Expert Review: 2023 Lib Tech Golden Orca [with Video]
Snowboard Experts Matthew Kaminski and Yuri Czmola tested the 2023 Lib Tech Golden Orca snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Experts Matthew Kaminski and Yuri Czmola got their hands on the 2023 Lib Tech Golden Orca this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every rider is different; if you have any questions about the 2023 Lib Tech Golden Orca or need recommendations on which board would be best for you, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Lib Tech (Mervin) claim about this board?
[Matt] Lib Tech claims that this is an all-mountain, daily driver powder machine. [Yuri] The brand claims that the Golden Orca is a blend of the Orca and the Travis Rice Pro, and it definitely lives up to a phenomenal all-mountain experience. It runs their C2X camber, which to me very much felt like regular camber today in all the right spots. There is mild rocker between the feet, and then it runs camber zones pretty much all the way out after that.
What is your overall impression of this board?
[Matt] I've been eyeing this board since it dropped a few months ago. It's definitely caught my attention. We've got the new 2023 edition of the Lib Tech Golden Orca, similar shape to what we saw in last year's model, but a little bit different in my opinion. I was surprised how stable this board was. [Yuri] I was really curious as to how these two would fit together, the Orca and the Travis Rice Pro. And this board did a very good job of mixing float and a very strong nose to get through variable conditions. It was a great all-mountain aggressive riding experience like the Travis Rice Pro into one awesome snowboard. It was exceptional. I was blown away. I think this was my best experience all week.
How did it turn?
[Matt] This board honestly rode like a dream. It was super floaty, super fun to turn, really carved well. It being volume shifted, it's going to be wider than your average snowboard. Carving and turning, it really wanted to carve.
[Yuri] I really enjoyed not only the locked in feel of the serrated edges on this snowboard, but where the camber zone sat and the right amount of rocker. When I wanted to load up the nose and/or tail while making dynamic turns, this board had me covered and ready to ride. It really just allows for you to play with it at low edge angles and kind of weave through trees, or if you're looking for higher edge angles and tilting that board up to carve, or even Euro carve. It had me covered today. I was pretty blown away.
How about edge hold?
[Matt] All Lib Techs feature Magne-Traction, Mervin’s serrated knife edge technology. This thing held extremely well. If you're not familiar, it's like a serrated knife that literally cuts into all the ice. Edge to edge, this thing held really well. Whether I was on my toe or on my heel side, I was able to get grip and cut into the snow when I needed to.
[Yuri] This snowboard runs Magne-Traction along the side cut, and it creates a great locked-in feeling. Between that and a camber-dominant snowboard, it was able to make lightning-fast turns early and often. I didn't expect this experience at all and was pretty blown away.
Was it stable?
[Matt] I was surprised how stable this board was. It could have been a little bit stiffer in my opinion. Definitely had a little bit of chatter, but edge to edge, it was relatively stable.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the board?
[Matt] I did feel a little bit of chatter, especially on the more uneven terrain. This bigger nose kind of bounces around. Like I said, it's softer than, in my opinion, last year's model. So it does have a little bit of chatter. It's not going to be the stiffest board out there.
[Yuri] Typically, I get nervous about testing out dampening with rocker snowboards between the bindings. I don't feel like there was a ton of rocker in this, which was great. It led to me riding around, and as the conditions got choppy here, typical March conditions in Utah, I didn't really feel much underfoot. I was able to continue riding with a smooth, comfortable experience and was pretty blown away.
How did it perform at speed?
[Matt] Controlling this board at high speeds was definitely a little bit of a challenge. At slower speeds, you're able to really throw this thing around. You're able to press into the turns and kind of contort the board in which direction you want to go. But I'd say at higher speeds, you're going to have a little bit more trouble unless you're really laying into the edges and carving hard.
[Yuri] This snowboard had one of the faster bases that I rode this week. And I really think that Lib Tech has a great thing going here.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop?
[Matt] It’s a super playful board. Lib Tech is known for making fun, poppy, playful boards. They nailed it with the Golden Orca here. It's a super playful ride. I couldn't imagine riding anything else on a slushy day. I'd really want to be able to get this thing into the park and take it off some jumps, just to see how it handles in the air. But overall, I thought it was pretty playful.
What about riding switch?
[Matt] This board can handle some switch riding, especially if you're experienced in riding switch. I wouldn't recommend a beginner to try out learning switch on this thing, but if you are experienced and you know what you're doing, you can get on to either edge of this board in either direction and be able to ride.
[Yuri] All in all, I was curious about two things. The sizing, which did not prove to be any concern whatsoever. If anything, this was one of the more stable boards I rode all week. And then the other concern I had in mind was riding switch due to the setback stance. But I can see why they merged two great boards together. The twin feel of the T.Rice Pro definitely exists within the Golden Orca. So if you're looking to ride switch, you'll definitely feel a touch of a difference, but honestly, I can see the blend of it. You might feel a touch of a difference, but I think the less tapered shape really allows this to be very versatile when riding steeper terrain and even terrain park. They have a great thing going here.
How is it for buttering?
[Matt] It takes a little bit of work to lay into this board, but you can get it pressed and buttered. It is super fun to lay into any type of snowboard, especially a wider one. That being said, I was really able to get the tail of this board lifted. I noticed that if I was trying to lift my nose, it took a little bit extra work. It could have just been because of the bigger construction up here in the nose. But if you're trying to do a nose press or any butters, you can definitely lay into the board. It's just going to take a little bit of work.
[Yuri] I was really curious about buttering, and the board has the right amount of bend between the feet and it really allowed for a great buttering experience. I think this is a great fit for someone who enjoys riding steeps and wants to dabble in the park. And then honestly, I think it'll actually hold people down pretty well for the advanced park rider as well, who's still looking to tackle big mountain with the same experience without changing snowboards.
How was it on jumps?
[Matt] This board did feel a little washy going big. I noticed when I landed, the nose really wanted to stick up on me. And it's partially due to the Lib Tech design, with the mild rocker in the center, camber under each foot, it's going to feel like a little bouncy, a little noodley, but one thing I was almost looking for in this board, was a stable, big landing. So I am a little disappointed that I can't go big and feel comfortable stomping that big hit.
How would it be in powder?
[Matt] We haven't gotten the chance to try this thing in powder yet, but I know it would handle well. That's its true home. It's really a daily driver for a resort that's seeing over 300-400 inches a year. If your home mountain is getting a bunch of snow consecutively all throughout the week, this is going to be the right board to take out every day.
What kind of terrain would it perform well on?
[Matt] I could see this thing handling any part of the mountain. If you're in a steep shoot, if you're riding the park, if you're riding the groomers, even in the trees, you're going to be able to handle this board. I really wouldn't want to take this board on the bunny hill. It deserves to be higher up on the mountain.
[Yuri] I was able to ride all over the mountain today. From trees, moguls, steeps, chunder, and uneven terrain. The shape of this board played out very well. It was just the right amount of stiffness to be able to handle high speeds and great carves, and it was also nimble enough where it didn't feel overwhelmingly stiff. I felt it was the right size. And I was curious because normally, I ride the 160-162 cm range, and I was very much able to size down on this snowboard and not really feel the difference.
Is there any location you'd pack this board for?
[Matt] I would love to ride this board at any resort that's getting a bunch of snow. I'm thinking Jackson Hole. I'm thinking Big Sky, Montana. Anywhere that's going to be getting some consecutive, good snow throughout the winter.
Who would you recommend this board to?
[Matt] I'd recommend this snowboard to any intermediate or advanced rider who is looking for a playful volume-shifted option. One thing we look for in a volume-shifted board is how wide and long it is. Really when we go volume-shifted, we're taking that length and we're putting it in the width. That's going to make the board float a little better. It's going to make it ride super uniquely. Every volume-shifted board is slightly different. If you need help finding the right size volume-shifted board for you, make sure to reach out to an expert on Curated and we'll make sure to get you hooked up.
[Yuri] This snowboard fits the category of volume-shifted snowboards. I think if you are riding on the East Coast, I would size down. If I were riding in the Northeast and pretty much anything that requires the words ‘big mountain’, I would look to size up. And I think both are optimal experiences. I would just be mindful of pairing it appropriately. You can definitely reach out to us to help figure out which volume-shifted option is for you. This tackles steeps very well, and this is very, very capable in the park. This is a great option for someone who has already purchased a snowboard before. So I want to say it's for experts who want one board to do it all. I do think that this board is a great investment. Typically, I get worried about putting this type of money into a snowboard, but I really do feel that it is very much the apex predator that they try to market this snowboard as, and I feel like Lib Tech has a great thing going here and I hope they continue to grow in this direction of how they utilize C2x camber in the snowboard experience.
Who should avoid this board, there are better options for them out there?
[Matt] Really, we don't want to put a total beginner on this Golden Orca. It's going to be a little bit more aggressive. It's volume-shifted. So it's going to take a little bit of skills to turn and navigate. Any intermediate or advanced rider, you're going to be okay, but if you're totally starting out, there are better options out there for you.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you have any questions about the Lib Tech Golden Orca or want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Yuri, Matt, or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated.