The Korua Pencil’s got that look. Pointy nose, moontail—it’s alternative. And alternative is trending these days. Boards that feel a bit different underfoot, float a bit better in pow, maybe carve a bit harder than your conventional all-mountain snowboard.
But the thing about alternative boards, is they sometimes feel sketchy in critical situations. That floaty, oversized nose can hook in chopped-up powder. Tiny, tapered tails that feel great when wiggling through the trees don’t give enough drive and hold when pointing through steeps.
After riding a Pencil 159 for a full season—mostly at Mt. Baker Ski Area, WA—I’m happy to say it maximizes the benefit of progressive shapes while minimizing the negatives. To be honest, I’ve ridden a variety of boards at Baker, and rarely have I kept the non-standard shapes underfoot for more than a day or two. The novelty would wear off, I’d get bucked in the chop, and I’d revert to a more traditional freeride shape.
The Pencil, on the other hand, felt great in both moderately-angled pow fields and on occasional forays into those Baker-classic billy goat lines. It handled the Cascade chunk with ease, and its voluminous front half only became less-than-ideal once the mountain was truly tracked out. On those perfect powder mornings, I’d be gliding past wallowers in the flats en route to first tracks and finding maneuverability and playfulness in the steeps with enough surefootedness to remain confident.
A relatively skinny waist and camber underfoot, snappy sidecut and early rise in the nose are all things I love in a board, regardless of its shape. The Pencil has all this, plus extra float and a bit more swivel thanks to its shape. The waist isn’t too wide for my size 8 boot, either. The only real negative I found was that sometimes, with all that surface area up front, you need to stay on it with waxing—unless I had a fresh tune, it’d get a bit slow on the lower half of the mountain when it was powder up high and above freezing down low. That said, I was riding the “classic” red-based version, not the black-based Pencil Plus version, and the Korua crew tells me they’ve updated the base material for this winter to mitigate those concerns. Additionally, although it can be ridden fakie, it’s admittedly not a freestyle-first board. I’d consider bringing along a twin-ish shape for hit laps if you have that luxury (and if you want to complete the Korua quiver, the Otto and Tranny Finder both fit the bill).
All in all, the Pencil is what it claims to be—an all-around ride that works in most snow conditions, which excels in fresh powder, and can hang everywhere from mellow cruisers to steep and rowdy lines.
The Korua Pencil snowboard comes in three sizes—147, 159 and 164—and runs €449 (just over $500 USD). It’s available at koruashapes.com and at select retailers in North America. Step up to the Pencil Plus with a faster base and upgraded core and topsheet for €699 (around $792 USD).
ABOUT THE TESTER
Weight: 150 lbs
Years riding: 28
Home mountain: Mt. Baker Ski Area
Riding style: fall line/aggressive