The most basic type of rail that most snowboarders start practicing on is flat rails. These can be constructed of narrow flat pipe about 4 inches wide or a wider (15 inch) flat box design. These can be any custom length, though many beginner straight rails are from 6 to 8 feet long and just a foot off the snow. More advanced straight rails are in the 15 to 20 foot range and may be 2 or more feet off the snow. More advanced combinations can be made with straight rails by making a sequence of them or combining them into a sequence with another type of rail.
Sloped and Kinked
These rails don't necessarily have a curve to them but they are built so that they do create a slope. If they were to sit flat on dry ground they would sit at an angle. Other types of sloped rails are called kinked rails or boxes. These are made of straight pieces of metal but of changing angles. For example, the A-box angles up at about a 15 to 20 degrees, comes to a point and then angles down in a matching angle. Others are more creative and may combine several different sections of rail at different heights and angles.
Rainbow rails, C rails and S rails are the most common type of curved rails for snowboarding. These rails are considered advanced. These rails can all be constructed in box form or narrow rail form. Rainbow rails are arched like a rainbow in a semi circle. C rails are curved in the shape of a C though not always quite as bent as the letter. S rails are two C rails linked or fused together facing opposite directions to form an S. Usually curved rails have a peak elevation such as the rainbow rail which peaks at its exact center, but the C and S rails can also be built horizontally.
For those snowboarders who enjoy taking their tricks into the backcountry and playing in a more natural environment, there is the logslide. These are natural rails made by fallen trees. Each one of these is different and may be more hazardous due to unpredictable stability. Many logslides shift slightly as the snowboarder slides or grinds along the trunk due to weight. Some large logs that have completely fallen or have lodged against another feature such as rock or tree may form a straight rail while others such as bowed birches can create a sort of rainbow rail.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.