An Expert Guide to Lib Tech SnowboardsPublished on 03/30/2023 · 16 min readLib Tech is one of the most popular brands in snowboarding! Snowboarding Expert Kate Wilson breaks down everything you need to know about their boards below.
Photo by Oliver Schwendener
Lib Tech is a company that embodies the spirit of snowboarding. For more than three decades, they have been committed to producing eco-friendly boards, catered to all styles of snowboarding, and supported the community that inspired its creation. With an eye toward innovation and a willingness to push the boundaries of what's possible on the mountain, Lib Tech has established itself as a leader in the snowboard industry. Many pro riders rely on their cutting-edge tech and performance-driven design. So whether you're just starting out or you're a seasoned pro, Lib Tech has a board for you!
As a snowboarder who has spent more than 20 years riding the slopes of Utah, Colorado, California, and Washington, I have come to appreciate the value of high-quality gear. When I first started, I had a complete package that was budget-friendly, but as the pieces started to fail, I realized that durability was just as important as affordability. After demoing several Lib Tech boards, I can attest to the performance and quality they bring to the table. As a Curated Expert, I have learned that riders are looking for gear that is constructed with high-quality materials, offers a unique aesthetic, and will push them to progress no matter their riding style. Lib Tech shines in ALL of these areas. The only decision is which of their awesome boards to call your own!
Who Is Lib Tech Snowboards?
As with many great brands, Lib Tech had humble beginnings. Founder Mike Olson built his first snowboard in his Burien, Washington, junior high shop class in 1977. He and his friend, Pete Saari, dabbled in surfboards for the next several years and also built snowboards under the “Delbert Pumpernickel No Guarantee” label for a short time in the early 80s. From there, Mike began experimenting with different thicknesses and camber in his snowboard designs, and by 1984, he and Pete quit college and began working on their new brand GNU full-time. Their boards were made in a horse barn in Burien and were some of the industry’s first finless deep sidecut snowboards.
By 1988, the momentum was building, and the team moved to a larger manufacturing space in Seattle. But after a GNU distributor failed to pay the company, Mike and Pete became discouraged. This disappointment was short-lived, however. They took inspiration from an early lacy skateboard design of Mikes that looked like one of Liberace’s costumes and started Lib Technologies and Mervin Manufacturing later that same year.
They celebrated this new venture with a short film—possibly one of the first snowboard movies made by the Mervin Manufacturing team and friends. With its “Aliens Meet Snowboarders” theme, it would likely still be a hit today!
As for GNU, Mike and Pete gained control of the name again in 1991, and it became Mervin’s price-point brand but was quickly reborn as another high-performance board similar to Lib Tech. Around this time, freestyler Jamie Lynn joined the team, and so began Lib Tech’s journey into pro models and sponsorships with well-known riders.
In 1995, Mervin opened its large snowboard factory in Sequim, Washington, where the company still operates today. It has expanded its manufacturing to include some Roxy snowboards and Bent Metal gear, too! Efficiency and innovation are the focus of all it does, buying directly from suppliers, fabricating its own tooling and wood cores, and testing everything in the mountains right out its back door.
One huge standout feature of the brand is its commitment to sustainability. Lib Tech has long been a leader in using environmentally-friendly materials and processes in producing its snowboards. They were the first company to use eco-friendly materials such as bio beans, grain bamboo, soy-based inks, and bio-plastics and have continued to push the envelope when it comes to sustainability. For example, its sawdust is picked up and transported to a composting facility daily, where it’s made into soil. It is possible because its glues are organic and non-toxic, making the perfect additive for soil that is then used to grow fruits and veggies up in the PNW! Lib Tech has also supported several organizations that preserve natural spaces and promote environmental awareness.
Another key factor that sets Lib Tech apart is its focus on technology and performance. It is responsible for a number of key innovations in the industry, including the development of Magne-Traction, allowing riders to maintain better control and stability in all conditions—even ice! In addition, the team continually develops and tests new products, ensuring that its boards are always at the forefront of performance and tech.
Perhaps most importantly, Lib Tech is a company that is deeply connected to the snowboarding community. They have always been committed to supporting riders and participating in or sponsoring events like the Winter X Games, Dew Tour, and Freeride World Tour. Lib Tech is also known for its team of pro riders, including Travis Rice, Jamie Lynn, Katie Kennedy, Eric Jackson (and many more!), who serve as ambassadors for the brand and play an active role in developing new products.
Today, Lib Tech remains one of the top-requested snowboard brands here at Curated. So which board is right for you? Read on to learn more about the features and tech of this iconic brand.
What to Consider When Buying a Lib Tech Snowboard
What Is My Preferred Riding Style?
There's a whole world of possibilities beyond just cruising down the mountain on the lifts and groomed runs. In fact, there are different styles of riding, each with its unique techniques and even specific types of boards. So, it's a good idea to figure out which riding style you're most excited about before you hit the slopes.
Lucky for you, Lib Tech has a board option for each of the styles we're about to mention:
- Resort: This style is mostly about cruising runs at your local mountain, riding lifts, and finding your favorite groomed trail down!
- Freestyle and park: Freestyle and park riding is a more playful style of snowboarding where you can let your creativity run wild. You can butter and spin around the mountain or take on features like jumps and rails in the terrain park or urban terrain.
- Freestyle: If you're more interested in exploring the whole mountain and its natural features like trees, fresh powder, and steeper descents, then freeride is the style for you. It's all about enjoying the mountain and finding your own lines.
- Backcountry: For the ultimate adventure seekers, backcountry riding is where it's at. You'll be exploring areas that are removed from other riders or lift-served terrain, with untouched and unpacked snow. Advanced riders may choose to use a splitboard, which is separated into two skis for climbing and then put back together for the descent. Just remember, backcountry riding requires special bindings and comes with its own unique set of risks and rewards.
What Is My Skill Level?
Now that you've chosen which type of snowboarding style you want to pursue, it's time to figure out your skill level. Luckily, Lib Tech offers different board options for various skill levels so that you can find the perfect fit. A softer banana rocker profile may be the way to go for beginners. But a stiffer full camber board would be a better match for more advanced riders.
So, which skill level do you fall under?
- Beginner: If you're a beginner, you're brand new to snowboarding, or don't have a lot of confidence in balancing and controlling your board yet. You may have trouble consistently linking turns without catching an edge, and some snowboarding terms and techniques may still be unfamiliar to you.
- Intermediate: An intermediate rider has progressed beyond beginner limitations and is comfortable with different types of snow conditions. You can ride on steeper terrain and make quicker, more controlled turns. You may even be experimenting with small to mid-sized jumps.
- Advanced: For advanced riders, complete control is the name of the game. You're comfortable in any condition (even ice or hardpacked snow) and on steep terrain. You excel at carving and are stable at high speeds. You're also comfortable experimenting with different terrain and solidly understand mountain safety.
What Is My Ideal Price Range for a Board?
Lib Tech offers a quality snowboard option at different price points. Its least expensive options are the Cortado (women) or Cold Brew (men), which run roughly $529. Both are considered intermediate boards. If you’ve got some room in your budget, the Dynamo (men) or Dynamiss (women) are the next step up in terms of skill level and price, while more advanced and premium boards like the T.Rice Orca run about $699.
What Bindings or Other Gear Do I Already Own?
It's important to keep in mind that while most bindings are universal for snowboards, there are some exceptions. For example, older models of the Channel or EST bindings from Burton won't work on a Lib Tech board.
Additionally, bindings meant for splitboarding are usually incompatible with a standard snowboard. So if you're on a budget and can only afford one board, ensure it's compatible with the bindings you already have. It's always a good idea to double-check compatibility before making any purchases to have a seamless experience without any surprises.
What Size Boots Do I Wear?
When choosing a Lib Tech snowboard, there are various lengths to choose from but don't forget to consider the width too. As the length increases, so does the width of the board. For most men's boards, the regular size is suitable for boot sizes up to 10.5.
If you have an 11+ boot, it’s worth learning about the benefits of choosing a wider board. To get the most out of your ride, it's important to make sure your boots are positioned correctly on the board. Generally, your heel and toes should be very close to the edges of the board, with minimal overhang.
If your boots don't make it to the edges of the board, it can be difficult to apply pressure during turns, and your board will be less responsive. On the other hand, too much overhang can cause toe or heel drag, slowing you down and reducing your overall performance on the mountain.
Fortunately, Lib Tech offers options for someone with a bigger boot size. The Skunk Ape II has a waist width range of 26.8-28.5cm—more than enough for even a size 15 boot!
What Are the Different Types of Lib Tech Snowboards?
If you're looking to tackle steep lines and deep powder, then a Lib Tech snowboard with a directional shape and setback stance to help you float effortlessly through the snow. Boards to check out in the backcountry/pow category are the T.Rice Golden Orca, Lost Rocket, and MC Way Finder II. Benefits:
- The setback stance places the rider’s weight closer to the board’s tail for better float.
- The deep sidecut keeps it playful.
Keep in Mind:
- These boards are for more advanced riders.
- They are not forgiving or soft in flex.
Capable all over the mountain for the beginner rider, but park/mellow freestyle riders will appreciate the true twin shape and softer flex of these boards: Skate Banana, Box Scratcher, and Glider (women). Benefit:
- Awesome all-mountain, beginner-friendly snowboard with freestyle capabilities.
Keep in Mind:
- While these boards are super mellow and fun, they are not designed for the advanced rider.
Are you looking for a freestyle stick that can handle big jumps and any trick you throw at it? The TRS, T.Rice Pro, and Jamie Lynn may be just what you’re looking for. More mellow versions include the Box Knife, Double Dip, and No. 43 (women). Benefits:
- Perfect for riding switch and exploring every playful aspect of the mountain.
- Tons of pop and personality.
Keep in Mind:
- A more aggressive camber profile is meant for the more advanced rider.
- The true twin shape is not ideal for freeriding or pow.
- Stiffer flex and camber dominant profile make carving a breeze
- A directional shape is designed to turn better in your regular stance.
Keep in Mind:
- If you are riding switch more often than not, consider a true twin instead.
- With a friendly flex and system camber or rocker profile, the strong intermediate rider set on crushing the groomers will find any of these boards to be a perfect fit!
Keep in Mind:
- Aim for something with a more advanced profile if you’d like to build on your skillset or a specialized profile for powder or park.
The Split BRD or T.Rice Orca Split are your options for trekking up the hill on two sticks, then flying back down on one! Benefit:
- Tons of options to hit untouched lines in uncrowded areas!
Keep in Mind:
- Backcountry touring requires skill, expensive equipment, and, ideally, some avalanche training.
- Much more involved than straight snowboarding and requires a commitment to staying safe.
Getting the kiddos out on the mountain early is key to a lifelong passion for the sport. The Banana Blaster, T.Ripper, and Dynasword will get them out in style! Benefits:
- Many kids boards are meant for the beginner rider, and have a friendly flex and profile to ease the learning curve.
Keep in Mind:
- Not all kids’ boards are made with the beginner in mind, however. Look out for the camber profile to make sure it fits your child’s skill level and goals on the mountain!
Features to Look Out for When Buying a Lib Tech Snowboard
Lib Tech's Magne-Traction is a proprietary edge technology used in their snowboards. It consists of multiple serrated edge contact points along the board's edge, which helps to provide better edge hold and grip on the snow. The contact points are strategically placed to distribute pressure evenly and enhance stability, even in icy or hardpacked snow conditions.
This technology was developed as an alternative to traditional, straight edges, which can slip or catch unexpectedly in certain snow conditions. By incorporating multiple points of contact, Lib Tech's Magne-Traction provides a more consistent, reliable ride that allows riders to maintain better control and carve confidently.
The C2X hybrid camber/rocker profile has a shorter, more aggressive rocker section between the feet for enhanced maneuverability and float. In addition, it’s combined with longer camber sections underfoot and towards the tip and tail for added stability and stability control.
"C3" stands for "camber dominant with a slight rocker between the bindings," meaning that the board has a traditional camber shape with a slight rocker section in the middle.
The camber shape provides stability, power, and edge hold, making it great for aggressive riding and carving on groomed runs. The rocker section helps to make the board more forgiving and playful, allowing for easier turn initiation and a more playful feel in powder.
A rocker profile features a continuous convex shape from tip to tail, with mild camber underfoot. This design creates a playful, catch-free ride that is easy to turn and maneuver. Perfect for the beginner!
Combining materials, including basalt fibers, balsa wood, and bio beans, reduces the board's weight while increasing strength and performance.
Eco Sublimated Topsheets
Lib Tech uses environmentally friendly inks and materials in their sublimation process to create vibrant, long-lasting graphics on their boards.
Axis Inversion Fiberglass
A technique that flips the orientation of the fiberglass layers in the board, creating a torsionally softer flex pattern that allows for easier turn initiation and better edge-to-edge response.
How to Choose the Right Lib Tech Snowboard for You
Choosing the perfect snowboard can feel overwhelming with so many choices out there, but don't worry! Now that you're more familiar with the amazing features of Lib Tech boards, you're already ahead of the game. To make things easier, I wanted to share my experience helping a few different types of riders on Curated and the important factors I considered before recommending a board for them. Let's dive in!
Alex: The Confident Carver
Alex has been snowboarding for a few seasons and is now looking to upgrade his board to improve his carving skills. He enjoys riding fast and is comfortable on steeper terrain but wants a stable and responsive board. Alex is interested in exploring different types of snow conditions and needs a board that can handle everything from hardpacked snow to fresh powder. He is willing to invest in a higher-end board to help him reach the next level in his riding abilities. Features that a rider like Alex should look for:
- A directional all-mountain board with a medium to stiff flex that is stable at speed and excellent at making precise turns
- Magne-Traction for enhanced edge hold on hardpacked snow
- A floaty nose for better float in pow
Connor: The First Time Buyer
Connor is a 22-year-old beginner snowboarder who has rented a few times and is now looking to purchase his own board. He wants a board that will help him improve his skills but is also extremely forgiving, as he still catches edges on the boards he has rented. Connor is also concerned about having ease of control when riding. He overall wants a board he can confidently take all over the mountain. Features that first-time buyers like Connor should look for:
- A softer flex for better control of the board while he’s still learning
- Banana Technology for a more catch-free ride
- A true twin shape that allows for versatility all over the mountain
Well, now you have the skinny on Lib Tech—a company that produces high-performance snowboards and prioritizes sustainability in its manufacturing process. With a wide range of boards to choose from, it's tough to pick a favorite, but I have to say that I've had a blast on my partner's EJack Knife. This board is not only capable of tackling all kinds of terrain, but it's also incredibly fun to ride.
If you're interested in purchasing the EJack or need more information on choosing the perfect Lib Tech board, contact one of our Snowboarding Experts. We’ll have you shredding in no time!