Lib Tech Freeride HP Ski Review
Mervin Manufacturing based out of Carlsborg, Washington is the home of Lib Tech. They’ve been making quality snowboards since 1977 by its founders, Mike Olson and Pete Saari. Made in the USA these days is something few and far between, but these Lib Tech Freeride HP skis were assembled right there sandwiched between the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges. “Mt. Baker Tested” means these skis have seen its fair share of demo runs and conditions. Now it’s my turn to put them to the test in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
First Thoughts on the Lib Tech Freeride HP Skis
“Bitchin’ Board Builders” is their moto and creed if you will, but anything snow, ski, surf, or skate: and Lib Tech’s got you covered.
At this point in my life, I don’t see myself going through the learning curve of snowboarding or skating. Surfing presents another issue altogether because I’m a bit landlocked situated along the front range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Having a backyard like this does provide me with an awesome and downright incredible opportunity to take the Lib Tech Freeride HP skis on a series of runs up and down some amazing terrain at the world’s best resorts.
With all of Lib Tech’s expertise, the evolution to create a marketable and quality ski was only a matter of time. The Lib Tech Freeride HP is a solid, streamlined, and quality piece of mountain equipment that will tackle a wide variety of conditions. They call their skis “narrow ass boards” since snowboarding is part of their DNA. As a skier, I’m Ok with that, as long as these ‘narrow’ sticks get me to play in the snow in search of fresh tracks. Narrow is all relative of course as these can be categorized as wider than those skinny sticks I started on back in the 80’s.
Freeride HP Features
The trend of fatter and fatter skis has slowed somewhat, but the heritage of these Lib Tech skis has them going narrow in comparison to their snowboard cousins. On my 178cm length skis, these have a nose width of 137mm, waist of 100mm, and a tail width of 123. Definitely ‘Fat’ enough to enjoy a wide range of snow and mountain conditions. These skis are made to be an all-mountain ski to provide someone like me the option to rip up the groomers, play in the trees, and to go looking for fresh tracks in the backcountry.
Magne-Traction is a very prominent feature of these skis as it is literally written prominently on the top of the skis. From a performance standpoint, think serrated steak knife and how it cuts through a warm loaf of soft bread. These serrations are strategically sized and placed to provide for optimal performance, control, balance, and carve-ability. What it comes down to is having better control of your skis and turns. The more aggressive bumps or serrations are near the center boot position, and are gradually spaced further apart toward the tip and tail.
Another fantastic feature is the All Terrain / POW recurve. As your body shifts and puts pressure on the skis going into a turn, the Lib Tech Freeride HP creates a “dynamic early rise.” That pressure and energy gets pushed to the tip and tail for a slight lift to carve through hard-packed and icy snow, as well as easier float for powder conditions. The makes for a smooth ride all around, and provides confidence for tackling any kind of terrain.
The Lib tech Freeride HP has a clean and simple graphic design. Black with minimal markings, so no crazy logo’s or fiery dragons. I like a classic clean look. I expect quality gear, and when I do it needs to look good to last a long time. I totally understand that people want to personalize their skis or board, are attracted to a color scheme or intense piece of design that can be considered a Work of Art. I have some art – it hangs on my wall in my living room. These skis could surely be mounted on my wall, but what fun would that be?
Taking the Lib Tech Freeride HP on The Slopes
Since the Lib Tech POW (see review HERE) are being tested in more of a backcountry setting, I am putting these to the task at some of my favorite local ski resorts. Several early season outings presented some good opportunities to get a jump on the ski season. Conditions were not ideal by any means, but a long summer and fall of camping, mountain biking, and trail running had me itching to get out onto the snow.
A good amount of snow had fallen in November providing for a decent base at Keystone Ski Resort (see review HERE). There was not really any tree skiing or exploration for untracked runs, but the coverage on the groomed runs was really good. The Lib Tech Freeride HP skis allowed me to let them run freely while being able to stay in complete control. Even some of the steeper shadier spots that were starting to get a little icy at the end of the day were no match for these skinny boards. I was able to continue my sweeping turns while carving a clean line.
Christmas and several big storms later brought me to the ‘Champagne Powder’ of Steamboat Spring Ski Resort. This is truly where the Lib Tech Freeride Skis felt at home. The wider base (see specifics below as it varies from front to back) were able to float freely. Now, I’m no expert in the deep stuff, but I was able to cruise comfortably in knee deep powder. Placing these skis on my shoulders to hike up to areas in search of untracked tree runs is a joy that not many get to experience. A bit of work will pay off ten-fold when you find that section that hasn’t been touched after a night of snowfall. I truly enjoyed the ability to float on the powder with absolute control going through the thick and fluffy snow.
January came and went, and we are pining for some big dumps here in the Rocky Mountains. The base is fine, so playing around on the groomers and a little bit in the trees has provided for a very nice day on the mountains this past month. You can’t really ever complain when you are on skis going downhill, but I really want to play in the deep stuff. I’m sure that February, March, and even April will bring us that beautiful powder for more fun, but until then I will make do with what I’ve got.
178 Length Model
- Contact Length: 105/140
- Side Cut: 18
- Nose Width: 137
- Waist width:100
- Tail Width: 123
- Flex: 7.5
- Weight: 4.35
188 Length Model
- Contact Length: 110/150
- Side Cut: 19
- Nose Width: 144
- Waist width:100
- Tail Width: 128
- Flex: 7.5
- Weight: 4.8
Contour: All Terrain / Pow reCURVE
Sizes: 178, 188
Final Thoughts on the Lib Tech HP Freeride HP Skis
I honestly had a blast taking these out. The Lib Tech HP Freeride provides a nice solid and wide base to provide confidence on a variety of terrain and snow conditions. The technology and features aid in making easy quick turns in the soft stuff, and provide a strong edge on the groomers and icy stuff. They met and exceeded my expectations as I tackled a wide variety of terrain and conditions. The icy groomers were no match as I was able to carve a clean line. The runs that had seen plenty of action were also a joy as these skis could handle the inconsistencies and bumps with ease as they absorbed the initial shock before my knees had to take the impact. The additional width was great as they handled knee deep powder with ease. The wax base has also held up quite well. I highly recommend these skis for its versatility in a wide variety of terrain, and would be great for the beginner all the way up to the advanced skier.
For more information and details please visit: www.lib-tech.com