If your idea of snowboarding is spending most of the day in the terrain park or splitting equal time riding goofy and regular, then this board isn't for you. If you hunt for gnarly pitches in the backcountry, never met a fall line you didn't like, and rarely make a turn before hitting 30 mph, the experts-only Arbor Steepwater should be buckled to your boots.
Created with input from big-mountain legend and five-time Verbier Extreme-winner Steve Klassen, the Steepwater is fine-tuned for sacking variable terrain. The board, available in big boy lengths of 167cm and 162cm, is the one you want when attacking the icy traverses and wind scoured entrances to chutes that often precede descents you don't tell your insurance agent about. A narrow waist and tapered tail keep the deck quick from edge-to-edge, making it more nimble than boards of similar lengths. Traditional camber helps you finish you turns. And the board preternaturally sets its wide, recycled edges an incredibly stiff core of poplar and paulownia wood sandwiched between extra-burly fiberglass. During eight days of testing, the Steepwater deftly handled all conditions from powder to ice-covered crud. Light underfoot, the deck was incredibly responsive, but never twitchy. It's a juiced up directional board that, once aimed down the mountain, is fast, agile, and incredibly aggressive. [$580; arborcollective.com]
Testing location: Mammoth Mountain
Days Used: 8 days (3 on the 167; 5 on the 162)
Conditions encountered: Hard pack, powder, and warm, Spring-like snow.
Nitpick: None. But know that the Steepwater is a lot of board.