Expert Review: 2023 Never Summer Proto FR [with Video]Published on 09/08/2023 · 7 min readSnowboard Expert Yuri Czmola tested the 2023 Never Summer Proto FR snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Expert Yuri Czmola tested out the 2023 Never Summer Proto FR on a 161Xcm this past spring at Powder Mountain, Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but don’t forget, every rider is unique. If you have any questions on the Proto FR or would like recommendations on what board would be ideal for your needs, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored or affiliated with any company or brand. We are here to give you a totally unbiased review.
What does Never Summer claim about this board? Never Summer claims that this is an all-mountain freeride directional snowboard. It is based off of their lead selling snowboard the Proto twin. The Never Summer Proto FR features their triple camber technology, and has a stiff 8/10 flex and a damp 8/10 rating.
What's your overall impression of the board? Immediately, triple camber comes to mind. I was very curious as to how it would ride. The profile of the board has camber between the feet, then rocker zones towards the bindings, and then another camber zone towards the nose and tail. The triple camber felt great. There was a nice locked in sensation when initiating a turn. It reminded me of some of the traditional camber snowboards that I love, even though in fact it is a triple camber hybrid profile. I think this is a great directional all-mountain freeride board, it allows you to really press into it and reap the benefits of camber, especially if you're transitioning from some of their other rocker profiles.
How is it for carving and edge hold? The Never Summer Proto FR with camber between the feet, does allow for more pop. It still has the similar characteristics of rocker where it's smooth and quick edge to edge, but the camber between the feet allows for a little bit more snap between the bindings. This enables those nimble turns between trees, moguls and even set up turns when you're looking to conquer that side hit or jump. I felt the added camber on this snowboard improves the system that they have been building upon and it takes their established Proto twin snowboard in the right direction to handle all-mountain freeride terrain and beyond.
How does it feel at speed? At speed, this board was very stable. Never Summer rates this as an 8/10 on their flex scale. It was very comfortable at pretty much any speed. I was able to take it out today and it felt very damp regardless of conditions or uneven terrain. I didn’t feel much vibration underfoot, which was a great thing. It had a really nice locked in feel turning from edge to edge.
Is it easy to control? Riding from edge to edge, this board was very easy to control. There was a nice snap. I was really able to leverage it. The inserts between the bindings create a little bit of resistance due to the stiffness. Once you begin flexing between the bindings you really begin to press into them, especially at higher speeds. This creates a nice locked in feeling that really puts the triple camber into the category of all-mountain freeride.
What about playfulness and pop? I was actually able to press this thing a bunch, tackle some side hits at all sorts of speeds with a nice locked in feeling. I am used to a washing out feeling with rocker between the feet, that was not the case riding this board. I was very impressed overall in terms of being able to catch air and feel locked in with camber between your feet.
What about buttering and riding switch? Overall, this was a great board to ride. I happen to be a larger guy, at 6'6" and was able to press into this board and really make it move. It is an 8 out of 10 on their flex scale, so it requires some effort, but it's definitely doable. The rocker zones right next to the bindings allow you to get away with pressing and being able to butter all over the mountain, despite the fact this is very much a freeride board. This is an all-mountain board and riding in either direction felt pretty much the same; a nice locked-in feeling that was ready to go and handle anything I threw at it. From moguls, to switch and trees, this board has you covered.
How would this perform in powder? With the conditions today, I did not get to test the FR in any powder. There was a wintry mix and spring conditions on the mountain when I rode this board. I feel like it would hold up just fine in powder. You can feel the lift with the rocker between the inserts. I think you could tackle powder with enough float if you were looking to ride in those types of conditions. This wouldn't be my first pick in really deep snow, but for an all mountain directional, this was a great ride.
How is its maneuverability in the trees? In terms of tree riding, I took it in the woods where the snow was very sticky and this board handled great. I really do like the addition of camber between the bindings, it was very maneuverable. It allows you to not only enjoy the inserts that create snap and pop, but it also allows you to really carve into those banked turns when riding in trees.
And uneven terrain and chunder? This board is an eight out of 10 on their flex and dampness scale. It was very good through the chunder and on uneven terrain. I feel this is a great one-stop shop board. If you were looking to transition to a new board, this is very much an intermediate to expert board. If you're looking to dabble a little bit more towards expert with more of a locked in feel between the feet, as opposed to a classic rocker feel, the triple camber profile is a great tech option that Never Summer has built into this board. I wouldn't quite call it traditional camber, but for anyone who's been riding hybrid variations, this is a great set up especially when it comes to icier terrain. If you're riding on the East Coast or even the Pacific Northwest where the conditions are questionable, this is a great Swiss Army knife to handle it all. You won’t be disappointed with this jack of all trades board.
Who would you not recommend this to? This board requires a little bit of effort. I would not suggest this for a beginner. If you are a beginner, I would look into the original Proto twin or the Snowtrooper within the Never Summer line. I feel like those board options will allow you to work on smoothing out those turns and then this would be the next step to transition to as a second purchase after progressing from their first snowboard.
Who would you recommend this board to? This is a great take on an all-mountain board. This reminds me of the early classic camber boards that Never Summer ran previously before they introduced the rocker variations that they currently produce. If you are looking for something that is a bit more stable between the feet for speed and want to start exploring new terrain, especially steep terrain, this is a great option for exploring the whole mountain and you should definitely check out the Proto FR.
Snowboards work differently for different riders and in different conditions. If you're looking for help to find that perfect next board, hit up Yuri or another Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations on the right board for you. Note that the 2024 version of the Never Summer Proto FR is linked below - same tech, just different graphic: