The New Frontier vs. the Explorer
Jones has changed the name of this Best Buy winning board. It's now called the Frontier. Much that we loved about the board has stayed the same, but there are some subtle differences. The Frontier is built with Super Sap Bio Resin epoxy, and the wood core is FSC certified, with different stringer positioning. There are also new graphics, noted below. The new Frontier is shown first, followed by its predecessor, the Explorer.
The price has increased $30 on the Frontier, which retails for $480, but we still think this is a great deal for an awesome board. We're now linking to the Frontier in this review.
Hands-On Review of the Explorer
The first thing you might notice about the Jones Explorer is that graphic. It is one of the best you have probably ever seen on a snowboard. Then you pick up the board and read the back to see that is has a medium-stiff flex, tight sidecut, and mellow-magne traction. Now, your mind shifts to think about your wallet and how much it costs; you are scared to look. Look once and you see the $450 dollar price tag, then you double-take to confirm. Yep, it's official - it's $450 dollars and an incredible value. How could you put it down after seeing all that? The Jones Explorer is a thoroughly thought-out board to excel on edge and at speed while providing good floatation.
Surf-styled and athletic edging from the Jones Explorer. Photo By: Ryland West
The board has a good balance of fast tight edging and drawn out longer radius turns. The turning character of the Explorer feels strong, energetic and agile. This balance is challenging to accomplish but the Jones employs a medium wide waist width and a fluid flex to achieve this. This combo also makes for efficient edge to edge transfer on a platform that manages heel drag for the average boot size. Stiff boards can be challenging to enter and exit turns at low speeds but the hybrid profile exits turn with ease; even while going slow.
The main reason the Explorer didn't receive a 10 out 10 in this metric was its tendency to slip on hardpack surfaces. If the board was driven through turns in icy conditions, it was able to maintain decent edge engagement because the edge has more purchase/contact to the snow surface. But that can be a challenging skill to learn or perform in suboptimal conditions. To help out the intermediate rider there is a mellower magne-traction to help with edge hold during these times. All things considered, the Explorer scored a competitive a 9 out of 10.
Slashing and turning on the Explorer.
Float in Powder
Float in powder is dependent on a number of variables but two of the most important are the camber profile and taper. The camber profile dictates whether the board will dive or rise above the snow. Tapered snowboards have a wider nose than tail. The difference in the surface area lets the nose float and tail sink. The Explorer features a lightly tapered profile that assists in it floatation. The Explorer does its job and will keep you above the snow but won't blow your mind.
This model received an 8 out of 10 which was lower then boards that have larger rockered noses and more taper such as the Burton Deep Thinker and the Ride Warpig. The Explorer has a few surface area boosting design characteristics to promote additional float such as the blunted nose, and wider waist width. This model is beginning to do some of the floatation work for you but not all the heavy lifting that will come from a more powder- centric board.
Stability at Speed
The camber profile between the feet and gently setback back stance limit nose chatter and promote rider confidence when straight-lining or high speed edging.
This model was able to track straight and feel secure during straight-line testing. Our testers felt confident at all speeds and the Explorer scored a 9 out 10. The main threat to rider security was the edge hold at high speed in hardpack conditions.
Streamlined edging of the Explorer.
The Jones Explorer performed tight radius turns and is a versatile board that would shine in all mountain freestyle and ride contexts. These characteristics allowed the Explorer to score a 7 out of 10. The model was hindered by its stiff profile that made butters and a playful riding style physically difficult to perform and thus enjoy. The spooned profile (a gently convexed base profile) gives the Explorer catch-free riding and buttering ability. Additionally, the Spoon enhanced the efficiency of edge to edge transfer. The Explorer can be playful in its edging style but was struggled to butter and provide a loose feeling due to its flex pattern. If you're looking for a board as playful as a new puppy check out the Nitro Fury.
Pop and Jumping
Our testers found the Explorer to provide consistent pop that could be loaded quickly. This model has directional performance but it pops like a twin styled board. This is because the model doesn't have a set back stance.
The stiffer profile requires more loading and leg strength to get that explosive release of energy. It has a sufficient tail for popping and landings. Even though the tail is rockered, it is stiff and long enough to support successful back seat landings. This model took some breaking in before it felt user-friendly and fluid to pop. This can be common in new boards depending on the manufacturers. Give some time to break in. Based on the amount of loading required, pop generated, and landing stability the Jones Explorer scored and 8 out of 10 in this metric.
The Explorer rides everything well. Groomers, powder, park; you name it, it can do it well. It won the Best Buy Award for a reason. If you're a value shopper, then this is your ticket.
Everyone loves consistency and diversity. It's a theme that is present in all great athletes. The Jones Explorer was one of the most well-rounded models in this review. From groomers to powder this board will provide a high quality of experience at an affordable price. With all the saving from purchasing this high performing board, your snowboarding ability will increase because you can spend more money to get on the hill. In short, if you're looking for an affordable board that performs well in every condition then buy the Explorer and you won't regret it.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Explorer comes in a regular and wide version. We tested the 159 regular version.
Jones uses a flip flop base which allows the excess material from one board to be used on another. This ultimately reduces p-tex waste and lowers the carbon footprint of the board.