Expert Review: 2023 Never Summer Proto Synthesis Snowboard [with Video]
Snowboard Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton tested the 2023 Never Summer Proto Synthesis snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton got their hands on the 2023 Never Summer Proto Synthesis and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah this spring. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories. But don’t forget, each rider is unique; if you have any questions about the Proto Synthesis, or would like recommendations on what board is ideal for your needs, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
Before we jump in, an important note that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Never Summer claim about this board? [Everett] So, this is Never Summer’s staple piece of the Proto series. It has a little bit of everything. The shockwave shape provides a little bit of rocker and camber in the right spots, and it's an all-mountain, explore-the-whole-place, have-fun, freestyle board.
[Mike] The Never Summer Proto Synthesis is a staple. When I worked at a ski school in Breckenridge, I saw all kinds of Proto Synthesis. It's an approachable, all-mountain twin. It's also pretty forgiving and playful: it's a 6–10 flex and 6–10 dampness, according to Never Summer. It features their Shock Wave Camber, so it still will hold a carved turn.
What is your overall impression of this board? [Everett] My first impression of this board was that it was fun. It definitely doesn't take too much to really make it do what I want it to do. It's very reliable and super stable for something that is not a full-camber board. It still felt like I had a safety net underneath my feet the entire time I was riding it. I didn't have to push it too hard for it to just follow with me. It was great to go around the entire mountain, hit some side hits, fly on some rollers, and carve it out. It was really just an overall good solution to hit everywhere.
How does it turn? [Everett] I would say that carving is not its strongest point, but it still was better than I expected. It’s a little bit stiffer, but it never felt like this board was overpowering me.
[Mike] So the Proto Synthesis is an all-mountain twin with Never Summer’s ShockWave Camber. This board holds a good carve turn. With that bit of rocker in the middle, it makes it really quick edge to edge. So when things get tighter, or you're in the trees, it's fun and really easy to maneuver. I was chasing around my filming partner and it was easy to turn. It was stable.
How is its edge hold? [Everett] I was able to get it up on edge and lock in a hold, but I wasn't flying or getting super low on any of those turns.
[Mike] With the Shock Wave Camber and the Power Grip Sidecut, once you get it up on edge, it holds it.
Is it easy to control at speeds? [Everett] I was able to feel super comfortable on this board, but it's not going to be one that I'm going to go mach 10 on—or go as fast as possible—and get the highest arc and edge I can. This board is super fun; that's more where it stands out.
Is there any chatter in the board? [Mike] I will say when things get a little bit choppier—harder conditions, moguled out—there is a little bit of chatter. But it's manageable because at 6–10 flex, you can power your way out of it. Though for the most part, all over the mountain, you're going to be having fun chasing your friends around—or they might be chasing you.
How is it for freestyle? [Everett] So freestyle is where this board totally came alive. I didn't know I could press boards this hard. That's what made this thing a lot of fun. I can get over the nose, over the tail, and even the mid flex right in the middle. I could really flex it to a lot of really intense points and butt around, but it's not like it was going to slide out like a wet noodle and just lose out from underneath me. It was the best of both worlds to really dip my toes in and get that freestyle action wherever I am on the mountain. I would definitely say this is a really freestyle-oriented board that you can rip the whole resort on.
It's just a fun all-around board. It's an all-mountain feel that is not super lively, not super playful, but you still feel comfortable. It's just like, it's your homie back home back in Denver. It's just like, ‘oh, you're back there, you want to go hang out?’ Always down to hang out. It feels just like an everyday park board that you can bring to the rest of the mountain. So, I’d call it an all-mountain park board.
[Mike] From a freestyle perspective, it's at home, switch and regular. In my opinion, this is really what Never Summer's known for. Any day you're out in Colorado or a lot of the resorts out West, you're going to run into a lot of Proto Synthesis. It's a staple that Never Summer does well.
How is the board for freeriding? [Everett] So freeride, the board’s shape made it a little bit more forgiving, so I could twist it and bend it a little bit more in tighter areas like moguls and trees. So if I start going a little bit too hot in any situation, I can slow myself down. I’m able to really change up my speed pretty easily. And it's super safe to have that kind of control underneath your feet—wherever you're exploring on the mountain.
Who would you recommend this board to? [Everett] I would totally recommend this board for the all-mountain freestyle guide that wants to get out of the park, but still take the park with them wherever they go. You can feel reliable on rollers, trees, jumps, side hits: this board can do it all. It’s in the sweet spot for an intermediate rider who just wants to expand and take the fun all over the mountain.
[Mike] I really can't recommend this board enough for that rider that's maybe looking for their first setup; the intermediate rider looking to get into the park; or the park rider looking to explore more of the mountain. This board is just approachable. It's fun, it's playful, it’s stable. Also, it’s forgiving. This board is not going to specialize in any one thing. It's just going to be good all over the mountain. This is a perfect board for someone looking for their first setup, all the way up to advanced expert riders. It is approachable for every ability level: if you're starting to get into the park, if you're starting to get out of the park, or if you're starting to explore the whole mountain. From the first turn, I felt comfortable on it.
Who should avoid this board? [Everett] I wouldn't recommend this to a total beginner—but someone right past that—that at least has the beginning fundamentals down; this board would jump right into action and take them to the next level. Also, I would say it's definitely not for the more advanced, expert rider.
[Mike] I would say maybe bigger, more aggressive freeriders are not going to be as at home on this board. They're going to want something more directional, stiff, or a little bit damper. Really high level riders might want to look at something like the Proto Ultra or the Proto Slinger, which are a little more aggressive and a bit stiffer.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you have any questions about the Never Summer Proto Synthesis or want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Mike, Everett, or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.