: Another one that Kevin got to take out. For a jibstick it’s everything you could want, but every where else it was kind of lacking. Like he said keep it in the streets and off the peaks. The $360 price tag won’t break your bank as you ride across a parking lot after hitting a rail.
Bataleon Disaster: If you’ve never been on a board with TBT (Triple Base Technology) then you might be in for a trip. This is almost a 100% jib stick and what else would you expect from a board with a 2 x 4 insert pattern and extruded base. For $359.95 this could be your cambered alternate base technology jib stick.
Bataleon Fun.Kink: A fun board that didn’t really stand out in a sea of other decks. The only distinguishing thing it has going for it is the fact it has TBT. The pop was whatever and the sidecut wasn’t anything to write home about. For someone that wants a Bataleon getting this at $369.95 is about right for what you get.
Technine IX: This is a board that just gets soft insanely fast. From the first day it was noticeable that the pop was decreasing and that it became easier and easier to press. If you want a board you can hit jibs or urban with I’d recommend it but jumps might become an issue down the road. Thankfully the $320 price tag makes it a wallet friendly option.
DC Ply: Kevin our resident hipster and general person we mock for having the build of a 10 year old girl was able to give this deck a run for its money. He loved the sidecut on it which allowed him to unleash his inner carving beast but said that the pop just wasn’t exactly there with it. With a price tag of $380 you can get a board that claims to be skate inspired. Kevin didn’t think it was as inspiring as that.
Freestyle Over $400
Arbor Blacklist: Hands down the best snowboard I’ve ever ridden in my life to date. There’s something about this mid wide reverse cambered deck that just made it the ultimate board for park domination. Meant to be a mid wide version of the Westmark I felt that this board rode better than the Westmark in my opinion. Our other tester even agreed that he dug it. With a price tag of $419.95 it’s moving more towards that pricier stunt stick but well worth it. We 100% endorse this board for 2012.
Nitro Rook: If you can find a new board that rides like you have a 100 days on it and still gives you everything you’ve ever wanted you might have found the board for you. This is one of those boards that stood out as meeting that criteria. The Rook has always impressed me with it’s versatility. The $499.95 price tag does put it up there at the upper tier for boards in this category but it’s well worth it in my opinion.
Arbor Westmark: A center reverse camber coupled with Arbors Grip Tech make up their System Technology. Something that a lot of other companies wish they could have as much luck with. Snap and edge hold were the name of the game with this deck. This board was one of Kevins top five picks and why it sits so high on the list. With a price of $419.95 it won’t totally break the bank.
Burton Hero: With the addition of squeezebox this board got so much better. It gave stability underfoot but let the rest of the board function as if it were a skateboard on snow. Pressing and jumping were amazing and this board didn’t disappoint. $439.95 is the price and for what you get it’s justifiably deserved. This is another board that I felt sits highly in my opinion of decks for 2012.
Bataleon Whatever: Another one of Kevins picks that stood out to him. With superb pop and a great flex for making jibbing fun it was Whatever. Oh see what I did there? Yeah bet you did. For $400 bucks it’s not overly pricey.
Rome Reverb Rocker: The alternate camber brother to the Reverb since people like their boards to bend every which way. Satisfying the $400 price point by having the same price as it’s cambered brother this one was just a hair more versatile in my opinion since it was a bit easier to ride in the sense you didn’t have to weight and un-weight the camber. Rome knocked it out of the park with this board and I’m backing it almost as hard as the Arbor Blacklist.
Smokin MIP: Straight out of Sparks comes Smokin another one of the U.S. made boards in this series. They’ve been making decks for a while and know what the kids want. This is one of those boards with its flat camber, mtx, and amazingly awesome blunted shape. The $449.95 price tag brings with it a 3 year warranty in case you get too gnarly for your own good.
No Way! Catalyst: Paul our lone wolf in SoCal was able to make it to Tahoe and try this deck out at Boreal. I’ve known Paul for a long time and when he says he wants to own a board it must have been solid. For all you American made fanboys these decks are crafted in Reno and have a price tag of $419.95.
Never Summer Evo: This is one of those staple boards that is fun to ride and you know what you’re getting. New for 2012 they added a blunted shape and pushed out the effective edge. It’s also another one of those American made decks that people get all hyper about. So for $489.99 you can know you’re giving your money to an American company that offers a 3 year warranty.
Automaton Extra Dangerous: Twin and cambered. Yep we rode more camber with this board. If you’re a guy that likes playing in the park on twin tips you’ll dig this. Oh you like camber too even better. Keeping it real with a price tag of $440 just like the Endangered Series you should probably give this brand a look.
Forum Destroyer Double Dog: Predictable. That’s the best way to describe this board. It just felt like something you’ve ridden for years and knew how it would react. Utilizing double dog camber which is camber zones under foot and reverse in the center you get the best of both worlds. Out of all of Forums camber options in my opinion this is the best. With a price tag of $439.95 you won’t be let down in having a board you’ll be able to ride without problems.
Automaton Endangered: Cambered and slightly set back. Hmm who thought we’d still see companies making that? Anyways this board can handle it all on a price of $440. Don’t over look the little guy with this one.
Rome Reverb: Cambers definitely not dead even though companies would like you to believe that. This is another board that proved camber still has its place. Solid on the jumps and still having the ability to press on the jibs I recommended this for kids running slopestyle courses. With a solid price at $400 you can be certain this board will make you happy.
K2 Fastplant: Ever run a snowboard over with a semi-truck? Doubt it but you could with this board due to the Bambooyah core which has a five year warranty. While not as poppy as it’s grandfather the Jibpan it still gets the job done. With a price tag of $499.95 you know you’re getting the best warranty in the biz.
Ride Buckwild: If you’re hitting jumps this board would be at home. Over all it was kind of a board that was there nothing super special about it but whatever to each their own. The $469.95 seems a bit steep for a deck that kind of overlaps others in their line up.
Smokin Buck Ferton: Hero’s never die and Buck is one of them. With his onslaught against the corporate whore mongering he lives on. Over all it was a snowboard but just didn’t feel like the old Buck, perhaps that resurrection thing hinder him. But for $499.95 you do get Smokin’s 3 year warranty and support a company that’s run by snowboarder for snowboarders that enjoy snowboarding.
Burton Mr. Nice Guy: Keegans board of choice didn’t seem to jibby when I rode it. On jumps it had its thing going on but over all it was kind of a wet blanket and let down. For $489.95 I guess you could buy the hype on this thing or just spend your money for a better deck from Burton.
Lamar Volt: Possibly the stiffest park board ever constructed. If you like the stunt ditch, dude tube, or U jump this might be the deck for you otherwise look elsewhere. I wouldn’t recommend it for jibbing at all but on big jumps it’s going to have a lot of snap. For a Lamar it’s their pricest deck ringing in around $480 or something close to that. Unless you love stiff pipe decks though I wouldn’t bother.
All Mountain $499 and under
Technine Cam Rock: I’ve never truly been a fan of Cam Rocker by any means until I got on this board. There was something about the way this board could pop off a jump or lock onto a rail that made it stand out. What I will say is that for $320 bucks you get a board that’s highly versatile that won’t break the bank and that’s one of the many reasons I’m backing this as a top pick for all mountain versatility.
Burton Sherlock: By far one of the more fun decks I rode for last season in terms of all mountain versatility. This deck could handle powder without problems and still pick up a few laps in the park. The $499 price tag keeps it just out of the rang of being obscene. Burton fanboys should flock to this and for the haters give it a chance cause it might blow your mind. There’s a reason it gets honors in this review series.
Lamar Cranium: When is the last time you saw Lamar in a board review series? Seriously think about that one. Now when was the last time you saw them actually get a top mention? Yeah probably can’t even remember that can you. I know I’ll get flack for saying this but honestly this board blew my mind at how versatile it was and the amount of fun I had on it. Why does this stack up so high well on top of how much fun it is the price. Yeah for $350 bucks you can have a board that does it all. Let the haters hate on me or Lamar, the board was fun and that’s all I care about.
K2 Happy Hour: How do you get peoples attention when coming out with a new board? Simple make the most obscene tip you can and then hype the shit out of it. The Stabby Tip on this board definitely draws you in, but that’s not the only cool thing with it. Based off the Believer this board is meant to jump and have fun. The $459.95 price tag keeps this in the upper tier for this category but you get a tip you could use to stab someone with. Now that is totally worth it.
Signal OG: There’s a reason this deck is called the OG for a reason, its’ been in Signals line up the longest. Traditional camber reigns supreme in this deck and a little bit of carbon to add some snap. Over all it’s a throw back deck for the rider that isn’t ready to cross over into some alternate styled camber. Keeping it reasonable with a $459.99 price tag at least you know what you’re getting here.
Salomon Mans Board: Oh Bode Merril what can we say about you and your love of the zeach? Yes we know you’re better than all of us and that’s why you demand a board that only the manliest of men would love. For $499.99 men can grab their crotch, drink a beer, and know they have a board that defines being a guys guy. All that aside it was just a snowboard that required more effort than I felt should be put in to ride it and that’s why it sits a little lower on the pile.
MarHar G-Quest: Michigan has a snowboard manufacturer? Yeah I know you’re asking yourself that question too. Well they do and this was the board the guys decided to send me to test. While they classified it as all mountain I think if it was stiffened up a bit it would probably be, but until then I’d have rather jibbed on it. $399.99 seems to be the magic price for every upstart to allow people the chance to buy their deck. While it wasn’t the worst thing I rode I’d definitely say that stiffening it up could make it rank higher.
K2 Lifelike: Another example of being miss-marketed. Over all it felt a lot like a slightly watered down version of the Protohype and nothing special. Sure it comes in at a nice $399.95 price tag but I would sooner recommend the Raygun over this thing. Sorry K2 but I think you fell short on this one, maybe it’s the fact Tedore was going out the door, or you just wanted to revamp your whole line with something new. Either way big fella I’d take this board back to the drawing board.
Technine T-Money: Everyones been playing around with camber and rocker and reverse and camber and whatever awesomely awesome marketing word they can use. This is Technines take on how they could play mix and match with the various camber options. The $320 price tag is enticing for something with mixed camber and alternate but over all there’s a reason it’s at the bottom of the pile.
All Mountain $500 and up
Ride Arcade UL: Possibly the lightest board we rode that was considered an all mountain freestyle stick in our review series. Solid snap and a stiffer flex were the name of the game with this board. The $599.95 price tag seems steep but when you have a board that’s this light, this snappy, and still stable enough to charge with you can kind of understand it. Plus I believe it has magic in it. This is why it takes the top honors.
Never Summer Proto CT: This is the new “IT” board from Never Summer. Jam packed full of all that high end material you could ever want. It’s induced boners on many an internet message board and the manliest of men tremble in the knees and pee themselves. Or at least that’s what everyone seems to keep saying about this board. Sure it does the job and it’s a lot of fun plus it doesn’t have that stigma of being heavy that Never Summer has fought for years. With that much hype the $539.99 price tag doesn’t seem that obscene for something so versatile.
Nitro Factory Series Rook: The whole Factory Series decks stick out as these boards that are just overly built and not for the everyman. This board definitely is not for everyone but it does have traditional camber but rides like one with alternate camber. It’s pricey as hell at $749.95
Arbor Wasteland: Arbors flagship all mountain board which finds itself more at home riding the mountain and railing turns. Sure you could probably take it on some jibs but we never felt that it would fit that mold. The $649.99 price tag seems super steep for what you get but maybe all that high end wood in it accounts for that. Over all fun ride but the price just isn’t worth it.
K2 Protohype: Damp, indestructible, and hard charging. Probably the three best ways to describe this board from K2. Although I wouldn’t classify it as all mountain but probably more freeride. Personally I felt it could have been stiffer and that’s why it didn’t rank so high. Add to that notion the $649.95 price tag and you can understand why, although it does have a 5 year warranty on the core. So I guess that price tag is worth something if you’re not replacing decks so much.
Niche Aether: For all you hippies out there that just hate how much snowboarding has said, “Fuck you Mother Nature”, there’s Niche Snowboards. The Aether is their premier all mountain board with a center reverse camber. At the end of the day to myself it just felt like another snowboard. The $529.00 price tag comes with that peace of mind knowing you’re saying, “Oh Mother Nature I want to huge you”. We love new companies and perhaps next year with the addition of Magnetraction to their boards this will get a better mention.
Freeride Boards $500 to $600
Arbor A Frame: This board proves that camber is not dead and still something people like to ride. Railing turns and leaving a trench in your wake was what this board is capable of. As much as we love alternate camber it felt great to ride something like this and that’s why it still gets top honors as being a true dominating freeride board. Unfortunately to have a ride like this you have to pay a pretty penny and that $599.99 price tag is a hard thing to swallow. But on a plus side it’s a beautiful piece of wood to look at.
http://www.angrysnowboarder.com/2012-arbor-element-cx-used-and-reviewed/: Arbor likes to remind us that camber isn’t going anywhere and this is another one of their decks that proves that. For going straight at high rates of speed it was fun and could rally a turn. It just squeaks into the second place spot in this break down due to not being as fun as the A Frame, then again fun is subjective so take that with a grain of salt. The $549.99 price tag sits on par with similar boards in this category.
Ride Highlife: Kevin our little product tester that could got the chance to rally this board. Although the size was a bit much for him he loved the snap and spring it had to offer. Jam packed with all the crazy technology Ride could shove in this you know you’re getting a technical marvel. The $549.95 price tag is on par for other such boards and due to this we feel that it is a solid contender for those guys that like to haul ass and push it.
Venture Helix: The only American made freeride deck we were able to try in these reviews. Costing $585 this board comes in as the second most expensive board we rode in this category. But alas that price can be warranted for those that are proud to buy U.S. made goods and know that the factory it comes from is as environmentally conscious as it possibly can be. For a straight high speed bullet this board excells but over all I personally felt it could have been a bit more playful which would have made it better in the trees.
Arbor Roundhouse RX: Fun in pow is the best way to sum this board up but on hardpack it was a bit lacking. Sure it had great edge hold from their System technology. Over all it felt too much like a one trick pony and that’s why it didn’t rank so high. The $549.99 price tag seems to be the direction boards in the freeride category are heading in terms of cost.
Arbor Roundhouse CX: The cambered counterpart to the Roundhouse RX had a bit better snap but not by much which was kind of a let down. Sure going straight and fast is fun but after a while it gets a little bit boring and that’s why this board ties with it’s alternate cambered brother. On a plus side if it carries the same $549.99 price tag as the RX.
Salomon Powder Snake: For some reason the chant of Powder Snake Powder Snake Powder Snake kept appearing in my head while I was riding this. This board truly was a powder destroyer with its shape and flex pattern you couldn’t go wrong. With a price of $399.99 it is the most affordable powder board we tested and takes our top honor as the premier pow stick for 2012.
Ride Slackcountry UL: This was the most expensive pow stick I tested this year and with good cause it has just about every bell and whistle that Ride could throw in it. The ride was amazing and this board lives up to the hype of being a pow destroyer. Down side the price of $699.95 seems a bit steep for a board specifically designed for powder. This is why it gets honorable mention as a top contender but missed out on being a top choice.
Flow Solitude: Mike Basich is probably the burliest guy on the Flow team and this is his shred stick of choice. With that in mind this board isn’t designed for everyone but the older freeride/pow destroyer guys would have a field day with this. The $499.99 price tag is on par for most other boards in this category as well which doesn’t price itself out of existence. If the board had a bit more snap and dampness it might have stacked up higher.
Rome Notch: Oh Rome we love you guys and share that Collective Addiction but this board just didn’t cut it when riding pow. If I had to pin it I’d place the dead flex and plank like feel as to why it came in dead last. The $550 price tag seems a bit hard to choke down knowing we’d be better off riding rocks. Like I said we love you guys and hope the flex gets more playful for next year.