Shay’s take on the 2012 Best of Test

31 Aug, 2011

When it comes to deciding the top boards of the season, each magazine defines their own lists and how they collect the results.  For Snowboarder Magazine, it means talking to the industry and shop employees to find out their favorites from the industry on-snow demos.  These on-snow demos were hosted  at a mix of mountains from Vermont to Colorado to Michigan to California in a variety of conditions in last year’s very wintery winter.  After the demos are done and feedback is given, the top 3 men’s boards and top 2 women’s boards are awarded in the Best of Test and the remaining 7 worthy boards are given the Best of the Rest category.

Snowboarder’s Tom Monterosso said, “The staff of Snowboarder Magazine traveled  all winter long to gather intel from over 500 retailers, buyers, and real riders at on-snow demos from across the country in order to present to you the sticks that rode best-(ahem)-across the board.  These testers have tried a plethora of different rides in varying conditions to provide honest feedback as to how certain snowboards handle in corduroy, ice, pow and slush.”

The Best of Test results this year are noticeably freestyle specific which says a lot about the testers preferences at the on-snow demos.  New this year, the women received the top 2 snowboard options (instead of 1 last year) and the Mission Ridge, WA results were missing from the state top three picks (maybe Snowboarder missed that demo).

I personally was amazed to see the popularity of the Burton Nug across the board for the demos and placing number #1 in the test but not surprised to see the Rome Mod Rocker and Never Summer Proto place in the top 3 results.  Both boards have been very popular choices and alot of discussion/questions regarding them.  The K2 Happy Hour is the only board in the men’s top list that I haven’t ridden but can’t wait to try out.  For the women, the GNU B-Street, Burton Deja Vu Flying V and Roxy Ollie Pop rounding out the freestyle picks for women.  It was a let down to see empty space on the women’s top picks and only one quote from a female rider as to why a board was a top pick.  Looking at the results, my biggest concern is the lack of variety for brands that made the list.  You see a lot of Mervin Manufacturing, Ride/K2, Rome, Burton and Never Summer.  It’s hard to interpret if smaller brands even stand a chance at this test because the likelihood of industry riders all riding Stepchild or Unity or Bataleon seems incredibly small and not enough votes to garner a win.

In the end, it’s not a test or review that will decide what board works for you.  It’s finding out for yourself to know if one of these top picks can be your favorite board this winter.

Snowboarder Magazine’s Best of Test 2012

Men’s Winners:

1.  Burton Nug

2.   Rome Mod Rocker

3.  K2 Happy Hour (tie)

3.  Never Summer Proto (tie)

Men’s Best of the Rest:

Lib Tech Attack Banan

Ride Buck Wild

Rome Agent Rocker

Lib Tech Banana Magic

Ride DH2

GNU Park Pickle

Women’s Winner:

1.  GNU B-Street

2.  Burton Deja Vu Flying V (tie)

2.  Roxy Ollie Pop (tie)

Top Boards by State

Loon Mountain, NH

Burton Nug

Rome Mod Rocker

GNU Impossible

Boyne Mountain, MI

Rome Mod Rocker

Ride Buck Wild

Rome Agent Rocker

Winter Park, CO

Never Summer Proto

Burton Nug

GNU Park Pickle

Snowbasin, UT

Burton Nug

K2 Happy Hour

Salomon Man’s Board

Mammoth Mountain, CA

Never Summer Proto

Burton Nug

Never Summer Evo

Alpine Meadows, CA

Burton Nug

Lib Tech Attack Banana

Rome Agent Rocker

What are your thoughts on this list?

About the author


From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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  1. Kimi
    August 31, 2011

    I think the results are pretty skewed towards the more popular easy to attain boards, than actual best ride boards. Before I started snow boarding the only brands I new where burton, solomon, K2, and roxy and I didn’t even know roxy made snowboards. Anywho burton was the one the rich kids had and the one the every one “wants” burton is definitely a fad right now and I think it gets a lot of interest and attention. I think that has a lot(not all) to do with their boards rankings. I think some other manufacturers on the list may be a similar situation.
    On the other hand I read your best of, and my personal three top women’s picks were your top three as well. That being said, its all personal preference and a lot of opinion. Over all I’d say I find this top picks list just okay, nothing exciting and sounds like a list of all around easy to handle versatile and easily available boards. A good list for the masses. Maybe not quite as good for the fanatic. Thanx Shay!

  2. Phil
    August 31, 2011

    I agree with “Kimi”. The results just reflect what you see at the mountain. Easily 70% of the people on snowboards, don’t know how to ride, have never bothered to take any ongoing lessons, and can’t even maintain their own gear. I’m not slamming anybody, it’s great to see people out there but it’s more an activity or pastime for them like “show me how to ride this wake board” than it is people really deeply into it as a sport the way kids might practice with a swim coach or golf coach etc.

    Once you get to a certain level of riding you know exactly what length, width, sidecut, flex, and base work for you and you stop wasting time trying every novelty board manufacturers toss out there for a sales bump. And they know that. They know most core shreds still ride camber or something close hybrid, but they’re trying to make fun, easy, entry level boards that they can sell to weekenders and newcomers. Otherwise they’re screwed as there is only something like 200,000 in the whole country who ride more than 20 days a year and have been riding for more than 5 years.

    It’s all about business.

  3. L.E.D.
    August 31, 2011

    Burton isn’t a fad. They are the Nike of snowboarding. You can’t argue with their history in the sport and the money they put into their product.

  4. Frank
    August 31, 2011

    Me I am not surprise that Burton Nug is popular… It is very different ride…. plus it is fun… Surprising Versatile and Original from Burton (good R&D here)… May not be my daily choice board for 2012 for ME but I had fun with the Nug… Burton now just have to find a butter Edges Grip than Frostbite and I may be a fan again… 😉 But I am agree with L.E.D. they or not Fad and we need to respect there approach of R&D and so on in the Industry.

  5. Keither
    August 31, 2011

    Snoboarder Magazine is a joke and these results reflect that.

  6. Brek Leines
    September 02, 2011

    there needs to be a nw location for the test. seems like everywhere on the list either doesnt get snow or its really light stuff…

  7. Frank
    September 03, 2011

    Is that the Nug Directional or Twin that wond?

  8. September 04, 2011

    Interesting comments on the Best of Test!

    Frank, it says the twin version.

    Brek, usually there is the NW demo that’s part of the test but not this year. The demo did happen but maybe they didn’t get any feedback from it.

  9. kc
    September 05, 2011

    kimi. i think you nailed this. I myself am an amateur and knew very little when starting out in snowboarding & even to this day i am still learning so much more about the tech specs of snowboards & my ride ability- and find like shay said ride your own board to test out what you like best for yourself!

    phil- i dont know where to start. but whilst i hear you say your not slamming anybody i still can’t help feel that snowboarder elitism mentality coming from within. this is one of the things that makes me annoyed in the snowboard industry. yes. some people want to ride for fun and see it as a pastime activity but what is wrong with this? all peoples needs are different as i the market for which these companies try to cater for. i just want to see people having fun & keeping the industry alive!

    i myself get annoyed that i can only get 5-10days a year on the snow (hopefully not this year as i’m doing a snow season in banff!) but the industry has always been noted for its high price entry right? not everyone can afford to go to mountains across the world & become devoutly rooted into snowboarding- its expensive sh*t! i will whole heartedly admit i have much to learn about the industry & mechanics of the boards i ride, do my own waxing etc
    you also have to remember that yes its all about business- but the people who have founded these companies did so out of a passion for their love for snowboarding etc so in order to keep this dream alive i’m sorry but they have to keep making profit somewhere to sustain a future in keeping their company alive. how else do you propose this? like you said if only the hard core shredders stuck to buying boards i doubt there would be a future in the industry i’m afraid but i see nothing wrong with this @ all!

    more importantly as kimi said its just opinions- i love capita & not one of their boards entered the list but i don’t think this means there is a concern that smaller companies are not on the list- i’m pretty sure they are faring well on their own way- capita again as my example- 10 yrs in the industry- enough said! 🙂