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Jones Explorer Splitboard Review

Winner of our Best Buy Award, it's an outstanding, lightweight option
Best Buy Award
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Price:  $750 List | $561.93 at REI
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  ⋅  Sep 23, 2019
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68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 10
  • Powder - 25% 8
  • Firm Snow - 27.5% 6
  • Climbing - 27.5% 6
  • Binding Adjustability - 5% 5
  • Playfulness - 15% 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, 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 wanted to reward. This board is fun for most riders; riders who enjoy softer snow and don't seek out the steep couloirs or firm snow (that the Solution is better suited for) will appreciate it. 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.

Name Change

The Jones Explorer has been renamed the Jones Frontier. Just about everything we love has stayed constant between the two boards. The only differences to note (besides the obvious name change) are new graphics, a slightly spendier (but still Best Buy worthy) price, and new recycled ABS sidewalls, which are designed to grant more longevity to the topsheet. The updated graphics for the Frontier board are pictured above, and we're linking to that board.

September 2019


Compare to Similar Products

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 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 for a potential first splitboard or for someone looking for a more playful ride. It has much more freestyle chops than most people likely associate with Jones and is not the ultra-stable big mountain charger that the Solution is. However, it 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.

Powder


Storm day powder shredding.
Storm day powder shredding.

This splitboard is one of the most fun powder sleds in our review. Its 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), and 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 180s and more, and remains forgiving if your rotations are a smidge off. We rode the 159, and our lead tester weighs 150 pounds.

The Explorer about to enjoy 1700 feet of super fun powder.
The 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 improves 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. 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 this board's performance is above average when ridden in such conditions.

Climbing


This splitboard is right in the middle of the weight range for our review fleet, and its relatively light weight 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, but 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 with 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.

The Quick Tension Clips are quick and reliable. If you're 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; here's teh 6 pounds 11.6 ounce weight of the Explorer.
Checking out the review fleet in the garage; here's teh 6 pounds 11.6 ounce weight of the 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 Explorer.
Airing out the 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 us 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.

Value


We gave this board our Best Buy Award; it's a stellar board, but here are trade-offs when compared to higher-end Jones offerings. The older Karakorum clips 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 bolt-less 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