An Expert Guide to Arbor Snowboards

Published on 01/30/2023 · 14 min readSnowboard Expert Kate Wilson takes us through the main snowboards from Arbor, and a step-by-step process on how to determine which Arbor board is right for you!
Kate Wilson, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Kate Wilson

Photo by Eric Barrett

With an overwhelming variety of snowboards on the market, there is no shortage of options to choose from. If sustainability, workmanship, and performance are high on your list of priorities, however, look no further than Arbor. Focused on environmentalism from its humble beginnings over 25 years ago, the brand continues to produce boards for every style of riding, gives back to the community that started it all, and has carved a solid path for the competition when it comes to tech.

Spending over two decades on peaks across Utah, Colorado, California, and Washington, my appreciation for high-quality snowboards has only increased through the seasons. My first setup was a complete package for $350—anything to get on the mountain with my limited budget that winter. As each piece inevitably fell apart or failed that first season, so began my search for gear made with durability in mind, and I’ve since owned or demoed just about every Arbor board on the market. Working with customers as a Curted Expert has also helped define what most people are really looking for: performance, quality, and style at a reasonable price point. When they discover that Arbor offers this in spades and is committed to sustainability, they are happy to explore all this brand has to offer.

Who Is Arbor Snowboards?

Arbor is a snowboard company started in 1995 by Chris Jensen and Bob Carlson, both skateboarders/surfers from Santa Monica who wanted to “surf the mountains.” Bob began snowboarding in Colorado, where he went to the University of Colorado and paid for his first snowboard and Vail pass by delivering pizza one summer. He spent the year after college traveling before heading back to California. He and Chris began thinking of how to turn the sustainable wood from Hawaii they had been trying to sell into a unique line of snowboards.

The company met with the usual trials of a new business, including a saturated market of almost 300 competitors. While successful brands were offering trendy artwork and high-profile riders, Bob and Chris were focused on sustainability and environmentalism—not something most industry people were talking about just yet.

They were determined to do something different, and their boards were immediately recognized for their beautiful wood veneer topsheet that stood out from the usual cartoon-type graphics. As more high-profile riders got on board with the brand, they began to incorporate their own style of graphics that complemented the stunning wood aesthetic, and business began to boom.

Today, Arbor continues to lead the way in the sustainable production of high-quality, top-performing snowboards. Their Returning Roots program works to offset carbon, planting Koa trees and rebuilding the rainforests of Hawaii.

(Watch an interview with founder Bob Carlson below)

With such a strong foothold in the snowboard industry, the next question is where to start when shopping for an Arbor board.

What to Consider When Buying an Arbor Snowboard

What Is My Preferred Riding Style?

Snowboarding goes beyond just riding the lifts and taking the groomers down. There are several types of riding styles, each with its own techniques and some that require a certain type of board, so deciding which you’re most interested in before hitting the mountain is important. Arbor offers an option for each of the styles listed below:

  • Resort: Typically, this is riding on groomed runs, focusing on speed and carving.
  • Freestyle/Park: A more playful type of riding, from buttering and spinning around the mountain to taking on features like jumps/rails in the terrain park and urban terrain.
  • Freeride: A style that explores the whole mountain and its natural features like trees, fresh powder, and steeper descents.
  • Backcountry: This one is for adventure seekers, typically in areas that are removed from other riders or a lift-served terrain. With untouched and unpacked snow, this is where the magic happens for many advanced riders. Backcountry riders sometimes use a splitboard, which is separated into two skis for climbing and then put back together for the descent. This type of board requires special bindings.

Once you decide on your preferred style of riding, you can narrow down the boards and choose one that is specifically designed for that style in terms of profile (camber or rocker), shape (true twin, directional, etc.), and flex (generally on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the stiffest). We will explore these options further later on in this article.

What Is My Skill Level?

Photo by Eric Barrett

Now that you know which type of riding you’re most interested in, determine your riding level since Arbor boards offer options at different skill levels. For example, their soft flex rocker profile is suitable for beginners. Still, a rocker with a stiffer flex or less of an uprise fender tilt would be better suited for a more intermediate or early advanced rider. Which level are you?

  • Beginner: A brand new rider or someone with low confidence in balancing and controlling their board. Also, one cannot consistently link turns without catching an edge and unfamiliar with snowboarding terms and techniques.
  • Intermediate: Someone who has progressed beyond the above limitations is comfortable with different types of snow conditions, can ride on steeper terrain, and make quicker, more controlled turns. May be experimenting with small to mid-sized jumps.
  • Advanced: A rider with complete control in any condition (like ice or hard, packed snow) and on steep terrain excels at carving and is stable at high speeds. They are also comfortable experimenting in different terrain and generally have a solid understanding of mountain safety.

What Is My Ideal Price Range for a Board?

Arbor offers a quality snowboard option at different price points. Their least expensive option is the Ethos (women’s) or Foundation (unisex), which runs around $399. Both are considered beginner boards. If you’ve got some room in your budget, the Element or Swoon (women's) are the next steps in terms of skill level and price, while more advanced and premium boards like the Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber run about $650.

What Bindings or Other Gear Do I Already Own?

While most bindings are universal for snowboards, older models of the Channel or EST from Burton will not work on an Arbor board. Similarly, most bindings meant for splitboarding are not compatible with a standard snowboard, so be sure if you only have room in your budget for a board that it’s compatible with what you already have.

What Size Boot Do I Wear?

Arbor snowboards come in various lengths, but it’s also important to consider each one’s width. The width of a board increases as you go up in length, and the regular size in most men’s boards is suitable for (men's) boots up to 10.5.

However, if you have an 11+ boot, it’s worth learning about the benefits of choosing a wider board. Generally speaking, your heel and toes should be on the edges of your board, with minimal overhang. If the ends of your boots don’t make it to the edges, it may be harder to apply pressure during turns, and the board will be less responsive. Too much overhang can result in toe and/or heel drag. This will significantly reduce your speed and overall snowboard performance.

Fortunately, Arbor offers options that most brands do not—wide and mid-wide sizes to ensure you’ve got the perfect fit. For example, the Crosscut Camber has a 26.6cm waist width at 165MW, and the Element Camber is 26.95cm at the same length. A minimal difference, but worth considering among all the other questions listed above if you wear a larger boot.

Photo by Bradley Dunn

What Are the Different Types of Arbor Snowboards?

Backcountry / Powder

Designed for steep lines and fresh pow, these boards are directional in shape and stiffer in flex. Powder boards, in particular, offer a setback stance and unique shape.

Arbor boards to check out in the backcountry/pow category include the Bryan Iguchi Pro (regular and split), Cosa Nostra, Clovis, Single, and the Landmark Splitboard.

Benefits:

  • The setback stance places the rider’s weight closer to the board's tail for better float.

Keep in Mind:

  • For more advanced riders, these are not forgiving or soft in flex.

Big Mountain Twin

Also meant for the steep and deep/off-piste, the Big Mountain Twin boards like the Shiloh and Coda offer the added advantage of a more freestyle feel with the true twin shape.

Benefits:

  • It’s an awesome all-mountain board with freestyle capabilities.

Keep in Mind:

  • Another stiff option for the aggressive rider.

Directional

Ridden slightly better in one direction, boards such as the Crosscut, A-Frame, Annex, and Bryan Iguchi Pro are snowboards meant for your inner freerider.

Benefits:

  • A slightly longer nose also offers better float in pow.

Keep in Mind:

  • Are you riding switch more often than not? Consider a true twin instead.

Resort / Resort Mountain Twin

The unisex Formula, Element, Wasteland, or Satori, and the women’s Poparazzi are perfect all-mountain resort options.

Benefits:

  • With a friendly flex and system camber or rocker profile, the intermediate rider set on crushing the groomers will find any of these boards to be a perfect fit!

Keep in Mind:

  • Mellow boards do not invite a ton of progression. Aim for something a little more advanced if you’d like to build on your skillset or hit something specific like powder or park.

Park

Park boards have a softer flex and true twin shape for the ultimate freedom and playful approach to snowboarding. Arbor considers the Draft, Relapse, Westmark, and Foundation excellent terrain/urban park riding options. Benefits:

  • Softer boards increase maneuverability for spins, buttering, and tricks on park features.

Keep in Mind:

  • Soft boards will not carve as well on the mountain and are more prone to chatter or washout.

Features to Look Out for When Buying an Arbor Snowboard

Offset Uprise Fenders

The tip and tail of the board have upward beveled contact points, lifting the edges off the snow. There are three options: 1.5, 3, and a 3-5 blend. All-mountain and powder-specific boards have higher degrees and offer the smoothest edge transitioning, reduced chance of catching an edge, and enhanced tracking and turn initiation.

Flip Tips

This feature offers increased ramping on the nose and tail of the board, creating the optimal platform for catch-free ollies. You can find Flip Tips on the Westmark Rocker and Camber boards.

Bio-Plastic Topsheet

A water-repellent, durable material made from castor bean oil, used on some boards to help eliminate petroleum-based plastics from Arbor’s production cycle. The Element and Wasteland feature this technology. While this is considered an eco-topsheet, Arbor does have an even more environmentally friendly option, the R.A.P. Topless Technology.

R.A.P. (Rise Above Plastics) Topless Technology

In the quest for a lighter and even more sustainably built board, Arbor offers boards like the Coda and Swoon, both with R.A.P. Topless Tech—a process that eliminates the need for the Bio-Plastic topsheet altogether. Instead, they are made with Entropy Bio-Resin from sustainable materials repurposed from other industries. Plus, the manufacturing process used is environmentally friendly and helps to reduce the carbon footprint by up to 40%!

GripTech

Arbor’s GripTech is an unblended tri-radial sidecut design that creates four additional contact points under your feet for improved edge control and increased bite when initiating turns. Exceptional for icy terrain or hard-packed snow. If you want a board specifically for powder, traditional GripTech may not be the best option, and Arbor has the solution with pow tech.

Pow Tech

The front two GripTech contact points are eliminated, and the board’s primary contact points on the snow are moved to your back foot, where your back leg instead drives power and performance.

How To Choose the Right Arbor Snowboard for You

Selecting the ideal snowboard can be challenging with so many options, but you can start narrowing things down now that you’re familiar with the features of Arbor boards. Below are three different types of riders I’ve helped on Curated and the key factors I considered before suggesting a board for them.

Tango: The Newbie

Tango is a beginner snowboarder who has rented a few times and is in the market for a relatively expensive quality option. He is looking for something extremely forgiving, as he still catches edges on the boards he rents. He is also concerned about ease of control when riding and wants a board he can confidently take all over the mountain.

Features that a beginner like Tango should look for:

  • A board with Arbor’s System Rocker profile that offers a very forgiving, catch-free ride. Rockers are great all over the mountain, too!
  • A softer flex for more control and the ability to maneuver quickly while he is still learning
  • A true twin shape so he can play around and get comfortable riding both directions—something that may come in handy if he gets into freestyle riding later.
  • A board with an extruded base because it's not as fast as a board with a sintered base and is cheaper to repair if a new rider causes accidental damage when learning. The manufacturing process is less expensive than sintered base options and offers a cheaper board for the beginner that may progress and upgrade next season.

Sarah: Intermediate Looking to Progress

With three solid seasons behind her, Sarah has a passion for the sport and is looking to step it up and take her skills to the next level. She wants to spend much more time in the trees and have better control at higher speeds. The intermediate board she has been riding is rocker dominant with a medium flex, and she’s looking for something versatile but much more aggressive that will place her in the advanced skill level with her friends.

Features that progressing intermediate riders like Sarah should look for:

  • A traditional camber profile will require more ride input since its contact points are under the bindings. In turn, it offers a more energetic and responsive ride that Sarah is ready for!
  • A medium-stiff flex board reduces chatter for a smooth ride and more stability at higher speeds.
  • A directional twin shape is designed for precision in tight spots or trees but still offers the ability to ride switch if she wants to get playful.
  • A sintered base for added durability and speed

Syd: Advanced Shredder Heading out West

Syd had a trip booked to Wyoming with his family and wanted the ultimate powder board. He has spent the last several years in the icy slopes of Vermont and couldn’t wait to finally ride some fresh pow. While he planned on making it an annual event, he still wants a board he can ride back home in fresh conditions that will last him several seasons no matter where he rides.

Features that an advanced/pow seeker like Syd should look for:

  • A directional shape that’s optimized to ride in one direction, with a longer nose that performs better in pow and variable snow types.
  • A board with a tapered tail (more narrow than the tip) causes the nose end to rise and the tail to dip into the snow—perfect for powder!
  • A setback stance to help to keep the nose of his snowboard up above the snow
  • A board equipped with slight GripTech for edge control when he gets back to that East Coast icy terrain.

Conclusion

Arbor is a snowboard company that continues to create some of the highest-quality products on the market while doing its part to preserve the planet.

While it’s hard to choose a favorite, I have had the most fun on my Westmark camber and highly recommend this board for a versatile, freestyle-oriented ride! Get in touch with a Winter Sports Expert to purchase this one in your size or for more info to help choose the Arbor board that’s perfect for your riding style and goals.

We’re happy to dig in and ensure you get the perfect setup to make this season the best one yet! If you're shopping for someone else, grab a gift card and connect them with one of our Experts for their personalized recommendations!

Curated experts can help

Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

Shop Snowboards on Curated

Arbor Swoon Camber Snowboard · Women's · 2023
$384.97$549.95
Arbor Crosscut Camber Snowboard · 2024
$384.97$549.95
Arbor Element Camber Snowboard · 2024
$349.97$499.95

Browse more Snowboards

Arbor Ethos Rocker Snowboard · Women's · 2023
$199.98$399.95
Arbor Foundation Rocker Snowboard · 2023
$199.98$399.95
Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro Camber Snowboard · 2023
$389.97$649.99
Arbor Landmark Camber Splitboard · 2024
$489.97$699.95
Arbor Foundation Rocker Snowboard · 2023
$199.98$399.95
Arbor Coda Rocker Snowboard · 2023
$359.97$599.95
Arbor Shiloh Camber Snowboard · 2024
$384.97$549.95

Browse more Snowboards

Read next

New and Noteworthy