In 1977, Mike Olson took advantage of his middle school shop class to bolt some straps onto a board. He took that board out to the mountains and rode it. Thus, Mervin Manufacturing was born. Today, Mervin is the oldest snowboard company in the US that still manufactures stateside. Mervin’s Lib Technologies has been on the forefront of snowboarding innovation for decades, developing both Magne-traction and Banana Tech. (Mervin was purchased by Quicksilver, but remains as MENTAL as ever.)
With splitboarding on the rise as a method to access backcountry stashes, Lib Tech had to get into the game. They developed their first for illustrious pro-rider Travis Rice for the 2011-2012 season. Since then, the T.Rice Pro Model Splitboard is joined by a split Skunk Ape and Lib Tech’s first split-specific model, the Wingman.
Wanting to do a thorough Lib Tech Wingman splitboard review, we took it out on a recent hut trip in the 10th Mountain Division’s Fowler-Hilliard Hut. Our route started in Red Cliff, Colorado, at 8,750’ ASL and rose to 11,500’ at the hut. With the odd winter we’ve had, the Wingman experienced widely variable conditions both on the way up and on short day tours around the hut.
The Wingman incorporates all of Lib Tech’s innovative features. We’ve ridden versions of their Banana Tech on both the T.Rice Pro Model and the Skunk Ape, but this was the first time we’d tried it on a splitboard. Verdict? Woo-freakin’-hoo! The most fun we have had on a splitboard yet! The Wingman uses BTX, which is the most rockered Banana Tech. It has deeper rocker in the middle and less camber under each foot compared to the T.Rice and Skunk Ape.
Magne-traction is basically a steak knife for snowboard edges – the edges are scalloped or serrated. It saved our ass (or maybe knees) on some sketchy snow and helps keep an edge while touring. Magne-traction works helps keep an edge when on harder snow and ice. Some say it may cause a little grippyness in powder, but we have not found that to be a problem.
Lib Tech’s build quality is top notch. We love that these are hand made in the USA. The Wingman is constructed with a paulownia and aspen wood core. It also incorporates Lib Tech’s basalt fiber technology for pop and a Bio-plastic Beans top sheet for beauty. What does that mean for you? It means it saves weight, is eco friendly and creates one heck of a great ride!
We encountered all kinds of snow and ice on our trip and the board handled it with ease. It toured up like a champ and the Magne-traction helped keep an edge on icier sections. Once we got to the top and transitioned to ride mode, the Lib Tech really shined. We were treated to 2ft of fresh snow just above tree line. The board rode like a dream, slashing and soul surfing. The board felt alive! It had pop, stability and effortless float. What more could you ask for?
The Lib Tech Wingman uses Karakoram clips (our preferred hardware) to hold the board halves together, so it matched up nicely with our Karakoram Prime bindings. All in all, this board is our new favorite. We have tested many Lib Tech boards over the years and they always treat us well. This one delivered the goods and left a smile on our faces! Thanks to Bent Gate for letting us test the Wingman out!
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