On a recent trip from Seattle to Whistler I took the “scenic route” to accomplish a few things. #1 – avoid Seattle and Vancouver traffic, #2 – take my car on a ferry and #3 – catch up with the boys at Mervin MFG. As most of you know, Mervin MFG makes some of the best snowboards in the world (Lib Tech, Gnu, Bent Metal and Roxy) in a factory located right here in the good old US of A. And I’m sure that you also know they also-make skis, the Lib Tech NAS…and that’s what I went there to see. I wanted to find out what the deal was with NAS, what the deal was with magna-traction and how close to Canada are they really?
Turns out they are only a few miles away from Canadia, in a town called Sequim (pronounced Squim). With a bigger then expected factory and 200+ workers Mervin MFG cranks out an astonishing number of snowboards. At the same time, they produce as many skis as any boutique manufacturer, but the ski numbers still pale in comparison to the snowboards. Regardless, everything they make is bomber quality, just ask the team of pros they’ve put together (Timy Dutton, Mike Wilson, Jamie Pierre, Colby Albino, Benny Schmitt). I was given an inside look at the ski making process and an in-depth explanation of magna-traction. I walked away with a pair of 191 POW NAS, and took them straight to Whistler. Then to Squaw. Then to Loveland. Then to Mammoth. And I have to say, they’ve quickly become my go-to-one-ski quiver. But I digress, here’s a look at how these skis are made from beginning to end, 100% right here in the Mervin Factory.
First wood gets glued together and pressed in machines to make the cores. Depending on the ski a specific combination of wood gets pressed to create a stiff or soft flex.
Next the core is cut to shape on this bad-ass machine. It’s pretty high tech and bad-ass.
At the same time, the base material is laid and edges are applied
Then you take a trip over to the resin bench to get yourself some bondage action. Apparently this is the most photographed part of the manufacturing plant.
Everything gets layered together and placed into the press
And once it comes out the crew in the back finishes them off on traditional base and side-edge grinders
After a pass through the quality control, they move into the shipping warehouse to get boxed up and shipped off to your local shop. I was lucky enough to take a pair right off of the shop floor and straight onto the hill.
The skis are completely bomber, and like I said before have become my go-to, especially for variable conditions. The magna traction really does make a difference. The most notable being the skis ability to gradually engage into a turn on firm pack. Its the exact same idea as a serrated steak knife. But why should I tell you, when the guy who invented it can. Watch this.
Lib Tech Magna Traction Explained
And that’s what I came to see. The skis are made in the USA by some of the most passionate builders you will ever meet utilizing technology no one else has. And they work. More to come from Lib Tech for sure. Big thanks to Mike and Pete for staring this whole thing. And a huge thanks my dear friend Julian. Making skis at Lib Tech is way cooler then welding rails at Keystone. But you were good at that too.