Reviews You Can Rely On

Never Summer Proto Synthesis Review

This is a well-rounded freestyle-inspired all-mountain board that is very easy to ride
never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: Never Summer
Price:  $655 List
Manufacturer:   Never Summer
By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 8, 2022
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 17
  • Edging - 25% 8.0
  • Float in Powder - 20% 6.0
  • Stability at Speed - 20% 8.0
  • Playfulness - 20% 9.0
  • Pop and Jumping - 15% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Never Summer Proto Synthesis takes the title of the Best All Mountain Freestyle board due to its reliability, easy-to-ride approach, and freestyle feature set. This board is incredibly user-friendly and still remains an incredibly capable model. It is fast to get on edge to engage that tight sidecut which can drive you through turns with the cambered tip and tail. Its medium-flexing hybrid profile creates a playful and forgiving overall experience. The cambered contact points maintain stability at speed and good pop. The rocker in the middle creates a forgiving ride that gives you a margin for error and accentuates the playfulness. This board is just plain fun and perfect for any level rider looking to enjoy the mountain and progress their skill set.
REASONS TO BUY
Lightweight
Well-made
Fun
Responsive
User-friendly
Improved pop
REASONS TO AVOID
Marginal float
Editor's Note: We updated this review on December 8, 2022 with the latest graphics for the Proto Synthesis.

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Pros Lightweight, well-made, fun, responsive, user-friendly, improved popGreat edge hold, lots of pop, incredibly stable, torsional flex patternFloat, precise edging, good construction, playfulUser friendly, turning experience, versatile, playfulGreat value, pretty easy to ride, versatile, stable, beautiful graphics
Cons Marginal floatNarrow waist width, hard to butter, suited toward advanced riders, limited size offeringsSwitch performance, harder to control in uneven terrainTopsheet scratches easy, topsheet is slipperyPlank-like feel, decent edge hold in hardpack
Bottom Line This is a well-rounded freestyle-inspired all-mountain board that is very easy to rideOur first pick when we demand exceptional performance anywhere on the mountain and won't accept many compromisesOur board of choice for advanced riders on groomer and deeper powder daysHas a playful merit to its high-performance abilitiesA great value option for those looking for an engaging ride on a budget
Rating Categories Never Summer Proto... K2 Alchemist Yes. Optimistic United Shapes Cadet Jones Frontier
Edging (25%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
Float in Powder (20%)
6.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
Stability at Speed (20%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
Playfulness (20%)
9.0
6.0
8.0
9.0
7.0
Pop and Jumping (15%)
8.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Specs Never Summer Proto... K2 Alchemist Yes. Optimistic United Shapes Cadet Jones Frontier
Riding Style All Mountain Freestyle Big mountain Alternative Freeride Freeride All Mountain
Shape True Twin Directional Directional Directional Directional
Camber/Rocker Camber/Rocker/Camber Rocker/Camber Hybrid-Rocker/Camber Camber Hybrid-Rocker/Camber
Flex Medium Stiff Stiff Medium Medium Stiff
Weight 6.45 lbs 6.8 lbs 6.2 lbs 6.22 lbs 6.44 lbs
Tested Length 155 cm 157 cm 151 cm 156 cm 159 cm
Available Lengths (cm) 149, 152, 155, 158, 161, 157X, 160X, 163, 159DF, 162DF 154, 157, 159W, 160, 163, 164W 151, 154, 157, 161 144, 152.5, 156, 159, 162 152,156,158W,159,161W,162,164W, 165, 167W
Construction Type Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich
Core Material NS Superlight Wood Bamboo, Carbon, Wood Carbon-wrapped wood A11x (poplar, bamboo) Wood
Waist Width 25.5 cm 25.0 cm 26.6 cm 25.6 cm 25.4 cm
Radius 7.426 7.8 6.5 m 7.5 m 7.5 m
Taper 0 mm 6 mm 6 mm 20 mm 0 mm

Our Analysis and Test Results

Previously dubbed the Proto Type Two, Never Summer has rechristened this board as the Proto Synthesis. The new board has two major changes: it has a new camber profile, and it no longer has the asymmetrical sidecut. It uses Shockwave camber which offers more camber and reduces the amount of rocker in between the feet than its predecessor. This model is designed to excel in all mountain conditions with a character that anyone can ride. It's easy to turn, reliable, and fun, making it perfect for an all-mountain freestyle approach. The Proto Synthesis would be a great fit for a weekend warrior or everyday rider looking to progress quickly and have fun in all disciplines of snowboarding.

Performance Comparison


never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: LAREDO

Edging


The Never Summer Proto Synthesis had one of the most fun turning styles in the review. The board's cambered tip and tail allowed it to drive through turns, while the tight sidecut and rockered middle allowed the board to disengage to slash the lip of the quarter pipe. The blended multiple radius sidecut allows the board to excel at short and medium radius turns.


While turning, the board flex feels fluid and powerful. The turn finish is spring-like and accelerated our testers across the slope. This thing can make some strong turns that are generally easy to enter and exit. It performed long radius turns comfortably, but it is not the main edging style of this board. When the conditions get firm, the blended sidecut and camber provide adequate edge hold on the hardpack. The Proto Synthesis has a slightly above-average waist width and can maintain easy and relatively fast edge transitions, managing toe and heel drag for the average size foot to lay down deep trenches. This board comes in standard, wide, and drag-free options to minimize toe drag no matter your shoe size. The above-average waist width still maintained agile movement in bumpy conditions. The Proto Synthesis is capable on-piste or off-piste terrain with accurate edging and plenty of dampening. The Proto provides a very maneuverable, stable, and playful edging style.

never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: LAREDO

Float in Powder


This model is a generalist, and float in powder is where some of the tradeoffs are felt. This particular hybrid profile where the camber is toward the tips doesn't provide effortless floatation, nor does it persistently dive.


The rocker helps to partially mitigate the camber's tendency to dive, thus keeping the board afloat and providing adequate floatation with all amounts of speed. This board held its own in open terrain to make high-speed powder turns. In testing, we found it nimble in powder and trees, although not the best in the review. For it to excel in powder, we would like to see an extra insert added, which would allow riders to set the stance further back on the board to get more natural rise out of the nose. Overall, the Proto provides sufficient and fun performance in this metric and would get the job done. We are happy to bring this out for those 6-8 inch days but would want more float for anything more.

Stability at Speed


The camber stretching toward the contact points provides a stable platform that excels at the quick edge-to-edge movement straight down the fall line. For high-speed long arcing turns, our testers felt secure but preferred the Proto's quick edge-to-edge movement.


This board offers a very damp ride, dissipating small micro chatter before it was relayed to the rider. The dampening increases the stability, and it does a great job for a user-friendly, easy-flexing twin. The increased amount of camber makes it a touch stiffer and more stable than its predecessor, the Proto Type Two. In certain cases, tight sidecut boards can feel catchy when flat-based straightlining due to the contour of the line. The Vario sidecut is supposed to mitigate that. The board did not feel like it wanted to engage when flat-based, which is always confidence-inspiring. Our testing was inconclusive as to if this was the direct result of the Vario.

never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: LAREDO

Playfulness


The Proto Synthesis stands out for its playful nature. Versatility and overall fun are two essential aspects of this metric, and this excelled in both. It's one of the best generalists around and can do well in every aspect of snowboarding you might find yourself in.


This model is effectively a quiver killer based on its versatility. Its ability to butter, pop, and turn all over the mountain created a fluid, springy, and poppy experience that made us want to take lap after lap. Riders of most ability levels can hop on this board and enjoy its benefits, as it's one of the most user-friendly boards that offers standout performance. Our testers enjoyed being able to do everything on this board which created a fun experience. In the end, that's what it is all about, enjoying every turn, ollie, and tweak. The Proto Synthesis is one of the best boards for that.

never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: LAREDO

Pop and Jumping


The hybrid profile of the Never Summer Proto Synthesis gives both the benefits and drawbacks of each camber type. The rockered middle section loses some of the energy in translation to pop off the camber, which impacts the popping capability and height. However, the fluid and softer flexing pattern throughout the middle of the board makes it easier to pop, requiring less loading and popping faster for newer riders. The cambered tip and tail provide great pop and loading potential. The Proto provided a crisp and fast popping style.


Once you snap that quick ollie, you can feel confident in landing on the Proto, as it's set up for landing security. The camber and twin profile give you a larger margin for backseat landing. These two characteristics give you more connectivity and support when landing. When you look between your feet and the Proto, you can feel at ease when popping and landing.

never summer proto synthesis snowboard review
Credit: LAREDO

Value


The Proto Synthesis is a great value due to its high performance, versatility, and durability. This model was a solid contender in every category and was a blast to ride. The high-quality materials and US handmade construction increase the chances it will last. Every Never Summer board our tester has ridden or owned has been incredible in terms of durability. These things are built tough.

Conclusion


Simply put, buy it and you won't regret it. The Never Summer Proto Synthesis is an incredible generalist. You may have heard the saying "Jack of all trades, master of none"; only the first half of that saying applies to the Proto. It is a master within the metrics of edging and playfulness. Its flex and Vairo sidecut offers a stable and powerful yet playful turning experience in all conditions. The flex pattern and camber profile make this one of the most playful and fun boards in the review. Back the performance with the quality construction, and you have a great deal. If you're looking for a fun, well-rounded everyday board to progress on, the Proto Synthesis is a great choice.

never summer proto synthesis snowboard review - carving corduroy on the proto synthesis.
Carving corduroy on the Proto Synthesis.
Credit: Isaac Laredo

Isaac Laredo
 
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