Often overlooked, your snowboard base has a big influence on how your board performs on the hill and in some respect how much fun you’re going to have. There are three main factors that should influence your decision when choosing between the two main kinds of base - extruded or sintered - your riding level, the terrain you like to shred and how much you can afford to spend.
Polyethylene is the main and often sole ingredient that snowboards bases are made from. The water-repellent, highly porous and abrasion-resistant attributes of the material make it perfect for sliding on snow.
Molecular mass and density of the polyethylene determine the performance of the base. The higher the molecular mass, the higher the abrasion resistance of the base; a high mass also results in greater wax absorption.
Polyethylene granules (up to 500,000 molecular mass) are melted together then heated and cooled before being rolled out into a flat sheet.
- Cheaper to produce than a sintered base, making for a more affordable board
- Easier to repair gouges / damage
- Only a minimal drop off in performance when the board has no wax in it because it can only absorb a small amount in the first place
- Holds less wax than a sintered base
- Is slower than a waxed sintered board
- The material is softer so it is damaged more easily
Extruded bases are best for...
✔ Park rats / Dome riders
It is easier to repair damage from rails / boxes and you don’t need too much speed.
✔ Beginner / Intermediate
As a beginner you’re probably going to pick up more dings so these are going to be easier to fix.
✔ Those on a tight budget
A continuous manufacturing process results in a cheaper base and board.
Extruded Base Developments - Syntruded Base
A combination of heat and chemicals are applied to the extruded base material. This treatment gives the extruded material similar porous properties to a sintered base and allows the base material to hold more wax.
Polyethylene granules (> 500,000 molecular mass) are put under high pressure, heated then cooled to create sintered blocks. Thin strips are cut out of the block to create the base before being trimmed to shape.
Sintered bases are available in differing grades. The most popular grades are:
These grades refer to the molecular weight of the polyurethane granules used in the sintering process. The smaller the grain, the higher the molecular weight.
- Holds more wax per inch than an extruded base (smaller grains packed together create more gaps in the base for the wax)
- More speed than an extruded base when waxed
- Is tougher than an extruded base so it is harder to damage / gouge
- Needs to have wax in it to perform better than an extruded base
- Repairs are slightly more difficult because of the tough base
- Very expensive, it accounts for the highest % of the material costs of a board
Sintered bases are best for...
✔ Freeride / All Mountain
The extra speed is useful in powder and lets you rip around the mountain.
✔ Intermediate / Advanced
The extra speed suits an aggressive riding style plus better riders are less likely to pick up dings - so fewer repairs are needed.
✔ Bigger budget
The snowboard costs more and you will need to constantly wax the board for it perform.
Indium is a metal additive that is added to the base material during its formation
Benefits: Absorbs heat away from the plastic by becoming a liquid making the board glide faster. A cold base runs faster as it prevents liquid build up between the base and the snow.
Gallium is another metal additive that is added to the base material during its formation
Benefits: Gallium reduces static build up between the base and snow that usually makes the board feel sticky and reduces the glide.
Electra bases are formed by adding graphite during the formation process
Benefits: Graphite bases give a faster glide between specific temperature ranges, again by reducing unwanted static, only works with graphite wax.
Ultimately there is no right or wrong base - its what best for you and your wallet and how you will use the snowboard. If you can afford a sintered base it’s a good investment but if not don’t get too hung up about it. Get out to the mountain or dome and keep shredding with your mates!
If you want any more info about snowboard bases and what your budget can get you, have a chat with our TSA staff or online customer service team.