While the Lib Tech T. Rice Orca couldn't clinch one of the top spots overall and definitely isn't the best all-mountain board for most people, this board is 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.
Lib Tech T.Rice Orca Review
Cons: Not great with groomers, much more suited for advanced riders
Manufacturer: Lib Tech
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This board finished behind the Arbor Swoon Rocker and ahead of the Jones Dream Catcher. The Arbor has way more pop and is quite a bit more playful than the Orca. It's also pretty stable at speed and has decent edge hold, but can't match the Orca's performance in powder. The Jones is definitely the most playful of the trio and is great for jumps, but is way less stable at higher speeds than the other two boards and doesn't have the same edge hold, but floats about as the Arbor in deeper powder.
To rank snowboards and find out which is the best of the best, we compared dozens of different boards, then bought the most compelling to test out side-by-side. We divided our tests into five weighted rating metrics, with the Orca'S results in each outlined below.
Starting off, the first thing we looked at for 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 and clearly earned its title of Top Pick for Powder with its perfect performance.
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 compared to other board 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 moved on rating and scoring how playful the Orca is, which is also responsible for 20% of the total score. Unfortunately, this snowboard is a bit on the serious side and isn't the most playful, but it still scored a 6 out of 10 in this metric for its slightly above average performance.
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 of a liability in these tests, earning it a 6 out of 10 overall.
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 excels at flying through powder or carving down steep icy terrain. However, its stiffer flex and lack of pop makes it a poor choice when it comes to playful terrain and it doesn't thrive in the park.
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