Expert Review: Nitro Woodcarver Snowboard · 2022Published on 12/30/2022 · 11 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
Nitro Woodcarver after a hard day's riding. All photos courtesy of Iain Tracton
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the snowboard, which I purchased with my own money in January of 2022.
The Nitro Woodcarver is a lightweight, easy-turning board for the intermediate to advanced rider who wants to carve up groomers—even on icy days—and explore the side country.
About the snowboard I own
- Model: 2022 Nitro Woodcarver
- Size: 159cm
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 190lbs
- Experience: 5 years of snowboarding
- When I bought this: January 2022
- Days tested: 10
- Mount position: Default (slightly set back)
- Boots: 2022 K2 Maysis
- Boot Size: 11
- Bindings: 2022 Union Force
- Where I’ve used it: Jack Frost (PA), Windham (NY), Killington (VT)
- Terrain: Groomed Runs (both fresh and icy), Powder (6”-12”), Trees, Park
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a new board because I knew I was out pacing the old Santa Cruz that I bought at a garage sale and had ridden the last three seasons. I was looking for a board that was very versatile, as I ride a lot of different terrains and ride in the Rockies and on the East Coast. I was very keen on making sure that whatever board I bought had tech to assist with riding over ice.
Why I chose this gear
I ended up buying the Woodcarver, specifically, because it was proposed as an alternative to the GNU board that I had settled on (I think it was the Headspace or Essential Service), but was out of stock at the shop that was assisting me. The GNU boards I looked at and the Woodcarver aren’t super similar but, it is similar to the Salomon Super 8, which I really liked but doesn’t have any tech for holding my edge on ice. The Super 8 also really felt like a “big stick” and wanted to go fast and make big turns, and I felt that I needed something more maneuverable for smaller East Coast resorts. I also tested the Lib Tech T. Rice Pro, which was awesome, but decided against it primarily for budget reasons.
What I love about it
- Edge hold: In a word, “awesome.” The camber-dominant profile really lets me load up and edge and feel locked in, and the 50° sidewall angle and light weight make it super easy to get on edge. But what I really need to talk about are the Power Pods. Each side cut is actually made with two different radii, and these are blended together roughly underfoot to create the Power Pods. They are much more subtle than some variants of Magne-tracton (found on Lib Tech, GNU, and Roxy boards) and I initially had some doubts. However, the only confirmation I needed that they worked was watching the rider in front of me wipe out as I went something down the same line without issue. It’s worth noting that the Woodcarver’s lightweight and 50° sidewall angle can sometimes be too easy to get on edge in softer conditions, causing the edge to sink in. I have taken a couple of surprise falls from this. The workaround is to know what type of day I’m riding on and sometimes keep a little more weight back.
- Turns: So this board is aptly named “Woodcarver,” and it was built to turn. The turning ability of this board is my favorite thing about it. The Cam-out profile and stiff side of medium flex really let me load up energy into the board when carving at speed and then gives it back to me. I feel a natural rhythm when carving where the board pushes me from turn to turn and I hardly have to do any work. At slower speed or tight confines, the 50° sidewall angle and the light weight make it easy to get the board edge to edge and make turns in tight spaces and slow speed, whether it's the trees or a crowded green.
- Groomers: Again, this is the Woodcarver, and carving up groomers is one of the things it excels at most. As mentioned before, the Cam-out profile and stiff side of medium flex let me lock in an edge and give energy back when switching edges. Add to that the lightweight and 50° sidewall angle it makes picking the angle of the carver very easy. The Mid-wide width of the board and Sintered Speed Formula 2 base make it a very supportive and fast platform. I really don’t have to worry much about flat spots on this board. The only notes here are that I barely don't drag my toes with a size 11 boot on a 159. A more advanced carver of similar size will want to size up. Additionally, this is a directionally shaped board, so there are certain carving tricks in which the shape will be detrimental to doing (basically anything switch).
- Powder: Riding powder on the Woodcarver is a bit of a mixed experience that I still rate as an overall positive. The Cam-out profile causes an early rocker-style rise in the nose and tail. Additionally, the asymmetrical shape and naturally set-back stance cause the tail to sink and the nose to rise to really help get the board on top of the powder. I should also highlight the Mid-wide width the Nitro selected. The middle of the board is only a little wider than a standard sidecut width (except at the Power Pods underfoot), but the nose and tail run much wider, giving a lot of extra surface area to help it float even better. Lastly, it’s lightweight and means that more of that floating power goes towards lifting the rider’s weight rather than just supporting the board. The only caveat here is that, again, the lightweight and the 50° sidewall angle mean that, especially in champagne powder, that the rider really needs to keep their weight back to make sure that an edge doesn't sink in and cause a tumble.
- Trees: Hopefully, I’m not beating a dead horse here but they really did name this board well. The Woodcarver excels in the trees. This is primarily due to the 50° sidewall angle and being lightweight. I can really slow myself down and pick where I want to turn when I want to. The setback stance and Cam-out profile also help to get the nose up and away from low obstacles. I’ve ridden my Woodcarver in fairly tight trees in VT and PA, and the only knock that comes up sometimes is that as the tree lines start to pack out of form ruts and gullies the very wide contact points sometimes catch when I try to initiate turns. This doesn’t often cause me to fall because it can feel out of control and very scary. So hit the trees early or make sure there is a really solid base in there.
- Moguls: I haven’t had any real serious moguls to test this board on yet (one of the things I’m most looking forward to doing next week in Steamboat, CO), but I would expect it to excel for the same reason as it crushes in the trees. The 50° sidewall angle and the light make it incredibly easy to pick my spots for a turn.
- Backcountry: I haven’t really tested this board in the backcountry, but from how it handles trees and the overall durability, I would expect it to handle everything but the steepest terrain very well. If the coverage is shallow the durability will really shine, but as I highlighted earlier, the wide contact points may cause some difficulty.
- Durability: I have beat up my Woodcarver. I have gone so far as to make sparks fly off of one of the edges going over a rock. There is also one kinda flappy base hit but, even that is too shallow to be a core shot. Despite all of that, and still on a factory wax that is in need of rewaxing, the board performs almost the same as when I got it. The sintered Speed Formula 2 base is entirely the cause of this and is proving to be incredibly strong and durable.
- Weight: As I’ve mentioned already, the Woodcarver is very lightweight. This is due to the Powerlite poplar core and the Diamond Laminates carbon fiber layups which really do perform at a high level while keeping the weight of the board low.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Speed: At high speed, and especially if the snow is choppy or has multiple textures, the lightweight, setback stance and early rise of the Cam-out profile can cause a lot of chatter chatter to feedback from the nose. This can be especially challenging and the lack of something to damp this out is really what keeps the board from being, arguably, one of the best boards on the market. I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the sintered Speed Formula 2 base here. It does help the board run fast and keeps its speed very well. I don’t worry about flat sections nearly as much riding Woodcarver as I do on other boards (especially those with extruded bases).
- Park: It should be obvious from the directional shape of this board that it is not really intended to go in the park since it is not really meant to be ridden switch. Add to that the stiff side of medium flex, and one has a board that isn’t great for tweaking out rails, jibbing, or butters. I do regularly take it through the park (since I run out of other places to ride sometimes) for 50-50s over boxes and would use the mid-wide shape and Cam-out profile to provide excellent pop and stability for jumping/hitting knuckles. I also find that the lightweight and sintered Speed Formula 2 base help it come around better than expected for butter spins, but overall I find these features recommend the Woodcarver to a freerider/carver rather than a freestyle/park rider.
- Switch riding: Switch riding is something that the Woodcarver was never designed to do. That said it will do it, it is just notably harder than on a directional twin or true twin board. The directional shape and setback stance means that the long nose becomes a long tail. Add to that the wide contact points and I get a switch experience that is very catchy at the rear contact point and needs lots of space to turn.
- Stability: As mentioned above, at high speed or in choppy snow, the lightweight, setback stance and early rise of the Cam-out profile can cause a lot of chatter to feedback from the nose. This can be especially challenging and the lack of something to damp this out is really what keeps the board from being, arguably, one of the best boards on the market. Also as mentioned above the stiffness of the boards doesn’t make it great for butters though the base slides nicely and the nose is a nice platform. A positive in this category would be the pop that the Cam-out camber profile, Powerlite core, and Diamond laminates provide. It is great for popping off knuckles for easy air.
Favorite moment with this gear
My favorite moment on this board was on the first day riding it when I realized just how lightweight and maneuverable it was and how much energy I could put into each carve and that it would give back to me, helping me get from edge to edge. Carving was already my favorite part of snowboarding and the Nitro Woodcarver really elevated that and made it easy.
Value for the money vs. other options
Money-wise, the Nitro Woodcarver is fairly comparable to other boards for intermediate to advanced riders like the GNU Headspace or Jones Mountain Twin. Still, it provides a more carving-specialized experience, whereas the Headspace is really a park board and the Mountain twin is a playful but powerful freeride board. Like the Mountain Twin, the Woodcarver is highly versatile without having to shell out the cash for a high-end/advanced to expert-level board like the Jones Flagship or Lib Tech T. Rice Pro.
My final thoughts on the Nitro Woodcarver are that it is a precise and locked-in but easily-handled board that is excellent for intermediate to advanced carvers and explorers. I should mention that Nitro decided not to produce the Woodcarver for the 2022/2023 season, but its spiritual successors are the Nitro Magnum and Nitro SPM, including the cool faux wood top sheet and base art.