Snowboards vary widely in terms of quality and Construction
Usually made of wood or foam, a board's core should be light, resilient and durable. Some designers say that a good wood core retains its liveliness and camber longer, but this feature alone shouldn't lead you to choose one board over another.
There are two types; cap and sandwich. The topsheet (outer skin) on a cap board extends to the edges. On a sandwich board the topsheet is flat, with the armor plating on the sides provided by separate sidewalls. Some designers claim cap construction enhances edge hold on hard snow and generally improves board responsiveness. Others say caps are harder to repair if you damage the sidewall. Don't make a purchase decision based on this feature. Fact is, it's relatively easy for a good shop to repair the sidewall of a sandwich board by patching it, but it's hard to glue in a patch that will hold on a cap board. While both types of construction have their merits; it's the guts of the board, the materials under the skin; that make the biggest difference.
A board basically from the bottom up is:
plastic base, (p-tex)
fiberglass or epoxy
wood or foam core
more glass or epoxy
steel inserts to attach the bindings
Usually made of P-tex, Snowboard bases are made in one of two ways: sintered or extruded. A sintered base is superior; it's more durable, faster and holds wax better than an extruded base. It's also more expensive and difficult to repair.
If you're looking for high performance, go with a sintered base; for a board on a budget, an extruded model will do.
How (and where) the board bends. Modern technology produces boards that are soft in flex tip to tail, but stiff torsionally (twisting on the longitudinal axis). Stiff torsional flex allows a board to grip ice and hard snow; soft torsional flex makes a board more "forgiving," but less responsive. Lighter riders and beginners want softer flex. Carving boards are built with fairly firm flex and stiff torsion; freestyle boards are softer. Freeride boards are somewhere in between. Extreme boards are built with additional stiffeners for stability and strength when landing jumps.
There are two kinds; partial steel edges that run only along the sides of the board, ending at the nose and tail, and edges that wrap all the way around both ends of the board.
The gentle arch a board makes when you rest it on a flat surface. It's closely related to flex: the higher the camber, the more pressure the board puts at the nose and tail.
** Tip: Flat camber indicates a board may spin easily, which can be good for certain freestyle moves. In a used board, however, it may also be a sign that the board is worn out. In most new boards you want a slightly springy camber, which helps stabilize the board at higher speeds and on hard snow, and also makes it easier to turn.
The major structural component of a snowboard. Different weaves and placements of fiberglass within a board can influence its flex pattern, strength and weight. All boards contain "unidirectional" glass fabric (with most of the fibers running the length of the board). Torsionally stiff boards use additional layers with the fibers running diagonally. Any layer may be reinforced with carbon fiber or Kevlar, which can help reduce the board's weight while improving its strength.
** Tip: You can't judge the quality of the glass wrap by looking at the board. The manufacturer's catalog sometimes shows a cutaway drawing of how the fiberglass layers are oriented, but in reality you have to judge the quality of the glass work based on the factory's reputation. Ask the salesperson.
Used in some high-speed and extreme boards for extra stability and strength, which make these boards heavier. The metal strips are usually aluminum alloy or, in rare cases, stainless steel.