The Never Summer Proto HD has been a favorite for a few years and although it’s not as sexy as new boards like the Funslinger and Ripsaw it does still have a pretty fun traditional hybrid rocker ride. The Proto hasn’t changed much from 2014-2016 so this video review still stands.
2014 – 2016 Never Summer Proto HD Review
Not much has changed from 2014 to 2016
Since 2014 the Never Summer Proto has an extended transition zone through a lowered tip/tail profile so it’s even more similar to the Cobra which gives it easier float in powder. This might be in our mind but the Proto HD also felt a little more stable and poppy. This makes the Never Summer Proto HD a better ride than the older model and it will fit a wide variety of all mountain freestyle riders.
As of 2016 we have had a few years of riding the Proto and it’s still very fun but we are all getting more in the mood to see this get an augmented camber make over.
Size: 157 HD and 155 HDX
Conditions: Everything from hard snow to a few feet of thick Sierra Cement.
Riders: James, Peter, Jimbo, Tim, Won, a few others in the crew and of course Ginger
Boots: Salomon F3.0, Burton Fiend LTD, Burton Fiend, Burton Ion, Burton Hail, Nike Lunarendore, Burton Imperial, Burton SLX, Nike Kaiju
Bindings: Burton Cartel, Burton Genesis, Burton Malavita, Union Contact Pro, Union Atlas, Flux DS, Burton Cartel Limited, Burton Cartel Restricted
Set Up: Centered about 23″ wide 15 front -15 back and a few other variations.
Weight: 6.4lbs for Size 157 and 155 HDX 6.4lbs as well. Weights vary from board to board because wood isn’t always the same.
On Snow Feel: The Never Summer Proto HD has a more stable ride between the feet that is really close to being as stable as some hybrid camber boards. It’s still a little loose between the feet in really hard snow but it flat tracks and one foots a lot better now as the HD. It has a very stable fun park or mountain kind of feel.
Powder: Big improvement here. I’ve only had about 1.5 days in powder (shitty season) but the days I had it out were fun in about 1′ of thick sierra cement. The old Never Summer Proto just felt a little off on the deep thick days I had with it where you can already tell the Proto HD will have a lot better float and it will be right there with most hybrid rocker tiwns of this size. Anything over 1.5 feet of thick Sierra powder I’d rather be on the Cobra. If you live in areas with light fluffy powder then you can probably enjoy this in deeper snow without much rear leg burn. If you know how to ride powder really well and plane really well you can rock this in any depth any lkwhere.
Turn Initiation: The board has a waist more on the narrow side of normal these days and with the hybrid rocker it turns quick when it comes to short radius turns. You can feel a nice snappy bounce from edge to edge that is really fun. Medium to wide radius turns are enjoyable as well and it’s a fun board to ride around the mountain making turns of all sizes.
Carving: When it comes time to really lay into a hard nip scratching carve it didn’t really have the same experience that the Rip Saw did and even to a lesser extent the Cobra. It requires you to really get your knees out towards the tip/tail like your a squatting gorrilla to really engage the camber there to hold. If you ride gorilla style then it’s fine but if you ride knees a bit in like a surfer should it pulls the tip/tail up a bit more and makes the carve less enjoyable unless it’s in really good snow. Is it fun to lay in a carve? Oh yeah but it’s not for those that live to carve.
Speed: The Prodo HD has got good mountain speed and feels pretty stable compared to the Never Summer Proto. It’s now closer to the Cobra now and its pretty fast for it’s sizing and design. It’s right on the border of good and great. Let’s just say it’s a competent for mountain speed.
Uneven Terrain: Very easy to negotiate bumpy crowded day snow and it’s got good shock absorption. Combine this with a shock absorbent pair of bindings you have a very shock proof board. All never summer boards have a little bit of a rubbery feeling. Most of the Carbonium top sheet boards like the Never Summer Proto have less of that feeling but it still feels like it bends over uneven snow very well at slower speeds.
Edge Hold: Like every NS board the Never Summer Proto HD has the vario grip side cut which has in our opinion the perfect amount of grip for a wide variety of conditions. It kind of max’s out in hard snow and it isn’t really an ice specialist. But who really wants to ride in ice. In my opinion this side cut grabs well in just about any condition you want to ride in. What we all really like is it grips enough in harder snow and doesn’t grab in softer snow.
Flex: The Never Summer Proto HD flex is pretty similar with the Never Summer Proto and it seems that the tip and tail might have a little more going on there. It’s not too much stiffer but instead there is a little more spring in the tip tail than before. It’s still butters and presses very well.
Switch: Perfect either way. It’s a true twin.
Jibbing: The Never Summer Proto HD is more of a mountain freestyle board than a Jib board but it still does pretty well here. You can lap the jib park but it’s no dedicated jib board but it’s more than competent with medium jibs and bonks.
Pipe: The Never Summer Proto HD seemed to be a little better ride in the pipe. It’s got enough wall to wall drive while still being forgiving enough to inspire confidence. I think all but the uber technical camber loving pipe rider will be very happy in the pipe with this board.
Jumps: Very good spring that borders on excellent here when it comes to an ollie and the extra camber makes it a very stable board for launching off jumps in the park too. It’s got a little more of a bigger jump competence thing going on compared to the Evo but its still great for jumps of any size.
So in conclusion the Never Summer Proto HD really benefited from the extended profile design. This is a great board for those that like that freestyle approach out of the park as much as they do in it. If you ride switch a lot this is the call and if you want more of a directional all mountain ride then you have the Cobra.
Never Summer Proto 2013 to 2012 Review
The Never Summer Proto 2013-2012 filled a request from a lot of snowboarders that wanted a more aggressive Twin in the Never Summer Line. Many people say it’s 1 part Evo, 1 Part Heritage, 1 Part SL and 2 parts all mountain freestyle fun. This is a great park board that is a step up from the evo in terms of aggressiveness and it also has enough all mountain in it to venture out of the park.
2013 and 2012 Never Summer Proto Review (Same as 2013)
Riders: James, Peter, Jimbo and a few others
Bindings: Burton Diode, Flux DS30, Burton Prophecy, Burton Cartel, Burton Malavita Restricted,
Boots: DC Status, Nike Kaiju, Burton SLX, Burton Ion, Burton Imperial, Burton Hail
Conditiions- Everything from 2 feet + of powder to hard/icy conditions.
Most big companies have an aggressive twin and this was one hole we felt never summer needed to fill in their line up. Many people say it’s 1part Evo, 1Part SL and a tiny part Heritage because of the carbonium top sheet. It’s a sturdy well built all mountain freestyle board.
On Snow Feel: The Proto can feel stable in softer conditions but a little loose in harder conditions. The rocker between the feet almost looks flat so maybe that is why it feels so stable when combined with a mellow eliptical camber on the back. It can accommodate any freestyle mood while still offering up some pretty good all mountain qualities as well. It isn’t bad flat basing and one footing off the chair. It’s one of those boards that can butter, Ollie, carve and it’s even damp enough for a moderate straight line. It has a fun playful feel to it that many will like.
Powder: I actually had a couple of days in 2 feet of deep thick sierra cement and felt this not to be one of it’s better qualities. It’s got a better float than camber and flat camber but it didn’t have an easy float compared to many hybrid rocker twin’s I tried. If you live in places with light fluffy powder it shouldn’t be a problem but if you ride places with thick near the coast kind of snow you might want to consider something with more float.
Turn Initiation and Carving– This board is rather hard to describe when it comes to the way it turns. Most boards we ride that are hybrid rocker are incredibly easy to make short radius turns. The Proto CT is not as easy compared to many hybrid rocker boards of the same flex and to us this is good. The demo model actually prefered to lock an edge into the snow on an almost straight line type of turn and and just keep going but the production model is more easy going. It’s one of the better hybrid rocker boards for tracking an almost straight line path like to hit a jump or the flat in a half pipe. It’s quick edge to edge and pretty easy for short to medium radius turns. When it comes to carving it’s pretty fun to lay into a moderate carve but it was missing something special that’s common with many hybrid rocker shape boards like this but it’s still pretty fun. Out of all the turns we made with the CT we found this to be one of the better boards to make moderate to high speed almost straight line type of turns. You know really long narrow S turns is where the Proto shines. It can also get a little slashy and it’s fun to spray snow.
Speed: Never Summer is great at making damp but flexible boards that can handle moderate to high speed on groomed runs. It’s not as ideal in the chop or hard uneven terrain off piste as the Lib Tech Travis Rice but it still does a great job in most conditions you want to ride on. We never felt uncomfortable at any speed on the mountain at moderate to high speeds and love the dampening tech that NS has in their boards. If you pick up the speed on a long straight line you might start to get dissapointed. That being said there isn’t any where in the park that will cause this board problems and most places on the mountain will be fine with this boards speed. This has the speed that many directional all mountain boards have and we commend that. Also the base is fast and picks up speed quickly which is great in the park.
Uneven Terrain: They do a good job at making the ride damp but flexible so it can handle bumpy uneven terrain you see at the end of a crowded day. There is very good shock absorption here even with bindings that don’t have too much padding. It’s always better with more but it’s better than you think.
Approximate Weight– We don’t put any board on a scale but to us the Proto felt lighter than most of the never summer boards and it was no burden on the feet when riding up the chair.
Edge Hold: One day we went out with the T.Rice and the Proto on a firm to hard pack snow day. Both of us liked the way the proto gripped the snow that day better than the T.Rice. It might be a whole different story in east coast ice but we bet this would do a great job without feeling too grippy like some Magnetraction boards can do. This is ideal in an icy pipe and should hold an edge well in just about any condition out there.
Flex: The Proto has a flex that is on the soft side of medium. It’s similar to the SL and Cobra but it seems its just a little shade softer.
Switch: This is a twin. It rides the same regular or switch.
Rails/Jibbing: The Never Summer Evo is the better board if you like the jib park but the Proto is closer to it than you would expect. This isn’t super soft/flexy like the evo but it does a good job if you put a little more effort into it.
Pipe: All of us loved the way the Proto got from wall to wall in our super duper pipe. The excellent edge hold and the way the board likes to lock it’s edge into the snow for a short straight line to the next wall makes this one of the best pipe boards we have tried for a while. We had a lot of fun in pipe walls ranging from 16ft-22ft. If you are into the pipe this is one of the best hybrid rocker boards out there for riding pipe. The shape is also pretty forgiving when it comes to landing compared to a camber board.
Jumps: The Proto is great at generating it’s own air. We found this board very springy and had a lot of fun jumping around natural features on the mountain. There are more poppy boards out there but this is pretty fun while still being pretty stable for a hybrid rocker shape.
All in all we found the Proto to be one very fun board to ride. It is a great board for the aggressive park rider or the person who likes to treat the whole mountain like a park.