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Head 2 Head: Never Summer Proto Ultra vs. Never Summer Proto Synthesis

Published on 01/26/2023 · 7 min readSnowboard Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton test these boards against each other for carving, freeriding, and freestyling.
By Curated Experts Everett Pelkey and Mike Leighton

This week, we’re back at Powder Mountain in Utah for another battle. Only this time, it’s fratricide—a fight between the twins: the Never Summer Proto Ultra versus the Never Summer Proto Synthesis. Which board will make the parents more proud in this sibling rivalry?

Check out the video below or read on to see what happens.

And before we jump in, a quick note that we aren’t sponsored by any brands to create this review. These are our own personal opinions on these boards. Now let’s get to it!

A bit about us

Everett Pelkey

  • Height: 5’7"
  • Weight: 180 lbs
  • Years Snowboarding: 19
  • Favorite Terrain: Anywhere you can bring freestyle fun and turn the mountain into a playground

Mike Leighton

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 185 lbs
  • Years Snowboarding: 23
  • Favorite Terrain: Steeps or trees if the snow is soft. Ripping groomers or the park if it's sunny

Never Summer Proto Ultra

  • True Twin
  • Stiff Flex (8/10)
  • Camber / Rocker / Camber

With the Proto Ultra, Never Summer introduced a triple camber, which features three distinct areas of camber on this board. This is their all-mountain freestyle twin. It's going to excel on that big jump line. The bigger, the faster, the better: that’s what Never Summer wants the Proto Ultra to be.

Never Summer Proto Synthesis

  • True Twin
  • Medium Flex (6/10)
  • Camber / Rocker / Camber

If the Proto Ultra is Never Summer’s all-mountain freestyle board, the Proto Synthesis is their freestyle all-mountain board, which has more emphasis on each of those categories. It features Never Summer’s Shockwave camber.

First up…

[Everett] With the Proto Synthesis, I wasn't totally sure of where it was going to sit on the mountain when it came to carving. But, I laid back and was still able to put it on edge. It is a good board to get you through where you're going. You're not going to go wrong with it.

[Mike] I found the Proto Synthesis was really predictable. You got on it and you knew what it was gonna do. It was easygoing, which I think is exactly what the Proto Synthesis is designed to be. The Proto Ultra has the triple camber—so there are three spaces of camber. That took a little while to get used to.

[Everett] It definitely did.

[Mike] But, once I got the Proto Ultra on edge and got it engaged, it was definitely a lot more dynamic than the Proto Synthesis when carving. It held a more dynamic turn much better.

[Everett] The Proto Synthesis, as much as it took to get on there, it was easy and fun to ride. Whereas the Proto Ultra is hard charging—you can feel it. It takes a second, but once you're up there, you're up there.

[Mike] I agree completely. My choice for carving is the Proto Ultra.

[Everett] My choice for carving, as well, is going to be the Proto Ultra.

Next up…

[Mike] So, Everett, which one did you have more fun playing on?

[Everett] Do you see this side cut on the Proto Synthesis? Do you see its shape? The Proto Synthesis is supposed to open up and give you the best of both buttering and jibbing. And then, surprisingly, once I hit the sweet spot, it launched me farther than I was expecting. It definitely threw me for a loop, and I would say I'm a pretty confident park rider, but I was surprised by this board. It kind of threw me off my game. It doesn't happen often, but I'm not mad about it.

[Mike] Both of these boards work well in different situations. Trying to spin the Proto Ultra, I found there is so much snap and pop on it that, if you get it right, you're overcooking. Whereas the Proto Synthesis is a little bit more playful.

[Mike] I would definitely say the Proto Synthesis is a great board to get into the park with. Whereas the Proto Ultra is definitely something a more advanced park rider would really enjoy—I was just having way too much fun goofing around on it.

[Everett] It showed. You made me want to get back on the Proto Ultra the way you were riding.

[Mike] Also the Proto Synthesis surprised me with how much pop it had. I think for everyday freestyle and playing around, my choice is definitely the Proto Synthesis.

[Everett] And we're becoming the more seasoned parked riders that are taking it to all-mountain. So, I liked the more stable, heavier shape for the aggressive riding on the Proto Ultra—which comes to play super well on features for riding park. But, the Proto Synthesis felt like the true park board in this situation—so it’s my choice for freestyle.

Last up…

[Mike] Their freeride capabilities went hand in hand with their carving and were predictable. I don't think either of them perform exceptionally well in really hard, tough snow conditions. But that's not what they're really designed to do. They are both really nimble in trees and bumps. They're both around the same dampness. Never Summer says the Proto Synthesis is a 6/10 for flex. And the Proto Ultra is an 8/10 flex.

With the Proto Synthesis, I felt like I could handle the board out of some of the chop better. That said, though, if I was going to be charging through something and really pointing it through, the triple camber and added stiffness on the Proto Ultra offer so much more control.

[Everett] You can bring both of these boards into the rough stuff even though they're totally not something you would ride in the back country or go off big cliffs with. These are not true backcountry boards. They are all-mountain resort rippers. They have their own little place of where they sit.

The Proto Synthesis feels softer and has a different profile shape. That definitely comes into play and when you are trying to take nimble, tight turns; you can pull yourself out of any situation with this board. So if you start cooking a little too fast, you can slow down so quickly—which is super helpful as you get into tight trees, maybe some cliffs, maybe some dropsy. The Proto Synthesis can handle all that.

The Proto Ultra is the more hard charger. It gets you going a little faster and pushes you to do a little bit more. That's where it shines.

[Mike] Overall for free ride I'm going to go with the Proto Ultra.

[Everett] My choice for freeride is also going to be the Proto Ultra.

The verdict…

[Mike] Overall impression, I really had fun playing around the Proto Synthesis, but if I were to reach for one board, it's going to be the Proto Ultra. It brings so many different aspects together and builds a complete package for resort riding.

[Everett] If I were younger, and trying to build my confidence within riding the resort and park, I would hop on the Proto Synthesis—one hundred percent. It would really help me to build up my ability in a smooth, safe way, but still be able to see what I can do on a board and learn that way.

But at the end of the day, I've been riding long enough that the Proto Ultra is going to shine through, so that's my top choice.

[Everett] Each snowboard is different for each type of rider, and trying to find the right board is tough. Curated Experts like Mike, myself, or others can help make sure you find the right board for you. Connect with us here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.

[Mike] And if you like what you see, hit that subscribe button and comment on the video to let us know which board you'd like to see in the next episode of Head 2 Head.

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Everett Pelkey
Snowboarding Expert
Mike Leighton
Snowboarding Expert
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Written by:
Everett Pelkey, Snowboarding Expert
Everett Pelkey
Snowboarding Expert
Hi, my name is Everett and I am a professional photographer who specializes in extreme sports and landscape photography. I love adventuring around the world with my dog. Whether its surfing and sailing the Great Lakes or hiking peaks in Montana, I'm always looking for the next big adventure. I spent time living off the land in the bush of Australia to move back to the U.S. to Colorado where I coached snowboarding for 10 years. I have extensive experience in the outdoors; camping, rocking climbing, snowboarding, skiing and anything that involves me to be active.
Mike Leighton, Snowboarding Expert
Mike Leighton
Snowboarding Expert
After earning First Team All-America Honors in Snowboardcross in 2008 & 2009 at the University of Virginia, I started competing professionally in 2009. From 2009-2016, I competed at the NorAm and Grand Prix levels (finishing 12th at NorAm Finals in 2016), and I competed in the Rahlves' Banzai Tour, as well, in Lake Tahoe. My career took me all over North America and to Japan. ​ I was a Snowboard Professional for Breckenridge Resort from 2010-2017. During that time I earned an AASI Level 2 Snowboard Certification and an AASI Level 2 Snowboard Freestyle Certification. I also coached for Method Snowboard Academy from 2016-2018 in Snowboardcross and Big Mountain, qualifying two of my athletes for USASA Nationals, as well as, multiple podiums and wins in both disciplines. ​ I enjoy riding all over the mountain with an ideal run starting off with steep, fresh snow and ending with a run through the park with friends. I also love skinning to and accessing big lines in the backcountry, when the conditions are right, and have my AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Certification. ​ One of my favorite questions for my students when teaching was, "Who is the best snowboarder on the mountain?" Someone would inevitably ask, "You?" I would respond, "No, it's the snowboarder who is having the most fun!" That's my goal. I want to help each person be the "best snowboarder on the mountain" by helping them find the best equipment for their goals.

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