Board: 2015-2016 Never Summer (Carbonium) Raven, 151cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 148.6cm
Blister’s Measured Weight: 2401 grams
Effective Edge 1180mm
Tip Width 283mm
Waist Width 238mm
Tail Width 283mm
Sidecut Radius(cm): Vario 687 multiple radius average
Rocker Type: Camber/Rocker/Camber
Shape: True Twin
Warranty: 3 Years (Made in the USA)
Boots / Bindings: Burton Women’s Felix (size 6.5) Boots / K2 Cassette Snowboard Bindings (Medium)
Mount Location: Regular; 13 front foot -12 back foot
Stance Width: 19.5 Inches
Test Locations: Taos Ski Valley, NM; Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Snowmass, and Vail, CO
Days Ridden: 70
[Editor’s Note: Our review was conducted on the 14/15 Raven, which comes back unchanged for the 15/16 season, except for the graphics.]
Never summer claims that the Raven is “the most high tech women’s all-mountain board on the market,” and that its “slightly stiffer flex and extensive damping make it a great choice for women who love going fast and laying down hard carves.”
That sounds a lot like me, so I was eager to check out the board.
And while there are lots of women-specific boards to choose from, after a lot of time on this board, it seems to me that the Raven may stand alone in its versatility and control. In my experience, not many women specific boards bring the same level of performance, but the Raven does.
Note re: Women’s Specific Boards
If you are a lady that shreds, you may ask, “Why not just ride a men’s board?”
While there is certainly nothing wrong with that, there are some good reasons why you might choose a board designed with women in mind.
For starters, women’s boards are often narrower in the waist. Generally, we have smaller feet, and a men’s board may be too wide.
(Of course, if you have large feet and are a taller, larger woman, you may benefit from being on a men’s board.)
I am 5’7”, 135 lbs. I enjoy the softer flex that a woman’s board offers because it is more playful and less work to turn. Because of my size, I can’t pressure a stiffer men’s board as effectively as a women’s specific board.
Other factors to consider are that women have a lower center of mass than men. We also have wider hips, which results in a larger Q Angle (the quadriceps, or Q-angle approximates the pull of the quadriceps muscle and affects its efficiency). The Q-angle can be measured as the acute angle of a line connecting the outside tip of the anterior superior iliac spine (the most outside point of the hip) with the midpoint of the kneecap, and a line connecting the top of the tibia. The Q-angle averages 13 degrees in men, and 17 degrees in women.
Riders with extreme Q-angles may find that large binding split angles create kneecap discomfort. Because of this, it is important to reduce the split or consider orthotics for reducing pronation. Women’s specific boards (like the Raven) take these factors into consideration when deciding where to extend camber and what flex to make the board. They are made for the biomechanics of women, with their weight, height, foot size and proportions in mind.
Back to the Raven…
Never Summer uses what they call ‘Women’s Carbonium Laminate Technology’ on the Raven. This technology puts narrow carbon stringers on the top and bottom of the wood core to provide power and energy transfer without sacrificing the torsional control a lighter rider needs. Additional fiberglass strips reinforce the effective edge for an aggressive hold. Simply put: the Raven is intended to be a very durable board that won’t weigh you down.
I have ridden a lot freeride boards in search of one that was lightweight and versatile enough to carve hard lines, ride tight chutes, float through powder, and easily maneuver through variable conditions. The Raven handles the combination of these different aspects of riding better than other all-mountain boards I have ridden.
The Raven carves well and drives through crud, offering stability in changing conditions.
Due to its medium stiff flex and pop, it holds a hard edge in the halfpipe, and creates a very smooth ride through the pipe’s transitions.
(Although I enjoy riding the Raven in the terrain park, it takes more effort to press and butter boxes and rails than a park-specific board would. A softer version such as the Never Summer Onyx is a much more playful board if you want to jib in the park—it has a very soft flex.)
The Raven is super poppy, allowing for easy turns and spins, yet I’ve still found it to be stiff enough to carve or hold an edge through chop.
Also, beneath the binding mount holes are “elastomeric underfoot stabilizers,” i.e., rubber inserts that absorb vibrations and aid with leg fatigue.
While that might sound like an overly fancy name for something that’s quite simple, I have really noticed a difference from the stabilizers when compared to older versions of the Never Summer Infinity and Lotus, and I have also noticed a smoother ride when landing drops and jumps.
This board handles off-piste conditions that range from frozen crud to slush with very little chatter. I know that there are other, stiffer boards out there that would be even more stable through variable conditions, but then you would be sacrificing the playful flex that the Raven offers.
For a board that was designed to perform as an all-mountain board, I’ve found that it delivers its promise and rides well in powder, steeps, hard pack and spring conditions.
Some other great features include the drawn-out, blunt tip nose of the board that floats well in powder, even in heavy new snow that may typically weigh you down.
Park / Halfpipe Riding
The Raven is also a true twin and can handle some park laps. As I mentioned before, it is not as soft and flexible as a park-specific board, so presses, buttering boxes, or jibbing features isn’t as easy. But the Raven still performs well enough that it doesn’t feel entirely out of place in the park.
If I am only riding park, I would go for a softer board like the Never Summer Infinity, Onyx, or Gnu Smart Pickle. These boards are very flexible and easy to press into a variety of jib maneuvers.
As far as spinning off jumps and hitting drops and the halfpipe, the Raven can stomp big airs due to its medium-stiff flex and ability to carve a hard edge.
I found that the board performed best with a centered binding mount. I like to ride steeps and be able to hit features, and the centered, wide stance on this board really allowed for a lot of freedom and play.
I am 5’7”, and typically ride boards that are ~152-159 cm long. But I decided to get the Raven a little bit shorter than normal in order to have more flexibility in tight chutes and trees. I really liked how quick the 151cm Raven is able to turn, and how responsive it feels.
• Never Summer Raven vs. Never Summer Onyx
The Raven is stiffer than the Onyx, and better suited for all-mountain riding. The Onyx is more playful—better for jibbing in the park and freestyle maneuvers—but not as stable in steep terrain.
• Never Summer Raven vs. K2 Spotlight
Both boards are lightweight and great in variable conditions, but the Raven is maneuverable and it is easier to make short radius turns in the steeps on it. The K2 Spotlight is not as smooth through crud, but easier to butter and jib on features.
Who’s It For?
I would recommend this board for experienced riders who likes to go fast, both on and off-piste. The Raven would not be a great choice for a beginner rider who is still figuring our how to flex and edge change the board; instead, the Never Summer Infinity is a much softer and easier board, and better suited for those who are in the beginner stages of snowboarding.
In short, the Raven is ideal for someone who loves riding trees, technical lines, and going fast and charging hard, and who isn’t too focused on riding park or jibbing rails.
The Raven is ideal for intermediate to advanced riders who enjoy a range of riding styles. It is a forgiving charger that is made to explore the mountain.
Compared to other boards on the market, I think the Raven is a great deal, and you can’t beat the three-year warranty.
It is durable and damp given how light and forgiving it is. The Raven makes for a lovely, smooth ride that charges hard.