Best Overall Women's All-Mountain Snowboard
Gnu Ladies Choice
The Gnu Ladies' Choice
is accurately named. While this board may feel at home in the park, the Ladies' Choice can hold it down in any conditions imaginable. An asymmetrical board harmonizes your body's natural movement, making turns easy and intuitive. An asymmetrical twin, this board is designed for seamless switch riding. The Ladies' Choice outperformed any true-twin it came up against, like the Burton Lipstick
, with a whopping 10/10 score in the playfulness metric. While Gnu states the Ladies' Choice is stiffer than many of their other ladies' boards, it was easier to hold presses than any other board we tested, even the ultra-flexy Arbor Swoon
. Soft, springy, and stable, it scored another perfect 10/10 in pop. It stomps landings with ease, but also carves groomers, hits jibs, and surfs powder. This is an all-day, every-day kinda snowboard, which crushes in all metrics. The Magne-Traction is a plus, whether you're making big, easy carves, or quick, sharp slashes, the Magne-Traction edge helps you out just when you need it - and stays out of the way when you don't. The Ladies' Choice will push you to progress, whether you're new to the sport or a seasoned veteran. With consistently high performance across all categories, this board is a real all-in-one ride. If you're looking for an eco-friendly board, check out the Eco Choice
, Gnu's sustainable version of the Ladies' Choice.
Read full review: Gnu Ladies Choice
Best Bang for the Buck
Arbor Swoon Rocker
At only $450, the Arbor Swoon
wins our 2017 Best Buy Award. A true quiver-killer, the Swoon Rocker is a versatile all-mountain board that wont break the bank, and was actually one of our favorites to ride. Arbor offers the Swoon in both a camber and rocker profile — we went with the rocker. The Swoon is a directional twin, with a slight setback to provide a surfy ride. This thing slides through powder like butter, scoring a perfect 10/10 in float in powder, outperforming every other board we tested. The Swoon is so effortless, it almost felt like we were still dreaming. This thing feels comfortable on any terrain. While the Swoon is soft and forgiving, it holds an edge in tough conditions, receiving a strong 8/10 in edge hold. Arbor's Grip-Tech system adds two extra points of contact underfoot. This progressive side cut moves the board's primary interaction with the snow to heal & toe contact points, forming a more direct grip which allows you to make hard, quick turns in icy conditions, releasing in deep powder to give you a free, weightless ride. The sustainably sourced bamboo power ply topsheet adds a little more pop and reduces weight, making the Swoon even more responsive. Its ultra-quick sintered base is durable and consistent in any terrain. The Arbor Swoon is an inexpensive, versatile option for Ladies that like a surfy ride anywhere on the hill (or in the backcountry — it also comes in a splitboard model). This board is also available as the Swoon Splitboard for ladies looking to take their skills to the backcountry
Read full review: Arbor Swoon
Top Pick for Powder
Jones Twin Sister
Great in all conditions
Strong edge hold
Floats in powder
The Jones Twin Sister
is the women's version of the Jones Mountain Twin, one of the most praised snowboards in the industry. Notorious for backcountry bombing and deep powder lines, Jeremy Jones' models do his name proud. With a blunt nose and a setback stance, this directional twin makes powder surfing a breeze, scoring a 9/10 in float in powder, putting most of the competition to shame, save the Arbor Swoon
. The blunted nose changes the boards first contact point with the snow, which takes away the "plowing effect" of pushing through powder. This provides a smoother, faster ride through even the deepest powder. While the Twin Sister's Power wood core offers enough torsional flex to play around with, this board can bomb with the best of 'em. The Twin Sister scored our only perfect 10/10 in edge hold, even beating out the ultra-sturdy Never Summer Aura
(9/10) in tough, windblown terrain. Magnetraction edge tech provides unparalleled hold in even the iciest conditions, cutting through crust like a knife. The Twin Sister has an updated Master Wood core for the 2017 season, giving it even more power than ever before. Perfect for big carves and powder lines, the Twin Sister is a freerider's dream come true.
Read full review: Jones Twin Sister
Why All-Mountain Snowboards?
We set out on a mission to determine the best women's all-mountain board of 2017. Lady shredders, our time has come. Long gone are the days of wearing two pairs of wool socks, so we could fit into our too-big, hand-me-down boots to ride our brothers' second-hand rip stick. Nowadays, women have a wide variety of boards to choose from that have been specifically designed with ladies in mind. So how do we narrow it down? Ladies' specific boards are designed with the fairer sex in mind. Women's boards are generally shorter, narrower, lighter, and more flexible than men's boards. However, some boards are designed for a particular style of riding: freestyle, all-mountain, freeride, or powder. If you're a park rat who stays away from powder, you might want to get a freestyle specific board. If you only ride the deepest powder (first of all, we're jealous), you might want a contender with a swallowtail and a long nose. If you've got money to blow, you might build a quiver and get one (or two) of each style.
For this evaluation, we've tested all-mountain boards. It's unfortunately not realistic for most riders to have a different board for each type of terrain. For those that can't swing the one-of-each approach, an all-mountain board aims to give you the best qualities of freestyle, freeride, and powder boards, all in one. All-mountain boards are designed for versatility when conditions are anything but predictable. Traditionally built with a medium flex, a sintered base and a switch-friendly profile, all-mountain boards are charged to provide a consistent ride in any terrain, from powder to park.
To read more about other styles of boards, check out our Buying Advice article
The Arbor Swoon has no problem leaving the resort boundaries.
Analysis and Test Results
These snowboards have been selected based on their versatility in every type of terrain. While we were searching for the best all-mountain board, many boards are designed with a particular style of riding in mind. However, each board has its own personality — a specific shape, core, flex, sidewall, stance, etc. that makes that board special. When reviewing these contenders, there were five categories we focused on: edge hold, float in powder, stability at speed, playfulness, and pop. These five metrics play equal parts in forming the perfect all-mountain board. The chart below summarizes the comparative scores overall of each board.
Depending on your personal riding style, there may be a category that you care about more than another. For example, if you're used to riding icy, East Coast conditions, you'll probably want a board that has strong edge hold. If you're a backcountry babe that needs a surfy ride, focus on how the board floats in powder. Each board has its quirks, so read carefully to find the best board to suit your style.
How well does the board lock into hard conditions? If you're cutting across ice, it's important to have a board that can hold on. While edge hold can be crucial for some riders, too much of it can be a downfall for others. For example, many freestyle riders actually detune their edges, as to avoid catching them on features and during tricks.
They're typically less concerned with speed and carving since they're hanging in the park for most of the day. All-mountain riders are more likely to encounter hardpack or icy conditions, and therefore would need a stronger edge hold than a freestyle rider. Freeriders typically want an aggressive edge hold on a snowboard. When you want to ride hard and fast on all kinds of terrain, it's important to have a top-grade edge to rely on.
Magnetraction edge tech on the Gnu Ladies Choice slices through any conditions, and holds off in powder.
It's also important to consider the conditions you'll be riding in. Ladies who typically ride in icy conditions will benefit from a much more aggressive edge hold. Without it, you're almost guaranteed to wash out. However, women who are used to powder might encounter too much grip in deep snow, and may prefer a board with less edge hold. It's hard to find the edge tech perfect for your personal riding style, so demo some boards first if you're not sure of your preference.
Many companies have developed their own unique edge tech — Magne-Traction, Grip-Tech, Frostbite Edges, you name it — but they're all pretty similar to one another. These edge technologies turn your board's edge into a serrated knife of sorts, adding points of contact that allow your board to cut into the snow (or ice) below. Not all boards have this serration, so if you need strong hold in icy conditions, consider a board with some sort of serrated edge.
These boards were taken out on windblown hardpack, the closest thing to ice in the Sierra. Tested through tight turns, quick slashes, and hard stops, we experimented with each varying edge technology to find which board could hold up. Performing the highest in edge hold are the Jones Twin Sister
with a perfect 10/10, the Never Summer Aura
with a 9/10, and the Gnu Ladies' Choice
with another 9/10. These boards all have similar edge tech, allowing them to soar above the competition.
Float in Powder
Would you rather spend your day hiking to reach deep, untouched lines than lapping the park? If so, you may want to focus on a board that performs well in powder. Some boards are built to surf more easily in deep snow than others. A big factor in surfing powder is the board's shape. A directional board has a longer nose than tail, resulting in a laid-back, surfboard like ride. Twin tips have an identical nose and tail, and typically require more effort to lift in deep snow. A directional twin, or mountain twin, is similar to a true twin, but has one or a few features that are asymmetrical, like a longer nose.
The Arbor Swoon
and the Jones Twin Sister
, two of our top-performing powder boards, are directional twins with a setback stance, which gives you a slightly longer tip than tail, and ensures a surfy ride through powder. Another feature that improves performance in powder is a blunted nose. This changes the point of contact with the snow, transforming your board from a snowplow to a surfboard.
The Arbor Swoon
scored an incredible 10/10 in this category, featuring a 2cm setback, rocker profile, and blunted nose that combine together, allowing it to sail high above its competitors. You can also find these blunted tips on the Jones Twin Sister
, which scored a 9/10 in this category and also features a directional twin shape.
The Gnu Ladies Choice has no problem with deep snow.
Stability at Speed
How does the board perform when riding at high speeds? If you're one to rip at full speed down the mountain, you'll want a board with the stability to handle that speed. There's nothing worse than bombing down a groomer and starting to feel your board squirrel out from beneath you. A stiff board typically has a damp feel to it, which ensures a smoother ride, while soft boards can feel washy, like they might slip out from under you, when riding at high speed.
We tested each board at high speed on a steep groomer to see how they held up. The Never Summer Aura
received full marks (10/10) in this category, delivering a predictable and stable ride even at racing speed. The Aura outperformed our Editors' Choice in speed - the Gnu Ladies Choice
only scored a 7/10 in this category, while the Burton Lipstick
also provided a damp, consistent feel at high speeds, receiving a 9/10.
The Burton Lipstick cruises through powder and cuts through crud.
How well does the board flex, spin, and maneuver? If you prefer the park, or just like a soft ride, you'll want a board with high flexibility. A longer, stiffer board will provide more stability in powder and at high speeds. Playfulness also has to do with the size of a board. It makes sense that a smaller board is naturally easier to move around & control. While we tested these boards in nearly identical sizes, if you know that you're looking for something more playful, you might want to go with a smaller size when selecting your board.
All-Mountain boards typically have a medium flex pattern that provides versatility across conditions. However, each board in our quiver had a different flex that made it unique. We took these boards on flat-ground, boxes, rails — basically, we treated the whole mountain like a playground. The most playful boards we tested were the Gnu Ladies' Choice
and the Rome Lo Fi Rocker
. The Ladies' Choice
scored a flawless 10/10, giving a flexy, responsive ride that put all the other boards to shame. The Rome Lo Fi Rocker
(9/10) was the softest board we tested, and while it was super playful, its loose flex and light weight caused the Lo Fi
to score poorly in other categories, like float in powder and stability at speed.
Presses made easy on the super flexy Gnu Ladies Choice
Pop and Jumping
How easily does the board spring off the ground? Whether it's a jib, jump, or a Jerry, a poppy board will help you clear whatever your heart desires. Cambered boards have a long arch underfoot, touching near the tip and tail, and typically have more pop than rockered boards. However, many companies have introduced technology to increase pop by inserting rods from the middle of the board to the nose and tail, increasing response and supercharging the pop of your board. Many boards are designed as a rocker camber hybrid, combining the pop of a cambered board with the flex and float of a rocker.
We took these boards out on small, medium, and larger booters to examine how they react to launch and landing. The Capita Birds of a Feather
, Gnu Ladies' Choice
, and Rome Lo Fi
performed the best in this category. Each of these boards lifted with very little effort, felt light weight in the air, and encouraged rotations and grabs. The Capita Birds of a Feather
earned an 8/10, inspiring confidence in lift-off and security in landing. The Lo Fi Rocker
scored a 9/10, easily handling jumps of all sizes. The Gnu Ladies' Choice
earned another perfect 10/10, encouraging the rider to channel slopestyle queen Jamie Anderson herself. Again, cambered boards have a more natural pop, so if this is something you value, consider a camber or hybrid-camber profile when selecting your board.
The Capita Birds of a Feather launches with ease.
Base graphic on the Jones Twin Sister.
These boards were all a blast to test. While every board has its strengths and weaknesses, each model was selected because it's among the best in the industry. Every board has countless characteristics that come together to form its unique personality. We evaluated these contenders on their ability to perform across five metrics that contribute to a superior all-mountain ride, but each one is guaranteed to be a good time.
Although each review was done as objectively as possible, every review is, to a certain extent, subjective to the experience of the reviewer. Each snowboarder is different and prefers a different kind of board to ride. Make sure you read thoroughly and consider which metrics are the most important to you when selecting a board.