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Jones Frontier Splitboard Review

A well-rounded board that makes a great choice for first timers or experienced backcountry travelers
Jones Frontier Splitboard
Photo: Jones
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Price:  $750 List
Pros:  Value, stunning graphic, well rounded, offers model specific skins, gently serrated edge
Cons:  Edge hold on firm snow, edge of topsheet durability
Manufacturer:   Jones Snowboards
By Isaac Laredo ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Dec 28, 2020
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 11
  • Powder - 26% 7
  • Firm Snow - 26% 8
  • Climbing - 28% 7
  • Binding Adjustability - 5% 5
  • Playfulness - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Jones Frontier is essentially a renamed Jones Explorer. It now uses recycled ABS sidewalls that are better for the environment, but the ride that we have enjoyed for years remains the same. The board takes a slightly more playful approach to the freeride category. In powder, the board provides adequate floatation and is easy to move. In soft spring snow, the model is very responsive and easy to roll edge to edge. In firm icy snow, we would have preferred more edge hold. On the uphill, the edge purchase and lightweight supports efficient climbing. The Frontier split fits most riders' needs when looking for a more friendly and well-rounded freeride board.

Frontier Updates

Along with some updated graphics, the Frontier has some slight tweaks this season. There is a new sintered base and a profiled wood core that is stiffer at the nose and tail and softer between the foot stance, a design intended to make turning easier. There are also Karakoram split clips included on this year's board.

January 2021

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Pros Value, stunning graphic, well rounded, offers model specific skins, gently serrated edgeDurable topsheet, great powder floatation, excellent climbing, snappy turn experience, bolt-less baseStable, stiff, lightweight, solid, predictable, reliable, supports diverse riding objectivesDurable, affordable, versatile, easy to adjust stanceDurable topsheet, versatile, responsive, good offering of sizes
Cons Edge hold on firm snow, edge of topsheet durabilityExpensive, switch ridingExpensive, narrow waist width, shallow nose riseGeneralist, soft for aggressive riding or heavy snowChallenging to smear turns in firm snow at slow speeds
Bottom Line Given its versatility, it's an appropriate choice for most ridersSolid board performance paired with exceptional climbing abilityOffering exceptional performance in powder and firm snow, the Solution in up for whatever you're looking to doWhere minimalism meets performanceA well-crafted splitboard that provides a fun and versatile ride
Rating Categories Jones Frontier Splitboard Backwoods Jones Solution Splitboard Voile Spartan Ascent United Shapes Covert
Powder (26%)
7
8
7
6
8
Firm Snow (26%)
8
8
9
7
8
Climbing (28%)
7
9
8
8
7
Binding Adjustability (5%)
5
5
5
9
5
Playfulness (15%)
7
8
7
9
7
Specs Jones Frontier... Backwoods Jones Solution... Voile Spartan Ascent United Shapes Covert
Weight 7.56 lbs 7.33 lbs 7.38 lbs 6.08 lbs 7.45 lbs
Tested Length 159 157 158 158 158
Flex Medium Soft Medium - stiff Stiff Soft Medium
Weight in grams 3454 g 3325 g 3346 g 2794 g 3382 g
Weight Per Surface Area 0.76 0.74 0.74 0.62 0.75
Available Lengths 152, 156, 158W, 159, 161W, 162, 164W 152, 157, 160, 163, 163 (w) 154, 158, 159W, 161, 162W, 164, 165W, 166, 169W 154, 158, 162, 166 149,152,158,161,166
Construction Type Sandwich Sandwich Sandwich Cap Sandwich
Core Material Wood Wood/ bamboo Wood paulownia, carbon Blended wood
Waist Width 25.2cm 25.6cm 24.7cm 25.7cm 25.7cm
Shape Directional Directional Directional Directional twin Directional
Radius 7.5m 7.3/6.5/7.5m 8.5m 7.7m 7.5m
Camber/Rocker Directional rocker Rock camber rocker Directional rocker Freeride camber Rocker/ Camber/ Rocker

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Jones Frontier is the new Explorer, but with a few tweaks for the new season. It has been updated with recycled ABS sidewalls and an updated price. It adds a touch of freestyle to the Jones Snowboard line-up and is an excellent option for a potential first splitboard or for someone looking for a more playful ride. It has more freestyle merit than most people likely associate with Jones and is not the ultra-stable big mountain charger that the Solution is. That being said, it's perfectly capable of riding the whole mountain.

Powder


The Frontier was able to provide enough floatation to be a well-rounded splitboard. It provided a standard all-mountain board powder feel. If this model was our sole splitboard, we would be happy riding it on powder days.


It features a camber underfoot with more rocker toward the nose and less rocker near the tail. The camber profile is biased towards powder and helps explain the impressive performance in soft snow. This helps keep the nose afloat to get you on top of the snow.

Opening it up allows the Frontier to plane well and float with ease.
Opening it up allows the Frontier to plane well and float with ease.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Super fun in soft snow, the Frontier 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 medium flex pattern, the board likes to play and remains easy to move when turning in powder.

The easy to move nature of the Frontier make it easy to enter the...
The easy to move nature of the Frontier make it easy to enter the white room.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Firm Snow


In firm snow, the Frontier performed fine, but not exceptionally. It will get the job done in the firm steeps, but if you were buying a board with these conditions in mind, a board with increased edge hold in the tip and tail would be worth considering.


Jones's Traction Tech (essentially gently serrated edges) likely improves edge grip over conventional edges. This board has a medium tip to tail flex and a stiffer torsional flex. The stiffness helps the board to be very responsive and it's easy to get on edge. The medium flex and narrower waist width can hurt firm snow performance 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 based on the ease of moving this board around.

A wind scoured start where we we easily trusted the Frontier.
A wind scoured start where we we easily trusted the Frontier.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Climbing


The Jones Frontier climbs efficiently in regard to its sidehilling ability and weight for user energy conservation. This splitboard's weight range and surface area per gram calculations were generally middle of the road of the splitboard market. Its relatively light weight is appreciated when ascending.


The camber underfoot helps maintain solid skin grip on slick skin tracks. While the nose height combined with the nose rocker helps when breaking trail in powder.

One foot after the other. It's easier with a good view and a...
One foot after the other. It's easier with a good view and a lightweight model.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Being a touch softer occasionally hurts the climbing ability, which is exacerbated for heavier riders, but the Traction Tech edges can be helpful during some steep sidehilling. For larger riders, the tip to tail flex can be a little soft and result in a dished out skin track. This makes for less efficient travel for the trail breaker and those who are following.

The Frontier is in the middle of the pack in terms of weight.
The Frontier is in the middle of the pack in terms of weight.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

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.

Binding Adjustability


This splitboard has the standard insert pattern found on most manufactured splitboards. However, once you arrive at your preferred stance, there is little reason to move around the bindings, so the standard insert pattern is acceptable.


Playfulness


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


The medium flex makes it easier to lock in butters in a tip to tail flex pattern. Its able and strong tail 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.

The gently directional shape of the Frontier is paired with a...
The gently directional shape of the Frontier is paired with a stellar graphic.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

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; 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.

Value


It's a stellar board, but there 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 Frontier 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 Frontier.

Refreshing to have mountains in the foreground and background.
Refreshing to have mountains in the foreground and background.
Photo: Isaac Laredo

Conclusion


The Frontier deserves its place in the Jones line up. Its medium tip to tail and stiffer torsional flex makes this board a good candidate for the individual looking for a more freestyle oriented Jones board. Overall, this model is a great option for those looking to purchase their first or tenth splitboard based on its well-rounded performance and easy to handle nature.

Isaac Laredo