New Tech-- GOOD!
I have been looking skeptically over the past few years at things like Banana, R.C., Magne-traction, Vario Power Grip etc.. I have been riding traditional camber/ sidecut boards for 20 years and the new stuff looks nuts. BUT: The RockerCamber from NeverSummer and C2 from Mervin seem to be the way to go for someone who is used to a traditonal camber design. They feel similar to ride but with noticeable improvements in control/forgiveness at all speeds, terrain and snow conditions. I went with the NS Heritage 166X (6'1" 190 sz 12) and it rides more nimble yet stable, and feels smaller than my old Fatbob 159. The Vario Power Grip is incredible on steep icy spots. It made runs that would have been a chore, a pleasure. On long straight traverses you do start to feel it gradually pulling you into an unasked for turn. This happens slow (even at high-speeds:) and doesn't sneak up on you so it is easy to manage- just requires an extra heel-toe transition. B/C of this though, I can't imagine wanting the extra aggressiveness of the Magnetraction from Mervin's boards, although I haven't ridden it. I would like to see them use their "mellow" MagneTraction in more of their models for me to consider Gnu/Libtech for my next purchase. (I've heard you can de-tune the edges to combat the 'too-grabby' problem many have reported, but NS' Vario seems perfect as-is) I also appreciate the full metal edge nose/tail w/ NS. Every Merv board I've seen on the mountain w/o the nose metal has been chewed to snot. As for made-in-USA: I'm not a hater of all things China, nor patriotic, but I immediately noticed board quality decreases before I saw the made-in-China stickers. I feel that w/ the overseas shift, the materials qualities have declined and the consistency board-to-board is terrible. (same make & model- one flexes like a 2 the next a 6) Thinner edges, weaker binding inserts, boards that snap, crackle and pop every time you flex them..just to name a few problems. The company line at Burton, K2, etc. in regards to Chinese factories will be: the equipment is the same, strict quality control, in-house board pros etc... but I suspect almost no one who put a hand to that board will ever go near a ski hill. IDK- maybe its the climate, pollution, altitude, salty air on cargo ships- but things aren't right with those boards. Merv, NS, Unity and a few others still make excellent boards close to home, employ riders and help small businesses. I bought a locally made board at a reasonable price from a local independent shop that gave great advice. I am thrilled with my new NeverSummer and will be buying one for my wife b/c I am certain she will enjoy her riding so much more!