Every snowboard is designed for a specific purpose and thus has design elements added to enhance the snowboard. There are three basic types of tail and tip design and many forms of construction for each. While the choices may seem a little confusing at first, the good news is that in most cases you only need to be aware of the options that are built into your snowboard.
If you are a freestyle snowboarder then a twin tip is most likely the type of tip and tail you want. A twin tip snowboard has the same shape and stance of tip and tail on either end. Also the tip and tail tend to be shorter in length than on most other snowboards.
This type of tip and tail is an adaptation is strictly for freestyle riding especially on half pipes and other ramps that have sharp curves to them. The shorter length of the tip and tail keep you from digging into the snow and ice thus causing you to bail. Also, freestyle boards with twin tip design makes it easy for beginners to ride both forward and backward, or Fakie.
The next progression is the twin directional tip and nose. The twin directional style of tips and tails are still the same shape but have different flex patterns and a higher stance position. Generally the tail is stiffer than the nose. This design allows the snowboard to bridge the gap between freestyle and Freddie snowboards. Having a higher and more flexible tip allows the snowboard to ride on top of powder snow and not dig into it.
The directional tip and tail is another purpose built adaptation. This adaptation is employed on Freddie snowboards. With a directional snowboard usually the tip will be longer and higher than the tail. This design allows the snowboard to carve clean lines on a hill at high speeds but does not allow for many tricks riding such as riding Fakie.
When shopping for a snowboard you may find yourself considering the type of construction of the tip and tail. Some manufacturers feel a wood solution is best as it has the most consistent flex pattern. Other manufacturers feel that a fiberglass design is better as it reduces the swing weight of the snowboard. On top of that you may have to consider a metal edge insert to protect from damage.
The truth is the construction doesn’t really matter all that much. Most of the time your snowboard will be damaged when you stab it into the ground before going in to eat at the lodge or by bouncing around in your vehicle on the way there. The metal edge idea seems like a good way to prevent this type of damage but often the edge gets driven deeper into the snowboard thus causing even more damage than if it wasn’t there in the first place. Another common problem for those with wood tips and tails is the splitting of the wood and water absorption. Water seeping into the wood will cause splits to run even deeper and further into the wood thus increasing the cost of the repairs.
So what is the best solution when thinking about tip and tail choices? Do not worry too much about the tip and tail until you are good enough to start manufacturing your own snowboards. Most snowboarders, beginners especially, will find a bigger difference from selecting the correct flex for their riding style than they will worry about the construction of the tip and tail. Select the snowboard that suits you and do not worry about the tip and tail.