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(The Gear Loop) - Every snowboard season is exciting, but this year is that little bit more special, purely because it (hopefully) signals a long-awaited return to the slopes and the ignition of a buzz that is very difficult to replicate anywhere else but the mountainside.

What's more, we're thrilled by the sheer number of new snowboards being unveiled by some of our favourite brands, whether it's the huge number of tech-packed boards from Jones, the company owned by world-renowned freerider Jeremy Jones, or the growing number of models blurring the lines between freestyle and all-mountain, resulting in a flurry (sorry, not sorry) of brilliant boards that perform just as well in the park as they do on the piste

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The downside? Finding the right companion for your adventure can be a bit of a minefield, which is why we've ridden to the rescue with a look at the best new snowboards for every type of rider. Which means all you need to worry about is the weather. Bring on the snow…

This season's best snowboards

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Jones Storm Wolf

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For

  • Surfy style
  • Great for powder
  • Fast and agile

Against

  • Narrow waist
  • A bit advanced for some

Freeriders will love this monochrome marvel, which has a surfboard-inspired profile (courtesy of legendary surfboard shaper Chris Christenson, who helped design the board) for a floaty, fast ride.

It comes into its own in the powder, thanks to the combination of the precision-engineered nose shape, which guarantees it will float above the deepest of powder stashes, and a reassuring stiffness which ensures maximum control, whether on back country tree runs or steep off-piste descents.

The best bit? This board is equally at home on groomed slopes. Its narrow waist and longer sidecut - which has more in common with the ones seen on race boards - makes this an incredible carving machine, and allows it to slice through slush and ice without losing grip.

One thing to bear in mind: the aforementioned narrower waist means this might not be the ideal board for big-footed riders with a shoe size of 10 and over.

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Rossignol Diva

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For

  • Tricks well
  • Really grippy
  • Shock absorption

Against

  • Not as fast as rivals

This women's specific freestyle snowboard is a fantastic option for female riders who don't want to be confined to one type of terrain.

Its twin-tip design will appeal to snowboarders who love hanging out in the fun park, while Rossignol's famous Serrated Edge technology (which has bagged the brand at least one award) ensures it won't lose its grip, no matter what the conditions.

And then there's the perfectly-balanced combination of full-length shock absorption and brilliant stability, which allows riders to push their limits without worrying about losing control.

In a nutshell? A brilliant all-rounder that is especially at home in the park, but will tackle a wide range of terrain - from off-piste powder stashes to groomed steeps - with ease.

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Capita Mega Mercury

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For

  • Packed with tech
  • Loads of pop

Against

  • Takes skill to master

Anyone with a cupboard full of snowboard and ski gadgets will love the Mega Mercury. This all-mountain board is a seriously hi-tech piece of kit, filled with added extras, such as the ingeniously named Thermopolymer Starship Core, which helps to crank up both the board's pop and speed.

Plus, there's Capita's insane-sounding (and very shouty) MEGACARBON Array, which refers to the extensive use of carbon tape, which in this case, provides more power and responsiveness.

It's a board best suited to intermediate and advanced riders - getting the most out of it requires a certain level of skill, although those who master it will be well-rewarded.

The Mega Mercury performs fantastically in all conditions, and while many boards marketed as all-mountain rides often have certain weak spots, this isn't the case with the Mega Mercury. In a nutshell, its advanced design and hi-tech added extras make it one of the best all-rounders we've come across.

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Ride MTN Pig

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For

  • Great freeride board
  • Ultra-grippy
  • Control through turns

Against

  • Stiff and a bit unforgiving
  • Expensive

First of all, banish any notion that any board with the name "pig" in it will be even the slightest bit cumbersome. Or remotely unattractive, if this board is anything to go by, because Ride has paired a matte black top sheet with a swirl of neon brights at the board's tail end.

This is a new and improved version of what's shaping up to be one of Ride's most popular freeride boards - a lean, mean speed machine that now has a split tail for unbeatable stability in powder. Plus Ride's ultra-grippy and very scientific-sounding linear quadratic sidecut, which ensures maximum edge control on the trickiest of turns.

Extra stiffness makes it perfect for riders with a need for speed, although don't underestimate its ability to float through powder stashes, too.

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Santa Cruz Gleam Dot

For

  • Super fun
  • Very forgiving
  • Versatile

Against

  • Tame styling

Although technically an all-mountain board, the Gleam Dot is often referred to as a freestyle model, and with good reason. Its springy, twin-tip shape makes it a fantastically fun board to ride in the park, although it's equally home on pistes or in powder.

A rockered profile (which refers to a board shape, which forms a continuous arc curving up from the board's centre) minimises the risk of catching an edge, and a softer flex offers plenty of forgiveness without compromising performance.

It's this brilliant versatility that makes it a great option for riders keen to progress their skills, whether they’re a beginner or intermediate. That doesn't mean it's boring though, because the Gleam Dot offers a fast, playful ride to anyone who fancies cranking up the fun, as well as their skill levels.

Mattias Olsson/UnsplashThis winter’s best snowboards photo 9

Board meeting

What to look for when buying a new snowboard

Try before you buy

Considering splashing out on your first snowboard? Always try before you buy, whether it's by hiring a couple at your local snowdome or taking the time to ride different models during your snowboarding holiday. 

If you're heading to the mountains this winter, find out if any snowboard brands are running any events in the resort you're heading to. Larger brands, such as Burton and Salomon, regularly hold "try before you buy" days at ski resorts in North America and Europe, providing potential customers with the opportunity to test different boards without parting with their hard-earned cash.

Different slopes, different folks

As a rule, freestyle boards (ones which are most at home in the fun parks, in half pipes and on jumps) will have a twin-tipped, symmetrical design combined with a softer flex and a lower weight, while freeride boards, designed to be ridden in deep powder and in off-piste areas, have more stiffness and a directional shape. 

All-mountain boards will often have features seen on both freeride and freestyle boards. They're designed as all-rounders, equally at home in the park, pipe or off-piste and - depending on which type of riding they’re more suited to - might have design features such as a swallowtail, or reinforced edges which provide extra stability on off-piste terrain, without comprising the board's ability to perform well in the park.

Beginner boards

In general, beginner snowboards keep things simple and focus on the stuff that newcomers really need to progress, and that's a feeling of stability underfoot and a board that turns easily. Look out for a board that isn't too stiff or aggressive and one that has a forgiving rocker profile, which makes it easier to initiate turns and less likely to "catch an edge", often leading the rider to fall flat on their face or butt.

Speak to any good retailer or instructor and they will also be able to assist with a board that's fit for both your size and weight, which is important when learning any new board sport.

Writing by Tamara Hinson.