Introduction: It's amazing how much has changed within the last two years: from doing anything and everything I could to get a single board, to having the opportunity to test out numerous ones. I wanted to get a feel for the types of boards available and the conditions each one excelled in. I tried to take each board out in all sorts of conditions and I thought I would share my experiences with the rest of you. I was not paid by any company to post this and I tried to keep it as honest as possible. I made sure to keep my reviews objective, so here we go!
Conditions/days: I was able to get out on the Poacher for a week during mid-March 2011 when conditions were epic powder! For seven straight days, I skinned steep faces and took mini laps down wide-open bowls, steep couloirs, and open trees.
Pros: Rides amazingly well; can't beat the price; skins solidly attached to both tips and tails; works with standard bindings at the resort, and it's made of recycled material!
Cons: The transition system can be a pain in harsh environments; the heel riser wouldn't stay extended.
Overall impression: There is no question this board is a great price, and beyond that, it rides like a dream in both powder and groomer conditions. The one downfall is the patented transition system: when transitioning in deep powder conditions it took a long time to switch over. The crampons are vital and must be taken on every tour. You just can't beat 949.00 for board, bindings, skins and crampons! This board is great for someone just getting into splitboarding and wants a full package!
Conditions/days: Throughout the season I got somewhere between 20 and 30 days on this board, with conditions ranging anywhere from waist-deep blower pow to the high point of the corn season! The board was used in terrain ranging from the mellowest slopes to the sketchiest.
Pros: Great board for slackcountry; extremely lightweight; easy board to get used to; cap construction on edges holds firm; quick edge-to-edge transition.
Cons: Can be a tad bit grabby; doesn't work with Karakoram clips.
Overall impression: This board is great if you have the intent to ride in both the resort and the backcountry. It's super lightweight and is the board of choice when racing up a skin track. I went for over two months without using it, then after two turns I felt I had the board dialed. The Mojo is good choice for someone who is looking to get out in the BC occasionally.
Lib Tech T-Rice
Conditions/days: This board got around 30 days of use last winter and summer. It was used in both Mt. Rainier and North Cascades National Parks for epic slogs through knee-deep powder, and for prime volcano corn at the end of the season.
Pros: C2 rocker is great in powder; Magne-Traction for extra edge hold; artwork is top-notch; transfers from edge to edge easily and holds in steep corn.
Cons: The rocker can be a pain during approaches with numerous ups and downs; board takes time to get used to if not familiar with Lib Tech boards.
Overall impression: This was my first time on a Lib board, so it took me quite a while to get used to it. Once I got a feel for it, it was insanely fun and felt more like a surfboard! On steep corn snow, it went from edge to edge flawlessly! The only issue was that I couldn't find the sweet spot while skinning on long approaches because of the rocker; if I leaned too far forward or backward on downhill stretches, the board would wash out under me. This board is perfect for anyone who is accustomed to Lib Tech boards and wants a smooth transition...not to mention it could double as artwork on your wall.
Conditions/days: I received this board in the beginning of May and took it on some of my longest endeavors. I rode this board in conditions ranging from horrible, bulletproof Bolivian glaciers to three feet of blower in Argentina. This board was exclusively used for filming with Sweetgrass for the Solitaire project. In total I got around 30 days riding the Storm.
Pros: Durable; built for any kind of conditions; once dialed, it likes to charge!
Cons: Heavy; had a small bit of chatter in icy conditions
Overall impression: This thing is a tank and endured numerous slogfests on trips upward of 50 miles in five days, without a single sign of wear and tear! It took a few laps to get used to, but after that it rode like a dream. The Storm is perfect for the rider who likes big lines and is willing to ride in a variety of conditions!
Conditions/days: This board was used primarily in powder by numerous other people and myself. I got in at least 20 days of open bowls, couloirs, and treed slopes!
Pros: Durable; great in powder conditions.
Cons: Seemed powder-specific; a tad bit squirrelly in the resort (chopped up snow).
Overall impression: This board rode like a champ in powder and was very quick and agile in tight trees. I introduced a friend to splitboarding with this board, and he was blown away that it rode and felt just like a solid board. The Zephyr is perfect for the person who has a quiver and wants something to slay the bottomless conditions.
Conditions/days: This board was a backup as I traveled in South America; in total I got around six days on it. I used this board in two feet of fresh in Argentina (both resort and BC), as well as on steep Cascadian volcanic ice and corn.
Pros: Lightweight; great shape; original concept.
Cons: Potential durability issues (I tested a prototype); softness created "waves" in the skin track.
Overall impression: When I first started skinning on this board, I was blown away by how light it was; I felt like there was nothing on my feet! I dig the unique idea of only putting edges on the inside under the feet, and it's cool to see a small company going after it. This board truly felt like a resort board and I started doing nose rolls and butters on it! The only issue was that it was so soft it created dips in the skin track - to the point that my skier friends asked me to stay off the skin track (once again, this was a prototype). This board is a great freeriding charger for someone who wants a resort-style board in the backcountry.
It should be noted that the flex was custom for that board in order to proto stuff for them, and that the actual 'Mace' board is usually significantly stiffer!
Conditions/days: This board was tested for about ten days in conditions ranging from wind-blown powder to firm corn. The majority of descents were lower-angled terrain, with the occasional steep section to get my heart pumping!
Pros: Strong; lightweight; comes with holes in tips/tails for potential sled use; no chattering on steep icy slopes.
Overall impression: K2 spent quite a bit of time developing this board, and it shows. With features like the lightweight bamboo core and tip and tail holes, not only can you ride it but you can rig it as a sled in an emergency. K2 has also developed skins specifically for the board, which hook into those same holes. This board is great for someone who wants to bring freestyle to the BC!
Feel Free to ask questions in this thread and I will try to answer them!