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How to choose the right snowboard shape?

Snowboard shape
Snowboards can come in a variety of shapes which are not to be mistaken with cambers or profiles. 

The shape of a snowboard is basically how a snowboard looks like when you look at it from above. The camber or profile is the bend of the board. You can see it when it sits flat on the ground and you look at it from the side. We wrote a guide about them. There are tons of shapes available on the market but all of them fall in only a few main categories. These are the ones we are going to talk about.

The shape of a snowboard will obviously affect the way it works and responds on the snow. There are shapes that will enhance the board's agility and shapes that will maximise the board's floatation. 

Every shape has its own purpose and it's really up to you to decide what shape best suits you. The main categories of shapes are: 

Twin shape
Directional twin shape
Directional shape

True twin shape

Twin shapes or true twin shapes or twin-tip shapes are generally found on freestyle snowboards. Their name explains by itself. Twin boards are 100% symmetrical. If you could fold them you would see that the nose shadows the tail, the inserts are centered and the flex pattern is consistent from nose to tail. If there was no graphics on the board, you shouldn't be able to tell where's the nose and where's the tail. 

These boards are meant to feel the same when you ride switch or regular, hence their freestyle character. They are great for park riding and street shredding. Landing a 540 or working on your nose press is a lot easier with a true twin snowboard. They are more agile and great for linking park features at speed. You will mostly find twin-tipped snowboards in the freestyle category. This is what a twin shape looks like:  

Twin shape

Directional twin shape

The directional twin shape is a twin tweaked into an all-mountain board. The directional twin shape is almost like a true twin shape in the sense that your snowboard has symmetrical nose and tail but the inserts are setback. This means they are not centered on the board but closer to the tail. This allows riders to perform better on piste and powder. The boards are meant to ride forward but they have nothing against a few park laps and a bit of switch riding. This kind of shape is supposed to deliver the best of both worlds. They are the most versatile shapes which is why they are commonly found on all-mountain snowboards.

In this shape category, there are lots of tweaks. Sometimes you may find a different flex patterns in the nose and in the tail or there is a new generation of boards called the Volume Twin. Every manufacturer has its own designs. To keep things simple and easy to understand, we are going to stick with the directional twin shape which looks as follow. The directional twin shape being the most versatile shape of all, it is often featured on all-mountain snowboards. It delivers floatation, playfulness and manoeuverability. 

Directional twin

Directional shape

The directional shape is the most freeride-oriented shape. Just like a directional twin, the inserts are setback to help you apply more weight on the rear part of the board. The shape itself is designed accordingly. The nose is longer and/or wider (sometimes pointier) while the tail is shorter and generally stiffer. The longer nose helps the board to float over deep powder naturally and the firmer tail allows you to get a more powerful steering. The fact it is shorter also helps it sink in powder to get a greater lift of the nose. 

You may come across a few snowboards with a swallow tail. These belong to directional shapes. Swallow simply enhance powder manoeuverability and deliver a smoother surfy feel. However, this kind of shapes does not cope well with switch riding. It is possible but not optimal, a directional shape is primarily intended to be ridden in your normal stance.  

Directional shapes are often found on freeride snowboards. They enhance performance on powder and handle higher speeds better.

This is a brief overview of what a snowboard shape actually is. There are dozens of shapes available on the market. Pointy nose, swallow tail, asymmetrical, volume twin, there is a name for everything and everyone. But each of these is a slight tweak of those 3 main shapes we just describe. Make sure you know what you're after and choosing your snowboard will be a lot easier!