Winter 2015-2016 started out super strong, with multiple double digit powder days a week from mid-December through January. However, this past February was pretty disappointing for Colorado snow sports given the light (and in most places, non-existing) snowfall during what was supposed to be stellar month brought to us by a El Nino himself. During week two of the drought, I got an email asking me to test and review the 2017 Never Summer Aura and Never Summer Proto Type II. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to ride these boards and experience the new technology; however, at the same time, I questioned whether it was possible to form an opinion on a snowboard based on its performance on morning hard-pack with a chance of afternoon slush.
This made me think about typical snow conditions in this region (southwest Colorado) and the I70 corridor; that how in recent years, powder days seem to be fewer and further between; and when resorts actually do receive snow, the mountain becomes tracked out in only a few hours. Instead of basing a decision on the performance of a board on a perfect untracked line, it is important to understand how the board will handle in less than ideal conditions, conditions that one will be riding most of the time. This is especially important for someone like me, who rides only one board, regardless of the conditions and terrain, and rides that same board for several years.
Never Summer Aura Review
The Never Summer snowboards arrived the last week of February on the very first snowfall after a 21-day dry spell. To celebrate, I took the Aura up to Purgatory to ride five inches of fresh. Straight out of the package, I received several compliments on how beautiful the Aura was. Don’t let the elegant graphics fool you: this board charges like a champion. Although I can appreciate a soft board that is fun to spin and jib, I prefer a board that can ride over chop and crud without compromising stability. I truly like to ride all mountain during variable conditions, so stability is always the number one attribute to determine whether a board is compatible with my riding style. So when all the starved powder hounds of Durango showed up and tore up the mountain fairly quickly, and the Aura was able to bomb straight through the chop without chatter, the board passed the stability test with flying colors.
Given the snow conditions, the board handled exceptionally well everywhere I went: trees, moguls, steeps, flats, rollers, and groomers. I was really impressed by how responsive the Aura was in tight trees and moguls, and how it naturally flowed with the fall line of the mountain in wide open spaces. I loved the Aura right away, but I wanted to maintain a neutral opinion until I rode the board over various conditions and unfamiliar terrain.
Over the month of March, the temperatures rose and dropped dramatically and the snowfall, at least in the southwest, was still underperforming expectations. So in an attempt to find snow, I took the Aura to Telluride, Snowmass, and Wolf Creek while riding Purgatory any chance I could while I was home. Most of the time I found snow within a day or two of the storm, but a few times I got lucky and hit it on the right day. Some of my favorite highlights of the Aura from my Snowboard-Road-Trip 2016 was how the Aura floated when I got fresh tracks in Horseshoe Bowl at Wolf Creek after a 10-inch storm. Or at Snowmass, when they hadn’t seen snow in a week and conditions were hard pack, how quickly it zipped through the gullies, how fun it was through the natural halfpipes, and how easy it was to lay down carves on the groomers. Even though the Aura I was riding is considered small at 148 centimeters, the reversed camber in the nose made it seem much larger floating down the steep face of Palmyra Peak at Telluride through about a foot of windblown snow.
The more time I spent on the board, the less I noticed it, as if it became an appendage on my feet versus the experiment it was. I found myself having to try hard to evaluate the board instead of just putting my music on and riding. This board does exactly what you want it to do with little effort. An added bonus to my required preferences is that the board is actually pretty playful for being so stable. It was easy to ride switch and spin little 180’s and 360’s, which was super fun at the end of a powder day when my legs were too spent to hike to fresh snow or ride choppy snow, but the snow was still too good to leave before the chairs stopped spinning.
Gags and Mike talk about the 2016 Aura
Last year, which was the introduction year of the Never Summer Aura, I was able to ride the 2015/2016 version of the Aura. I immediately loved that board; however, I only rode the board for two hours at SIA at Copper during pretty awesome conditions. The only difference I noticed from the 2015 Aura that I could feel is that the 2016 had more stability. This is probably why I thought the 2016 a little less playful than the 2015; however, the benefit of the increased stability far outweighed the slight, nearly unnoticeable, decrease in flex.
My favorite thing about the Aura is how responsive it was, which seemed to improve my confidence resulting in me riding faster through bumps and trees. I also feel like my riding has much more flow and finesse when riding the Aura. I can now say objectively, having ridden the 2016 Aura for a little over a month on four different mountains on approximately 15 different days, that the 2017 Never Summer Aura snowboard is fantastic choice for a women’s all mountain board.