(Charles Dustin Sammann)

The Best Snowboards of 2019

Drew Zieff

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Five decks that bring surf style to the slopes

(Courtesy Weston)

Weston Japow ($599)

It’s no secret that snowboarders take inspiration from surfers. In everything from carving technique and aerial style to lingo and board shape, we’re closely aligned with our salty cousins. At Outside’s annual snowboard test at ­Crested Butte Mountain Resort in Colorado, more than 30 riders put 86 decks to the test in variable spring conditions, and the consensus was that, now more than ever, designers are encouraging a surfy approach to snowboarding. Case in point: the surf-inspired Weston Japow was our top-rated board this year, which is remarkable since we never got the chance to ride it in the deep fluff it’s designed for. Instead, testers made do with corduroy groomers, leftover stashes, and slush, and still the retro wide swallowtail “railed responsive turns like an Indy car,” as one rider put it. The Japow’s carving abilities “made groomer runs an art form,” said another. Pop isn’t this Weston’s strong suit—no shocker, given the dramatic notched tail—but testers were pleasantly surprised by its ability to let loose, get air, and stomp landings. With energetic flex and float, this pow surfer is worth taking out even when the waves aren’t perfect.

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(Courtesy Burton)

Burton Day Trader ($500)

Best for Freeriding

Designed with input from freeride phenom Kimmy Fasani, the Day Trader has a mellow taper, a set-back stance, and effortless flex. It’s an obvious choice on deep days, but we loved the deck’s agility and pop through slush and variable conditions, too. “Super fun, easy to ride, and really versatile,” claimed one particularly aggressive tester, who noted how solidly the Day Trader held an edge. Another recommended this Burton for the “all-around shredder who chases powder but won’t pass up the groomers.”

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(Courtesy Jones)

Jones Mind Expander ($550)

Best All Mountain

This deck made our testing crew rethink just how much an all-mountain deck can do. Crafted in collaboration with ­celebrated surfboard shaper Chris Christenson, it features subtle rocker in the front half for a buoyant nose and a set-back stance that won’t exhaust your back leg. One tester noted that the stubby Jones’s short sidecut “snaked quick turns through trees like a show dog weaving through agility poles.” Another gushed that the medium-stiff yet forgiving deck was primed for “any powder hound, turn lover, or hard charger.” The Mind Expander is not your average all-mountain board. It’s a Jones, after all.

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(Courtesy Gnu)

Gnu Müllair ($600)

Best Big Mountain

No conversation about snowboard style is complete without mention of OG Nicolas Müller, the man behind this eponymous(ish) big-mountain weapon from Gnu. Testers found the directional Müllair rigid from tip to tail, which makes it superbly suited for sketchy lines and freeride competitions. “Stiff enough to blast through chop, but soft enough to butter through the turns,” said one of our heavier testers. In other words: the Müllair is powerful, responsive, fast, and just plain tons of fun.

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(Charles Dustin Sammann)

Franco Snowshapes Squashtail Custom ($2,500 and up)

Best Custom

With prices you’re more likely to find in an art gallery than the local shred shop, every Franco Snowshapes board is a functional masterpiece. The hand-cut topsheet of the 146 Squashtail we tested was whitebark pine veneer harvested from Jackson Hole’s Casper Bowl. (Shred nerds, rejoice: Franco brands each custom board with the coordinates of the tree the company used to produce it.) The maple and fir core is stiff, according to one tester who deemed the deck ideal for “ripping big, fast turns.” Another agreed, lauding the Squashtail’s torpedo shape for “steep, fast laps.”

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