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How to Choose a Splitboard for Backcountry Snowboarding

Having fun on the Burton Landlord.
By David Reichel ⋅ Review Editor
Monday April 1, 2019

If you snowboard and want to explore the backcountry, you should definitely buy a splitboard. To quote a splitboard propaganda bumper sticker: Splitboarding is the Answer. This is the best tool for travelling across and up snow covered terrain, and then shredding back down. If you have never skinned before, there will be a learning process with that. Your first few times reassembling your splitboard in the snow on a cold summit might not go smoothly. Keep with it and you will get better. Overcoming these challenges is worth it to enjoy the opportunity to explore the backcountry that splitboards provide.

Choices/Types


This review focuses on all-around splitboards. Any of these could suffice as a quiver of one. A dedicated powder board might be the best call if you are spending a season shredding Japan's backcountry, but not the best choice if you are riding firm snow during a high pressure spell in your home zone. All the boards in our review will be super fun on a powder day and perform well in the wide variety of conditions a typical winter brings. These are also great choices for a first splitboard. After a couple seasons of riding, you will have a better understanding of what you like.

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



Size

Basing your splitboard size on your resort snowboard is an appropriate starting point. An exception to this would be if your resort ride is a park board. In this case you will likely want to add a couple of centimeters to your prospective splitboard. Additionally remember that in the backcountry, you will be carrying 10-20 lbs of extra weight. You have a shovel, beacon, probe right? Water and whatever other essentials you bring with you will increase your weight and thus warrant larger board that will float all of this in the backcountry.

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 Solution 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.

Terrain

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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