Splitboards offer the ultimate backcountry adventure. Gone are the days of cumbersome snowshoeing or expensive helicopter rides up-hill. With a good quality splitboard, you can have the best of both worlds: using your board like skis until you find that perfect powder and begin your downhill shred.
Not all splitboards are created equal; some perform well on all terrains whereas others have more niche functionality. The design and shape of the board will also effect how you ride, each with their respective pros and cons.
Here’s our top 7 picks to help you choose the best splitboard:
1. Jones Solution Splitboard
The Jones Solution is a consistent front-runner for “best splitboard award”. It is a great all-rounder, praised by ambitious backcountry boarders and amateur day-riders alike. The Solution is sturdy and stiff, providing excellent control for those who like to go hard; yet it is remarkably lightweight for its ability at just 7.38 lbs.
It is a hybrid board, camber underfoot and rocker at the tip and tail, making it an excellent choice for both stability and speed. The model comes in sizes from 154 cm to 166 cm and will set you back a cool $900. Well worth every penny.
The only slight criticism would be the slightly narrower waist – riders with larger feet may start to suffer with heel drag unless they upgrade to the wide fit, but you’ll loose a little maneuverability if you do. For anyone who usually rides wide, however, this board really is your top pick.
The Jones Solution comes in three varieties: Men’s, women’s and a carbon version – which is even stiffer for high-speed performance in tricky terrain. The carbon version, however, comes at a premium price of $1,400.
More info: Jones Solution Splitboard
2. Venture Storm Splitboard
The Venture Storm is a must-have for anyone who loves to tear it up on powder. The nuanced design is very well thought-out, delivering seriously impressive performance. The board is tapered, with the nose slightly wider than the tail, which helps to sink the tail and float the leading edge over powder as you go.
The soft nose and tail give a remarkably smooth ride in chop and at high speeds; but it has been known to falter on sharp turns or in heavier snow. It handles impressively well in a range of mountain conditions, making it a versatile ride that is both playful and reliable in a whole host of scenarios.
The Storm climbs well and can even be ridden a few centimeters shorter than most other splitboards, as you get a high level of stability and flotation from the design itself. Shorter splitboards are lighter, saving you energy on the climb and adding more dexterity to your movements. At $920, this is a great choice for powder lovers who want to try their hand (or feet) at longer backcountry routes.
More info: Venture Storm
3. K2 Marauder Splitboard
The K2 Marauder is a worthy all-rounder, with some really neat functions built-in. For starters the board comes as a package with skins, bucks and gear for mounting K2’s ‘Far Out’ Bindings or Sparks R&Ds. The board also has holes at the top and bottom for attaching a rescue line in an emergency situation: a subtle yet appreciated design feature for backcountry boarders.
The K2 Marauder is a directional hybrid splitboard. There’s camber underfoot in the center which tapers to slight rocker at the tail and tip. This makes it solid on the up whilst retaining a decent amount of control on the down.
Perhaps the most discerning feature is the top sheet featured on the Marauder: a nylon layer which they’ve branded ‘SnoPhobic’. It is essentially a hydrophobic covering which prevents the build up of snow on your top sheet, saving you precious effort and energy as you tour. Snow build-up can be a real challenge, especially in the spring; but not with the K2 Marauder.
If you’re looking for a solid splitboard with some nifty features, consider this option for just under $900.
More info: K2 Marauder Splitboard
4. Weston Backcountry Backwoods Splitboard
The Weston Backcountry Backwoods splitboard is designed with powder in mind, but fitted with ample freerider features at the same time. As you’d expect, it is superbly floaty and nimble on powder thanks to its short, rounded tail which enables it to sink, whilst the tip floats dreamily over the powdered surface.
Riders can steer off the back foot and pivot quickly, making it an excellent contender for tight trees which demand a lot of maneuverability.
Its freeride features make it a great all-rounder and not just for pure powder. The board is also stiff and mainly cambered, which keeps it secure on firm snow; and the build is of bamboo and poplar, which give a really snappy turn and excellent edge-hold.
The Backwoods board offers superior climbing ability, and is one of the lightest boards on the market of its ilk. As a tail-heavy splitboard, the balance is just right for keeping you stable on the ascent and pivots are made easy. This is truly a high-quality board for professionals, adventurers and hobbyists and costs in the ballpark of $900.
More info: Weston Backcountry Backwoods
5. Rossignol XV Splitboard
This splitboard is specifically designed for those who ride hard. It is stiff, camber only and offers nicely sharp edges for the ascent. The build quality is excellent, and is as rigid and reliable as you could expect from a board that is made for mad downhill with 50 ft airs.
It is not as agile and maneuverable as other splitboards, making it a poorer choice for those who want to take on tight trees or surf powder. At just under $700 it is one of the cheaper top-level splitboards, and is an absolute powerhouse for freeriders everywhere.
More info: Rossignol XV
6. Voile Spartan Ascent
The Voile Spartan Ascent is a quality splitboard that performs well in every category. It doesn’t take the top spot in any one area, but it performs consistently and very pleasingly in all conditions. Its lightweight build and camber profile make it excellent on the climb, and as a medium-flex board it feels playful on the descent.
That being said, the rocker tip and tail leave something to be desired when it comes to stability. It is perhaps not the most reliable model for harder riding as a result of this, but returns a decent edge-hold nevertheless.
This board is a great choice for beginners and pros who may be on their first or fiftieth tour – and it comes at an incredibly reasonable $650. There is also a specific women’s model, too.
More info: Voile Spartan Ascent
7. Slash Linehiker Splitboard
The Linehiker is based on Slash’s award-winning Brainstorm model, but has been tweaked especially for touring. The result is an incredibly capable, cool and versatile splitboard that performs excellently out in backcountry.
The more unusual ‘twin tip’ design, coupled with the setback camber profile gives an incredible downhill experience: if you want speed, agility and float then this is a serious contender. It handles jumps, cliff drops and pillows with ease and offers a hugely playful ride.
Ideal for experienced boarders who want to take it to the next level. It is one of the cheaper models on sale at $769 – a real bargain given its capabilities.
More info: Slash Linehiker Splitboard
How to choose a Splitboard:
For most riders, their ideal splitboard length is the same as their powder or freeride board. However, those who plan on doing multi-day tours or boarding in deep pow will want to increase their board size a few centimeters.
Don’t size up unless you need to: smaller splitboards are lighter on the ascent and more agile in tight or steep terrain. All reputable manufacturers will have their own dedicated sizing guides – try on before you purchase and test with a few single-day stints before hitting the backcountry for an extended period of time.
Before purchasing your splitboard, consider the type of terrain you’ll be faced with and what you need your board to do. Some are designed as good all-rounders, others are light and flexible for carving through trees and slashing pow, and some are specialized for expeditions, touring and backcountry freestyle.
Jones is a highly trusted name in splitboard manufacturing – check out their comprehensive array of functional specific splitboards for different terrains here.
A decent splitboard can set you back anywhere from $500 to over $1,000. For any outdoor gear, I’d always recommend investing in the product which will keep you safe and serve you best – you’ll be glad of spending the extra cash in the long run. However, if price really is your sticking point then start with entry-level boards until you know what kind of boarder you are, and what you need your board to do.
Like their snowboard cousins, splitboards also come in camber, rocker or a hybrid of the two. Cambers are generally more stable when climbing and at speed, whereas rockers are much more playful and float more readily. Naturally, hybrids aim for a happy middle ground in between the two extremes – but there are a few different arrangements of hybrids which should be considered before making a purchase.
A design feature unique to splitboards is the attachment system which links your two halves together and keeps them tight whilst you ride. This should be one of your top considerations, as boards which loosen under tension will affect your performance and may even become dangerous.
Karakoram, Voile and Phantom are the current industry leaders in splitboard attachments and most modern splitboards will be using one of their systems. Make sure to do your research before purchasing “brand unknown”; you don’t want to find your board coming apart at the apex of your downhill journey.
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Suzie Hall has a passion for all things wild and is a scuba diver and Orcalab researcher based in Hanson Island off the north coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. She spends most of her time exploring this great wide earth and her travels have taken her to some remarkable locations including Patagonia, Kyrgyzstan and the wild British Columbia coast. Fueled by a drive to protect our wild spaces and their inhabitants, Suzie works in conservation projects around the globe and lives to write about the amazing people, places and wildlife she encounters.
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