Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Never Summer Raptor - A review

Changing of the guard - moving bindings from my Never Summer Summit to the Never Summer Raptor.

Sometimes it’s difficult to review an excellent product without sounding like a 12-year old describing her favorite pop singer. The Never Summer Raptor is just such a product. After riding it, the tendency is to rant and rave about it until you sound adolescent. Just keep reading – I’ll prove it.

I was fortunate to see the design for the Raptor well before the board hit the market. The Raptor is the first board I ever saw that made me inhale hard – as if I just won something big. It’s design, graphics, and layout is amazing.

I was late in getting mine, not because of the folks at Never Summer, but because I was in the middle of an international move – things just don’t go easy in those cases. Finally, because Never Summer (Vince in particular) really went out their way to help me, I got mine on 19 March. To say I was excited is an understatement.

The next day, I left extra-early for A-Basin. That might not seem unusual but the conditions were crappy – I usually don’t even make the drive on those days.

Icy was the word for the day – at least for the morning. Given that I had a new board and that the conditions were very treacherous, I took it easy on the first run.

I’ve ridden boards with rocker in the past. I always thought they were unstable and, unless there was in powder, somewhat unpredictable when turning. The Raptor uses a rocker-camber design unique to Never Summer. I’m not giving all the tech description here – you can read it on their site at

However, I will talk about how it feels. Essentially, rocker-camber gives great acceleration with little or no effort from the rider (like some of the rocker-only boards) but provides all of the traction on ice that you get from the magnetraction boards (maybe more – it’s hard to quantify that experience). The big advantage though is that rocker-camber is super-stable at extreme speed and very forgiving when you screw up.

As the day went on, I tested it in rough terrain (still icy), nearly flat terrain, and in the trees (very icy). True confession time – I usually don’t ride trees on icy days but this board just begged to go there. I consistently pushed it through the morning and left A-Basin somewhat hesitantly and later than planned.

In the trees, I was riding far more confidently than I would normally be on ice. On flat spots, it’s amazingly easy to Ollie a bit and accelerate out of them. When attacking something steep, rough, and icy, you’re able to maintain control and direction. The board is phenomenal. The confidence builds from the first run. In a short time, you’re trying – and making – runs that you would have (wisely) avoided with other boards.

Now, I can enjoy riding in all conditions. For a while at least, I’ve overcome my snow snobbery and having fun snowboarding in less-than-excellent conditions. The experience riding the Raptor makes me anxious to go back and do it again – regardless of the snow. It just gets me excited about riding again – even on a bad day. I was giggling sometimes – I admit it. The Raptor just rocks.

At the end of the day, the takeaway is confidence, fun, and success. Because I felt better about my riding, because the board made me believe I could do things, I had an outstanding day. I still remember a short, steep, rough wall. Normally, on an icy day, I ignore runs like that. But, by then, I felt like – well, I felt like I could ride anything. I made it – easy.

For now, I’m limiting this review to the icy conditions – that’s where I rode it. When I get to test it in powder, I’ll post something on that too. My feeling is that it will be even better in the good stuff but I’ll save that raving for another day.

My advice – buy one. You probably can’t get one now – Raptors sold out early in the season but get ready and buy one early next winter.

Never Summer manufactures their all of their boards in the U.S. – right here in Denver, Colorado. Most manufacturers make at least some of their boards – if not all of them – overseas.

In this economy, making things in the U.S. is really an important consideration. People need those jobs. I’ve toured their factory – it’s very nice and the staff is happy and extremely dedicated. Folks stay there a long time – Hell, I’d love to work there.

So, save your money and order early. You’ll get the best board you ever rode and put your neighbor to work and stimulate the economy. That almost makes it a charitable contribution – but a lot more fun!


  1. <3 my buddies raptor... i usually ride a 155 SL-R but i rode his in a 159... Big as Big can get for a short dude like me... LOVED it

  2. I rode the Raptor 161X and fell in love. Then I rode my buddy's 164, tried riding it switch, it threw me over the rails really hard. Apparently it's not great for riding switch, which makes me want the Heritage more. But that experience on the 161X in powder at Brighton UT was as if I'd finally found the board I was meant to ride.

  3. I don't ride switch a lot except in trees. Sometimes a great entry point has no rational exit. In those situations, it performed well for me. I have to say that, riding switch, I wasn't pushing any great speeds - just going in reverse to pick another route. Be some other interesting stuff coming out next year. I'll be posting it soon.