Lib Tech La Nina Review

Forged from 25 years of all-terrain ripping on Mt. Baker. Is this one board to rule them all?

The Lib Tech La Nina is the much under-hyped board of Pacific Northwest legend, Matt Cummins. Lib Tech describe it as an all-mountain destroyer for resort freeriding. However, when they say ‘resort’, they mean Matt’s stomping grounds of Mt. Baker with its legendary powder and all-terrain gnar …and its banked slalom too. Matt Cummins has, at 25 years and counting, the longest running pro model in the history of snowboarding. Besides designing this board and running One Ball Jay wax, he finds the time to visit Japan every year, building ties with the shred community here – and crushing the field in the Tenjin Banked Slalom in between powder runs!

With this all-mountain credibility and it’s unique directional profile, the La Nina  had been on my radar for the last few years. As a taller gentleman, it wasn’t until I found out that Lib Tech were discontinuing the 164 size for 2015 that I felt an urgent need to pull out the credit card for one of the last ones in the store.

So what’s unique about the profile?

The La Nina alone in the Lib Tech line up has a C1 BTX profile, which consists of an elevated flat/mild camber section extending from the waist to the nose, with a cambered section under the back foot. A sintered base and Lib’s mellower .5 Magne-Traction edges round out the specs. The following graphic is for the 2016 La Nina and it’s labelling it elliptical camber under the front foot.C1Notice the back camber section (on the right) doesn’t come back down all the way. This is actually helpful when riding switch in powder.

Here are some real-life profile pics taken in the Japan Grabs studio:
Lib Tech La Nina Nose Profile The back half looks like this:lib-tech-la-nina-tail-profile

How does it ride?

It has a softer rockered front half which gives you excellent float in deep snow. The stiffer back half gives you power on slashes and drive out of your turns. It takes a few turns to get used to this blend but once you do, you realize that this is a special board. I especially appreciated the profile on straightline runouts through chop – the softer nose just absorbed all the bumps, planing over broken snow, and the tail didn’t wash out on me.

If you look hard for it, you can feel that rocker ‘pivot’, though it’s quite minor and doesn’t stand out when you are riding. On hardpack when your front foot is weighted, the board behaves normally. It carves well, and the surprising thing is that despite being so directional it is quite ‘freestyley’. On ‘no new snow’ days it was fun on and poppy on cat track hits and I did not feel like I was on a 164.

I have used it in banked slalom races and on sketchy steeps, and never felt like it would let me down. So much so, that when I had to pack light for a road trip up to Hokkaido last winter, I had no hesitation in choosing the La Nina as my one board. From hiking for powder in the backcountry to icy night riding, I never found myself wishing I had brought a more specialized board – and coming from a gear nerd with a quiver of 20, that means a lot! It truly can do it all. If you need a one-board quiver I would highly recommend this hidden gem in the Lib Tech line up. 25 years in the making turned out pretty good after all.

I found this video to be very helpful. Matt Cummins explains the profile and illustrates it with some rad powder turns:

Unfortunately, the La Nina has now been discontinued. Check out the other Lib Tech offerings at their official site.

Disclosure: The Lib Tech La Nina was purchased by the Japan Grabs team.