Never Summer Proto CT

2012 Never Summer Proto CT, Blister Gear ReviewBoard: 2011-2012 Never Summer Proto CT, 157cm

Dimensions (mm): 299-253-299

Turn Radius: 7.35 m

Actual Tip-to-Tail length (straight tape pull): 156cm

Boots: Nike Zoom Kaiju

Bindings: Union Force

Stance: Regular – 15/-12, 23.5 in. wide.  No setback.

Test Locations: Snowbird, Utah; Niseko, Japan

Days Skied: 50+

There are some obvious upsides to living in Utah and riding at the Bird—the combination of deep, consistent snow and big terrain makes it a great place to be on a pow day.

The downside is that I’m not alone in my opinion, and the snow can get chopped up fast.

So while I’ll always own more than one snowboard at time, I am always looking for the elusive “quiver killer,” the board I can enjoy from First Tram to 4:00 P.M. in a variety of conditions, from first tracks down Hanging Bowl to jib runs down Chips.

I’d been itching to get on a Never Summer for a few seasons, as they are handmade in Colorado, have a reputation for making very durable boards, and it’s easy to find testimonials of their outstanding customer service. (These things tend to matter when riding over rocks to get to the goods is just another part of your day.) The problem had been that they never made the board that I wanted to ride, the “workhorse” described above. That is, until the Proto CT.

Never Summer has this to say about the Proto CT: “We’ve taken the powerful flex of the time tested SL, and blended it with the responsive dampening of the Evo to create the ultimate all mountain true twin.”


Profile and Flex

The Proto CT features what Never Summer calls “R.C.” or Rocker & Camber technology, similar in concept to both Lib Tech’s “C2 Banana” and Nitro’s “Gullwing” camber profiles. With the Proto CT, there is substantial rocker between the binding inserts for flotation, and short sections of traditional camber outside the inserts for stability. It is a true twin in both shape and flex, and features a blunted tip and tail for a “reduced, more balanced swing weight, while increasing effective edge for on snow stability.” Never Summer rates the Proto CT a 5 on their 1-10 flex scale, and a 3.5 in terms of dampening.


Here’s my opinion on the matter: The length of the board you ride is a product of your size and the terrain you want to ride, but mostly preference. I was torn between the 154 and 157, and opted for the longer end of things because (1) I weigh 155 lbs, (2) it generally snows a lot where I live and ride, and (3) I’m not worried about getting it around for my Cork 12.

While the 2011/2012 season provided some disappointingly one-dimensional testing conditions at Snowbird, I was fortunate enough to catch a few good local storms. I also caught two weeks of the most consistently deep conditions I’ve ever seen, in Japan. But more on that in a second.

The first month of riding in Utah last year consisted primarily of bombing groomers and sessioning well-formed jib lines throughout the mountain, and a few things became apparent:

1)   The R.C. rocker profile is substantially more stable than others that I’ve ridden (Lib’s Banana and Capita’s Flat Kick, for example).

2)   While stable, the Proto CT has a speed limit. While both substantially damp and stiff (despite Never Summer’s own ratings), it didn’t chatter so much as wobble at speed. In this regard, I’d consider it average for its “all-mountain freestyle” class.

3)   The relative stiffness in the tip and tail is very effective and saved me several times on less than ideal landings and in rough, hard terrain. I kept expecting it to buck me, but it never did.

4)   The Proto CT’s sidecut is comfortable and forgiving when making either big, arcing turns on hardpack, or shorter, carving turns. In other words, the Proto CT will allow you to charge, but will also allow you to make quick turns in the trees.

Never Summer claims that their “Durasurf XT Sintzzered 5501” sintered base is the “fastest they’ve every used,” and I would agree that it’s among the fastest I’ve ridden. It is also very durable, as I spent the first part of the year hitting rocks like it was my job, and the Proto CT came away with hardly a scratch. When the Cirque first opened with poor coverage in December, I was absolutely certain that I would do irreparable damage, but every time I unstrapped and looked at the base…nothing.

4 comments on “Never Summer Proto CT”

  1. Hey there…thanks for the review. I’m stuck between 2 boards to bring out to the interior BC with me (can only fit one)…my 154 Proto CT and my 153 Arbor Westmark. Though you probably haven’t ridden the Westmark…I’d appreciate your opinion on the matter as you seem to have good experience riding pow. Althought most ppl immediately jump and say bring the proto cause the Westmark is a ‘park board’ and the proto is sitffer. However, at my weight 125lbs (yes…im a feather), the Westmark is beefy enough to free ride with (though a bit tiring on groomers due it its full centre reverse). However, I was wondering if it would fair better in the pow b/c of its full centre reverse?


  2. Hey, JL. Having ridden center reverse and flat camber park decks in virtually every kind of powder, I can safely say that the Westmark should perform pretty well, despite the fact that I haven’t been on it. The Proto is also rockered between the inserts and behaves very similarly in untracked snow. Where I give the NS the edge, though, is when that pow becomes tracked and variable. Also, the short sections of camber outside the bindings give the edges a little more purchase on firm or groomed snow and the combination of stiffer flex and damping in the CT should make for a more stable ride at speed.

  3. I know this review is older, but Im on a budget trying to find the very same quiver killer you write about. I am feeling totally torn on which way to go and was hoping you could give me a quick word, lance. I have two major considerations that differ from you in choosing decks. 1) I ride in the east (Vermont). My issues with proper powder choices, unfortunately, rarely come up. In fact, my primary consideration is, “how will the board handle on ice and pavement-pack?” haha. Sad, but true. 2) I weigh about 235, after my morning dump. Every sizing chart I see for Never Summer tops out around 215 for recommended weight, so I’m worried about response. I wanted to put this out there, because I see you actually referenced my alternate choice I’m torn between: the GNU Riders Choice. From what I have been reading, the magnetraction and camber of these boards are seemingly engineered for crappier conditions and bulky dudes like myself, at least when it comes to pop. Any advise would be much appreciated.

  4. Randall,

    You’re right – your considerations are definitely different than mine, although my CT has seen its fair share of ice. I don’t think you can really go wrong with either of these decks, but one thing I’d take a look at in regard to length is effective edge – According to each manufacturers published specs, the 160W CT has a longer effective edge than the 166W Rider’s Choice, which would level the playing field on hardpack, even if not in powder. The camber profiles are very similar and handle relatively well in EC conditions, and Magnetraction does add some “grip,” in my experience, whether you want it or not. i haven’t been on the latest iteration of the RC, but I imagine it’s more lively with a little more pop than the CT. The CT, however, is still my favorite all around board for its ability to handle any condition I throw at it and the fact that it’s still intact 100+ days later. Pray for snow!


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