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How to Choose a Splitboard for Backcountry Snowboarding

Having fun on the Burton Landlord.
By David Reichel ⋅ Review Editor
Friday May 13, 2016

If you snowboard and want to explore the backcountry, you should definitely buy a splitboard. In the early days of splitboarding, many snowboarders were skeptical that a snowboard with cut down the middle would actually. A quick perusal of video and photo evidence showing folks dropping steep lines, throwing huge powder turns, and getting freestyle on splitboards should quickly put those concerns to rest. To quote a splitboard propaganda bumper sticker: Splitboarding is the Answer.


Today there are as many types of splitboards as there are snowboards. Everything from steep line destroyers to dedicated powder shapes are available. If you have the budget and garage space, acquiring a quiver covering every possible snow condition and mountain would be an awesome goal.

Our review focused on all around type splitboards. These splitboards could reasonably be considered quivers of one. Grabbing any one of these splits should be fine for just about any condition or run out there. Even if you have a quiver of splitboards, the all-arounder is likely to receive the most use.

How to Select Best for You (skill/terrain/snow type)


Basing your splitboard size on your resort snowboard is an appropriate starting point. Many folks will want to size up a bit since we are often searching out soft snow in the backcountry and the extra flotation that the increased surface area provides is helpful. Additionally, few people wear backpacks in bounds but in the backcountry everyone should have one and this can easily add 10-20 lbs of weight that needs to be supported by the splitboard. Supporting this extra weight is another reason to size up.

There is no definitive answer on how much to size up (if at all). This depends on the type of resort board and the type of splitboard. For the sake of argument let's say you ride a 161cm Jones Flagship solid snowboard in bounds (the solid Flagship is essentially the same as the splitboard Solution) . If your primary backcountry terrain mirrors your resort terrain the 161 Jones Solution will likely be fine but you could also jump up to the next size (164 in this case). The 164 Flagship would provide more float but be a little heavier and less nimble than the 161. If you never had issues sinking the nose on the 161, then you would likely be content on the 161 Flagship in the backcountry.


These determinations are more challenging when you are moving between totally different boards and terrain. If your resort board is mostly for riding park at your small local hill (perhaps in the midwest) but your splitboard will be used primarily in Alaska, this requires a more radical change and you will likely want to size up significantly. You will also need to be prepared to spend some time getting used to your larger splitboard since it will understandably feel very different.

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