The Latest Snowboards

Nov 1, 2005
Outside Magazine
snowboards reviewed

Photograph by Mark Wiens   

Ice Queen
Lib-Tech Dark Series

Length tested: 161
The radically designed Dark Series Magnetraction comes with a secret weapon that can turn East Coast ice into West Coast corduroy. Lib-Tech took a page from hockey skates, which employ subtle contact points along the blade to enhance bite, and created a revolutionary sidecut by applying similar points along the board's edges. The effect is obvious: The board grabbed instantly when I leaned into a turn. But while it excels on ice and handles groomed terrain just fine, beware of crud and bumps: Those points can catch on stuff that you'd ordinarily blast through. $599;

All-Mountain Master
Ride Timeless

Length tested: 161
If you like to board the entire mountain, grab this reinvented classic. It delivers great versatility, courtesy of a few smart updates. A layer cake of precisely sculpted fiberglass-covered wood distributes your weight along the board's entire edge for superior control, a damper in the nose smooths out the ride, and multiple radius angles along the sidecut allow you to flow easily into and out of tight and fast turns. From swooping into the halfpipe to nailing quick cuts in a forested glade, there's nothing the Timeless can't do. $500;

The Fresh Hero
Arbor Abacus

Length tested: 163
The Abacus is built for powder. Its key ingredient? Bounce. For such a wide and long board, the koa-topped deck flexes like a trampoline. Combine that with a rearward stance and a massive shovel-head at the tip and the board tracks superbly through a foot of fresh. Since the nose won't dive, I was able to charge into anything—trees, moguls, kickers—with confidence. When everything's tracked out, though, the Abacus loses its magic. Instead of cutting through crud, it rides up and over it, making for one helluva bumpy trip. $499;

Cruise Liner
K2 Zeppelin

Length tested: 161
You wouldn't know it from snowboard ads, but there are plenty of happy riders who like nothing better than fast and wide groomers. If that's you, your board has arrived. This year's Zeppelin, an updated version of a K2 stalwart, uses damping pads under each foot to suck up vibration and give you a flat, smooth, and speedy ride. The price of such stability? It takes work to snap the Zep from side to side in an aspen glade or narrow gully. $480;

Sky Surfer
Burton Vapor

Length tested: 160
Boarding's fat and happy grandfather is suddenly obsessed with dropping weight. Exhibit A: the new Vapor. At five pounds ten ounces, it's the lightest board Burton's ever rolled out, thanks to aluminum-and-carbon-fiber construction and a set of dialed-down binding hardware. The binding options favor a wider stance, which suits the Vapor's forte: aerials. Instead of becoming dead weight when you launch off a catwalk or kicker, this pipe rider feels like an extension of your feet—360 spins and big-air rail grabs will suddenly seem temptingly possible. $900;

Little Big Board
Salomon L.O.F.T.

Length tested: 160
Salomon also wanted a trim-down, so it sent its popular ERA model to fat camp over the summer. It came back with a new name, L.O.F.T. (Light– weight Optimum Feel Technology) and a Kevlar-reinforced core wrapped in ultralight aspen. A raised center beam helps the board handle aggressive, high-speed descents like a much longer and fatter deck, while its moderate hips make tight turns a snap. On powder days it struggles to stay afloat, but overall this board is a beginner's dream: stable, responsive, and forgiving of shaky form. $700;