Year after year splitboards are rapidly gaining popularity among freeriders. First snowboards, which were split in the middle, have occurred on the market in the early 90’s, but the offer of splitboard manufacturers was severely limited. But things has changed since then, and companies have realized the true potential of splitboarding.
- What actually is a splitboard?
- The right equipment for your tour
- Where to pay attention when buying a splitboard
- The shape of the splitboard determines the field of application
- What is the right length of your splitboard?
- Binding systems and interface for your splitboard
- The advantage of a splitboard boot
- Climbing skins and crampons for splitboards
- Checklist: splitboard equipment
WHAT ACTUALLY IS A SPLITBOARD?
A splitboard is divided in the middle into two parts by length so that it looks similar to skis for ski touring. It only takes a few moves and splitboard is changed into ascent touring “skis”. The binding for ascent is mounted in the middle, proper climbing skins are put on and you are ready to go up the hill and leave crowds and lift rows behind you. That is the true mountain experience. The advantage of a splitboard tour, compared to tour with snow shoes and snowboard on the back, is the effortless and easy ascent possibility and weight reduction in gear needed.
We have some very useful tipps for you, on how to choose the best possible splitboard equipment for you and create the perfect mountain experience.
RIGHT EQUIPMENT FOR YOUR TOUR
Within the basic equipment for splitboard tours, we can find the splitboard itself, interface, proper binding as well as climbing skins, telescopic poles and boots. Additionally, it would be wise to consider avalanche safety equipment and airbag backpack. We also recommend having a helmet and crampons.
WHERE TO PAY ATTENTION WHEN BUYING A SPLITBOARD
Make sure to follow these points when choosing the right splitboard:
- The riding range and area of application are determined by the shape of the splitboard
- Body weight and height determine the length of a splitboard
Finding the perfect board for all possible circumstances is nearly impossible, because the snow conditions are not always as people would wish them to be. The season is long and the conditions are changing from a powder to hard snowpack and slushy conditions in the springtime. In addition to the snow conditions, there are also personal preferences which play an important role in buyer decision making. It is up to you, whether you prefer narrow paths of backcountry, wide slopes and faces or never-boring tree runs.
THE SHAPE OF THE SPLITBOARD DETERMINES THE FIELD OF APPLICATION
Depending on the shape and terrain you prefer, you can get a splitboard which satisfies all your needs and wants in your favorite terrain.
Powder & Freeride shape
The freeride shape is suitable for those who are looking for fun in deep untouched powder snow all year round. If you are one of these people, then you should choose a board with hardened flexibility and directional shape. We also recommend you to have your eyes open for a splitboard with camber under your back foot and rocker at the nose, because this gives you a necessary control and uplift in deep and difficult snow conditions.
Freestyle is fun! Additionally, with powder conditions, which turn the area into your playground, where you can do whatever you want. As a result, you should definitely choose a splitboard in a twin-shape. If you choose your board a little longer then you will have more uplift and this will make your freestyle splitboard a powder weapon for tricks.
Splitboards for ladies
Nowadays, women do not have to buy shorter boards which were designed for men. Most of the manufacturers offer splitboards which are differentiated with special features and designed just for ladies. Smaller middle width, shorter length of the board, lower weight and softer flexibility are the most important features of women splitboards. Furthermore, there is also the decision of specific shape and construction. Women simply have different anatomy then man and that is perfectly OK! Learn more in our → Ladie’s Splitboard Guide.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT LENGTH OF MY SPLITBOARD?
This question is not so easy to answer, especially when it comes to different shapes of boards. In general, you should pick a splitboard which is between your chin and nose. Of course, the length of your splitboard will depend on the area of application and weight. A splitboard which is a bit longer offers more stability in higher speeds and wider turns. Furthermore there is a larger bearing surface for the skins what makes it easier going uphill. On the other hand, splitboard, which is shorter, is more agile, manageable and has less weight; therefore, it is easier to handle in ascent.
BINDING SYSTEMS AND INTERFACE FOR YOUR SPLITBOARD
The interface connects bindings with the actual splitboard; therefore, it does not matter if you are on ascent or on a downhill without an interface the splitboard is useless. The top manufacturers of these systems on the market are Karakoram and Spark R&D. As a result, it has become a question of personal preference which manufacturer to choose because both are creating a high quality interfaces as well as bindings.
Spark R&D bindings
In these days, this is probably the most used splitboard binding system on the market. It is no surprise, this binding with Tesla system is very easy to use, quick to build, without any useless parts and still very light. Spark R&D is a solid binding with integrated ascent help and it is offered in two different hardness categories. The ARC system is lighter than the SURGE, what is another system which offers more hardness and stability for heavier riders.
As an additional accessories you can add a heel locker which fixes the binding. As a result, you can use your splitboard also for skating or traversing without any problem. For the installation of your Spark R&D binding, you only need pucks as an accessory. Pucks are needed, so that you can switch your binding position from ascent to “riding mode”. Be careful, because splitboard from K2 and Burton are with channel system which is only compatible with Voilé pucks.
The construction of Burton Hitchhiker splitboard binding was created in cooperation between two companies – Spark R&D and Burton Snowboards. This binding combines the proved performance of Spark Tesla systems and well-known comfort, stability and technology of Burton bindings. As a result, with this comfortable binding you are fast on the ascent as well as on the descent.
For the first view, Karakoram bindings appear to be more expensive as Spark R&D bindings. However, you will realize rather quickly that these bindings already have complete interface and heel locker build inside them. Some riders say that the Karakoram system is stiffer on descents and therefore offer a better “board feeling” with solid splitboards. As compared with Spark R&D, it is also very user-friendly and very easy to transfer from ascent mode to ride mode without any tools. In any case, take a look at these two different systems in our shops or test them on Splitboard Festival.
The Union Expedition splitboard binding is available in two different releases: on one hand the Union Expedition FC (where FC stands for orged Carbon) offers a bombproof connection for adventures in backcountry. For climbing all the way up, as well as taking the ride back down this binding offers with the spimple Union Split System a great performance. This easy binding system works with just one pin to chang modes and is only developed for splitboarding. On the other hand the Union Expedition was also constructed for an easy swith between the uphill and downhill function.
K2 Far Out
Who is searching for a durable backcountry binding with all-day comfort is well equiped wih the K2 Far Out. The ergonomic Sender™ ankle is an approved functionality what is works best with the Perfect Fit™ 2.0 toe strap to provide a luxury and efficient way uphill and a breathtaking downhill.
THE ADVANTAGE OF A SPLITBOARD BOOT
Basically you can go on a tour with any conventional soft snowboard boot. As in many boot cases, the most important thing is that the it fits your foot, because nothing is worse than touring through mountains with blisters on your feet. On the other hand, there are also special splitboard boots, which are designed and made specifically for splitboard touring. The advantage of a special splitboard boot is that it enables to fix the under area of your foot while the area above is flexible for walking mode uphill. Both seperated areas are combined in one shoe.
If you decide for a usual snowboard boots, than you should pay attention that the boot is not too soft. During ascent and traversing you need a stable and stiffer boot which make you feel secure, because softer boot would make you feel unstable and out of control. Also a good sole which has a sticky grip is required. Vibram soles give your the proper grip when you have to take off your board and walk over rocky and steep terrain further upwards. When buying a usual snowoard boot you want to use to splitboard, keep in mind, that the boot should be able to fix (tyin) in the under area and be flexible above. This is the only way you will have fun with your boot.
The bootlace system from Burton (Speed Zone) and K2 Snowboarding allow you to tie your boots properly, so they fit and give you the real flexibility you need and by a simple move you can adapt the laces accordingly to the terrain. The thermoformable inner shoe gives you an optimal fit, prevents against blisters and keeps your heel from moving around.
CLIMBING SKINS AND CRAMPONS FOR SPLITBOARDS
Climbing skins are also an important part of your splitboard setup. Climbing skins are attached at the bottom on the nose and tail of your splitboard and give you a necessary grip while ascent.
Climbing skins: pre-cut or do-it-yourself?
Skins cut-to-the-size such as our G3 skins as well as Kohla Skins can be tailored, so that they perfectly fit to the width of your board. Particularly in the binding area, it is important that the skin covers all the used area, but be careful – edges of the board must always remain free and uncovered.
Crampons can save your day or a trip, because when the snow is hard and frozen, the skins are loosing their grip and they slip off the surface. Since the splitboard is wider than usual touring skis, and with a wider waist, you can often lose a grip on steep and slightly frozen surfaces, where your colleagues with skis continue to climb without any problems. As a result, crampons are more than recommended for splitboards.
By impact the hard and sharp site of the crampons breaks through the hard snow or ice and gives you the necessary grip to continue. Different crampons are only compatible with different binding systems; therefore you have to be careful during shopping and choose the right size and width of your crampons. In this case, crampons have to be slightly wider than a waist of your splitboard.
You should mount the crampons before the icy and slippery areas when it becomes dangerous.
CHECKLIST: SPLITBOARD EQUIPMENT
- Splitboard, splitboard binding und splitboard boots
- Climbing skins and crampons
- Telescopic poles
- Helmet, snowboard goggles and protectors
- Avalanche safety equipment (tracker beacon, avalanche probe, shovel, airbag backpack, first aid kit, etc.)
- Suncream protection
- Down or fleece jacket
- Functional snowboard clothes
- Something to eat and drink
Before every adventure besides secured ski runs be aware of how to use your → Avalanche-Safety Equipment.
Interested? Don’t miss the → Splitboad Festival 2020 at Achensee Lake.
Photo Header: Jones, ©Andrew Miller