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Jones Explorer Review

Winner of our Best Buy Award, the Explorer is an outstanding, lightweight option.
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $700 List | $559.93 at REI
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Pros:  Freestyle fun, the most bang for your buck, lightweight, impressive performance on powder, playful, the use of Mellow Magnetraction
Cons:  Soft for larger riders, performance on firm snow, difficulty to adjust the bindings
Manufacturer:   Jones
By David Reichel ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jan 17, 2019
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 5
  • Powder - 30% 8
  • Firm Snow - 25% 6
  • Climbing - 25% 6
  • Binding Adjustability - 10% 5
  • Playfulness - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Jones Explorer offers a fun ride at a very nice price. It rings up a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the Jones Solution or the Hovercraft, making it an obvious choice for our Best Buy Award. While it's very different from the Solution, it still offers a fun and worthy ride that we enjoyed and definitely wanted to reward. This board is more fun for most riders: riders who mainly enjoy softer snow and don't seek out the steep couloirs or firm snow that the Solution is better suited for. For excellent value and a worthy ride, look no further. The closest equivalent women's board in the Jones Line is the Dream Catcher Splitboard.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Building upon the strong big mountain reputation of the Jones brand, the Explorer adds a touch of freestyle to the mix. This is board impressed our reviewers, many of whom had previous experience with other more well-known splitboards in the Jones line. The Explorer is a great option to consider for a potential first splitboard or for someone looking for a more playful ride.

Powder


Storm day powder shredding.
Storm day powder shredding.

This splitboard was one of the most fun powder sleds in our review. The nose floats quickly and surfs above the snow with only little rear leg pressure.


It features camber under foot with more rocker toward the nose and less rocker toward the tail. The camber profile is biased towards powder and helps explain the impressive performance in soft snow. This general camber profile is featured on most of the splitboards in our review. One deep lap on our local storm spot, Powderhouse, convinced a reviewer that he needed to upgrade from his old DIY splitboard.

The light on this gray bird pow day  doesn't properly capture the bright blue base  but we liked the color way and design. Jones uses Flip Flop bases to reduce material waste  so base color may vary.
The light on this gray bird pow day, doesn't properly capture the bright blue base, but we liked the color way and design. Jones uses Flip Flop bases to reduce material waste, so base color may vary.

Super fun in soft snow, the Explorer rides almost like a twin tip (though it does feature a directional shape). It can handle switch riding in powder better than many directional shapes. With its somewhat soft flex pattern, the Explorer likes to play and is happy to pop 180's and more, and remains forgiving if your rotations are a smidge off. We rode the 159, and our lead tester weighs 150 lbs without gear.

The Jones Explorer about to enjoy 1700 feet of super fun powder.
The Jones Explorer about to enjoy 1700 feet of super fun powder.

Firm Snow


In firm snow, this board performed fine, but not exceptionally. It won't hurt you on firm steeps, but if you were buying a board with these conditions in mind, its bigger brother, the Jones Solution, would make more sense.


Jones's Traction Tech (essentially gently serrated edges) likely improve edge grip over conventional edges. This board has a softer flex than some of the other competitors in our review, such as the Jones Solution, K2 Ultrasplit, or Voile Revelator. The softer flex can hurt firm snow performance a bit, especially for heavier riders, and is something to keep in mind. One of our bigger reviewers commented that the nose felt too soft for him in heavier chopped up snow. Riding steep firm snow is often done at lower speeds, and we found this board's performance to be above average when ridden in this manner through these conditions.

Climbing


This splitboard is right in the middle of the weight range for our review fleet, and its relatively lightweight is appreciated when ascending.


The camber under foot helps maintain solid skin grip on slick skin tracks, while the nose height combines with the nose rocker to float well when breaking trail in powder.


Being a touch softer occasionally hurts the climbing chops. The Traction Tech edges can be helpful during some steep sidehilling.

Jones Nomad skins with Quick Tension clips work very well with Jones splitboards.
Jones Nomad skins with Quick Tension clips work very well with Jones splitboards.

We tested the Jones skins that featured the Jones Quick Tension Clips. Like the Jones Solution, this board features a small notch cut in the tail to accommodate the Jones Skins Quick Tension Tail clip. Similar systems have been used on touring skis for many years and are generally positively reviewed.

These simple attachment points work well and are light and very packable.
These simple attachment points work well and are light and very packable.

We found the Quick Tension Clips to work quickly and reliably. If you are buying a new Jones splitboard, strongly consider the pre-sized Jones Nomad or Nomad Pro skins that are cut and setup for your splitboard. Our DIY garage built rivets are functional connectors, but inferior to what a professional operation would achieve.

Checking out the review fleet in the garage: 6 lb 11.6 oz weight of Jones Explorer.
Checking out the review fleet in the garage: 6 lb 11.6 oz weight of Jones Explorer.

Binding Adjustability


This splitboard has the standard insert pattern found on most manufactured splitboards. Some splitboards come with the channel design which makes it easier to move bindings around. Once you arrive at your preferred stance, there is little reason to move around the bindings so the standard insert pattern is acceptable.


Playfulness


This board is fun and encourages forays into freestyle. While the Jones brand is understandably associated with big mountain riding, this model is more calibrated to the freestyle end of the freeride spectrum than you might think.


The softer flex makes it easier to bend into butters and is more forgiving when spins don't line up perfectly. While riding this board, little bumps turned into enticing kickers, and open areas became opportunities to practice switch backcountry shredding. Since the tip and tail have the same width, it rides switch quite well. If this is a priority for you, mounting the bindings centered will increase the switch performance.

Airing out the Jones Explorer.
Airing out the Jones Explorer.

Karma Score


Jones Snowboards supports 1% for the Planet and POW (Protect Our Winter). Jeremy Jones founded POW in 2007 and continues to lend his voice to this cause, and Jones Snowboards backs up their words by financially supporting these groups. Writing this review during a great stretch of storms (while the memory of multiple drought winters lingers) makes me thankful that industry groups are working to preserve the conditions that make a powder day possible. Jones Snowboards has been a leader in pushing the industry to take a stand on environmental issues and climate change specifically.

Jones has been solid supporting 1% for the Planet and Protect our Winters.
Jones has been solid supporting 1% for the Planet and Protect our Winters.

Best Applications


This has much more freestyle chops than most people likely associate with Jones. It is not the ultra-stable big mountain charger like the Solution but can ride the whole mountain as long as the rider doesn't expect it to fly through chop or rail a turn in super firm conditions.

Value


Ringing it at $700, we gave this board our Best Buy Award. It is a stellar board. There are trade-offs when compared to higher end Jones offerings. The older Karakorum clips that come on this Explorer are a serious step down from the Karakorum Ultra Clips on more expensive Jones decks. The different clips provide equal ride performance, but the Ultra Clips are much faster and easier to use. The Explorer doesn't feature the Boltless Bridge technology that is again found on more expensive Jones boards. These shortcomings stand out when you have both boards lined up in your garage, as we do right now, but honestly do not substantially influence the ride quality or climbing experience of the Explorer.

The old style Karakorum clips.
The old style Karakorum clips.

Conclusion


The Explorer deserves more attention than it has received. In a brand of boards understandably associated with big mountain prowess, this split is much more of a freestyle ride. If you enjoy catching air, like a softer flexing board and don't mind saving some coin, this split would make a great choice.


David Reichel