Lib Tech Surfboards, the perfect travel boards?

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A unsponsored review on  “dang difficult to ding” Lib Tech Surfboards

thefreesurfer.com balangan bali lib tech surfboards

Lib Tech Surfboards are not cheap, but they promise to be “dang difficult to ding”! Is this the travel board we were all looking for?

 

Do Lib Tech Surfboards work? Yes, once you get used to it.

Are they stronger than a standard PU board? In theory, Yes.

Do they feel better than a Epoxy board? Yes, for sure.

 

So do I need to read the rest?

Well… only if you’re interested how I feel about them, after putting one (or two) to a real praxis-test.

Why would you care what I think about it?

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I live far away from the ocean. Surfing always includes traveling for me. Many flights, bus rides, tuk-tuks, boats, or motorbikes. My equipment goes through the hands of many people who couldn’t care less about it.

Surfing became an essential part of my life and almost dictated it over the last ten years. But as I see everything in life as a decision, I choose to surf a lot.

Being a traveling surfer has nothing to do with your background, with how good you surf, or with the color of your passport, but is simply a path some of us chose to be their way of living for a certain time.

This lifestyle means, we need to trust our skills and instincts. But just as much, we need to trust our stuff. We live out of our bags for months at a time or even the whole year. We’ve got the time and chance to test every part of our equipment to the max, and we find out what is standing the test of time.

But even having a strong board bag, the boards go through a lot with all the traveling. However, what I really want to talk about is: The perfect travel board.

thefreesurfer.com boards

Having a traditional glassed PU-board can easily be fixed everywhere around the world, but it needs a lot of fixing. An alternative could be an Epoxy board, but they never felt good under my feet. Especially in less than perfect conditions, what disqualifies them as a travel board. But then, maybe around four or five years ago, I saw a kid in Pavones, Costa Rica, who went crazy on a greyish board. I asked him what it is, and he showed me his LibTech. I saw it for the first time but was excited and impressed.

I remember when LibTech started to produce Snowboards and from the beginning on, they were fantastic! So I had to do a little research and I found out a couple of things about these boards:

They are produced in a much more environmentally friendly way than regular boards. They are not as stiff as Epoxy, no, they’ve got even more flex than any other board. And they are as they say: “Dang difficult to ding!” In the promo video, you see a car driving over it! As they claim, it is incredibly difficult to ding it, having a crack or a hole in it, and if you ever would…half as bad, as the foam inside the board doesn’t soak water! Never again pressure dings or spider cracks!

The perfect travel board! Now I only had to get my hands on one. This was a difficult mission, as they don’t produce massive quantities. I finally got one, put it in the bag, and off I went.

 

Round 1
thethefreesurfer.com k59 el salvador lib tech surfboards

Fun waves, fun board

I was excited like a two-year-old after his first ever ice cream, and took it to El Salvador to test it in all those perfect, flawless and mellow point breaks.

The first couple of waves felt really weird, and I lost all my speed in the bottom turns. But I knew that these boards need a little time to get used to, and kept surfing it. By then, I haven’t been in the water for a few months, so I couldn’t really tell if it’s the board, or me. However, after two to three days, I realized that I don’t struggle any longer with my bottom turn. No, I came shooting out of it every time. I didn’t notice how I learned to use the flex, but I somehow just did, and loved it! The board felt great, and I was happy to have a board I can finally trust again. The only disturbing thing was, it already had some huge pressure dings on top. Either from sitting on it, or simply from surfing, I couldn’t tell. (On their homepage, they say that this would never happen with their boards.)

After surfing it for a couple of weeks on those mellow points and small beach breaks, it had a crack cross the whole bottom of the board, some weird pressure dings, and parts of the board started to turn yellow!

I was pissed off! It was an expensive board, and as good as it felt, it was not what they sold it for!

LibTech @thefreesurfer.com

How it looked after around five weeks of surfing

Round 2
thefreesurfer.com k59 el salvador

The day to find out, if it works in real waves.

I had the board fixed with Epoxy, and it felt good again. Of course, it was heavier than before, but I couldn’t really tell the difference when I surfed it. Again, I mainly surfed it in small and mellow waves but tried it on a few bigger days as well. It felt really good, what qualifies it as a great all round board for me.

But after a few weeks, the area where I had fixed it, started to crack on the other side (on the deck this time). I knew that if I keep surfing it, it won’t make it much longer.

For the second time, I tried to get in touch with the right people from Lib Tech. This time not through the distributor, but straight with the people at the factory.

Getting in contact with the person in charge was incredibly difficult, and their representatives in some countries might don’t care much. Once I finally spoke to the right person, it got replaces, as they said something had to be wrong with it.

Round 3
thefreesurfer.com hiriketiya

Frame-grab from a great day with small waves somewhere in Sri Lanka

This time I took it to Sri Lanka and was surprised how many Lib Tech boards I saw in the water! That was in late 2016, and maybe they found better distributors. Or maybe Sri Lanka is the kind of place where Lib Tech owners like to surf. Again, the waves were super mellow. It was the perfect testing ground for many of the alternative and small wave models they’ve got.

As I was looking for a travel board, I wanted a performance shortboard, which works in as many conditions as possible, and I found it in the “Air e ola.”

Now I surfed it for around four months. I surfed it in waves so small, I could barely paddle in, and put it to the test on a few bigger days. I had fun with it on fat and slow Weligama waves, and got barreled on it in Indonesia. It flew on planes many times so far, made countless Kilometers in Indonesian Motorbike-boardracks, on the roof of Tuk-tuk’s in Sri Lanka, on Sumatra’s Ferry’s and took several Indian Ocean beatings.

How did it look after three months?

thefreesurfer.com Lib Tech waterboards

A few small cracks and pressure dings on top after three months is not too bad

After three months, the color has changed to a slightly more yellow tone. There were some pressure dings where my front foot is, plus weird pressure dings in front of the tail pad. It had a couple of cracks on top, probably from bending and flexing, and one of them opened up a little. But it actually looked still pretty good!

I thought you could say that it is: “Dang difficult to ding” !

BUT after three months, it started do delaminate under my front foot, and it cracked pretty bad next to the fin-box. The fin-box is nothing I would complain about, as I hit a reef and it could have been worse. But the delamination came just from surfing, and surprised me a lot. I brought the board to Naruki in Bali, a guy/ shop that fixes countles boards on every day of the year. He said that he’s seen his share of broken Lib Tech boards, and that delamination is nothing so uncommon with them. “Of course they are stronger than a PU-board”, he said, “but every board is breakable, and Lib Tech boards are just not as strong as they claim to be!”

lib tech waterboards thefreesurfer.com ding delaminated

How the board looked after four months. The bubble on the right side is the delamination I’ve been talking about.

I had it fixed once again and still surf it on most days. To me, it feels great in the water, works in all kinds of conditions, and is a board I can recommend as a travel board, as much as your everyday board for home. The delamination is something I’m highly dissatisfied with, and from what I heard, I’m not the only one with that problem. Other than that, I definitely like it a lot.

The only thing I don’t understand is, why they had to make there own finboxes, which in my opinion are not that great. You can use FCS I fins, or the fins that come for free with most of their boards (which is great). But it is not the greatest fin system on the market.

 

Final round
thefreesurfer.com k59 el salvador

I hope the final round of this board is still far away. I like to surf it, and I’d like it to last.

 

But once it surfed its final wave, I can throw it away with less of a bad feeling than another board. 

 

They say that not only the production is more environmentally friendly, but recycling as well. This thanks to the introduction of new materials to surfboard production.

So these boards are more expensive than others, and it takes a few days to get used to it. But they should last longer, are better in production and recycling, and are much less sensitive to reefs, rocks and underpaid/unfriendly baggage handler. Plus they work well in all kinds of conditions (at least for me) and feel great.

What brings me to the conclusion that:

Lip Tech make great travel boards.

 

So I’d say: Check out all their models to see if one would fit what you fancy, and seriously think about it as your new travel buddy. I’m happy with mine, and I’ll keep it!

 

Pro

  • Light
  • Strong
  • Long lasting
  • Environmental friendly
  • Works in all kinds of waves
  • Absorbs no water if you ding it (apparently)

 

Contra

  • Expensive
  • Takes a few days to get used to
  • Not everyone knows how to fix it
  • Not the best Fin system
  • Not as strong as they claim it to be

 

 

 

 

25 thoughts on “Lib Tech Surfboards, the perfect travel boards?

  1. Sam

    I bought one. Broke in half after 3 months. The damage started with cracks going side ways.
    I contacted them and I did get a new sent for free.
    Surf it for 4 weeks. The same kind of cracks are starting again. Same spot. Around the middle.inam quite disappointed. False marketing

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  3. Nai

    I bought my first Lib-Tech (ShortRound 5’10”) last year and after 3 weeks of surfing it started to delam and got a lot of pressure dings.
    I returned the board and got a new one – anyway, after 7 days surfing the finbox broke + 3 big pressure dings.
    So I returned again and got now my thrid one; but unfortunaley the nose has a transport-damage. Really disappointing.

    However, I really like the idea of the “technology”, but the marketing is just b'”l*sh’*t.

    I would not recommend anybody to get one of these sticks.

    Unfortunately, I would not recommend these boards!

    1. Julian

      Did you contacted libtech directly for warranty or how did you managed it to get a new one returned? Have the same delamination and pressure Ding problems after just 4 weeks in Indonesia with my brand new short round. So frustrating…

      1. Pascal Post author

        Hey Julian,
        Naruki in Bali told me, he has seen this many times. These boards probably like tho cold water better?!
        Try to get in touch with Libtech through the contact they’ve got online. But this can be frustration too! It’s still a surprisingly small company (what I like), and not many people there do customer service. It took me a while to get to talk to them, and it was a mission get it replaced! I brought it to the distributer in my country to check it out. And a lot of back and forth, before they said my board had some manufactured errors (it also cracked surfing only small waves).
        Good luck, and I hope you still like your board and have fun with it?!

  4. Justin

    Thanks for the review. I just broke my puddle jumper lib tech in 5 foot surf. Only got maybe 80 waves on it total and only used it in small surf (5 feet or less). Lame! I have had ultra light poly boards last much longer and in bigger surf. Disappointing.

  5. Petter

    I have had a puddlejumper for a year and mine came with a spot of not hardend epoxy. Got som money back and kept the board. Brought it on a three month trip and it workt well untill it delaminated under front foot. Got it fixed and surfed it for a month more and now I have several cracks on and around the rails, the board is yellow and there is some strange soft spots on the deck that looks like the glasing have been sanded away. Quite worried! Like the puddlejumper shape alot!

    1. Pascal Post author

      It looks like everyone comes across the same issues?! My board is great to surf, but the whole delaminating-thing, and the cracks are not what i bought it for…

  6. Timothy Aghan

    These boards yellow faster than traditional construction. I had a lost short round that only ha about 7 sessions on it. It never sat in a car. Just in the water and back in the garage. It was turning yellow faster than PU Boards that got a lot more use.

  7. James

    Got the original Air E Ola model about 1.5 years ago. Am not in the water that much – more of a weekend warrior. The board started to slightly delam at the bottom after a year. It’s been on around 4 trips in generally mellow surf. Managed to crease it in Sumatra 2 weeks ago in 3-5 ft surf. The crease runs the length of the deck and stops at the rails.

    Am still a fan of this board except for its overstated durability in surf.

    Pascal any advice on how to repair? The ding repair dude wants to use epoxy and 2x8oz glass. Overkill?

    Want to rescue this board but questionable whether I’d purchase a new lib tech until they either improve the durability or scale down on the over-selling.

    1. Pascal Post author

      Hey James,
      i’m with you! I love my “Air e Ola”, but as you said, they are not as strong as they say!
      I had the same with my first Lib Tech. A crease across the bottom of the board. I had it fixed with Epoxy and a fair bit of glass. It did work, but of course it looses some of its flex. The main thing about such fixing is, that you don’t sand off anymore then you really need! Lib Tech don’t like sanding. What ever can be done with a blade is better.

  8. Travis Fitch

    Hey everyone.
    Its safe to admit that libtech has some serious false advertising going on. I bought my first libtech im january of this year for a trip to Puerto Rico. Surfed it for two weeks and returned home and de waxed it. It had squishy hexagon cells all over the top and at least 5 cracks across the stringer on deck. This summer the thing snapped in half on a three foot hurricane swell. So they sent me another one. Board came with the tip broken off from shipping damages. They said i had to get it fixed so i did. Surfed it for a couple weeks of firing east coast hurricane swell in September. Board is destroyed. Blown finbox, stringer cracks, delams. It really sucks! But im getting another one sent to me.

    1. Pascal Post author

      Seams like a lot of people have similar experiences?
      I hope they figure thins out, as I really liked the feel of it. I would love to get another one as a travel board, if they finally make them as strong as they say.

  9. Chris

    I bought the 5’9 puddle jumper over a year ago and never had any problems! Few tiny pressure dings near the tail and towards the middle from normal usage.

    Just a couple days ago i was getting out of the water it was a strong 5-7ft wave. Tried to get out of the water quickly on the rocky shore before another set came in. The strong under tow caught me up and i stumbled and dropped the board. Once i got to the car checked the board and saw a crack on the rail near the nose. Probably an area about 2×1/2″ is delaminated.

    Id recommend the board. It survived other drops and large waves! Im sure a pu board wouldnt hold up as well

  10. Palm Bay Bali

    Had 5 of these boards. All Lost shapes. All had the same issues. All got warranty. Sold them all. Back to regular EPS epoxy and PU boards for me.
    False advertising. Cool idea. They need to rethink the marketing and building of these boards.
    I recommend no one buys one of these. Better to get a Al Merrick EPS or Lost straight from the factory.
    Cheers
    Bali

  11. Erik

    Hi! Do you have a number to call Lib-Tech on for these kind of issues? I have a gotten a soft deck, too, under and in front of tail pad and underneath bum/middle of the board. Whem squeezing the soft parts tiny droplets poored out of the glassing. Shame because until I discovered that this was the ultimate travel board (short round 6’0″ surfed about 200 times). This was in Norway so same issue in cold waters:)

    Erik

  12. AW

    Great write up. What size Air did are you on, and what is your height / weight?? Im 5’11, 170 and have a 6’0 Ringer on the way to put in my bag for indo at the end of September. 29 is about the lowest volume I’ll go, but all the input I’ve been getting says indo waves are in a league of their own and its more about the performance elements of boards, not so much the size & volume that matter over there.
    Any more feedback on that would be appreciated

    Cheers-

    1. Pascal Post author

      Thanks,
      I had the Air e Ola 5″11′. I’m around your hight and a few kgs lighter. Indo has so many different waves, so it’s kinda hard to simplify. If you’re after big barrels, and if you surf crowded places, a big of extra volume is the way to go (for example Padang Padang). If you surf uncrowded or more mellow waves, you’re fine with your normal board.

      1. AW

        Thanks Pascal- Good to hear you only road the 5’11 (should be closer to 165lbs myself come the trip). My biggest concern with the Lib I got was the length…. We are charting a boat through the Ments, and I’m thinking the 6’0 Ringer w/ 29 volume is going to come to life in those conditions!

        Safe travels-

        1. Pascal Post author

          Mentawais are awesome! You gonna love it! In late September, big swells are still very probable! If you’ve got something a step up board, I would take it too. Just to make sure you’ve got the right board, if it would get bigger, OR if you snap one… Enjoy your trip

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