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Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero snowboard review: Powder lovers apply within

Snowboard review: What do we really think about the powder-plowing Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero?

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Saying “fresh pow” to a snowboarder is like saying “walkies” to a dog. Ears perk up, heads tilt, eyes widen, and the mind spins into overdrive about how much fun can be had outside. For many, the lack of a proper snowboard equipped to handle deep powder detracts from heading into the snow altogether. Some take their main all-mountain ride into deep powder and hope for the best. For us, Burton snowboards rule the mountain, on and off-piste, so we were excited to give the Hometown Hero a shot at proving itself in powder. The Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero snowboard wants to help powder hounds achieve more – but is it worth the spend? Moreover, is it great in all conditions, or should you leave it on display until powder days arrive?

I recently tested the Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero in various conditions and on various terrain. Here’s my unbiased take.

The type of snowboarder I am

I am highly technical. If you want to nerd out on down-unweighted turns, I’m your guy. I plan my lines and execute them. I don’t crave speed, and I’m not reckless. I’m not always a park rider, but I’m not afraid of features. For me, side hits are far more fun to me than a terraformed park. I ride in the Pacific Northwest most days but often travel to go snowboarding.

The conditions for my Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero review

This board was tested on Mount Hood in Oregon and at Vail Resort in Colorado.

Mount Hood was mostly groomed with some fresh snowfall. The snow there was mostly packed.

Vail was groomed and fluffy on the first day of testing. It was about as perfect a blue-bird day as I’ve ever had on a mountain. Day two brought a lot of fresh snow, both from the previous overnight and as I was riding during the day.

Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero specs and profile

The Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero review is a directional camber-rocker board with a nose ever-so-slightly wider than its tail. The natural stance is set back 40mm, which is more than most directional boards from Burton. (These stats alone suggest the board wants to bulldoze snow.)

Burton says its Family Tree Hometown Hero is meant for all-mountain and powder riding with a “personality” between “happy medium” and “stiff and aggressive.” The board has a symmetrical flex, Burton’s Super Fly 2 700G core with Dualzone EGD woodgrain along the edges through the contact points, WFO Base, and a five-layer base. Like all Burton boards, it utilizes the brand’s Channel board mount. Burton says the board also has “strategically placed glass” to help nose stiffness and overall performance.

This board comes in sizes between 144cm and 165cm, with wide sizes available in 156cm and 160cm. The 165cm board is only available in wide.

Bindings, boots, and board size used for this review

I rode the Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero with Burton Re:Flex Step-On bindings and the Burton Photon Step-On boot. I rode the 160W Hometown Hero.

The Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero: How it rides

The beauty of Vail is the various conditions you can ride. The beauty of the Family Tree Hometown Hero is the variety of conditions it can handle. Still, the board is far more suitable for riding in some specific terrain and in particular conditions.

On piste, the Family Tree Hometown Hero is comfortable. It took a bit more aggressive maneuvering for me to carve as I’m used to, and the board wants to float a bit more than I prefer when carving. I can’t say I agree with Burton’s assertion it’s between medium and aggressive, but that might also be due to the board’s heavily directional camber-rocker profile. My turns had to be wider than typical as the board would sort of slide into aggressive turns rather than hold the edge and knife its way through my runs. Be mindful of this as you plot your course, and you’ll be fine.

(Because I enjoy car analogies for snowboards, I’ll say the Hometown Hero is like driving a BMW X5. It’s absolutely sporty and capable, but you’d want to take a sharp turn just a touch wider than you would in an M3.)

Because of this, I’d say on groomed or well-traversed runs, the Family Tree Hometown Hero should be approached as a casual ride board, not a park-ready carving machine. I found myself having to commit a bit more when I wanted to carve, which meant I had to change how I ride a bit to get the Family Tree Hometown Hero to respond to my wishes on runs. This is expected behavior, though — its large nose, setback stance, and camber-rocker profile tell me this board wants to float rather than carve and is looking for powder.

So I obliged.

Get off the beaten path a bit, and the Hometown Hero shines. This board absolutely annihilates fresh snow. It wants you to point it downhill through the trees in deep pow and enjoy the ride. I’ve never ridden a board with a rounded nose and tail that handled fluffy stuff so well. If you seek to make your own off-piste powder tracks, the Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero is the snowboard for you.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It took me half a run to figure that out, honestly. I was going to give myself one run to carve groomers and one run to poke around Vail resort’s off-run deep, fluffy powder. I quickly understood the board is happy enough on runs but craves the wilderness. What started with some off-catwalk powder exploration turned into cutting through the trees to see how much trouble I could get into.

The answer? None. The is so well crafted and delightfully engineered that I was able to float or cut right through trees and leave snail-trails in untouched snow. So long as you obey the standard principle of leaning back a bit while riding powder, the Hometown Hero takes care of the rest. When you need to lean into turns and get a touch more aggressive, the wide, long nose steers you effortlessly right through deep powder.

The nose of this board has a gentle 12mm rise to help plow snow, and the tail has a sharper rise to keep drag to a minimum. This reduces (or eliminates, maybe?) deep powder slowing you down, but also creates more stability in the rear of the board. Again, stay heavier on your back foot and enjoy the ride.

Burton’s Family Tree Hometown Hero isn’t a terribly fast board. It glides effortlessly through any terrain, but it isn’t a jacket-flapper by any means. I can say it keeps speed well, particularly through catwalks, but I wasn’t pulling the e-brake on myself at any point. Rocker boards are often better at preventing edge catches, but you will want to be on an edge with the Hometown Hero. I never caught an edge, but it did give me a harder tug when I got lazy than my Custom Flying V board.

If you like riding switch, hitting big park features, or buttering on flat ground, this probably isn’t the best board for you. I found it good for side hits — particularly when there was a good bit of powder — but again, that’s not quite what this board was designed for.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero: Who should buy it?

In testing this board, I recognized it’s perfect for those who want to explore powder at resorts or their home mountain. I spent hours cutting across runs to powder on either side of a piste. This wasn’t because I felt obligated to “test the board” for you, dear reader. It was because I was having way too much fun, and quite honestly, the powder is where this board is most comfortable.

You could even do some light back-country exploring with this board if you wanted. It’s not as adept at powder-plowing as a swallow-tail board would be, but the Family Tree Hometown Hero is performant in the powder, and I’d feel comfortable taking it well off the beaten path.

If you’ve ever looked off-path while riding and thought the powder would be fun to ride — then looked down at your atypical camber board and realized that might not be a smart move — the Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero is a great option. It’s a go-everywhere snowboard.

I was happy I took the board out when I did, and in the conditions I was met with. I’m not crazy about crowded resorts, so the ability to take my board into the deep powder and avoid all the traffic was delightful.

Buy this board if you like a slightly surfier ride on groomers and the ability to chart your own path on powder and through the trees. Do keep in mind it wants to be busting through powder more than it wants to be on those well-worn runs, though, so you’ll want to explore to outer boundaries of the resort. But let’s be real: you want that anyway.

Nate Swanner
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Nate is General Manager for all not-Digital-Trends properties at DTMG, including The Manual, Digital Trends en Espanol…
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