Expert Review: Academy PropaCamba Micro Camber Snowboard · 2022Published on 08/04/2022 · 7 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in February 2021.
All photos courtesy of Dylan Kobriger
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in February 2021.
The Academy PropaCamba is a well-rounded board that feels at home in the park while still holding its own anywhere on the mountain. The micro camber provides all the benefits of a traditional camber board with its great edge hold and powerful pop ability while not feeling overly aggressive. This would be a great board for anyone looking for a new park stick or true twin all-mountain ripper, although it would not be the best choice for a beginner trying to learn the basics because it does not have the most aggressive, advanced sidecut. However, once they are over the learning curve of basic turning, this board will provide excellent stability that will help beginners-intermediates stay confident when pushing themselves and picking up the speed to keep up with the pack.
About the gear
- Model: 2021 Academy PropaCamba
- Size: 156W
- Height: 6’2”
- Weight: 175 lbs
- Experience: 25 years snowboarding/skiing
- When I bought these: February 2021
- Days tested: 100
- Mount position: +15/-12
- Boots: 2021 Vans Invado Pro
- Boot Size: 10
- Bindings: 2020 Burton Malavitas
- Where I’ve used it: Vail, Copper, Beaver Creek, Keystone
- Terrain: Jumps, Rails, Pipe, Groomers, Trees, Powder, Off-piste
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was on the hunt for a new daily driver, focusing mainly on park riding. I needed something durable and high-performance for park jumps, rails, pipe, and all-mountain jibbing.
Why I chose this gear
I loved the idea of “micro camber” in the PropaCamba, because it offers the edge hold, stability, and pop of traditional camber without being too aggressive or “catchy.” I wanted an advanced park board that was aggressive enough to stomp landings or hold an edge in the pipe but playful enough to jib around the mountain and allow me to keep things loose in the park. I took one out for a demo day, and I was sold.
My previous park board was a LibTech Box Knife that I had a lot of fun on, but after a while, that board felt a little too loose for my style, and I became interested in returning to a traditional camber board. Also, I wanted something a little more aggressive that offered more stability, edge hold, and pop while retaining some playfulness for jibbing. I also demoed the Burton Custom, but in the end, I found the Academy PropaCamba to be more predictable and just way more fun to ride.
What I love about it
- Speed: This board holds very well at high speed. The Micro Camber profile keeps me stable at high speeds, and the Vario Power Grip Sidecut gives a locked-in feel when I’m charging down the slopes.
- Edge hold: With the traditional Micro Camber and Academy’s Vario Power Grip Sidecut, the PropaCamba holds an edge like a knife. This board helps me stay confident when laying out a deep carve at high speeds, and I never have to worry about sliding out.
- Turns: This board grips through turns like a champ. I love laying down deep turns, knowing the Vario Power Grip Sidecut has my back. However, this is not my board of choice for loose, surfy turns. Instead, speed, aggression, and deep carves are the turning styles where this board shines.
- Groomers: I have a ton of fun on the groomers with this board. When I’m cruising corduroy, the playful but powerful Micro Camber profile makes me want to lay out long, deep carves while still keeping things loose when I feel like pressing and buttering down the hill.
- Park: The park is exactly where this board shines, and it is my favorite park board I have ever ridden. The Micro Camber helps me to load up my pop and has a predictable release that can handle jumps of any size. This camber profile also locks, so, on rails, I need to use a bit more speed and press a little harder. However, on boardslides, the C3 camber locks in and hugs the rail. This board kind of forces me to have clean landings. There’s not a lot of room for error. So, if my landings aren’t clean, I can expect to skid out or potentially catch an edge.
- Durability: This board is officially the most durable board I have ever owned. I have been riding it hard five to seven days a week, and it has really impressed me. From taking big falls that flexed out the nose/tail, hitting rocks, running this thing into trees, smacking it into rails - countless times my stomach dropped as I was sure it broke, it is somehow still in fantastic shape. These boards are manufactured by Never Summer Industries right here in the USA, ensuring high quality and long-lasting durability. They also offer a three-year warranty if there are any defects.
- Weight: With Bi-Lite fiberglass construction and the NS Super Lite Wood Core, this board feels medium-lightweight, never bogging me down.
- Switch riding: The Academy PropaCamba is a true twin, so it rides the same switch as it does regular. This is ideal for those looking to ride switch or perform freestyle maneuvers.
- Stability: I love the stability this board gives up without feeling stiff and rigid. The micro camber provides great pop and makes take-offs feel controlled and clean, making the landings easy to stomp. The Vario Power Grip Sidecut lets me lay down deep carves at high speed without worrying about skidding out. This deck has a Harmonic Tip/Tail Damper and an RDS 2 Dampening System that really help manage chatter, and the Elastomeric Underfoot Stabilizers are superb at absorbing choppy snow at high speeds. The micro camber and Press Flex Core provide just enough play to press into butters with precision and stability without feeling too loose like some “noodle” soft boards.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Powder: I have taken this board out on deep days, and it performed just fine but did not excel. It is much better suited for groomed runs or a few inches of fresh snow. As a traditional camber, this profile is not designed with float in mind. If this were my only board, I would adjust for deep days and set the stance further back to help it float and give my back leg a break.
- Trees: The PropaCamba holds up just fine in the trees, but it is not my top board choice for that riding style. It has great edge hold and initiation that keeps me confident when things get tight, but it is not the quickest board edge to edge, and I typically like something directional for tree riding. However, if someone is looking for a similar board that is more catered to freeride, the Academy Masters is super fun and excels in the trees.
- Moguls: This board has an aggressive edge hold and can hold a line well so I can rip bumps or choppy terrain confidently, but that is not exactly where this park-oriented board excels. Some other boards are better suited to handle that terrain for riders who specifically seek out bump runs.
- Backcountry: The traditional camber of this board does not offer the best float, so I would not recommend this as a backcountry-specific board. However, for firm or springtime backcountry conditions, or to session a kicker, this board would do just fine, and the stability it offers would be a plus.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite time on this board was the first day I rode it! I remember thinking this was what a solid, all-around park and freestyle-focused board should feel like. Stable yet playful, very predictable, and confidence-inspiring. I was stoked on this board from day one.
Value for the money vs. other options
This board is a stellar deal, ringing up around $470 out of the box. Comparable quality park boards from Burton, Lib Tech, Capita, and other brands typically range from $550 to $700 new and around $100 to $250 more than the PropaCamba. With that in mind, along with the durable quality construction, this board is hard to beat when considering “bang for the buck.”
The Academy PropaCamba is a priced-right snow slayer that is most at home in the park or jibbing around the mountain. This board is high-quality, durable, and predictable. It is playful when I want to keep it loose and powerful when I feel aggressive. It is well-rounded and can do it all.