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Snowboards

West La Hache 2019-2020 Snowboard Review

  • Sizes:152, 154, 156, 156W, 158, 158W, 162
  • Flex: 6-8
  • Profile: Camrock
  • Shape: Directional Twin
  • Price: £599 / €629
  • BUY DIRECT FROM WEST

Now in their sixth year, Swiss-made West snowboards continue to expand their range and now include limited-edition models as well as their first youth friendly size and a women’s specific splitboard. However, the La Hache remains the flagship model in the line. For good reason too, this is their most versatile offering, featuring premium materials and, for 2020, a more eco-friendly construction.

All-mountain decks commonly opt for directional twin shapes, but the outline of the La Hache remains a true twin. This keeps it primed for park performance, but with a slightly directional construction in the core it still has plenty of power to deliver back on the pistes. No less than four different woods comprise the board’s core making it impossibly light for the amount of power and pop it can generate.

“No less than four different woods comprise the board’s core making it impossibly light for the amount of power and pop it can generate”

Camber runs for the majority of the length, with smaller pockets of rocker in the tip and tail. While this is a pretty regular fixture for this breed of snowboard, the full tip to tail carbon stringers inject a solid dose of energy right through its running length. Riders will gain some extra forgiveness and float with earlier contact points in the tip and tail. Once it’s on edge, though, hold on for the ride. The rails won’t be coming off here any time soon.

The natural wood topsheet sets the tone for West’s increased sustainability practices this year. Water-based inks and green epoxy resins run deep into the core. These practices are increasingly becoming the norm from bigger brands, but it’s good to see smaller companies following suit.

It’s a bit like a Toblerone: Swiss made, arguably more expensive than the competition, yet very similar in what it offers. Then again, there’s just something about it that you can’t find back at home on the shop’s shelves. Some impulse buys are worth it. This could well be one of them.

Tester’s Verdict

Rob McCreathWhitelines

“This was my first time riding a West snowboard and, from what I gathered, the La Hache was the best place to start. This is West’s flagship model and it’s easy to see why.

Not that it matters (even though it totally does), but I’m a really big fan of the natural wood, offset with black and blue topsheet. The board just looks premium and timeless. It definitely has a vibe of something that hasn’t been pumped out on a production line, but handcrafted with that meticulous level of Swiss attention to detail.

My first run on this was in whiteout, powdery conditions up at 3500m in Hintertux – probably not this board’s natural calling, but all the more reason for it to impress me. By no means is this a powder board; it’s not even a freeride board. The shape is that of a true twin and, while the rocker in the nose didn’t lend epic levels of lift in deep snow, it managed just fine.

Further down, where the visibility improved and the pistes returned to their groomed condition, the La Hache started to show its true nature. The combination of a really lightweight and lively wood core with those full-length stringers running from the tip to tail made the board bounce and hop in and out of every turn.

I love a board that feels like it’s just waiting for you to make a move and react – like a tennis player on the returning end of a serve. Every time I put the board into a press, turn or spin I felt the response underfoot immediately which made for a really predictable ride.

“I love a board that feels like it’s just waiting for you to make a move and react – like a tennis player on the returning end of a serve. Every time I put the board into a press, turn or spin I felt the response underfoot immediately which made for a really predictable ride”

The flex rating varies from a six to an eight, depending on what size of board you ride. This seems kind of strange to me, surely a bigger rider will flex a bigger board as much as a smaller rider will flex a softer board… either way, the 158 (which is my usual size) felt right on the money for me.

Speaking of money, my only gripe with this board is the cost. It’s a great performing snowboard, and definitely one that you won’t see around the mountains too often either, but it does come in a bit steeper than a lot of the competition. I understand that the more premium materials and smaller production output will likely bump the price up, but I fear that may turn a lot of potential customers away. That’s a real shame, as it only took me one top to bottom run to be completely converted to the La Hache, and I’m sure there are a whole bunch more riders out there who’d feel the same.

If you’re happy to spend and have something a little different from the norm, but also a snowboard that you can ride every day and ultimately get your money’s worth out of, this one should be a shoo-in.”

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