Expert Review: 2023 Never Summer Proto Ultra Snowboard [with Video]
Snowboard Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton tested the 2023 Never Summer Proto Ultra 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 Ultra 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, every rider is unique; if you have any questions on the Proto Ultra or would like recommendations on what board would be ideal for your needs, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
Before we jump in, a quick 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] Never Summer claims the Proto Ultra is an all-mountain board that can do it all. It's really beefed up and has that ultra technology that can be pushed. It's going to be on the slightly stiffer side, so you can really charge hard where you need to go.
[Mike] The Proto Ultra features their triple camber technology, a centered base, and the ultra-augmented carbon configuration in their WooBoo core. This makes it playful, forgiving, but also extremely high performance. It is a true twin, so it's at home in the park. It's at home all over the mountain. It's designed basically to be your one board quiver.
What's your overall impression of the board? [Everett] This board is great if you want to go hit some trees, find some powder, or go hit a little bit of this and that. This board can do it all with that extra stability. It'll get you the speed and acceleration you want and you can really push yourself further the more you ride it. Also, the triple camber technology in this board is super beneficial when ripping the entire mountain, getting that extra stability throughout the whole board, and also still having those flex points. It made it a super fun, playful-where-you-need-it, but mostly confidence-inspiring board that I could take anywhere.
[Mike] This is a great board to just rip around on the groomers in the morning, then take it into the park later in the day. As things soften up, and you kind of explore a bit more, the Proto Ultra is at home all over the mountain.
How does it turn? [Mike] With the combination of the ultra-augmented carving configuration and the WooBoo core, once you get it on edge, it is going to turn.
How is its edge hold? [Everett] So this board was super fun to ride. I felt extremely stable on it for carving purposes, and that's where it really was coming alive. You are able to get up on that edge. That triple camber throughout kept me super locked into my turns.
[Mike] Once you're out in the open turning it, or you're carving into a lip of a park jump, this board is going to set a clean edge. And on top of that, the Proto Ultra is an 8 out of 10 flex. Never Summer claims it's a 6 out of 10 dampness. So that means once you get it up on edge and you're turning, it's going to hold.
How is it in terms of speed? [Everett] It wasn't something I was getting up super fast onto an edge. It did take a little bit, but I wouldn't say it was slow by any means. It was a lot of fun to just cruise around the entire resort. But when I wanted to charge a little harder, this thing was built for it.
[Mike] At lower speeds, it actually is really nimble. I think that has to do with that additional camber zone in between the feet, and that just makes that board really hold that edge.
Is there any chatter? [Mike] There's not a ton of chatter. I think the only time I really felt a lot of chatter was in some ungroomed, harder, more chundery conditions.
How is its pop? [Everett] I would say this board is not totally built for freestyle. It's not its main focus, but it is also super fun to rip around on. That surprise pop that comes out of this camber shape is where it's really going to give you that springboard-like feel. You can load up right on the tip or tail and pop right over any roller or side hit feature as you're flying down the mountain and go bigger than you ever expected. It’s super fun being able to push this board and see how much air you can get.
[Mike] You're going to get a lot of energy out of it. There's a lot of pop. So if you're spinning, playing around, even if you're just hitting side hits, you're going to have fun with this board on edge and in the air.
How is it riding switch? [Mike] It also features a pretty traditional side-cut profile, and because it's a true twin, it is at home carving both switch and regular. Though the triple camber takes a little bit to get used to. When I first started riding, switch felt a little weird on my toe-side edge—like there was a little bit of a grabby point. After riding and getting used to what the characteristics were, it worked itself out, but there's some nuance to it.
How is it riding in the trees? [Everett] Tight trees would definitely not be its best friend, but it's still able to handle it.
[Mike] If you're chasing someone through the trees a little bit, it's going to be fine, but this isn't going to be your board of choice for that.
To sum up, what terrain is this board ideal for? [Mike] Where this board really shines is freestyle-focused, all-mountain riding. And where it is really going to thrive is in the park: on that run down to the park, those warm up runs in the morning. This board is just going to be a lot of fun.
What terrain should riders avoid with it? [Mike] I will say it's not going to be the best board if you're really just solely focused on riding fresh or super steep snow, or some chunkier, harder conditions. There will be a bit of chatter. It'll definitely ride through it, but it's not going to be a standout there.
Who would you recommend this board to? [Everett] I would definitely recommend this board for the more intermediate and advanced rider that is seasoned and really trying to take it all in, explore the entire mountain—a real resort ripper. That's where this board is really going to shine, going all the way from trees and moguls to big groomers and even a little bit of powder days. I would not say it is an all-out stellar board for those powder days, but you still are able to handle those and have a good time. If you're a kind of rider that's a little bigger and wants to push yourself a little bit more than the laid-back style, this board is going to hit that sweet spot.
[Mike] So I would recommend this board to a high-intermediate to expert rider who is looking to take their park skills all over the mountain. They like hitting bigger jumps and they're confident on their edges. They can pick a day when there's not a ton of fresh snow and have a really good time. But overall, if you're looking for an all-mountain freestyle ripper and you spend a lot of time in the big jump line, the Proto Ultra is your choice.
Who should avoid this board? [Everett] I wouldn't recommend this board for the more beginner or even lower-intermediate rider. It takes a little bit to get used to. It’s on the more aggressive side of the flex scale, and it takes a little bit more effort to get out of it exactly what this board is built for. So once you understand the fundamentals of riding and really want to push yourself into it, this is where that board will really open up and show you how much fun you can have in a real resort.
[Mike] This board is not going to be great for anyone looking to ride a lot of fresh snow or a lot of deep snow. With the triple camber, there's a little bit of rise in the rocker in the nose and the tail, but it's not significant enough that it's going to really sit you up there. I also wouldn't recommend this as a board for a beginner.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Everett, Mike or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.