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Top Tested Snowboards of 2023

Posted October 21, 2022 @ 10:20am | by Neil Soucy

We often get asked what our plans are for the winter season --- Any trips lined up? Where will you be riding this year? Which pass did you go with? The truth is, our season on snow is primarily focussed on gear testing. Whether we're taking a day trip somewhere local or flying across the globe for a week, we are always testing new gear. Some days are very structured and others are more relaxed, but no matter what, we are always using our time on snow to better understand each snowboard. It's a massively important part of the job that while obviously super fun, is critical to our decision making when it comes to buying and selling snowboards.

Testing these snowboards is much more than just going snowboarding. Sure, a part of it is going snowboarding but there's more happening then might meet the eye. So what is it that we are actually looking for or more literally feeling for on one of our test days? For starters we want to know how the board interacts with different snow conditions - Does it hold an edge on harder snow and ice? How well does it move through heavy wet snow? Does it float in powder? Another piece of the equation is how the board bends - Can it initiate a turn at low speeds? Does it require a lot of effort to reach the apex of the turn? Does it feel stable in higher speed turns? It doesn't stop there, there are some general characteristics of each board we feel for --- Does it feel energetic or damp? How easily can it exit one turn and start the next? Is it comfortable riding switch? Lastly we ask ourselves some broader questions - Who is this board going to be best for? How does it compare to other boards in the same category?

There are a lot of snowboards out there - maybe too many, and each manufacturer will tout that each board in their lineup is the best in its category. But when every brand is saying the same thing, it's hard for the consumer to see through some marketing jargon and decipher what will actually work best for them. This is why we try to ride as many snowboards as we can, break down what each board actually feels like, and figure out which ones make the most sense to carry in our Boston Store as well as online. In doing so, we always seem to find a few rockstars in the mix. We can write reviews of snowboards all day long, but it's not until you start comparing them against one another, both in their respective categories as well as across the board (pun intended), that you start to see which ones stand out and deserve some recognition.

Below you will find the standouts for the upcoming season --- our Top Tested Snowboards of 2023.

TSM Top Tested Snowboards of 2023

 

K2 Excavator

K2 Excavator Snowboard 2023 NEIL SOUCY

K2 Excavator Snowboard 2023K2 Excavator Snowboard 2023K2 Excavator SNowboard 2023

The K2 Excavator is an invigorating riding experience that makes snowboarding as fun as possible for a wide range of rider types. The shape is somewhat unorthodox but after riding the Excavator in about every condition you can think of, we found it to be the ideal combination of capable and exciting. On hardpack, icy conditions it was able to grip and carve confidently and felt stable at higher speeds. It has a suprisingly powerful feel that makes you want to step on the gas a bit and really lean into each turn. In less than ideal conditions with crud and heavier snow this solid feel helps you get through the tough stuff and keep your momentum moving in the right direction. When we rode it in deep Utah powder the shorter tail and wider nose let it float easily and made it the perfect tool for popping off any sidehits and natural features we could find. Don't let the shape fool you here, the Excavator is our top pick and proved to be the best go-to option consistently. This can absolutely be your daily driver and will be mine for this season.

 

Jones Storm Wolf

Jones Storm Wolf Snowboard 2023 NEIL SOUCY

Jones Storm Wolf Snowboard 2023Jones Storm Wolf Snowboard 2023

This is a classic case of don't judge a book by its cover --- despite the wild shape of the Jones Storm Wolf, it makes sense for more riders than you'd expect and was much more comfortable across all conditions than boards in the same category. Yes, it does look like a pow board and yes, it is good in powder. The reason this board made the cut for our top tested list this year is not because of how good it is in deep snow but because of how well it rides on the most average days. All-mountain riders whose park days are behind them and spend most of their day linking big carves on groomers and finding fresher snow in the trees, believe it or not the Storm Wolf is right up your alley. The directional shape dives in and out of turns easily and the stiff swallow tail is waiting for you to put some weight on it to drive the board through a turn. When you find some soft snow the long nose shape moves through it like you dream about. This is as much a pow board as it is an all-mountain carver, if you don't ride switch often and have a yearning for turning this is your board. 

 

K2 Manifest

K2 Manifest Snowboard 2023 Dylan

K2 Manifest Snowboard 2023

The K2 Manifest received a huge upgrade for this season as the Landscape collection from K2 came together and we couldn't be more stoked. The Manifest has always been that slightly directional all-mountain board with some extra muscle. With this new construction update the board maintains that more aggressive feel and can absolutely charge hard, but at the same time has a fluid and smooth turn initiation that you won't often find on boards that have the intensity levels turned up. We absolutley loved riding this board on harder pack days where a little extra confidence out of your board goes a long way but also found it to be perfectly comfortable just cruising at lower speeds too. For all-mountain riders covering some ground on any given ride day that want something versatile and capable of handling speed, the Manifest does just that and without much effort.

 

Ride Benchwarmer

Ride Benchwarmer Snowboard 2023Ride Benchwarmer Snowboard 2023 Neil Soucy

This board is different from the others on this short list in that it is a true twin --- a really really good one. A lot of the time true twin snowboards come with a softer flex and are specifically geared towards park riding. As much as I and most riders would like to think we're throwing down in the park like the guys and gals we watch on T.V., that's just not the case. The Ride Benchwarmer is unique in that you get the typical twin shape of a park board, but with the stiffness turned up a few notches. In the park it felt powerful and confident on take offs and landings with a bunch of pop and energy. Outside the park it was plenty comfortable at higher speeds, gripped well on harder snow, and can make a smooth yet strong carve. Riders that find themselves taking some park laps throughout the day but still need an all-mountain weapon under their feet, or even riders that won't touch the park but like a freestyle feel, the Benchwarmer will deliver for you.

 

Weston Backwoods

Weston Backwoods Snowboard 2023 NeilWeston Backwoods Snowboard 2023 NeilWeston Backwoods Snowboard 2023 Neil

The Weston Backwoods is a directional board that dominates both at the resort and on more adventurous backcountry endeavors. On icy, hardpack East Coast conditions the Backwoods was impressively planted and confident. The damp feel was ideal for the type of conditions that would typically bounce a board around a bit and let you lean into each carve and maintain a consistent turn shape rather than feeling like you had to fight through it. When we had a chance to ride the Backwoods in powder it felt poised and in control with just the right amount of energy and pop to help move through some more technical terrain. The nice thing about the Backwoods is that it is directional, and rides as such, but doesn't feel like a giant leap from a more traditional snowboard shape --- riders who enjoy making smooth carves on trail and maybe jumping in the woods or softer snow for some powder turns will be right at home.

 

--- That's a wrap! ---

 
 
 
 

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