Known worldwide for their innovative approach to snowboard design, ecologically-minded construction techniques and distinctly heady graphics, Lib Technologies might very well be responsible for the most radical changes in snowboard design over the last two decades. At the center of it all is the Skate Banana—the board that introduced reverse "banana" camber to the industry in 2006. Designed in opposition to building snowboards like skis, Lib's banana camber puts rocker between the bindings, with flat-mid camber from feet to tip and tail. The result is a characteristically fun, flexible board ideal for pressing tricks in the park and floating through powder. For a reminder of just how fun these boards can be, we recently took a Lexus RX F Sport up to Okemo Resort in Vermont for a few days on hill with next season's Lib Tech Skate Banana.
Equipped with Lib's patented Magne-traction—a serrated edge with a total of 10 additional contact points for increased control and stability on all snow conditions—and (of course) all-terrain banana camber, the board was super-noodley, but never felt out of control or incapable. It feels perfect through big carves on fresh corduroy, packed powder and even infamous East Coast ice; picking up momentum coming out of turns, and propelling into the next. When kept flat based, it felt a bit loose at times, though never slow.
Even with such a playful construction, the Skate Banana is surprisingly responsive, making it especially solid in the park where little last-second adjustments are often needed for hitting jumps and jibs. The feeling of loading the tail and blasting ollies over rollers with speed is unmatched on the Banana. And, if you're curious how it'll handle powder, rest assured the Banana is a beast. Another benefit of Magne-Traction is the ability to run a size smaller than you might be used to. Even in the deep stuff, a shorter board floats like a pow-specific deck.
Graphic-wise, Lib is known for blessing their topsheets and bases with art by snowboard legend and Lib loyalist Jamie Lynn. The 2014/15 Skate Banana, however, features art by Mike Parillo (who recently collaborated with Corey Smith on the Neon Daze and Winter Waves art project) and Annette Veihelmann. Holding our feet to the board was a pair of current season GNU Choice bindings. While the non-traditional rear entry binding was a bit tricky to adjust and took some time to get used to, in the end the Choice offered a comfy, secure fit and responsive connection to the board.
Like all Lib Technologies snowboards, the 2014/15 Skate Banana is made in Washington State "by snowboarders with jobs." Expect to see it in stores next fall for around $490. The 2013/14 GNU Choice bindings are available now for $260.
Additional reporting by Noah Johnson, photos by Graham Hiemstra