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.
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.
This competitor has no taper, as the nose width is the same as its tail width. Based on this geometry, we would expect that powder performance is reduced a bit by this design. While testing, we didn't notice this as much as we anticipated. We set up the bindings behind center, which certainly improved float in powder, perhaps compensating for the lack of taper; regardless, we found this splitboard to float well in powder. If you are between sizes and trying to guesstimate how much float it will provide, be sure to consider the lack of taper. The taper is simply a narrower tail than nose, which facilitates the tail sinking and the nose floating in powder. Board shapes that feature taper can often be ridden at smaller sizes than equivalent non-taper boards and still enjoy good flotation in powder. If powder performance is an important criterion for you and you are between sizes, we would recommend choosing the longer size.
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 Mellow Magnetraction (essentially gently serrated edges) likely improve edge grip over conventional edges, but the increase in grip is tough to separate from other board characteristics. This board has a softer flex than some of the other competitors in our review, such as the Jones Solution, Never Summer Prospector, 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.
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. When there is a firm sidehill section, the board half will bend more and it can be a challenge to maintain edge grip, especially on the downhill leg. This can be mitigated with more advanced skinning skill and by choosing approaches that minimize sketchy sidehilling.
We tested the Jones skins that featured the universal attachment system. Like the Jones Solution, this board features a small notch cut in the tail to accommodate the Jones Skins Quick Tension Tail clip. The Quick Tension Tail clip system is smaller, lighter, and less bulky than standard tail attachment systems and makes sense to investigate if you choose a Jones splitboard with this notch. Similar systems have been used on touring skis for many years and are generally positively reviewed.
Checking out the review fleet in the garage: 6 lb 11.6 oz weight of Jones Explorer.
Throughout their splitboard lineup, Jones has stopped inserting metal tip and tail guards. A few large snowboard companies have done this for decades and it's also a common feature on touring skis. Losing the metal at the tips saves some weight, which just so happens to be a big deal in a splitboard. Losing the metal also makes it easier to for Jones to employ the tail notches that fit with their Quick Tension Tail clips.
This split has the standard insert pattern.
Airing out the Jones Explorer.
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.
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.
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.
Ringing it at $700, we gave this board our Best Buy Award. Similar in price to the Voile Revelator and K2 Ultrasplit, this split scored a little higher than the other boards. Decent scores, combined with a decent price, is a recipe for winning our Best Buy Award.
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.