"Maxx Von Marbod is the sales director for Mervin Manufacturing, which makes Libtech snowboards and surfboards. To get a better feel for our line of Libtech boards, I called Maxx up for a chat, and he told me a bit about their latest boards."
The first board we talked about was the 7'6" Pickup Stick, which we have here in the shop. Maxx told me that the most exciting part of the board is the new Bottlerocket rail construction. Libtech is starting to trickle it out to boards as they build them. It’s a new construction for them, starting with their spring 2020 board line. You will see it in the new Swordfish board, both in Kolohe Andino’s exact Swordfish, as well as the stock versions of the board. And then as they develop new products, they will start trickling that rail construction down to those boards as well. Maxx even said that HSS probably got the very first Pickup Stick with a Bottlerocket construction!
What really makes these boards stand out visually is that new Bottlerocket rail. It’s a milky whitish color, and it’s a new material, something that isn’t being used anywhere in the surf industry. The rail is made out of recycled PET—polyethylene, which is what they make milk cartons and water bottles out of. That’s why they call it Bottlerocket—it’s a play on water bottles because what they are doing is taking old water bottles and recycling them to make surfboard material. We are pretty excited about this innovation, as there are a few interesting things about it. First of all, it’s a little lighter than the other Libtech boards. The boards are coming in around 10% lighter.
Libtech has a supplier who takes PET water bottles and shreds them up. And then the plastic shreds get put into a big heater and melted down, then re-extruded into pellets. And that material can be used in all sorts of things! They actually use that same recycled PET in their apparel, and in other areas too. It's a super tough, durable material that makes for a really strong rail. And since it’s a recycled material, it can be recycled again even after being put into the boards. So we feel good about stocking these boards since this an environmentally friendly resource. Libtech is taking water bottles out of the ocean and putting them back into the ocean as surfboards!
The material also makes for really tough rails, or, as Maxx likes to say, “Dang difficult to ding” (try to say that five times fast!). The boards also have a really nice, clean color to them, so they are great for guys looking for that classic, all-white aesthetic. But if you look at them closely, you will see that Libtech boards are just a little bit different, too—and we think that’s pretty cool.
There’s also a carbon fiber-based tail patch that Libtech puts on all of their boards. Some boards, like the Freak Flag Bean Bag, have that carbon fiber in crazy colors, whereas with the Pickup Stick they do it in gray.
The Freak Flag Bean Bag is another super fun board from Libtech. I’ve caught waves that I wouldn’t think I should be able to catch on it. I feel like I’m padding a longboard even though it's a shortboard! The …Lost team guys are loving it, and find it’s a great groveler. Once it’s up it’s pretty loose and fun and keeps that speed up. We are pretty hyped on the Freak Flag Bean Bag and stoked to add it to the shop quiver this year.
Maybe one of the most exciting things about Libtech is how environmentally friendly the brand is. They’ve had a longstanding mission to build the product in the most environmentally eco-friendly and human-friendly way that they can. Mostly that is because their friends work in the factory, and the company wants to provide a good, clean working environment for skaters and surfers and snowboarders to work their entire lives.
When you are working in suits and respirators, and have all of those noxious fumes around, that’s not a fun place to work. A lot of surf factories smell like resin and volatile organic compounds, and it’s just not healthy to be breathing that stuff. So when Libtech started making surfboards around 10 years ago, they set out to do it in an environmentally friendly and human-friendly way, but without sacrificing strength and toughness.
The company uses a proprietary process, and no single component in their boards is used by any other manufacturer. The only thing I can think of that they might be using is the set screws in the fin boxes. But everything else is something that Libtech invented and created, and are continuing to perfect.
When you walk around their factory, one thing you notice is people in jeans and t-shirts. You even notice dogs running around. That’s because it’s a zero hazardous waste factory. There’s no off-gassing, and there are no volatile organic compounds that employees have to worry about. The resin they use is an eco-friendly resin that happens to be super strong as well. And it doesn’t stink! The process for infusing the boards all happens inside the board, so there’s no off-gassing or sanding. They don’t even have to sand out any resin!
Another great thing about this process is that if there are any offcuts from the boards, all of that material can be recycled. And that’s something that no other surf factory can claim. Surfboards are one of the most hazardous products you can build, environmentally, but Libtech has figured out how to build a board with no hazardous materials.
The amazing thing is how tough the boards are, too! Maxx says he knows people who have just thrown an airline sticker on the board and loaded it on a plane, even without a board bag! They just pull the fins off and check it on, and they aren’t worried! That’s crazy!
The foam in the boards is also 100% environmentally friendly, and waterproof! If you happen to puncture the board, it won’t take on any water. They are made with closed-cell foam and a hydrophobic material, so if your board were to get dinged during a trip (which is pretty hard to do, since they are so strong), you could just slap a sticker on it and it won’t take on any water.
Most of the Libtech boards come with the FOC II (freedom of choice) boxes, which can fit both FCS II and Libtech fins. But there’s also a Future-compatible fin box that works with Future Fins. That fin system is currently available on the Puddle Jumper HP and the Quiver Killer and will be rolled out to other models soon.
Libtech has such a unique approach to building boards, and it is exciting to see what they are doing in terms of alternative construction. Working with top shapers such as Matt Biolos from…Lost, they are making some of the most futuristic boards in the lineup. The one I’m most excited to get into the shop is Kolohe Andino’s new design called the Swordfish. It should be in soon. Come check it out!