When you go to buy a snowboard, you don’t have enough information to make an educated purchase. You’re forced to buy a board based on the information you do have-the length, the width, the flex when you administer the belly push, the visible camber, the team, the ads-well, let’s just say that there’s only so much you can tell about how a board is going to perform in the shop. You can sample ice cream before buying it, and you can test drive a car, but just try to take a board for a lap through the park before you buy it. You need to ride it, and unless you made it to an on-snow demo the previous year, we’re guessing you’re SOL. And that’s where the Board Test comes in. We ride the boards, and we report back to you about which ones rode the best. Simple and effective.

Process
The Good Wood test is a men’s and women’s freestyle board test performed in the park at Copper Mountain, Colorado. This year a separate halfpipe test with pipe-specific testers was also added. In total, our 23-person crew of seasoned riders sessioned 25 brands’ top board picks-over 150 boards in a full range of sizes mounted, waxed, and maintained through the week by an army of brand representatives.

The boards were put through the paces on the 2,000-vertical-foot-long run from the top of the American Flyer through wide, butter-friendly groomers, the kids park boxes, the High Point Pocket Park, the Jibberish Pocket Park, and into the massive kicker and transition-filled Catalyst Terrain Park. We pretty much took over Copper Mountain.

Our testers scored each board at the end of every run for variables like pop, turning, stability, flex, buttering, edging, switch performance, rail performance-22 different factors were considered for each board by each tester. At the end of the week, the testers retired to the hot tubs, and we crunched the numbers to find out which boards performed the very best.

We’re confident you’ll find the best board for you in these Good Wood winning boards categories-which should come as a huge relief, because the last time we checked, snowboard shops won’t accept returns on used sticks.-Annie Fast
Top Five Women’s Park Boards Over $400

Burton Stria
The only women’s board offered with the stance-freedom and responsiveness of the new EST binding system. This new true-twin model was built to deliver lots of pop and a mellow ride with a forgiving flex. (The EST disc is compatible with all Burton bindings.)

Tester feedback:
“Stria’s new technology makes set up quick and painless. I loved it for making turns. I felt like I could stay on my feet no matter what.”
“Awesome ride-great for turning and fun in the park. Great all-around board.”

Available sizes: 146, 149, 153
$550

Forum Craft
A true-twin with a mid-flex pattern, the Craft features Grain Belt technology in the core, which involves 45-degree placement of the core along the toe and heel and vertical throughout for better overall carving performance.

Tester feedback:
“So fun to jump. I felt like I was floating in the clouds.”
“Fun all-around board. It’s best on the rails and jumps.”

Available sizes: 142, 147, 152, 155
$400

Nitro Janna
All the technology you’d expect from Nitro built into an aggressive board for the girl who’s known for guinea-pigging the jump before the boys. Including a lightweight core strengthened by Dyneema laminates, a speedy sintered base, and tapered tip and tail for easier spinning.

Tester feedback:
“The smoothest ride I’ve had in a while! Aggressive and fun-a tough combo to find!”
“Very good board. Good flex, real fun. Seems like it would hold up for a whole season.”

Available sizes: 147, 151, 154
$450

Ride Fever
A true-twin shape with Ride’s own Slimewalls for added dampening and durability on the rails. The Cleave edges provide more ding-resistance against the rails-they’re 50-percent thicker than your average edge.

Tester feedback:
“Great pop and I could finally get my 23 inch stance-I could have banged out all the way to 27!”
“Great-absolutely perfect! Great pop, great flex, super-fun spins and rails.”

Available sizes: 144, 147, 150, 153
$440

Sapient Seduction
A snappy nose and tail and a soft mid-flex ride all wrapped up in a true-twin shape. The edges come with a four-degree bevel, so it’s less catchy on the rails, but still edging on the slopes.

Tester feedback:
“This board’s shape and overall feel were great. I liked it the moment I strapped in.”
“Just riding was fun and boxes were fun-it’s a good one.”

Available sizes: 142, 147, 152, 155
$420

Top Five Women’s Park Boards Under $400

Forum Star
A straightforward directional board with a very soft flex-great for riders who want a board they can effortlessly control. Testers loved how this board performed on the rails.

Tester feedback:
“Soft enough on rails but also poppy and smooth on jumps.”
“This board felt particularly good on rails, also it was light, so it felt smooth on takeoffs and landing.

Available sizes: 142, 146, 149, 152, 156
$360

Gnu B-Nice MTX
Built to be an all-mountain freestyle shredder, the twin shape’s centered sidecut, Magne-Traction edges, and soft flex were real tester pleasers. Dig the Starbucksy graphics.

Tester feedback:
“Super fun board on all features and great edge to edge. I would ride this board on everything”
“This board was really easy to control in the park and pretty stable. Good on jumps and I was surprised how well it did on rails.”

Available sizes: 144, 147, 150, 153
$399

K2 Va Va Voom
This is a true twin with a longer effective edge and a shorter nose and tail. K2 designers suggest you drop down 5 cm in size from what you normally ride (e.g., instead of a 148, go 143). The combination of a shorter length and thin tapered tip and tail will have you spinning dizzy.

Tester feedback:
“I rode a 143 because it should ride like a 148. It was so fun, I’m going to ride 135s from now on as long as I can get a wide stance like on this board.”
“A super light ride. A bit soft for big jumps but great for rails and smaller stuff”

Available sizes: 139, 143, 148, 152
$330

Omatic Benatar
A soft and light twin with a two-centimeter setback stance. Air channels in the core give the board a featherweight feel, while softness comes from the specific women’s freeride flex pattern.

Tester feedback:
“This board was super fun. It was easy to make turns and smooth on rails while still powerful on jumps.”
“Good overall park board. Fun to press on rails. Spins fast!”

Available sizes: 144, 147, 149, 152, 155
$299

Venue Coral
A fancy directional board set back three-quarters of an inch. Described as a forgiving all-mountain board with a mellow radial sidecut and repeatedly described by testers as a “playful” ride.

Tester feedback:
“So much fun-great on rails and good pop for kickers. Pretty forgiving for buttering.”
“Perfect as an overall board. It’s playful and fun, but still forgiving.”

Available sizes: 142, 147, 152, 157
$299