For all but the most hardcore snowboarders, a board built mainly for powder snow is a pure indulgence. For as much use as it’s gonna get — read: not a lot for most riders — a powder board is one of those products that’s difficult to justify. But then I tested the Jones Hovercraft, a powder-friendly board that retails for just $399.
Available in only one stubby-sounding length, 156cm, the company claims the deck packs “the volume of a 178cm powder board into a nimble 156cm.” As far as float goes, the Jones guys are not lying. I rode the Hovercraft for a few months last winter at Mammoth Mountain, where I live and work, and the board was incredible. It floated in the deep and its short length ensured navigating tight tree sections was a cinch. And when things got dicey, no problem: The board turned on a snowflake and held its edge.
To be honest, the Hovercraft was so good that I asked for a second opinion. I recruited a friend I’ll call Misanthropic Mikey. He’s a guy who not only sees the glass as half empty, but will spit out the contents in disgust. But he’s an expert rider, and after he rode the Hovercraft he was literally all smiles just like me.
Mikey also took the board out in variable conditions and it performed better than he expected, he reported back. And did I mention he had had high expectations? He even noted “It makes a powder rider out of anyone,” which I took as a big compliment for the board.
Shape-wise, the Hovercraft has a blunt and wide nose for float, directional rocker, and, of course, a stance that puts you way back on the tail. The board is built by Nidecker, whose reputation for building quality decks is second to none. The Hovercraft is a part of the four-board lineup from Jeremy Jones’s eponymous new company.
If you’ve always been on the fence about a powder board, the Hovercraft, at $399, might give an excuse to make the leap. You won’t be disappointed — even Misanthropic Mikey likes it.
—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif. His review of the best reverse-camber snowboards is in the current issue of Men’s Journal