It’s easy to guess what The Hovercraft was built for just by looking at it: The short swallowtail and the big blunted nose all scream “powder hound.”
I did my first series of tests in early December up in Lake Tahoe, and there was a lot more crust, ice and grooms than powder, so I took it out without expecting much. I got waaay more than I figured I would: The board held its edge just fine in the groomers, but there was no surprise there. The shock came when I crossed over to the shaded side of the mountain, when the soft groomers turned into icy crud. I was fully expecting the Jones to sketch out and leave me butt-checking all over the place, but The Hovercraft’s edge sliced right into the ice and held it as well as it did the soft stuff. No transition, no adjustments — the board just went from soft snow to ice without skipping a beat.
It was so odd that it took me most of the morning before I really trusted it. But by lunchtime, I was flying down the mountain at speeds I wouldn’t dare with any of the other boards we tested. The board’s great bite is thanks to the Jones’ underfoot camber and so-called Magne-Traction edges, which essentially act like a serrated blade to bite into hard snow. These features combine to give the board a huge amount of precision and control in hard snow.
A few weeks later, I was finally able to take it out on Mt. Shasta’s backcountry to hit some deep stuff. It excelled there as well (entirely as expected) thanks to the rockered and blunted nose, which let the board float on top of the soft stuff, while the short, stiff tail made it easy to kick back and keep the nose up.
Bottom line: I’ve never seen a board perform so well in such a wide range of snow conditions. During my multi-mountain testing session of The Hovercraft snowboard, I let one of my friends ride it. He echoed my own thoughts with one simple statement: “This thing just does whatever you ask it to do.”