Arbor Nightrain 155. Photo: Nick Hamilton

Arbor Nightrain 155. Photo: Nick Hamilton

Arbor NightTrain
Through The Woods

Arbor has been rooted in the thickets since day one; their name even spells it all out (Arbor is Latin for tree). From here they've managed to cultivate innovative carpentry skills and implement them in a board design that would probably inspire a round of applause from Jesus, honest Abe and even Bob Villa. Their pinnacle woodwork shines through in the NightTrain, an all-mountain snowboard utilizing different wood properties to enhance the ride.

Founded "on the assertion that solutions to many of today's most difficult design challenges exist in the natural world" Arbor's board designers rummaged through the forest and gathered five distinct types of timber to construct the boards' innards. They started with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified poplar and Paulownia for the core—the proven standard in snowboard construction for snap, reliability, and durability. Spliced throughout this core are slivers of spongy cork, "An incredibly renewable and natural insulator that dissipates vibration for smoother performance at speed," according to Arbor co-founder Bob Carlson, "and by inserting tip-to-tail cork stringers between a core's laminates, we dampen the ride without deadening the flex. Instead of chatter you get usable energy."

Along the rails lie a strip of Diamondwood. This compressed poplar is the hardest wood commercially available and not only fortifies the edges, but also creates snappy turns and ollies. The last tree in the equation is a structurally sound, resin soaked maple veneer used for the topsheet in place of a layer of fiberglass. Carbon trusses in the tips and a stone ground Rocket base, compete the jigsaw puzzle and make for a board that's solid for big backcountry elements, Superpipe rallies, high-speed slashes and of course, right at home in the trees.—B.G.

Length: 155 cm
Sidecut radius: 8.10 mm
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Effective edge: 116.8 cm
Price: $545
Also available: 158, 161
PHOTO: Nick Hamilton

More on the board’s design from Arbor’s co-founder Bob Carlson:

"The NighTrain is the best example yet of what Arbor has achieved using natural materials.  We founded this company on the assertion that solutions to many of today's most difficult design challenges exist in the natural world.  We've built on this belief by replacing, environmentally harmful, man-made materials with ecologically based, natural alternatives.  The goal is to create a higher level of function and relevance in the most responsible way possible. The end result must be performance with significantly reduced impact on the environment.”

"We designed the new NighTrain as an aggressive board with the balls to handle the biggest backcountry freestyle elements, high-speed resort assaults, and Superpipe sessions.  To pull this off we turned to cork to provide smoother performance at speed.  Cork is an incredibly renewable and natural insulator.  By inserting tip-to-tail cork stringers between a core’s laminates, we create a system that dissipates vibration in the frequency that creates chatter.  As a result, we dampen the ride without deadening the flex. Instead of chatter you get usable energy.  Cork is harvested off the cork oak tree every 9 years, without damaging the tree.  It's the original renewable material.  The use of cork reduces the Nightrain's reliance on petroleum-based foils.

“To improve edge durability and return, we used Diamondwood.  Diamondwood is compressed poplar and the hardest wood material available commercially.  As such, it is an excellent replacement for endangered hardwoods.  By adding it as the outside laminate of our full-length wood core, we create load beams that provide quicker initiation and return, while reinforcing the sidewall for improved durability and impact resistance.  To reduce weight we created a core made from a 50/50 blend of Paulownia and sustainable sourced Poplar.  Paulownia is a fast growing, plantation-cultivated wood species that delivers ultra-lightweight, balsa-like performance.  Unlike balsa, Paulownia's tensile strength is similar to traditional wood core materials, which allow us to deliver maximum weight reduction, without reducing durability.”

“To finish off the design, we gave the NighTrain a structural wood topsheet made from red, water-based dyed Bird's-eye maple.  The wood top works like a 3rd layer of fiberglass.  During construction resin locks the dense wood fibers in place, creating a composite layer that structurally enhances a board, providing added return and durability, while allowing for important weight and material reduction.  This structural top allows us to reduce our reliance on processed fiberglass by 10 – 15%.”

"In the end, we're motivated by the fact that we all need clean air to skate, clean water to surf, and snow to ride.  As of today, no snowboard is 100% environmentally friendly to produce or dispose of.  But since day one, we've been working to find the best alternative materials to take us closer to the goal of a board that can be ecologically produced, perform beyond all expectations, and biodegradable when you done with it.”

"The Nightrain—loaded like a freight train, flyin’ like an aeroplane, speedin’ like a space brain."