Product Review – Lib Tech Waterboard

No B.S. Review



There is no doubt that the surfboard manufacturing industry has seen some massive change over the past few years.  Unimaginable technological gains, new radical shapes, new materials, and volume calculators, are just a few of the worthy mentions…from that – many, many valuable failures/lessons/trends have emerged, and a slew of amazing surf-riding craft have been created and enjoyed around the globe.  However, aside from wood, polyester and EPS/Epoxy; riders have been fairly limited to the materials used in the overall construction of a board.  Sure, there are some boards that are custom built using more advanced materials. But for the most part, 90% of the boards on the market contain roughly the same building materials.  We have been lucky to have some newer companies taking the lead and making progress, but they can only do so much.  What we have been lacking, is an established manufacturer who is willing to take a new look at what we build our boards with, and how to do it better/different that what we have available to us now…I'm glad to say, that time has finally come.  Mike Olson is the magic man behind the movement, and his already well-known company and amazing staff at his Lib Tech facility, are opening eyes and blowing minds with their new approach to the the way we manufacture and ride surfboards!  It is our honor to introduce you to Lib Tech's new and exciting line of Waterboards (a.k.a. – surfboards).

Lib's Mike Olson and Jeff Henderson dissected every design and manufacturing processes that influenced the modern surfboard.  They wanted to build an eco-friendly quiver of sleds that would surf well,address surfers' biggest wants/needs, while still leaving room to “shake things up” a bit and to see if they could provide us consumers with another; perhaps better option…for the purpose of this review, Lib sent us a 5'10” Bowl to sink our teeth into.

Aside from the bowl, lib offers a few other models – all purpose built and engineered for maximum fun.  The Ramp and Vert series both host attractive lines and provide additional solutions to different waves and set-ups.  However, no matter what Lib board you go with, all come standard with some new, and very notable features:


2D2D Volcanic Organic Basalt Honeycomb Technology: Lib Tech is the first to use Basalt in surfboard design. Volcanic Organic Basalt Honeycomb Technology is an incredibly strong, impact resistant layering of fibers that withstands heel kicks, has no additives, and is extremely lively underfoot. This technology is 2D2D, Dang Difficult to Ding!



The Powerpop Airspring Foam Core: A lightweight foam composed of an exclusive closed cell alloy formula that WILL NOT ABSORB WATER, has elastic qualities like a trampoline, contains up to 50% recycled content, and uses ozone friendly blowing agents. 100% of the off-cut foam produced while shaping is then recycled into new blanks. This is a new foam formula that didn't exist a year ago.

high-rebound-matrix-100x100LVR43 High Rebound Matrix: Instead of toxic industry-standard polyester resin or old-fashioned epoxy, Olson created LVR43 High Rebound Matrix, a chemistry that has higher elongation, extreme ding resistance,and responsive rebound.


Elastomatrix Perimeter 2D2D Dampening Web: Rails are wrapped in rubberized metallic fibers to give the boards a silky smooth ride even in choppy conditions and also 2D2D. Lib Tech Leash Plug: It's still just a leash plug, but it's different. Lib Tech's newly designed leash plug featuring an anodized 6061 T6 aircraft aluminum pin that will never rust and a super lightweight fiber-composite cup.

mo-box-systems-100x100 MO BOX Fin System: To increase the adjustability of fin placement, all Waterboards feature Lib Tech's new MO BOX fin system and come with four of Lib Tech's new Maximum Intensity Leading Foil (M.I.L.F) fins, including a smaller trailer fin. The user has the freedom to adjust their fin to the fore or aft by 5/8th of an inch, creating a personalized fin setup for different conditions and styles of wave riding. The fin boxes are chemically and physically integrated into the board, and fit both Lib Tech's new M.I.L.F Fin System, and the FCS fin system.

Mervin Manufacturing is actually the home of Lib Tech, GNU and Bent Metal. This has created a powerhouse of resources and inspiration and houses some of the world's leading designers and manufacturers of snowboarding,surfing and skateboarding products…the perfect location to re-invent a surfboard!

images (1)

Mervin Manufacturing was founded by Mike Olson and Pete Saari in 1977, with much of the original financing to build snowboards coming from the profits Mike made from shaping surfboards for his Near Canadian cold water surfing brethren!!!  They are one of the most Eco-conscious companies we have partnered with and hopefully their Greener model and products will inspire others to go in that direction.

The Waterboard is a culmination of three decades spent surfing and experimenting with Eco-radical watercraft by Lib Tech founder, chief surfboard designer, and composites guru, Mike Olson. Generated through Isotropic conFusion, the Waterboard is a homogeneous gathering of 31 classified Eco materials and components. Mike has stated that “Every material used is completely new to surfboards. Every technique is completely unique—to any industry. It's not only a new way of making surfboards, it's a whole new way to make anything.” These new environMENTALLY nicer technologies need no sandpaper, paint brushes, tape, or solvents except water…AMAZING STUFF!!!


First off, in-person this board is quite impressive just to look at!  To most of us board addicts, any new surfboard is eye catching. However, the Lib board just jumps off the rack and it's beauty seems to be most accentuated by it's elegant engineered look and the vibrant materials that pop.  The Basalt Honeycomb Technology provides a really standout webbed look, and the rubberized metallic material used on the rails gives the board a handsome and functional finish that will draw you in and dance in the sunlight…Note: If Spider Man surfed, this would be his board!  Everyone who saw this board had to ask what it was made of and commented on how cool it looked!!!



In hand, the board feels great.  It has a slightly less traditional finish but it holds wax great and the texture under foot feels solid and locked in.  As you run your hands down the rails, the lines feel fast and flow seamlessly from nose to tail.  There is a slightly wider belly and hip section on the Bowl, but Lib managed to blend the foam into and out of the transitions impeccably well.  This gives the board a lot more versatility than the standard Groveler type board and allows you to step up and manage bigger conditions on the same board if they arise.  They also used great precision and care when addressing “little things” such as integrating grab rails in to the design.  These add some rigidity and more importantly – super functional contact points for duck diving or technical rail grabs.  Some of the other visibly noticeable upgrades (or “Libgrades” as we now call them in our office) are: the leash plug – It just looks cool and do to the materials used, unlike any other on the market, and their “dang difficult to ding” slogan which is no joke.  Once we discovered just how tough these boards are, we probably got a bit more carried away than we should have testing the durability of this board (Testing Included: both big and small {and very cold} waves, large and small rocks/boulders, and treacherous reef passes…It also managed to defend itself from an airsoft gun, an angry pit bull, and even some full blown Mike Tyson style punches from our resident tough guys on staff!).  Before writing this review, we stripped the wax and the board still surprisingly looks and rides like it's brand new!

Even if this board didn't surf well, at this point I would still wholeheartedly endorse it for being incredibly durable and almost indestructible! Simply put…they really are ”Dang Difficult to Ding”!!!


sideview of rocker

Underarm, the board is well balanced and nicely weighted.  What I liked most was that it felt solid and it did not sound hollow, twangy, or dampened inside.  Certainly the most standout feature is the hollowed out deck section.  This exaggerated dimple in the board's surface was engineered and purposed built to reduce rib pain; while also giving the rider a closer connection to the surface of the water.  It's a cool concept and again illustrates Lib's commitment to change and trying new things in the spirit of the evolution of the surfboard and surf industry.

In the water, this board is not nearly as buoyant as I anticipated. Unlike many/most of my EPS based boards, the Lib board sits a lot more like a traditional all-poly stick.   However, right off the bat it paddled surprisingly well and the deck hollow allows the board to hug you like a bucket seat in a sports car.  It also acts as a displacement hull which made paddling in bigger and choppy surf easier and faster than usual. Overall, I found the deck concave useful and refreshing – going as far to say that it provided a certain sense of added security and/or confidence when laying flat on my stomach.



It also reminded me how much I miss the buoyancy of my old poly boards.  I think being a bit lower in the water helps with late take offs in more powerful surf.  I also think it aids in translating what is going on under, around, and behind you when in the water. The Lib board seems to have found a happy medium with their solid blend of old and new.

Once up and riding, the deck hollow once again proves it's value – first providing the rider with a predictive landing spot for their feet, and secondly, providing a cleaner/clearer connection to the wave and energy below your feet.  My center of gravity also felt just a bit lower than usual (which I liked), and I did not feel like I had to step out of the “sweet spot” created by the concave at anytime.  As you continue down the line on this board, many new sensations quickly emerge and start to take over.  The board is lightning fast out of the gate and it takes little to no effort to generate speed pretty much on-demand.  One of the most significant changes in the ride; when comparing a Lib Waterboad to any other surfboard on the market, is the vibration reduction you feel under foot.  We tested the Bowl on both glassy and choppy days, and any chatter seems to be almost non existent – creating a close to silent slide/ride!  I would compare it to an air ride suspension system in a car – like being on a cloud!!!  It made for a really comfortable and forgiving ride in any conditions and provided an extra stable platform to work from.  I sound old, but my back and knees also seemed to benefit from the positive effects.

Once up to full speed, throwing your first turn is a memorable experience to say the least.  All of our test pilots pretty much had the same reaction…all stating they have never thrown so much water, and noting how smooth the ride was, and how effortless it was to stomp on the breaks and re-direct at full combat speed.

This board coils up and releases energy similar to a board with a Parabolic frame. However, it felt a bit more dynamic and powerful; allowing the rider to really feel what every square foot was doing, and engage with the whole board – not just the rails, stringers, and fins.  I still love my other boards, but this Lib board offers a really fun new ride and it packs a hell of a punch.  It's rare I have the power to blow out my tail on a top turn but the Lib board had me throwing fins like a pro!  Once you get a few waves on this deck you quickly realize how user friendly it is, and how it does most of the hard work for you…just point your head and shoulders in the direction you want to go, and this board will put you anywhere you want to be!  Bottom turns are energetic and engaging, and I felt like I could drive off the trough a bit harder than usual by simply digging in to the concave deck with my toes or heels a bit more than I would on any of my other boards.

Screen shot 2012-06-08 at 1.41.42 PM

This added some more bite and leverage and made a big difference with the vertical climb.  Cutbacks were silky smooth and the board felt equally comfortable on longer, drawn out turns; or when tackling sharper/violent changes in direction.  This thing also loved the barrel and the channels on the rail made late backside drop-in's and deep barrel attacks effortless and easy to manage.  Simple adjustments on the face or in the green room just seemed easier and more controlled due to the grab rails.  I also felt that they provided a critical solution to proper hand positioning for power turns, aerial grabs, and duck diving.  Note: They are a duck diving dream and I now want them on all my boards!!!

Lib offers both thruster and five fin set ups with their boards and what I loved was that they didn't stop their quest for change at just the board.  Their R&D efforts continued to trickle down when approaching the fin boxes and fins themselves.  Lib once again showed us how some simple out-of-the-box thinking and initiative can be such an influential game changer.   Their Mo Box Fin System is an all inclusive suite that allows riders to customize and adjust their fin placement, size, and ride.  All Lib Tech Waterboards feature Lib Tech's new MO BOX fin system and come with four of Lib Tech's new Maximum Intensity Leading Foil (M.I.L.F – love it!) fins, including a smaller trailer fin.Riders can adjust the fins fore or aft by as much as ⅝” of an inch.  If you like playing with fin set ups and configurations, this board is the never ending gobstopper of options.  I experimented with the system quite a bit and actually took a lot away from it.  It's great for a hands-on education regarding the way foils work and affect your surfboard and performance in the water…it would really be a great teaching aid for a surf camp!  Additionally, the fin boxes chemically and physically integrated into the board, and fit both Lib Tech's new OEM M.I.L.F Fin System, and the FCS fin system.


Screen shot 2012-06-08 at 1.12.43 PMIn conclusion, I have to say that our entire staff was very, very impressed with the Lib board.  Not only did it perform incredibly well in the sea trials we put it through, but it exceeded all of our expectations from a durability and aesthetic standpoint as well.  Being a more eco-friendly option that is Made here in the good ol' USA was just the cherry on top – just more reasons everyone needs one in their quiver.  I don't say it a lot, but this is definitely one of those boards I would confidently suggest you should make your next buy…even if you have to trade in some of your old sticks to get it, you won't be disappointed!  Aside from riding and holding up well, the Bowl series is coming in at a fairly competitive price: $696.96-$767.69 (Prices vary depending on graphics options – we got a standard logo on our board but they have some amazing art you can add to any of their decks!).  You also need to consider that the board comes with 4 incredibly engineered and well designed fins.  These days, a board that comes with any fins at that price point is almost unheard of…let alone a high tech pair that match the set.


Lastly, I have to mention how much we enjoy and appreciate Lib's unique marketing.  They have taken a slightly more humorous and less traditional approach to what is normally found on the market, but it works well, draws you in, and like their boards…leaves you with a smile from ear to ear!  Don't let the humor throw you off, these board are highly engineered wave catching machines and we are confident they will be around for many years to come.  Be sure to check out Lib/Mervin's entire line of amazing boards today and get a look and taste of the future.  As always, thanks for reading and be sure to tell a friend…

– Shaper

User Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
(No Ratings Yet)

Speak Your Mind