I've been following this thread for a few months, thought I'd chime in with my first post:
Me: 39yrs old, 5'10", 175lbs | 19yrs on a board | Based in Colorado, hit Utah, Jackson and Baldface every year
Boards ridden: Burton (Customs and CX, BMC, Vapor, Fish, UnIncs) | LibTech Rice BTX | Never Summer (Heritage, SL, Proto CT)
Terrain: Trees, Back Country, Groomers, Powder. I spend the majority of my resort time seeking out hidden stashes in the trees, mixing in hotlaps on groomers here and there. Backcountry of Jackson, Utah spots and Baldface is as you'd expect: steep, deep and looking for/dealing with all things that present themselves.. cliffs, rocks, downed trees.. hell I think there are some buried snowcats and lodges at Baldface.
Board Reviewed: NS Proto CT 160 (Bindings: Burton Cartel Restricted | Boots: Burton Ion)
Boards and Me: After riding Airs and Brushies in the early 90s, I was drawn to the responsiveness and charging capabilities of the BMC and CustomX's. The longer UnIncs began to sway me that a more playful board could still charge. I was one of the few that REALLY liked the Vapor, I thought it was the perfect all-around board (price was just stupid). I said what the hell and jumped on the rocker bandwagon in the form of the TRice BTX and hated it. I thought it was dead, chattered like hell, gave me no confidence and high speed and was a tank in the trees. Moved over to NS and loved the SL first time I rode it. Decided on the Heritage last year because I had some backcountry trips lined up, it didn't dissapoint - I'm sold on NS's advancements in the last couple of years. If there's a way to make a capped, RC board, blunted tips and set back just a wee bit.. I'd buy 2.
Why I purchased the Proto CT: I rode a NS Heritage 158 last year. Spending many of my resort days with my 7yr old, I decided I wanted a board a little more flexible and playful but enough edge and dampness to charge down the steep stuff and capable of handling the snorkle-deep stuff at Baldface.
Review location: Copper Mountain
Conditions: Hard pack, no new snow. Bullet proof in the morning, softening in the afternoon.
First Impression: This board feels "extra-engineered", meaning.. it feels like the guys at NS are stepping into the next phase of their RC technology. Compared to the Heritage and SL of last year, the Proto CT gives me the sense that NS is realizing that RC by itself was good, but they're now exploiting RC with increased attention to materials, geometries..etc. The Proto CT flex pattern is playful, but you can easily put it on a rails and drive through steep, choppy stuff with that NS dampness we all love. The board is torsionally flexible giving the rider a greater ability of weight/edge control compared to the stiffer Heritage. Compared to the SL, the ProtoCT feels snappier off the tail, yet easier to butter. Once again I attribute this to the advancements in RC exploitation; the ProtoCT is "soft" in precisely the right places, allowing the rider to really "fine-tune" those moments of weight shifting. Example: Coming out of a butter at a high rate of speed, you can feel the board transition from "soft" to "stiff" in a pronounced way. The SL was similarly responsive in this manner, the ProtoCT just feels THAT much more dialed-in in my opinion.
- Groomers: Early morning and everything is bullet proof. First couple of runs I was smearing my tail around until I managed to figure out the how to engage a turn with my weight dialed-in. Once I figured it out, the ProtoCT performed well. The CF struts are apparent underfoot, not like the Heritage which is too stiff to really "feel" the end of the camber points. The SL is comparable, but the ProtoCT just provides greater feel. You can rail this thing on some of the iciest stuff you could find, you just need to tune into your weight transfer and engage your edges by pressing out to engage the contact points. Same could be said of all RC boards, but again.. the ProtoCT really allows you to fine tune this through more pronounced "feel". Unlike the TRice BTX, where the rocker made me less and less confident as I increased speed, the ProtoCT almost felt like a full camber board as the speed and steep increased. The flexibility allowed me to pull my knees in quickly to initiate quick turns and push out with confidence to hold it on it's edge with no wash out.
- Flat Land: The forgiveness of rocker is widely apparent on the flats, but the classic NS dampening keeps the chattering down and gives you the sense that at "flat" you're still on the majority of your base (even on the 160). Buttering is breeze, but snappy.. I didn't have to huck out of a butter as I have with more flexible boards. Ollie's are precise and snappy as the rider can feel the tail load. Anyone who rode the Vapor (and liked it) will like the smooth transition as the tail loads and you feel the weight transfer beyond the back foot with no effort at all. The SL was similar in snap, but less "dynamic", the Heritage just rockets you straight and you're up in the air before you know it (CustomX was very similar). If you rode any of the UnIncs, the ratio of snap to flexibility is similar when talking flat'ish ground and initiating ollies off smaller features. As a datapoint, many of the people I know riding Yes boards say the same of those.. (UnInc -> Yes.. so it makes sense)
- Trees: I didn't have much to work with, saplings poking through everywhere. Where there were tracks, the ProtoCT turned tightly. From reading this forum, the majority of readers go for smaller boards than I do. A ProtoCT in 157 would destroy in the trees where tight turns and responsiveness is key. The flexibility between the bindings allows you to pull your back leg up in an instanct, without sacrificing balance. The torsional flex really stands out as superior to the Heritage and SL, you can initiate quick turns and slower speeds and still keep your toe-edge intact at the front. After adjusting the ankle strap on my back binding (moving it down to the lowest position on the heelcup), I gained another level of control in the areas of tight, quick turns.
- Powder: NONE. Only thing worth mentioning here would be my assumption that the blunted tips, specifically the nose didn't leave me feeling like there was any risk of submarining in the deep stuff. The fact that the ends are soft enough and the placement of the rocker suggested to me, even though I was only in 4"-6" of powder, the nose would float just fine.
- Park: I'm 39, have a good paying job and two kids. I'd like to say I don't ride park because I don't want to wait in line. The truth is, I don't want to wait in line only to skip all the rails, flail off the hip and throw a vintage 1993 Jamie Lynn method off the kicker to the snickers of 100 kids who weren't even alive in 1993. Also, I'm afraid of getting hurt.