Expert Review: Never Summer West Bound Splitboard · 2020

Published on 12/23/2022 · 5 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the splitboard, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.
Kyle Kendall, Snowboarding Expert
By Snowboarding Expert Kyle Kendall

WICKED DEEP. All photos courtesy of Kyle Kendall

About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the splitboard, which I purchased with my own money in December of 2020.

My take

The 2021 Never Summer West Bound is a great splitboard for anyone who likes the backcountry/sidecountry, deep snow, going fast, putting in the work for the special rewards, and getting trixy with their board. My review is for this board's 2020 158W model, an identical copy of the 2021 Never Summer West Bound splitboard.

About the splitboard I own

  • Model: 2020 Never Summer West Bound Splitboard
  • Size: 158W

About me

  • Height: 5’5”
  • Weight: 185lbs
  • Experience: 29 years of snowboarding/skiing

Test conditions

  • When I bought these: December 2020
  • Days tested: 50
  • Mount position: -2in (backseat position), +15 degrees front, -9 degrees back
  • Boots: 2017 Nitro Venture Pro TLS
  • Boot Size: 9.5
  • Bindings: 2017 Burton/Spark R&D Hitchhiker
  • Where I’ve used it: Elkhorn Mountains, Cascade Mountains, and Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort in Oregon.
  • Terrain: 95% backcountry and 5% resort

How it performs

Durability
5/5
Flotation
5/5
High Speed Stability
5/5
Versatility
5/5
Carving
4/5
Turn Ease
4/5

What I was looking for

I turned to splitboarding during the 2020/2021 lockdowns and shutdowns. I already owned and loved the Never Summer Proto Type Two. I wanted a split that I could take into some hectic places or enjoy a nice day building and hiking a bump in the backcountry with the crew. At the time, this was Never Summer’s best option for a backcountry freeride/freestyle board, but since then, NS introduced the proto FR, which on paper looks to outperform the West Bound. (Guess what I’ll be buying next?)

Why I chose this gear

I liked the West Bound for its high versatility, extreme durability, and smart value. I also considered the Never Summer Swift Splitboard and Lib Tech Orca Split. Ultimately, I chose the West Bound split for its slightly softer flex, modest taper, and centered stance. These characteristics all make the West Bound split very versatile.

What I love about it

  • Speed: This base is FAST. Crown Plastics developed an exclusive, super fast, durable sintered base specifically for higher-end boards (such as the West Bound Splitboard) called the Durasurf XT Sintered 5501 Base. Just a bit of graphite is added, making this base one of the fastest ever made.
  • Edge hold: The edge hold on this board is good for what it's designed for (deeper, softer snow). It holds pretty well on hardpack/ice, but it's definitely not 100% optimal on hard snow.
  • Turns: This thing turns awesome. Turn initiation is natural and takes low effort. It doesn’t flop around like a fish, though, one will need to be somewhat deliberate in their turns, but once it goes, it's an easy and natural feel.
  • Groomers: The West Bound is not a board to be riding on the resort. The one thing this board doesn’t do great is hardpacked snow/ice. Tracking gets a bit dicey, as with most splitboards on groomers, with the unavoidable torsional flexing that happens with any two “skis” clipped together into a snowboard shape.
  • Powder: (_Chef’s kiss_) Perfecto. This thing slays pow with some of the best-dedicated pow boards I’ve ever ridden. It floats well, turns with power, and rebounds well after a good cliff or cornice/wind-lip drop.
  • Trees: The West Bound is fairly nimble from edge to edge. It could be a bit quicker if it had more taper and a little setback, but it handles very well, those things considered.
  • Moguls: This board does well in varied terrain. It has great dampening and is a mid-flex, so it helps me handle some of those bombed-out sections toward the bottom of the skin tracks without bombing out my knees and ankles.
  • Backcountry: The Never Summer West Bound is specifically built for backcountry touring. The Fusion RC profile helps on the uphill and the downhill by adding some float and stability with an overall rockered bend.
  • Durability: I’ve hit trees, slid over rocks, and lost the right half about 150ft downhill into a fallen log. I even came about two feet from running over a rabbit. I’ve absolutely beaten the snot out of this thing, and it keeps moving through the crowded forest of trees, rocks, and unfortunate wildlife.
  • Weight: Never Summer uses an ultra-light wood blend core for this board, and I can feel it under my feet, especially during the uphill portions of my adventures.
  • Switch riding: This was the main selling point of this board for me. This board has zero setback and a very modest taper of 5mm. It rides fantastically in switch stance, which I’m into because cab 1s and 5s are my favorite tricks in the backcountry.
  • Stability: Stability is great at any speed until I get onto hardpack/groomers. Things get a little too squirrely and unpredictable in those cases for my liking. Tracking gets a bit of a strange, erratic feeling.
  • Other: This board is GORGEOUS.

Issues I’ve encountered

  • Park: This board is not for park rats. This one wants to break free into the Wild West. By nature, splitboards are heavier. They will also always have a bit of torsional flex between the halves, making riding th

Favorite moment with this gear

The first time I used it, within five mins up the trail, my dog let go of her last night's dinner right on the trail. Unfortunately, I had left my doodie bags in the car. So my shiny, new splitboard became the world's most expensive pooper scooper. I have to love multi-use gear.

Value for the money vs. other options

This board is of great value if someone is looking for a moderately priced, freestyle-leaning board to take into the backcountry. Take good care of it, and it will last someone a very long time. It might never even leave their quiver. This would be a great alternative to the Burton Hometown Hero Split, the CAPiTA Neo Slasher, or the Jones Solution.

Final verdict

The West Bound Split will let someone take their freestyle chops into the backcountry and will perform very well in soft, deep snow.

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