Never Summer snowboards is a Colorado company that hand builds their boards out in Denver, CO. They’ve been getting great reviews by local riders around the domestic states and are heavily endorsed by my favorite Mammoth shop, P3. I demo’d Never Summer last year and due to certain circumstances, I had to buy a new board this year. So after cross shopping the various Never Summer boards, I can easily help you decide which one to get based on what you do on the mountain.
I used to ride a 2008 GNU Rider’s Choice, which at the time was a revolutionary board due to the magnetraction sidewalls and banana shaped board. The magnetraction supposedly allow you to carve on firm terrain due to its 7 points of contact on the sidewalls. No longer is it shaped smoothly. Instead it has 7 noticeable serrated edges that point out. The banana shape of the board helps it float in powder. My 154.5 cm Rider’s Choice allows it to ride like a 152 in groomed conditions or a 157 in powder conditions due to that shape. Unfortunately this board was very stiff in the core, so it wasn’t as fun to play around with.
So here are the 3 Never Summer boards that I was looking at: the Proto CT, the SL, and the Cobra.
The Proto CT is ideally meant to be an all-mountain freestyle board meaning you can ride it in the park and do some all mountain carving. It’s definitely NOT the best for powder riding, but it can hold its own. The Proto CT is also a true twin tip meaning the bindings can be set equidistant from either feet to both sides of the tips which allows for switch riding. It’s super light and is a 5/10 on the flex scale. It also has a Carbonum topsheet that helps dampen some of the feel. This board was a lot of fun riding switch and back. It was the easiest to ride for fun although I felt I had to do more work for the all mountain parts.
The SL is kind of a cross between a Cobra and a Proto. The SL has the same pop as the Proto but is also slightly more suitable for all mountain riding. The holes are set back slightly such that it’s not a true twin tip. It’s still very playful and forgiving although when I was riding this at high speeds I was experiencing some chatter and stability issues. Buttering was pretty easy, and I like how the board does most of the work for you.
The Cobra is straight up an all-mountain board. You can do tricks if you want, but it’s not ideal. The bindings are set back, so it’s a directional twin. It also has a blunted nose, so you can carry through the powder with ease. I tried riding switch, but it definitely does not feel as comfortable as the Proto. But I can blast down the mountain with this board and not have to worry about any edges catching. It has the same flex rating as both the Proto and SL, but I also feel it has slightly better dampers than the SL.
For Mammoth conditions when it’s powdery, hands down the Cobra would be most suitable. It cut through the pow easily with no dips or stability issues. My rear leg was only faintly fatigued, and I didn’t have to exert much effort for turning. The SL requires a little more work as it bounced and popped a lot more often over tracked powder runs. The Proto like the SL was the same.
For Mammoth conditions when it’s groomed or not powdery, the Cobra still works well for this. The topsheet provides a lot of dampening when going over icy conditions. For those man made bumps, the Cobra was able to effortlessly ride over with not much work whereas the SL/Proto I had to ride a bit slower.
However when it came to the end of the day such that I’m riding switch or goofing around, the Cobra wasn’t as playful as hoped. Because the rear part of the board is shorter than the front, it felt a little awkward riding switch. Buttering is still ok though the board I felt wasn’t as playful as the Proto/SL.
In the end how I classify these 3 boards are: Cobra is all mountain with some play, SL is all mountain with more play, and Proto is some mountain with all play. For Mammoth mountain because the runs are pretty long, the Cobra is definitely more suited for it, especially for powdery conditions. My ideal configuration would be the Cobra for powdery days and the Proto for non powdery days. The SL I think would be more ideal for smaller resorts such as Northstar in Tahoe, Mountain High, or even possibly Big Bear. For what it’s worth, I used the Flux TT-30 bindings with these.
You can’t go wrong with any of these boards. If you can only have 1 board, I would evaluate your type of riding.
Do you like more park than all mountain? Proto.
Do you like park with some all mountain? SL.
Do you board at Mammoth from top to bottom and jump natural jibs? Cobra.