The Element brand is huge with both new and experienced skaters, but a name doesn't have anything to do with how durable Element skateboard decks are. With six different constructions and several lengths and concavities to choose from, the Element deck can be a very personal piece. The difficulties lie in what’s best to choose for you and for a lot of folks, it can be confusing and disappointing attempting to select a durable Element skateboard deck only to crack it a week after you got it.
The thickest and heaviest is the Thriftwood, a traditional seven-ply maple. It’s great for beginners who tend to land heavy even if they aren’t built that way. It’s cheaper and good for the noob who wrecks often, but stiff, good for riding and a little awkward for some tricks. Extremely durable, it goes on and on even after it starts to chip, bad landing after worse landing. The concave isn’t so hot on the Thriftwood though. What little there is disappears pretty quickly, but it keeps some pop.
The Twig is the skateboard for juniors, super thin and light and Element also scales this deck to height, so it’s great for younger ones who haven’t hit full-size yet but are past the Wal-Mart board and can talk their parents into splurging for something they‘re going to trash hard. It's not as likely to snap, but it chips hard and razor tails fast because kids tend to deliver a lot of abuse to their boards as they learn.
The Featherlight is like the Twig’s older brother, but with thinner veneers and what Element calls a “performance concave.” The most chipping complaints come from this board and it doesn’t have as much pop as the thriftwood, but it flips well.
The Fiberlight has a layer of fiberglass sandwiched between the maple ply, which makes it an even lighter deck. It’s Element’s thinnest full-sized deck and its supposed to pack some good pop. Overall, it's durable; the fiberglass helps it resist cracking on a bad landing and allows continued skating because the crack doesn’t snap. In fact, the Fiberlight flexes and bends on landing, which takes some getting used to.
The Featherlight Helium has a center piece which creates five air chambers and makes it Element’s lightest full-sized board. The construction is patented and it’s also designed to be stiff and responsive. Unfortunately, the Helium has a reputation for snapping fast, so they’re a liability for skaters who don’t land every flip and trick lightly.
The Push is basically the Featherlight Helium but with a hardier construction to handle a beating. It has a carbon fiber inlay plus the five air chambers and an epoxy coating. Both the Push and the original Featherlight give good pop for ollies, but the pop has a tendency to wear out after a few months even with the epoxy.
Element gives you fifteen different shape choices, but there’s no real guide for how to find the right shape for you if you’re a beginner. When you’re just learning it’s a pain trying to decide what kind of concave to get. Numbers nine and eleven are pretty decent or how wide a nose or tail to try. A square tail helps make tail bite not so bad. A narrower board (like a 7.5) is easier for flip tricks.