Expert Review: 2023 Lib Tech Orca [with Video]
Snowboard Experts Mike Leighton and Everett Pelkey tested the 2023 Lib Tech Orca snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Experts Mike Leighton and Everett Pelkey got their hands on the 2023 Lib Tech 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 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? [Everett] The Lib Tech Orca is a fun, short, wide board that is meant to rip the powder, but still has that freestyle aspect when you want to play around.
What is your overall impression of this board? [Mike] If you know anything or you've been around in the past few years, you've no doubt seen Travis Rice's take on a freeride snowboard, the Orca. It is a cult favorite, cult classic. This board really shines when things are tight or steep and you really need to be quick edge to edge. With the Magne-Traction, you can really feel that in ungroomed terrain, so you feel in control. It is really a lot of fun.
[Everett] The Lib Tech Orca is one of the most impressive boards I was able to test out recently. It is something that is nimble, short, wide, that is still lightweight, fun, and agile. It is a great board that really wants to just get after it. The steeper and deeper you go, the more it opens up. It is so much fun!
How does it turn? [Mike] This is where Lib Tech’s Magne-Traction really shines. Now it also features their C2 camber profile, which has rocker between the feet, then camber underneath, with a little bit more rocker on both sides. So what this allows you to do is even though the Orca has a much wider platform, it allows you to shift your weight and change how the board turns. With the rocker between the feet, it makes it actually really nimble when you need to make short radius turns.
[Everett] So this is a fun carving board. I enjoyed really getting on edge with it. It'll initiate in and really make sure you can get up on an edge and hold yourself all the way through those quick little turns.
How about edge hold? [Mike] The Orca features Lib Tech's Magne-Traction. So think of that like it's a wavy edge. Think of it like your bread knife. The more contact points mean the better chance you have getting an edge in the snow. While I don't necessarily enjoy that as much for carving, where the Magne-Traction really shines is in chundery conditions, ungroomed terrain, where the surface is constantly changing and you normally can't get a clean edge in.
[Everett] You have Magne-Traction on the sidecut which makes sure you can really hold an edge and cuts in fast and quick. You got to make sure you're ready for that. It'll initiate in and really make sure you can get up on an edge and hold yourself all the way through those quick little turns.
What about dampness? Any chatter in the board? [Mike] if you are very static in you're carving, you're going to feel a little bit of chatter towards the exit of your turn on your heels or in your toes and that's a function of that C2 rocker. If you are a little bit more dynamic and like kind of surfing out of a turn, starting on that front foot, shifting your back, this board will hold in a really good carve turn.
[Everett] The dampening on it was a little bit better for how light it felt under my feet. I was very impressed by how well it did in the icy and chundery conditions I was running into. I could barely feel a thing underneath this board. It felt super good and felt like there were massive shock absorbers underneath. That was one of the most surprising features.
How does it perform at speed? [Everett] It is more of an independent moving board that once you get on that front foot, you'll build up that speed, but step back in that back one, you'll slow right down. You are able to open up so many worlds with this style of board that you really can't go wrong with someone who wants to push the limits of their riding.
Could you speak about its playfulness and pop? [Mike] In terms of freestyle, it came from the mind of Travis Rice, so there has to be a little bit of freestyle here. This board is really lightweight, not a lot of swing weight. It's poppy. With the Magne-Traction, you have a ton of control. With the rocker in the middle, it's really easy to set an edge. So for side hits, for dropping cliffs, that occasional line through the jump line, the Orca is going to be really fun. It's not your jib board. Don't take this on rails. Maybe 50-50, every once in a while, but you're not going to be living in the park on this board. This board is designed to be ridden in fresh snow and big mountain conditions.
[Everett] I didn't know that I could really push the limits of a freeride board with a freestyle aspect. It was really fun to get pop and really initiate turns. That coordinated into spins so I was able to throw this board around, because it's so light and short. The fact you get to ride this board so much shorter opens up so many more worlds of possibility. It floats super well, but you can still rip butters, rip turns, just be ready that with this magnetraction sidecut, you just might catch a little faster than you expect, if you're not ready for it. I found out the hard way, but that's okay.
What about riding switch? [Mike] It does have a slight setback, but don't be afraid to ride it switch, occasionally. It can definitely ride switch. One of the coolest feelings though, I think on this board, was you can essentially pick your nose up and you can still carve an edge.
How would it be in powder? [Mike] When the snow gets soft and you're riding pow or it's bottomless and you need to snorkel, you're in Alaska, you're in the Pacific Northwest, you're in the Sierras, you're in the Rockies or the occasional pow day when it's bottomless, this board is just going to sit there and you're surfing. It's going to feel like you're on water.
What kind of terrain would it perform well on? [Mike] Where this board really shines is in freeriding terrain.
[Everett] So freeriding is where this board shines. It wants to hit those cliffs, hit those steep lines. Do you see that spine back there that you've always been wanting to hit? Take this board right over and it'll show you how it's done. The C2 profile is going to give you that rocker in the middle, so you can really twist it, get that bend and make it work for you. These skiers are still figuring out that snowboarding is better, but they'll get there one day.
Who would you recommend this board to? [Mike] I would recommend this board for intermediate up to expert level riders that are going to see a lot of fresh snow and are really riding all over the mountain. I'm not going to recommend this board to a beginner or someone that's spending a lot of time in the park. There are much better options out there. There are much better options from Lib Tech out there for those things, but if you're a freerider looking for something for the steep and deep days that you need to grab, the Orca is a great option.
[Everett] So I would totally recommend this board for the more advanced to expert rider that just wants to rip the coolest, steepest, most unique lines that any mountain has to offer you. This thing is a world of fun once you are ready to push it, but it's also super friendly when it comes to the more high-end resort rider. That is where I found that you could really get more dynamic turns into this, which is not something you find in every type of board. This really had a very well thought out blend of tech. There's a reason that Travis Rice rides something like this in some of the steepest most treacherous situations. Final thoughts on this boy, the Lib Tech Orca really blew my mind. It was super fun. I haven't had too many experiences on Lib Techs, but now I see why people really have a strong following behind him. That edge hold is incredible. But man, does this thing do it all.
Who should avoid this board, there are better options for them out there? [Everett] I would definitely not recommend this for the intermediate to beginner rider. If you're not totally sure where you want to take your riding, then I wouldn't put yourself on this board. It has a specific place it wants to be, don't go out and grab a board that doesn't fit that because you're not going to be able to open this up and get the true benefits out of it.
There are different types of boards out there for all types of riders. Here at Curated, experts like Mike and Everett can make sure you get hooked up with the right board for you. If you need help with finding your next setup, reach out to Mike, Everett, or another Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized advice.