The real solution is to be able to demo all boards
That would be the best of all possible worlds (well, almost
the best -- the time invested would be a huge transaction cost
) -- but the question is, how can you make an informed decision without
demoing all, or maybe even any, boards?
Btw, I think a lot can be learned from reviews, if you focus on the most thorough ones and then extract their common elements. As a Ride buyer, I will say that Mr. Tidbit's reviews on the Ride Nation forum are extremely helpful. Not only does he describe the characteristics of the boards in great detail, but he posts photos of the actual terrain/snow conditions he and his wife ride on the boards being reviewed, and has even posted GPS read-outs showing his downhill speed.
The crucial first step in choosing among the bewildering variety of camber options is to RULE STUFF OUT. You don't need to consider everything carefully. Don't be stymied by the quest for the "perfect" board; it doesn't exist. Limit your more in-depth consideration to a few options that you reasonably believe will be suitable, and the task is much more manageable. In my case, I eliminated many potential options right away, just to cut the project down to size:
- traditional camber -- I was coming from a camber board, so I wanted something different.
- pure rocker -- For my all-mountain/freeriding needs, this wouldn't have been suitable.
- eccentric designs -- Single-company specialties such as Flying-V and Triple Base Technology may be very nice, but I wasn't inclined to be experimental when putting up my own money.
This left me with two major groups of boards: flat or cambered in the middle with rocker on the outside, and rockered at the middle with camber on the outside. I chose to focus on the former group because I thought it would present the easiest, most predictable and comfortable transition from a regular camber board. I narrowed my search to a small group of 4-5 boards with similar tech, so I never felt adrift in a sea of choices. Someone else could have applied different limiting principles and arrived at a completely different set of final options. The key is not to flinch when restricting your choices.