2020-2021 Amplid UNW8 160
Shape: Directional, set back 10 cm
Actual Tip-to-Tail Length (straight tape pull): 159.0 cm
Active Surface Area: 4130 mm
Running Length: 1190 mm
Available Lengths: 156, 159, 163 163w cm
Dimensions: 294-250-294 mm (159 cm)
Sidecut Radius: 8.06 m (159 cm)
Tip-to-Tail Profile: Traditional camber, no rocker
Core: Light Wood Laminate, Paper Honeycomb & Carbon Fiber Stringers
Base: Sintered GE 7200
- PopCamber (maximum ollie power)
- Hexo 2 Core (Replaces portions of core with lightweight paper honeycomb)
- Sintered GE 7200 Base with Stone Finish
- V Pop Carbon Stringers at tip and tail
- Helio P15 lightweight wood core
- PLT gloss UV coating (crack proof?)
- Tapered Fly tips (decreases swing weight at tip and tail)
- Pre stretched fiberglass to eliminate dead spots and softening over time
MSRP: $700.00 USD
Test Locations: Crested Butte, Telluride, & Monarch Mountain CO; Taos, NM
Days Ridden: ~40
[Note: Our review was conducted on the 16/17 Amplid UNW8, which was not changed for 17/18, 18/19, 19/20, or 20/21, apart from graphics.]
The 15/16 Amplid UNW8 has been my go-to board for the last two seasons. I loved its light weight, snappiness and pop. The 16/17 UNW8 has all of the high-tech features of the 15/16 model, but with a few changes that have pushed this board even higher up my scale of favorite boards.
Here’s what Amplid has to say about the new UNW8:
“Unrelenting edge-hold is a by-product of the UNW8’s full-length Pop Camber and V-Pop Stringers which focus rider inputs at its contact points and intensify its pop. Weight-reducing HEXO2 Technology and Amplid’s Lite Core, a featherweight core constructed from batons of hand selected low density Poplar, make the UNW8 feel connected and responsive underfoot and effortless in the air. This is a board that responds best to the aggressive and powerful riding styles of expert snowboarders. New All-Terrain Tips, which conceal extra surface area and a smooth radius, boost the UNW8 floatation in soft snow conditions. Longer contact points, part of the UNW8’s innovative new geometry, lock onto firm snow in steep terrain and stabilize the board at hair-raising speeds.”
What’s Changed, What Hasn’t
Like the 15/16 UNW8 (see my review), the new version is still a lightweight, high-precision, expert-level board.
The UNW8 is Amplid’s flagship board, and Amplid has teamed up with Capita to build the UNW8 at Capita’s factory in Europe, called “The Mothership.” The factory is said to have set a new standard for more environmentally-friendly approaches to building boards, minimizing energy use and material waste.
Many of the aspects of the UNW8 have remained the same, such as the construction materials and the fundamental construction concepts. The shape of the board, however, is one of the major changes. They have adopted the shape and sidecut of the Paradigma which is a board meant for more intermediate-level riders who are looking to advance. The UNW8 has slightly more camber and is built with different materials.
Compared to the 15/16 UNW8, the nose and tail of the current board have been changed to increase surface area in these zones, in order to make the board less susceptible to diving in powder (especially given its serious amount of traditional camber).
I didn’t notice a big difference on this front compared to the last version, which I found to have adequate flotation. Still, the fact is that this board has a lot of traditional camber and no tip or tail rocker, so it requires some good attention in powder regardless. With the right amount of input (knowing when to weight and unweight the board / the tips and tails of the board), a skilled rider will be able to make the UNW8 work well in deeper snow.
The 16/17 UNW8 jumps up in stiffness from the previous version, and it feels more torsionally rigid. Its new wider nose and tail have, in effect, made the board’s sidecut deeper, and the result of this deeper sidecut is obviously tighter turns but it also made for easier traversing on slopes, since it keeps your toes and heels just a tiny bit farther away from the snow.
Some other changes in the construction pattern of the honeycomb paper inserts have been modified to change the swing weight and add stability. I can’t say I really noticed the changes here, but I was also using K2 Thraxis boots, which are not as stiff as the Salomon Malamutes I used before, as well as softer bindings. What I can say is that I haven’t noticed any negative effects from the redesign of the UNW8.
Control and Speed
This is a board for aggressive riders, to say the least. It was designed for riders who seek out precision and speed, but who also want a legit freestyle board for spur-of-the-moment decision making. At Crested Butte (where I first put this deck on snow), I found out what Amplid means when they talk about this board’s fast base. But thanks to the UNW8’s camber and shape, the board holds steady at very high speeds.
Crested Butte is known for steep terrain and lots of it. It is also known for return roads and lots of side stepping (skiers only; we boarders will walk). The return road that starts at the bottom of the iconic Banana and Peel on the western end of the mountain is a long road that has always involved some skating to get back. But I was literally able to cruise this road all the way back without having to skate. Granted, this was when the board was brand new and the snow was fast, but I tried this on other new boards (like the K2 Joydriver) the same day, and wasn’t able to make it all the way.
The UNW8 also has demonstrated exceptional stability on landings. I don’t know if it is because of the board’s shape or camber, but the 16/17 board feels more stable than the last version.
The board is very snappy and easy to maneuver so long as you are deliberate and ride with intent. If you do, you’ll find the board to be stable and fast. I was able to put together lines I haven’t before with the combined ability to traverse well, land well, and go fast on run-outs with little chatter.
One characteristic of the previous board that carries over to the current version is the insert pattern on the board. They have limited the stance options to only two positions in both front and back. This felt a little narrow at times. I wished the inserts had some more options allowing for a wider stance. Either way though, with the stance the way it was, the control was great and the torsional stiffness really helped with chatter.
This board is great at holding carves around trail bends, and going really fast while feeling stable. I patrol on a snowboard at Taos fairly often, and rely on boards that have an edge for speed so I can avoid the embarrassment among the skier patrollers when I’m stuck or unstrapped skating. The UNW8 gets me to where I need to be — quickly.
The UNW8’s sidecut radius is very tight, and allows for super small turns. Edge-to-edge the board was very quick and snappy. The older review references a bouncy feeling similar to a long board feel. The UNW8 in its current form certainly maintains this playful yet powerful feel.
This board is great for anyone who likes cruising groomers. Although this board performs exceptionally well in an all-mountain setting, it is most at home going fast on well-groomed snow. The UNW8 would excel at both boardercross and banked slalom events. There is lots of pop loaded into the board, and the base is super fast and durable.
All Mountain / Powder
But while the UNW8 is great for fast riding on hard snow and groomers, this board is also one of the best freeride boards I have been on. The same stability that is found on groomers carries over to the big mountains. Simply put, it’s incredibly stable, fast, and surprisingly durable. Because the camber is fairly extreme, the board takes extra effort to weight the back foot at slower speeds in deep powder. But once the board gets up to speed, it planes up very well. Again, this board isn’t heavy, so it’s still quite maneuverable in tight spaces, but it does take speed and open lines for it to fully perform. I never had an issue in tight spaces with this board as the weight seemed to help with the extra grab of the camber.
Who’s It For?
Amplid has been very clear that the UNW8 is intended for experienced riders only. If you ride aggressively and precisely, the UNW8 is perfect. However, the camber, flex, and shape would give a beginner a tough time.
And if you love to get out and carve but don’t like hard boots, you could have as much fun with almost as much control using the UNW8. Also, aggressive freeriders who want stability at speed and good control on fast landings should try this board.
Heavier riders should size up, or consider the wide option.
If you are an experienced rider capable of using regular camber to its full effect, the Amplid UNW8 is a quiver killer. The board’s incredibly fast base and deep sidecut support great stability at high speeds, but it’s light and maneuverable enough to be fun all over the mountain.