We’re different, here’s how
Our use of alternative construction materials is what makes Niche unique, and these actually make our boards lighter, have better vibration dampening, added elasticity, and more durable! Traditional snowboard manufacturing is pretty toxic, and we want to change that by using eco-friendlier materials. From harmful resins & fiberglass to the use of trees from forests that aren’t replanted, there are many facets of manufacturing that not only harm the planet, but also the people who put those products together. Through years of research and development, we’ve come up with a unique blend of alternative materials that are not only better for the earth but also improve performance! We’re certainly not perfect and there is always an unavoidable footprint when making any product, but we firmly believe that even small steps lead to big differences, and we continually seek out more eco-friendly construction materials. Please read on to see how every snowboard we make is better for the earth.
Niche Board Technology
Our wood veneer topsheets used on the Story and Sonnet, replace plastic, are lacquer-free, and and actually provide extra vibration dampening! Our wood topsheets are made from sustainable wood and are protected with a special, super secret heating and cooling process that doesn’t need any added lacquer!
We digitally print our topsheets using water-based inks that use up to 90% less solvents than traditional inks, and don’t use any lacquer, giving our boards a beautiful matte finish.
This is one of the first things you’ll probably notice when you pick up a Niche snowboard. Most snowboard makers cover their topsheets in a thick, toxic lacquer to add shine. This is not only toxic to the environment; it’s unhealthy for people working in the factory. We use a lacquer-free topsheet material, which makes our boards slightly lighter than other snowboards. It also gives our boards a matte finish with a truly unique aesthetic, and an organic feel. We digitally print directly onto the topsheet, cutting up to 60% of the material and 75% of the energy wasted during alternative printing processes.
We use Basalt fiber instead of fiberglass in the Story, Sonnet and Theme, which makes them lighter, stronger, and absorb impact better. The majority of the snowboard industry uses fiberglass in board construction. We have replaced fiberglass in several of our models with Magma Fiber; a material that comes from basalt.
Basalt is a product of volcanic activity. The fiberization process is more environmentally safe than that of glass fiber; the greenhouse gases that might otherwise be released during fiber processing were released eons ago during the magma eruption. Basalt is 100% inert, which means it has no toxic reaction with air or water, and is noncombustible. Basalt is also much easier to recycle than fiberglass.
• Our Magma Fiber shows 15-20% higher tensile strength than regular fiberglass. This means better impact absorption, strength, and elasticity.
The Story, Sonnet and Knew have hemp stringers vertically laminated within the wood core, that add extra pop and stability. Stringers are strips of material that change the personality of a board (i.e. giving a board more pop or more stiffness), and are typically made of carbon fiber or another type of wood. Niche has developed a totally new stringer technology we call HempHop, which are stringers made of a Hemp composite.
Carbon uses lots of energy to process and releases half of its weight in CO2 and other pollutants when manufactured. Hemp is an awesome substitute, as it is a versatile, super fast growing crop that requires very little pesticides and no herbicides!
Did you know car companies like BMW and Mercedes are using hemp to replace carbon fiber in vehicle doors? Hemp stringers have similar characteristics to carbon fiber, with far less pollution! They are super strong and super light, making them an ideal swap. They also provide amazing vibration dampening characteristics, giving you a less chattery ride.
We use bio-resins in all of our boards, which makes them incredibly snappy and responsive, while also adding a ton of vibration dampening to your ride.
Traditional resins can be extremely toxic to people and the environment. For our snowboards, we partner with Entropy Resins to create our one-of-a-kind, Snappy Sap Bio-Resin. As opposed to traditional epoxies made primarily of petroleum-based materials, Snappy Sap Bio-Resin is composed of bio-renewable materials from the industrial waste streams of the paper pulp and bio-fuels industries.
These natural components help the environment by:
• 37% material sourced from sustainable, bio-renewable materials
• Lower environmental impact from processing – reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reduced water and energy consumption, reduced waste
• Eliminates harmful byproducts
• Increased elasticity – provides more pop and spring to your board
• Super high adhesion properties help keep your board from delaminating
• Toughness – combined, these benefits make your board bomb proof
All Niche snowboards are made with sustainably harvested Poplar wood cores. The forests that our wood cores come from are managed carefully to meet the social, economic, ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of current and future generations. Our wood cores also come from a sustainable source, which means they are replaced by new trees!
Here are some other requirements of our forest management:
• No use of hazardous chemicals
• No conversion of forests or any other natural habitat
• Appropriate management and identification of areas that need special protection (such as cultural or sacred sites, habitats of endangered animals or plants)
• Respect of international workers rights and human rights, with particular attention to indigenous peoples
• All applicable laws must be followed, with no tolerance for corrupt or questionable business practices
All of our snowboards are made with recycled and reinforced steel edges, recycled ABS sidewalls, and recycled base material. We use recycled materials in many components of our snowboard design and production. Recycling products can only do good if they can be re-used and turned into new products, and we are proud to be part of the solution by integrating these materials into our snowboard manufacturing process.
Such components used in our boards include:
• Recycled base material
• Recycled steel edges
• Recycled ABS sidewalls
In all of our snowboards we alternate the base color schemes to avoid extra plastic base material waste.
All Niche Snowboards are factory waxed with OneBall Jay Bio Wax.
What is Camber?
Today, boards have many different kinds of camber – an industry word for the concave or convex shape of a board. Camber basically determines how the board flexes when you stand on it. This makes a big difference in how a board reacts to different terrain. Different types of camber produce different amounts of edge contact and pressure on the snow depending on the model/technology, which changes how a board turns, snaps, and feels underfoot. So before you choose, ask yourself what you want form your new board and review this breakdown of camber options.
Traditional camber is a mellow convex rise from the contact points of the tip and tail inward with an apex at the midpoint. A rider’s edge hold and pop come from the pressure exerted and expelled when camber is flexed under a rider’s weight. This downward pressure – the flattening of camber – initiates lively turns and provides continuous edge contact with the snow. Riding a board with Traditional Camber will feel stable, help initiate strong, powerful turns, have fast and responsive edge control, and lots of pop.
Like the name says, this design has zero camber. A board with Flat Camber lays flush on a level surface and distributes pressure on snow in a neutral fashion. This creates a less aggressive, catch-free ride, and can be a happy medium between Traditional and Multi-Camber. It will float better in powder than Traditional Camber (similar to Multi-Camber) but remains relatively more stable and predictable than Multi-Camber. These boards can also feel more broken-in, and are easy for a novice as they tend to be more forgiving than Traditional Camber boards. Flat Camber exhibits traits from both sides of the camber spectrum with an overall balanced feel. The Flat Camber used in the Knew (a 2014 Good Wood Award winner!) is an example of this design.
Multi-Camber is a camber medley, which gives you the benefits of reverse camber while maintaining optimum pop and control. These boards have a concave arc (like the letter “u’) between your feet, with a subtle convex arc (like the letter “n”) extending to the contact points of the board. This combination of cambers creates a more encompassing and versatile ride. Multi-Camber boards are great for powder float, presses, and a forgiving ride. The design essentially reduces pressure at the contact points by bringing it inward and closer to your feet.
Essentially, Magnetraction is wavy bumps on each edge of the board resembling a serrated edge of a knife providing more edge contact points than just the tip and tail. This design cuts into the iciest snow you can think of and gives riders the confidence needed to keep high speeds.
A Structurn base will glide much further than an ordinary snowboard. The difference is emphasized in wet snow conditions but it is evident well in all snow conditions. Like the dimples on a golf ball, a Structurn base has a series of tiny elongated dimples that break the friction between the board base and the snow.