Freeride Board Advice- Long post/special case
Alright, so just like everyone else, I'm looking for a new board, and I could use some input from you all. Sorry for the crazy long post- but this post would be pretty pointless if I didn't give you all the relevant info.
My stats: I'm 28 yrs old, 6' tall, about 165lbs, size 10.5 boot. I grew up as a skier (gasp!), but switched to snowboarding in my early/mid teenage years so I've been riding a long time. I did take about a 6+ year hiatus from the sport (mostly thanks to economic and geographic limitations), but several seasons ago I got back into it.
My riding: Simply put, I love to freeride. I really enjoy high-speed carving, and IF there was any real backcountry nearby, I'd probably ride it all the time (sadly, there isn't). I ride with some pretty good skiers almost all the time, and I need to go fast to keep up with them. I'd say I'm an "advanced" rider- I feel like I can confidently and quickly ride/carve down any groomed run in the midwest. I don't really do any crazy spin tricks anymore, and I don't really ride switch much at all. I love to go fast and get air off of natural features. I'd say a vast majority of my riding is done on steep groomers (keep in mind, that's coming from my midwestern perspective...so, as steep as Lutsen or the U.P. of Michigan has to offer, but...still "midwestern" steep). I'd say I'm "quasi-aggressive" or "aggressive" most of the time; I'm not going full-tilt every run, but most runs I'm going at a pretty fast pace.
My location: I live in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN. I don't ride around here very often at all, even though there are several local hills...mostly out of pure boredom. It's just not worth my time (and money) to ride around here very much (especially because I'm not riding pipe/park anymore). I never ride rails either (lots of respect for those that do though!). I take a few trips up to the north shore to Lutsen every year, and this year I've got a very special "quasi-backcountry" trip planned to the U.P. in Michigan (specifically to Mt Bohemia- lots of ungroomed snow and crazy looking tree runs).
My existing setup: Several years ago, I bought a super-closeout 5150 deck for about $100 so that I could return from my "hiatus" (not sure of the model…Nomad maybe?). Its 159cm, wood core, biaxial glass, and cap constructed I think. I've been happy with my ultra-old Preston aluminum bindings, and I love my Solomon boots that I've had for a few seasons. I ride regular-footed, about +15 on my front foot and +5 or so on my back foot. This setup has been really good considering what I paid for it, but I keep getting frustrated by the slow and easily-damaged base, crappy edges and crappy edge grip (I wash out when carving at speed sometimes), mushy and un-poppy flex, etc.
Catch #1- I REALLY don't wanna spend $450-$500+ on a new board. If I was going to spend that kind of money, I'd be looking at boards like the Rossi One Magtek, Arbor A-Frame (might be one of the sexiest decks out there IMO), a few different NS boards, maybe the Libtech T. Rice, Bataleon Undisputed, Compatriot Falcon/Outra Vez, etc. There are LOTS of good boards in that price range. So before you make suggestions, remember that budget is a HUGE concern for me! I'd like to be closer to the $300ish price range (or less) if it's at all possible. I'm not opposed to buying something that's a year or 2 old, or even gently used. And yes, I'll be prowling the "for sale" section here on the site!
Catch #2- I'm kinda biased in a few ways. Burton is out of the question (I don't wanna buy new bindings, and I think they are a bit overpriced anyway). I do have a bit of a bias in favor of companies that make stuff in the USA. K2 has never really impressed me much and I'm not really into most of their boards, but I've heard the Turbo Dream and other high-end boards from them are super awesome. I'm definitely not opposed to riding something from a "ski" company like Rossi, Atomic, Head, Elan/Artec, etc. More than "who" makes it, I care about durability, functionality/features, and value.
Catch #3- I'm not super picky about graphics, but I like simple and/or bold. No pink, no purple, no rainbows. Bright colors are fine, just as long as they still have some machismo to them.
Catch #4- Demo days are pretty much out of the question. There are few (if any) of them near where I live, and I doubt I'd get a chance to ride any of the boards I'm really looking at. Even if I DID go to a demo day, it'd be at a local hill that's so small I wouldn't really be able to put the board through it's paces anyway.
Catch#5- It's entirely possible that I'll take this new freeriding board on a trip or 2 out west at some point in the next year or two.
I'm thinking I'd like to find a decent freeriding board, with a 6/10-7/10 flex, directional shape (or directional/twin hybrid), sintered base, with good edge grip. I'm thinking that I should stick with traditional camber, but I'd be open to camber/rocker hybrids in cases where it's still engineered for my type of riding (like on the new Rossi One Magtek, etc). Regular width will probably work, but midwide might not be a bad idea either cuz some freeride boards run a bit narrow (I really hate drag!). Looking to find something in the 159-164cm range.
Also- DURABILITY is a key factor to me. I want a board that will last me for a good 3-5 years or more, so it's got to be built to last and put up with some abuse!
OK, so as you prepare your recommendations, here's some specific options I've found so far:
-Last season's Bataleon Omni (found a few closeouts for around $300ish or so). The freeride version of TBT is VERY interesting to me, but I've seen some reviewers who say that the Omni doesn't hold an edge nearly as well as it should. Will TBT make the board feel too surfy and sloppy to really lock into uber-crusty hardpack groomers here in icy MN? Would I be better suited to try and track down a used or closeout Undisputed?
-Last season's Rossignol OneMag (on sale for $300). Even without the new camber/rocker hybrid profile on this year's model, it sounds like a great freeriding board. Seems like this board has lots of edge grip and is great for freeriding, but is it going to be too stiff and/or unforgiving for me (remember, I live in the upper midwest and I only weigh 165lbs!)?
-Epix Freeride series ($350). A bit more money, but its a small company that looks like it makes solid looking boards right here in the USA (look 'em up if you're not familiar). Haven't found any specs on their boards (sidecut, waist width, etc), so I can't be sure I'll avoid toe and heel drag yet, but seems like a really good board at a great price. Have any of you heard anything about these boards?
-I'm even open to some of the stiffer "all mountain freestyle" type decks that supposedly carve really well, such as last years Ride Concept TMS (closeout at Evo puts it closer to the price range). My lighter weight, and the fact that I ride in the midwest (as opposed so somewhere awesome out West), tells me that even though I'm a freerider I'd be able to get away with one of these "freestyle" decks just fine, as long as the design still supports good carving and edge hold.
Alright, I'll shut up now. Any/all input is welcome!