Nidecker Ultralight 160 Freeride Snowboard Review

The Nidecker Ultralight isn`t your average laminated wooden plank. This Swiss engineered big-mountain “beauty and the beast” is tough, fast, responsive, over-flowing with technological innovation and almost as pretty as last months` Playboy cover girl.  Besides, if it`s good enough for the Freeride World Tour champions from 2013 & 2014 (Elodie Mouthon & Emilien Badoux), then it`s more than good enough for any freerider on the planet.

Nidecker Ultralight Intro

To the best of our non-scientific-degree-having knowledge, you won`t find another freeride snowboard with as much high-end tech and desirable riding characteristics as the Nidecker Ultralight.  Freeride-focused shredders can confidently attack giant cliff-heavy lines, blower pow fields, bullet-proof pistes and everything else on the hill that wasn`t put there by the freestyle park crew.

  • *Big mountain championship credentials
  • *Incredibly light & responsive
  • *Powerful and quick edge-to-edge
  • *Super strong edges, base & topsheet
  • *Smooth, chatter-free dampened ride
  • *Supersonic sintered base speeds
  • *Aesthetically beautiful design
  • *Fun-factor = Ultra


Nidecker Ultralight Off-piste & Powder Performance

Please insert “Ultralight ownership of...” before the following: steeps, powder, cliffs, crud, big backcountry lines, wind-blown, chunky avalanche debris and whatever else Mother Winter can lay out in front of you on a mountainside.

As powder performance is a major factor when selecting a freeride board, you`ll be happy to know that the Ultralight elicits floaty faceshot smiles all day. Directional tail taper, set-back stance inserts, pointed nose and Freeride Camrock® profile (little bit of rocker in nose/tail with camber under-foot) make the Ultralight nice-n-floaty in the fluffy stuff.

Have you ever seen a sexy cigarette power boat accelerate, nose rise up out of the water, hit F1 speeds, then cruise with the boat captain smiling the whole time? That`s the Ultralight in pow with you beaming at the helm.

But advanced all-mountain hard-chargers who spend most of their time off the trail know that perfect powder won`t always be there. That means rocks, tree stumps, ice chunks and possibly barbed wire fences (in Europe) will be hiding beneath the surface ready to bite into your base and damage your edges. No worries with the Ultralight.

Nidecker uses 35% more steel in their edges — doubling the strength compared to other board manufacturers — and equips the Ultralight with the company`s most durable “carbon nanoparticle” 9000 sintered base. They`ve also added a carbon fiber topsheet for weight reduction and kevlar components for strength to withstand the type of abuse places like the Bec des Rosses (Verbier, Switzerland, Freeride World Tour competition zone) can dish out.

If your mountain motives normally take you away from the groomed trail — whether to win gnarly world championships or shred outside the spotlight with experienced friends in your hidden stashes — the Ultralight is for you.


Nidecker Ultralight On-Piste Performance

The Ultralight is definitely designed for extreme off-piste control, but on-piste performance is excellent as well.

One of the Ultralight`s most endearing characteristics (aside from otherworldly ultra lightness) is something you won`t traditionally find in big-mountain bruisers built to dominate the burliest winter alpine areas on the planet — nimbleness.

This deck isn`t a lazy man`s ride, but you won`t have to “work” to transfer weight onto the opposite edge like on other stiff big-mountain boards. The Ultralight is labeled “9 of 10” on the stiffness scale according to Nidecker, but for such a big-mountain-minded board, Ultralight edge transition on-piste is exceptional when aggressively initiated.

Much of this sensation can be attributed to the future-tech molded into the nose & tail Nidecker calls, “Freeflex 2.0.” The material used in this technology reduces swing weight, drops overall board weight and eliminates chatter (literally zero nose/tail flop), as well as creates a “unique, light feel in transitions.” Coupled with Nidecker`s “Shock Absorber” layer, these components deliver an extremely smooth, dampened ride without sacrificing important under-foot sensitivity needed for micro-adjustments at speed. Yep…serious UFO engineering going on here.


The Freeride Camrock® profile mentioned above that makes off-piste riding so enjoyable also contributes to the excellent on-piste handling of the Ultralight. Camber between the bindings allows you to securely lock onto your edge and maintain stability through all phases of your carve.

Speed will never be an issue thanks to the carbonized base material, nor will control. A stiffened tail (compared to softer nose) provides powerful exits out of turns, while all of the alien-tech features listed above make you feel like a race car pilot in complete command on the pistes.

One on-piste limitation that some boarders might want to consider is that if switch riding is high on the agenda, then you`ll likely want to head in a different direction (haha, pun-tastic).

Nidecker Ultralight Freestyle Performance

Simply put, no thanks. For as secure as the Ultralight feels on steep, consequential out-of-bounds terrain, it would likely give an equally insecure feeling on a box or rail. Never tried it, never will. Maybe give another Ultra-ride a look — the Jones Ultra Aviator — if you want a snowboard with fantastic all-mountain freestyle capabilities.


Nidecker Ultralight…the final verdict

Our review of the Ultralight probably could have stopped after mentioning that it`s the board-of-choice for the top freeride champions in the world. The rest is just static compared to its proven real-world application at the pinnacle of competitive freeride snowboarding.

Is it a board for every freeride snowboarder? Not exactly, as you`ll need to be an advanced rider to appreciate & manage the mastery of this boards`design. You`ll also need to find a lot of coins in between your couch cushions to afford this luxury ride.

No doubt, expensive doesn`t always mean better…but it`s an argument you won`t win against the Ultralight.

There is so much tech oozing from this high-end-freeride-machine-of-all-high-end-freeride-machines, that scientists should study it like an alien autopsy and serious freeriders should set-up at intersections with cardboard signs saying “Will strip for Ultralight” until you finally have enough money to own one.

The Nidecker Ultralight has proven without question to be THE board to do big things on big days in the biggest, baddest alpine environments on Earth.

Go big or go home? Nah, go Ultralight or go home.

Nidecker-Advanced Snowboarding Technology

Nidecker Ultralight not the perfect freeride attack stick for you? Maybe try uber-pow Hovering or all-mountain freestyle Aviation with Jones Snowboards.

Posted on January 22, 2015 in Gear Reviews, Snowboarding, Snowsports