Our tester has spent a lot of time with the creator of this brand, Jeremy Jones, and has ridden quite a few prototypes and retail quality boards over the years. But don't think this added weight to his decision making because he never liked a single Jones board that was passed his way. They were either too soft or too stiff, too narrow or too long. He just couldn't find a happy medium — until now. The Explorer seems to blend a little of every board in the Jones line together for the ultimate all-mountain board at an amazing price.
The Explorer while bootpacking.
Playing in the last bit of pow of the day.
Edging and Carving
Its hybrid-camber/rocker base put it into and out of turns quickly and the mellow magnetic-taction helped to keep it tracking throughout. Because of its shorter sidecut it preferred tighter turns over the giant arcs of the Lib Travis Rice Pro, and overall was very comfortable on edge. When compared next to the other 9 in the field, the Burton Flight Attendant, we see very similar sidecut, waist width, and flex. We gave the Explorer a 9 out of 10.
Detailing the Explorer's edge.
Float in Powder
It's easy to keep the nose up on this board.
The Explorer did very well staying on top in deep snow, even going backwards, but there were better floaters tested. This Jones has a cambered base between the bindings, but rocker once you extend beyond, so it neither fights the pow, nor entirely triumphs over it. Fully rockered boards usually do better, like the Burton Custom Flying V, which shares the same score in "float" as the Explorer. The reason the Flying V did not score better is that it was narrower than the Explorer. The Explorer does have a nice surf-like nose to it, which helped it achieve an 8 out of 10 for float.
Trudging through knee deep pow with the Explorer in hand.
Stability at Speed
Scoring 9 out of 10 in stability at speed, the Explorer performed better than expected. We attribute this to the little bit of camber and its slightly stiffer flex. As we've stated with other reviews,camber helps with stability, and that's why the Burton Flight Attendant outperformed it, scoring a perfect 10 out of 10. The Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro matched the score of the Explorer, not because it's cambered, but because it's stiffer, heavier, and bigger all around, making up for its rockered base.
As to be expected, especially given its light weight, rockered tip and tail, and tightest sidecut tested, the Explorer made for a fun and responsive ride while riding at any speed. It scored an 8 out of 10 because it simply felt fun, much like the Capita Defenders of Awesome though not nearly as fun as some of the others that were softer, like the Arbor Wasteland and the Burton Custom Flying V.
A hybrid base profile makes for more playful turns.
The flex pattern and base profile scream good pop, but this contender suffered due to the slightly spoon-like shape of the tail. While this helped the Explorer maneuver and float in pow, it also slipped out when we jumped on hard-pack. It was the only board that felt a little out of the ordinary when pushing off the lip of a jump. This was certainly a characteristic one could get used to over time, but one that placed it at 7 out of 10 while testing. Seeing as it scored the same as the Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro, Arbor Wasteland, and Rossignol One LF because of the rocker/hybrid profiles, without the little bit of spoon in the nose and tail it would have scored higher.
The Explorer rides everything well. Groomers, powder, park, you name it.
Jones Explorer topsheet.
This board offers the absolute best value found in our entire fleet. We were a bit blown away at how inexpensive it is, especially when you consider how great it performs across the board. AND the price just got dropped $30 this year, from $479 to $449. How can you go wrong?
The Explorer, joining us on our next adventure.
Buy it. It's well worth the money. And, the money you save on it could go toward some avalanche classes or maybe a transceiver, shovel and probe. If you're buying a Jones, you're likely frothing to get in the backcountry.