Expert Review: 2024 Lib Tech Orca Snowboard [with Video]Published on 09/14/2023 · 9 min readSnowboarding Experts Mike Leighton and Will Cabral tested the 2024 Lib Tech Orca Snowboard in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories.
Curated Snowboarding Experts Mike Leighton and Will Cabral got their hands on the 2024 Lib Tech Orca Snowboard this spring. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every rider is different; if you have any questions about the Orca or need recommendations on which board would be best for you, reach out to a Snowboarding Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it’s worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
What does Lib Tech claim about this board? [Mike] Lib Tech claims this is the apex-pow-slasher-turned-resort-ripper. The company designed this to be initially a power ripper. Still, it’s migrated into an all-mountain resort ripper. It is intended to be ridden three to six centimeters shorter than your regular board. It features a super-wide shape with a narrow waist, which lends itself to that sidecut, and then it also has a setback stance with a big nose. So, when it’s deep, this is probably one of those boards you want to reach for.
[Will] Lib Tech claims that the Orca is a resort-ripping, pow-slashing, kind of do-everything board.
What is your overall impression of this board? [Mike] I’ve ridden the Orca quite a bit, and it took a little while to get used to. It’s different from many boards because it has that volume shift where you’re riding a much smaller snowboard than you’re used to. So it might not have all the tail you’re looking for, and the nose might seem slightly longer. But in reality, it’s playful for someone who wants one board to have fun on, whether ripping a groomer with their friends or chasing storms and beeping inbounds. But I don’t think it would be my personal go-to for a daily driver board.
[Will] My overall impression of the Lib Tech Orca is that it’s a cool alternative all-mountain board. It’s not your traditional true twin snowboard, but it does well in many resort conditions. It has a pretty short sidecut, meaning it wants to make short, fast turns all over the mountain.
How does it turn? [Mike] It has a seven-meter sidecut. So it’s great when things get tight or you need to make short, concise turns.
[Will] The Lib Tech Orca has an easy turn initiation. The turns it wants to make are pretty short, so it will want to pop in and out of every turn.
What is the edge hold like? [Mike] I will say, coming around, and it’s kind of the hallmark I found with a lot of Magne-Traction, is it does grab. So if you’re looking to smoothly rotate around something, it might catch and surprise you. But if you’re waiting for it or used to it, it’s really predictable.
[Will] The edge hold is pretty good with the Magne-Traction and the C2X profile, which will give you a decent bit of camber but also have rocker in the middle to help you initiate that turn.
How damp is the board? Do you feel any underfoot chatter? [Mike] With that shorter cycle radius and a longer nose, you get a bit of chatter in there, and once you get it up to higher speeds, it won’t hold on to that carve quite as well.
How does it perform at speed? [Mike] Obviously, it’s not difficult to control its speed, but because it has that wider profile, the longer nose and the camber profile on it will help. With that shorter sidecut radius, though, it doesn’t really enjoy higher speeds as much.
[Will] The Lib Tech Orca should be ridden about three to six centimeters shorter than your typical board, making it a little easier to get around. And when you do get up at high speeds, it’s a little less stable. So you have to be a bit more on your game when you want to make bigger, high-speed turns.
How is its energy/acceleration? [Mike] Suppose you’re mobbing around and going really fast. In that case, it’s not going to be the easiest board to control, especially if you’re ripping some early-morning groomers at high speed.
How is it for freestyle snowboarding? [Mike] This might be a good board if you’re looking for a paddleboard as a park rat. But if you’re spending a lot of time in the terrain park, it won’t be your board of choice.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop? [Mike] Honestly, it’s really playful. It wants to do a lot of things. If power slashes and finding little walls to side-hit off of is your thing, this is a great board. In terms of pop, I’d say it’s middle of the road. It’s not going to blow your socks off. It’s not going to blow your mind. You won’t end up jumping higher or further than you want to, but it’s reliable. It’s predictable. So once you get on it and start to learn how the board’s going to ride, you’ll get really comfortable in it quickly.
[Will] It is rated as a seven out of 10 flex, and it really was pretty easy to butter and pop off of different things. I wouldn’t say it has the most pop, but it’s definitely there.
Is it good for riding switch? [Mike] I do like to ride the board switch a lot, and it does do switch pretty well at low speeds.
[Will] Riding the Lib Tech Orca switch has more of an unconventional feel. It does have quite a bit of taper from the nose, getting skinnier to the tail, so the feeling of riding switch is different than riding forward. However, it’s surprisingly very doable.
How is it for buttering? [Mike] It butters pretty well, actually. With its profile, it creates a natural pivot point on there. So, once you get in the nose and tail press, you can rotate around, and you can still control the board on the front and back foot because the camber is there.
How is it on jumps? [Mike] If you’re just hitting a straight air and are pretty centered in the air, it will probably be a good option. I wouldn’t land it switch, because that will be a little scary. If you’re landing a little bit backseat, or you’re someone who lands very heavy, there’s not a lot of tail to value out there. But if you’re just going off hitting some straight-airs, throwing some grabs, or finding side-hits, this is going to be a fun board.
[Will] Going off bigger jumps, it felt good in the air, but with the shorter tail, it’s harder to ride out bigger landings.
How is it for freeride snowboarding? [Mike] It kind of does a bit of all of that.
How is it in powder? [Mike] If you happen to catch a resort day or even side country or a wildlife day and you got this on here, you’ll be pretty stoked. It’s probably going to be one of the closer rides you’ll get to surfing.
How is it in uneven terrain and chunder? [Mike] Not the best, not the worst. It’s a very quick edge to edge. With that seven-meter sidecut, there is that big nose that helps it float, and that shorter tail will help you maneuver between bumps and things like that. But it will be a little chattery; you might get bucked. So, you know, there’s the trade-offs there.
How is it riding in the trees? How is its maneuverability? [Mike] This is a great board edge to edge because it is nimble, despite being wider.
[Will] Given that the Orca is very maneuverable, it worked well in trees. You can get into some tight spots and, with the Magne-Traction, be confident that you can stop on a dime, avoid what you need to avoid, and just play around through all the bumps.
What terrain is this board good for? [Mike] This board will thrive with someone who lives in a region that sees a lot of fresh snow where you’re chasing storms. It’s going to be at home in tighter trees and fresh snow.
[Will] I would say that the Orca has a good mix of terrain that it works well on. It does lay trenches and can rip groomers. But really, it’s focused on maneuverability, riding in deeper snow, and getting some good float.
What kind of terrain should riders avoid with it? [Mike] It’s not going to be my go-to choice, by any means, if I’m taking my hops in the park, getting into some steep technical terrain, or really only riding some groomers. I think there are much better options out there from Lib Tech.
[Will] I would avoid the park with this board. This is not something that you want to jib on. It’s a board that can really hold its own in variable conditions or chopped-up snow and do pretty well on groomers. Still, I wouldn't say it’s a champion in either of those two aspects.
Who would you recommend this board to? [Mike] I’d recommend this to an intermediate to advanced rider or even an expert looking for something approachable. It’s fun and playful. But if the snow forecast calls for it, it will still handle the deepest days and encourage you to surf all over the mountain.
[Will] I recommend the Orca to someone who is a confident intermediate rider. Maybe this is the second board that they’ve purchased, and they want something different than your traditional, true, all-mountain twin.
Who should avoid this board, are there other better options out there for them? [Mike] I don’t think I would put a true beginner on this board or someone looking to ride a lot of freestyle. Also, I wouldn’t put this board on someone who’s only looking to rip groomers, ride really fast, and dig trenches. There are definitely some better boards out there.
[Will] I would not put a true beginner on this board because it is just a different, alternative feel. It’s not a board on which I would be trying to develop snowboarding fundamentals.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Mike or Will or any other Snowboarding Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations on the best board for you.