Expert Review: Lib Tech Orca Splitboard · 2022
This review is my honest opinion of the splitboard, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the splitboard, which I purchased with my own money in May of 2021.
The Lib Tech Orca Split Snowboard has treated me well as far as uphill ability, downhill ride, and overall durability. Its lightweight build and super floaty nose allow me to break trails easily. On the downhill, it provides me with a playful and dependable ride, no matter the terrain or conditions.
About the gear
- Model: 2022 Lib Tech Orca Split
- Size: 156
- Height: 5’10”
- Weight: 150 lbs
- Experience: 20 years snowboarding and 6 years split boarding in the backcountry.
- When I bought: May 2021
- Days tested: 30
- Mount position: Slightly back from reference point.
- Boots: 2021 Rome Guide
- Boot Size: 10.5
- Bindings: 2018 Spark Surge
- Where I’ve used it: Tahoe area, Cascades, and summits of Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and South Sister.
- Terrain: Steeps, pow, ice, slush, groomers
How it performs
What I was looking for
Spring is my favorite time to tour. But unfortunately, I snapped my old Rome Whiteroom right in front of the front binding, hooking my nose at high speed. After repairing and snapping it in the same place several times, it was time for an upgrade before I left myself stranded in the backcountry. I was craving a board that offered a more playful ride than my big mountain-oriented Rome Whiteroom. I scoured the market and found that the Orca Split had just been released. I had heard rave reviews regarding the solid Orca and decided to give this board a chance.
Why I chose this gear
I was initially shopping for a good deal and a quick fix to get me out in the mountains again as quickly as possible. First, I looked over the local used market and found a Tahoe Lab carbon board, which I decided wasn’t durable enough for my usual gear treatment. Next, I considered getting another Rome (the Uprise Split), which was great in value, but I wasn’t stoked about the durability of the last one or the playfulness of its ride. Another frontrunner was the Rossignol XV Split, which I decided was too similar to my old Rome’s design. I finally decided upon the Orca because Lib Tech boards always last me longer than other brands, and I wanted a board that would float well and is versatile in various terrain.
What I love about it
- Speed: This board is relatively stiff. It allows me to bust though any chop and reduces chatter when doing high-speed turns.
- Edge hold: Edge hold is excellent. Its width means I boot out less, and its Magne-traction edges help me dig in when things get icy both on the up and downhill. Its width will make one work a bit harder to achieve maximum edge hold.
- Turns: My old split was stiff and longer than my resort board and did not perform well at low speeds. It craved big lines and high speeds. My Orca Split is wider, but the same length as my resort board and has a hybrid profile. This makes it much easier to initiate turns at slower speeds, making for a more playful ride. Its stiffness and camber under the back foot still make me feel in control when I open it up.
- Powder: The Orca Split has a wide profile and a lot of nose rocker that keeps it floating effortlessly in pow.
- Trees: This board has a “volume-shifted” short and stubby design that makes it fit in places that other boards do not. Its shortened tail allows me to make quick pivot turns that lends itself to quick reaction in the trees.
- Backcountry: This board offers the lightweight durability I need to go deeper, climb faster, and ride my line how I envisioned it from the bottom while trusting that a gear failure won’t leave me stranded. Its hybrid profile does negate some skin-to-snow contact which will reduce skin traction slightly, but it was not enough to be a problem for me.
- Durability: My board has the usual base scrapes from rocks and sidewall shaving from touring, but nothing that would make me second guess, taking it deep to ride the line of my dreams.
- Weight: I love the lightweight construction of this board. It tours much more effortlessly than my past board. I’m sure one could find a lighter-weight setup made from carbon, but that will come with a higher cost and less long-term durability.
- Stability: My Orca’s stiffness, profile, and extra nose rocker make it very stable and easy to ride in all conditions. My biggest complaint with this board is I often find myself missing grabs due to its stiffness. That probably has more to do with my ultra-stiff bindings than the board though.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Groomers: Actually, I rode some timberline groomers on my way down from the summit of Hood. It carved well and was fun to do some butters on, but if staying on the groom is someone’s idea of fun, there are much better and cheaper boards available for that.
- Park: Sure hit that kicker, but I would not recommend it for jibs due to the stiffness and extra edges in the middle of the board.
- Switch riding: This board is not designed with switch riding in mind. With good technique, someone can definitely land switch, but it's not where this board shines.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment on this board was dropping off the summit of Mt. Hood with good friends. After a long climb, we descended into perfect spring snow conditions. The sky was the deepest darkest shade of blue I’ve ever experienced. The wind was still, and the snow was untouched. Our whole crew was buzzing with energy and accomplishment for the rest of the day.
Value for the money vs. other options
This board definitely is on the higher end of the split board market. I would suggest looking towards Rome or Voile choices if one's looking for a budget option. As far as build quality and versatility, I think this board is worth the investment as it will keep boarders adventuring for years to come, no matter where they take it. If big mountain riding is their primary focus, Lib also makes the BRD in a split that is more suited to take on big lines at the expense of versatility.
To me, touring isn’t about riding the gnarliest line or doing the biggest trick. It's about connecting with nature, problem-solving, and teamwork. This board would be a great choice for anybody looking to get out in the backcountry and have a good time.