While the Lib Tech T. Rice Orca couldn't clinch one of the top spots overall and isn't the best all-mountain board for most people, it's our absolute favorite when it comes to riding steep terrain and deep snow. The Orca is exceptionally stable at speed and has great edge hold. However, this board is on the stiffer side, so it isn't the most playful, doesn't have a ton of pop, and isn't the best at jumping. Despite these flaws, we would highly recommend this board for anyone who likes to go fast in deep snow. Period.Editor's Note: We updated this review on October 5, 2022, with a photo of the latest graphics for the T.Rice Orca.
Lib Tech T.Rice Orca Review
Cons: Not great with groomers, much more suited for advanced riders
Manufacturer: Lib Tech
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|Pros||Fantastically floaty, likes to go fast, stays stable||Fantastic all-around board, great in powder||Unmatched pop, great edge hold, supremely stable||Cool graphics, fun for freestyle riding||Fast, fun to ride|
|Cons||Not great with groomers, much more suited for advanced riders||Not the best beginner board||Not the best board for powder||Not our favorite powder board||Not the best edge hold, struggles to float on the deepest days|
|Bottom Line||Should be your first choice if you are planning on diving into the deepest snow||If you want the best of the best all-mountain board, it’s hard to find a better option||Earning the highest honor, it did exceptionally well in all our tests||If you want a fun freestyle board that can rip across the entire mountain, this is a good option||A twin board for aggressive riders but definitely isn’t for everyone|
|Rating Categories||Lib Tech T.Rice Orca||Yes. Hel Yes - Women's||Gnu Ladies Choice||Lib Tech No. 43||Capita Birds of a F...|
|Edge Hold (25%)|
|Powder Performance (20%)|
|Pop and Jumping (15%)|
|Specs||Lib Tech T.Rice Orca||Yes. Hel Yes - Women's||Gnu Ladies Choice||Lib Tech No. 43||Capita Birds of a F...|
|Shape||Directional||Directional Twin||Asymmetrical||Freestyle Twin||True Twin|
|Measured Weight (Tested Length)||5.8 lbs.||5.4 lbs.||5.6 lbs.||5.2 lbs.||5.6 lbs.|
|Available Lengths||138, 144, 147, 150, 153, 156, 159, 162||146, 149, 152, 155||142.5, 145.5, 148.5, 151.5, 153.5||146, 149, 152||140, 142, 144, 146, 148, 150, 152, 154|
|Core Material||Aspen and paulownia wood||Poplar, paulownia, and bamboo wood||Aspen, Colombian Gold, and paulownia wood||Aspen and paulownia wood||P2 Superlight Core|
|Waist Width||25.7 cm||24.4 cm||24.2 cm||23.9 cm||24.4 cm|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The first aspect we tested for in each board is how well it holds an edge, which constitutes 25% of its total score. We started off by riding the Orca in varied snow conditions and noting how well the edge — both toeside and heelside — held in each.
The T. Rice Orca has magne-traction edges, which offers increased control by adding a wavy edge in the "dead zone" area of your edge that is right under your feet while carving. These increase the effective edge length of the board and are absolutely fantastic when it comes to riding in mixed snow conditions. The Orca's superior edge ensures that you don't spiral out of control when you hit an icy patch … most of the time. This board is great at cutting through chop and is super forgiving, but it isn't the snappiest board and is comparatively slow edge-to-edge, giving it a little less overall edge hold than some of the other Magne-traction boards that are just a bit springier.
Following edge hold, our next — and easily the most fun — aspect of testing was scoring how well each board rode in powder. Overall, this component of our testing process determined 20% of the final score for each board. We waited for storms, then took out each board and tried to find as many freshies as possible, ranking and scoring how much they floated and how well they handled. It was here that the Orca stood out from the rest.
The secret to this board's amazing float in powder is its somewhat unconventional shape and design. This short, fat board is extremely directional, with its width tapering from the nose to the tail. It has a hybrid rocker camber profile, with a reverse camber underfoot and regular camber at the tip and tail.
It has a setback stance and an exceptionally long nose, which contributes greatly to its unparalleled amount of float in even the deepest snowfalls.
After playing around in the powder, we moved on to evaluating and comparing how stable each board is — especially at higher speeds. For this metric, also worth 20% of the total score for each snowboard, we went to the steep groomers and really opened up the throttle. The Orca did very well for its exceptional stability in most snow conditions.
No matter how fast we pushed it with this board, it never gave us any cause for concern. As mentioned above, it cuts through chop with ease and isn't prone to any sort of speed wobble at all.
Next, we rated and scored how playful the Orca is, which also accounts for 20% of the total score. Unfortunately, this snowboard is a bit on the serious side and isn't the most playful compared to some of the competition, but it still scored above average here.
The stiffness of the Orca is a bit of a detriment in this category, as it makes it much harder to flex and maneuver. This board definitely isn't a park board, but it can be quite in natural features, such as gullies or small canyons, and we for sure found it to be quite fun in boardercross style terrain.
Pop and Jumping
Our last metric focused on how easy it is to jib or jump with each board, which constitutes the leftover 15% of the final score. The Orca's stiffness and length again proved to be a bit off in our testing.
This board isn't the most versatile and is really best for steep terrain and deep powder. It feels quite heavy and is overall harder to jump and doesn't want to lift off quite as well as some of the more flexible boards. We still could do a tail press on the Orca, but you can tell it didn't really want to and we had to try quite a bit harder than some other boards.
The Orca isn't the best value, as it is one of the more expensive boards and isn't the best all-in-one all-mountain board that some other boards are. We wouldn't necessarily want this board for all conditions, so it's not our top choice if you can only afford a single board.
All in all, the Orca is easily our top recommendation for steeps and deep snow. If that isn't what you ride all the time, then we would suggest an overall more versatile and well-rounded board.
— Marissa Fox
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