Expert Review: Salomon HPS Takaharu Nakai Snowboard · 2021Published on 11/19/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2021.
All photos by Garrett Waliky
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in September of 2021.
The Salomon HPS Takaharu Nakai is a powder board put on party mode. This board is great for a rider who wants a pow board that can rip off the occasional groomer.
About the snowboard I own
- Model: 2021 Salomon HPS Takaharu Nakai
- Size: 158cm
- Height: 5’11”
- Experience 18 years of snowboarding
- When I bought these: September 2021
- Days tested: 100
- Boots: 2021 32 TM2
- Boot Size: 11
- Stance: 20mm set back -3, 12
- Bindings: 2020 Rome Targa
- Where I’ve used it: Timberline, Mount Baker, Mount Hood Meadows
- Terrain: Trees, steeps, cliffs, groomers
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was in the market for a pow board that had a relaxed feel. I wanted something that didn't feel like it was too much for when the terrain wasn't super steep; I wanted laid-back runs.
Why I chose this gear
I have always been a fan of the HPS lineup from Salomon. They put a lot of thought into their freeride line up, which shows in the performance. When I saw the profile and soft to mid-flex, I knew I wanted this board. A slight camber underfoot with a ton of rocker was screaming my name. I wanted something that was supple and poppy with a ton of rocker in the nose.
What I love about it
- Speed: This board holds its speed with ease. I feel really comfortable attacking steeps with the camber underfoot. The bamboo core really takes away the chatter I’d feel sometimes at high speed.
- Edge hold: The Taka has way more edge hold than I expected. I thought with the softer flex and soft flex on the nose, I'd find myself washing out on carves, but the slight camber underfoot really allows me to lock in and drive into carves.
- Turns: I can really lay into turns with this board. The camber strictly underfoot really allows me to drive into turns and its soft flex helps get from heel to toe edge.
- Groomers: One of the main reasons I like this board is because of how well I can attack groomers. In the PNW, snow can get heavy by the end of the day, and I like to rip some heavy carves on groomers. This board feels controlled due to the camber and could be super playful on the corduroy with its softer flex.
- Powder: Powder is where this board shines. Here at Timberline Lodge, I find myself in some flatter sections. This board feels really playful due to its flex and made flat sections feel like a skate park on a powder day. The nose has a ton of rocker that starts off early, so the float is unmatched.
- Trees: Tree runs are really fun on this board. The profile and flex make it really snappy and quick, so navigating through trees is super fun, and I find myself flying though sections. Anywhere I look I can go.
- Park: Even though this board wasn't made for the park whatsoever, it actually isn’t too bad. We had a late snow fall, so I decided to take this board out for some pow laps early on and end the day in the park. It handled all the jumps I threw at it with ease. The soft flex really makes it user-friendly in all aspects.
- Durability: Salomon really knows how to make a strong board. The sintered base takes all kinds of beating without any core shots and helps wax very well. The bamboo core has withstood all kinds of riding all season and has no issues with cracking.
- Weight: I am really surprised how light this board feels riding. I knew it felt light when I picked it up, but when it is strapped on, it feels like a cloud. The bamboo core really lightens things up.
- Stability: This board checks all the boxes with stability. The slight camber makes popping pretty hard off anything pretty easy. Sometimes camber can throw me over the nose if I don't time it right, but I can pop off just about anything I want to at any speed. I feel really stable at high speed. The bamboo core really eliminates chatter.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Moguls: Even though blasting gaps through the moguls is fun, the moments I find myself navigating through some tight bumps, the nose feels a little washy.
- Switch riding: Even though it isn't the worst at riding switch, it isn't the best. The setback stance doesn't give me much to work with. The added rocker on the nose also makes riding switch a little loose feeling.
Favorite moment with this gear
Where can I even begin with the fun times I had on this board? This was my go-to pow board on Hood for most of last season. There were a few nights here at Ski Bowl I took this beast out for some night pow laps when we had plus 2 feet. This board just wanted to be ridden off any cliff I could find, and the rocker on the nose basically helped land every drop thrown at it.
Value for the money vs. other options
This board is worth every penny. I have not found a lot of boards with this profile and flex combo, and I have been impressed ever since I bought it. This board is for those looking for a powder board that can be ridden in a laid-back style. A board with a similar feel would be the Harpoon from Never Summer. It is another directional pow board, but the Harpoon is volume-shifted, so it's wider in the nose and waist.
I fell in love with this board as soon as I rode it. I honestly think I rode it daily for about two months straight just because it was literally fun everywhere. I like pow days and being able to ride a board that doesn't feel overly stiff, so this board felt like a dream. It can be ridden by anyone, and I highly recommend it for the beginner looking for their first pow board since it has a softer flex to the hard-charging powder hound.