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The best snowboards selected by invited riders who actually give a shit.
Seven years ago, I had the crazy idea of running a powder board test in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We have the best mountain on earth for testing snowboards, and access to local riders who are on the mountain nearly 100 days a year who could really put them through their paces.
Instead of relying on some office intern at a magazine at the beach in California to tell you what boards are the best of the best, we would do it ourselves. What started as the JH PowWow, has evolved to become the annual ShaperSummit, and it's still going as strong as ever.
The ShaperSummit is built to be a snowboard test at its core. It’s invite-only so that we can keep things tight and really focus on finding the best boards decided by the riders and shapers themselves. The format is open so that the riders can seek out the boards that have the potential to truly fit them and the way they ride. Featuring over 20 brands and hundreds of boards to choose from, we wind up with over 400 test results. We share these with the designers and shapers of the boards so that they can improve their shapes and collectively elevate snowboard design.
Our testing crew is unique. We invite the shapers themselves to come test boards in a format where riding boards from their competition is encouraged, and feedback is welcome in the spirit of design progress, and inspiration from each other. We invite die hard locals that could give a shit about what company had the best marketing, or who rides for them, or who paid the most for the back cover of the magazine. We ride every board that looks inspiring as hard as possible over the course of three days to find the best of the best, whether it is built by a big brand, or hand-built by one guy in a garage. Those that rise to the top are Rated Radical by the testers, and some of them are featured in the following pages.
We ride every board that looks inspiring as hard as possible over the course of three days to find the best of the best, whether it is built by a big brand, or hand-built by one guy in a garage.
Beyond the test, the ShaperSummit is designed to be a community gathering for true snowboarders—those that love the sport and the lifestyle more than anything. The invited list is comprised of industry vets, pro riders, snowboard shapers and in some cases, straight up snowboard bums. Although the test itself is invite-only, we host events in the evenings that are open to the public, including one night of short presentations by a few select legends and designers called SHREDTalks where they share their stories of the history of snowboarding or the cutting edge of snowboard design. We have also teamed up with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort this year to open up the demo to the public on the weekend following for DemoFest, so that everyone can be a part of the ShaperSummit vibe March 7-8!
In an age where it seems like snowboarding has lost its center, where the magazines are dying and the contests seem to have a hangover from drinking just a few too many energy drinks, I hope that the Shaper Summit can continue to bring riders together for the pure love of snowboarding, and make the sport stronger because of it.
- Rob Kingwill
Men's Rated Radical
Nitro Mountain X Grif
My quest for years has been to find my One True Board: the snowboard that rides flawlessly top-to-bottom at Jackson Hole in any condition. Enter the 163 Mountain X Grif from Nitro. I had two incredible runs with the Grif on a highly variable day and it crushed everything. The super long sidecut, traditional camber, and directional profile with relatively wide waist made for super smooth carving and a ton of pop. If anyone from Nitro is reading this: will you send me one of these?
Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber
An everyday quiver killer, I could ride this board all the time and be so stoked. It held an edge on hardpack and floats in pow. It charged through bumps and was easy to turn. It felt really stable at high speed and I loved its skate-influenced pop. It’s really playful and easy to move around but very stable, as it floated well. I like that it’s a twin, so you can still ride switch and have stability in the nose.
Nimble and easy to maneuver but still floats really well. I really enjoyed this board, as it’s super fun and easy to ride in a variety of pow, and also in the firm steeps. I felt like it was capable at speed and also in the chunked up chop. This is a dope board for variable snow conditions, and when you’re not positive what you want to ride, or what the day will throw you. It handles everything super well.
Never Summer West Bound
Very easy to step onto and rip. The flex is incredible with muscle. The new carbon-glass mix makes this my favorite Never Summer to date. Truly a thing of beauty, it rode awesomely throughout all terrain in-bounds, and seemed like it be great where-ever you take it. The directional shape is floaty and fantastic.
Elevated SurfCraft Log
The epitome of innovation, this takes pow surfing one step further. The amount of volume allows you to ride lower angle terrain in deep pow with ease and minimal effort. This shape could inspire a new style of snowboarding for the low angle pow surfer. It allows you to navigate terrain in a whole new way by surfing traverse lines out into the fresh. You'll feel confident when dropping into flats where others don't dare to venture. Aaron Lebowitz has done it again with this one. Yahoo.
The form and function of this board hits on all cylinders! It’s not a daily-driver, but who the hell wants predictably all the time? Damp AF, gobbles up the bumpy shit and powers through the powder. The material choices and the fabrication are over the top badass! It’s as if form and function had a love child. This board makes me happy on multiple levels. A wonder in many ways, this deck delivers.
Women's Rated Radical
This board is solid, stout and shreds. Carves smooth, hard and low, giving off excellent stability on groomers and euro-style carving. Floats in pow like a butterfly, with quick handling through tighter turns. While it’s not a very poppy and snappy board, it handles airtime well. Landing was a bit challenging and I washed out on almost every landing. It was somewhere in the middle of just right and too stiff. Overall, stoked on this ride!!
I got on this board and was instantly smitten. This thing rips-- Pow. Hardpack. Mank. The shape and taper is perfect. The nose shape is on point. Width is perfect for my size feet. Base is black - she's a fast b - and that's very important to me. I was super stoked and party lapping with friends while testing the Tantra. I jumped off something bigger than usual to flat that I usually wouldn't. I would usually never land something that big to flat, but I somehow stuck it! This board left a lasting impression. Tantra earned daily driver status in my book.
What is not to like about this board? It handles variable conditions, from light powder to heavy chundery snow and groomers, with the greatest of ease. This board has the right amount of flex and stability. It plows through powder, handles speed well and has playful pop. The shape of this board makes it effortless to maneuver through everything from tight trees to powdery moguls.
You know when you feel right at home? That’s how this deck makes you feel. It’s got the perfect amount of stiffness with just the right amount of play and the right length. A thing of beauty, it has a good mix of stability and playfulness. Love this board, I’d like one. I also appreciate how it gives back to the babe community.
Elevated SurfCraft Minni Driver
Lauren Chase Smith
This board hands down elevated my riding style and amplified my potential. The shape and size of the Minni Driver makes surfy, wide turns intuitive. This board floats with ease and carves with purpose. Crafted specifically with someone of my stature and ability in mind, the Minni Driver is now my #1 daily driver. Surf’s up baby.
Great stiffness, super responsive, this extra long deck is powerful for a female, but overall a sick ride. Great directional board, it’s responsive in pow and groomers and is stable, but still nimble. I was surprised at how well it maneuvered in and out and turns for being so dang beefy!