Stiff vs Soft Snowboards

Last Updated on May 25th, 2023

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To start, there is going to be a basic set of threes when it comes to the different terrain types when selecting and riding on a snowboard. 

Therefore, when choosing a ride, consider using these terms for making the right decision: All-Mountain, Park/Freestyle, and Power/Freeride. Each will have variable levels of flexibility. 

The snow comes in these three forms: groomed trails, powder, and terrain park snow; these different terrains will fit best with softer or stiffer board types. 

Softer boards will better serve those needing better control and turning abilities, as well stiffer boards serve those riders looking to have a ride that keeps up with them as they fly down the slope, possibly competitively racing. 


What are the Similarities?

There are very few similarities between these two types of flexibility ratings for snowboards, but the board shapes and sizes will be relatively the same. 

However, you might be surprised by the many different selections that will require you to look at the tag to be certain about the ratings. 

The selection process will certainly be the same. Each time you go to select a ride for the day, the thought inevitably starts with considering the conditions for the day. 

Conveniently in the middle will be the combination of the two, or a compromise on both, with medium flex snowboard options. 


What are the Differences?

It can be said the flexible boards on the smaller side will help a trick rider or half pipe competition pull off higher-difficulty tricks; it can also be said that the same sized board will be good for racing competitions that have sharp cornering. 

When it comes to the larger boards, the stiffer ride will be ideal for better control at faster speeds, while the softer boards will be nice for staying on top of the powder and snowfield surfaces.

Another difference will be the ease for beginners. When concerned about how much a first-timer or novice can handle, a stiffer board will need a higher level of competency from the rider to fully enjoy the advantages of sharper and harder edges. 


Pros and Cons: Stiff vs. Soft Snowboards

The overwhelming pro for the softer boards will be the ease with which beginners can learn the basics from these boards. 

In addition, performing tricks is easier with these styles of boards. The con will be the flex hinders a rider’s ability to dig into snow at higher speeds, which will be pro for a stiffer board. 

When moving at a higher velocity, the rigid edge can bite into the groomed slopes and harder-packed snowfields. 

The cons will be in the lack of agility in terrain parks, especially tree park areas, not to mention there is an added level of difficulty when attempting to perform tricks with these stiffer boards. 


Which Ones are More Beginner Friendly?

As mentioned in the article earlier, the softer boards will be the better option for allowing a rider to learn the basics of snowboarding. In addition, flexibility helps with the adjustment period for beginners, going from two free feet to being strapped onto a snowboard. 

Once you advance out of the learning stage, an All-Mountain board will be a perfect selection when advancing to the blue diamond slopes and harder. 

These boards are closer to medium stiffness and require less adjustment period time than they would jump to one of the stiffer boards on the market. 


Which One is More Versatile?

After you get past the blue diamond, medium difficulty slopes and begin to dabble in the single and double black diamond runs, consider switching to more flexible boards.

If you plan to have a more casual and fun time performing a trick or taking a side trip down the terrain park. 

If you have found a passion for snowboarding but also that need for speed, then shift back towards the stiffer boards, which, as mentioned before, will have better control at higher velocities. 

Each will have its own unique advantages, which makes it the answer for the most versatile All-mountain terrain snowboard. 


Final Thoughts on Stiff vs Soft Snowboards

There are not many other ways to approach learning to snowboard when it comes to selecting a snowboard. The simplest solution for the casual and fun rider will be to get an all-mountain and keep with that with each new board purchased. 

Otherwise, a simple, cost-effective solution will be to rent a snowboard from the lodge for the first lessons and even level up to the blue diamond runs. 

Once you have found what you like best, talking with the equipment manager about selecting a snowboard and others at the resort would be the smart time to purchase a personal snowboard.