Posted on October 13 2016
Getting into splitboarding used to be as simple as cutting a board in half and fixing your regular bindings to a pivoting plate. Actually... That was never easy. It was a messy endeavor that had the tendency to ruin snowboards and days out in the mountains. As the sport has grown so has the refinement and complexity of the gear. Here is what to look for when choosing your splitboarding setup.
In ski touring there are brands that focus on lightweight skis designed for the uptrack. However, in snowboarding every company has jumped on the splitboard band wagon, but it takes more than just cutting a solid board in half to make a split that rides well. Although there are several snowboard companies that offer a great split, we at Cripple Creek Backcountry work with brands like Voile and Jones that have a focused splitboard line to fill all the quiver slots in the backcountry.
Jones has been the front runner in Splitboard tech. Most impressive about the Jones boars are how incredibly lightweight they are. But it is the small nuances where these boards really shine. The Mellow Magne-Traction on both the outside edges while you are riding and the inside edges when you are skinning that really grip the snow even on nasty hard pack days. The notches in the tail allow for quick and secure skin attachments as seen on all of our lightweight touring skis. In there high-end carbon splits they have gone to a BOLT-LESS BRIDGE that finally keeps the hardware from showing on the base.
Voile has been the workhorse splitboard brand since the beginning. In fact, they are the only company that doesn't even make a solid! With Voile you are not getting the crazy tech that we see on Jones boards but you save on the price tag. Their boards all range in the $550-$650 range and come with their new channel puck system to make setup way easier and saves you another $55+ on buying your own pucks!
Sizing Don't be afraid to size up to 5cm longer than your regular board when choosing a split. After all, we are out there for powder and length translates to better float in the backcountry. However, if it is a tool for accessing big mountains with variable snow, a shorter board will be more maneuverable in tight spots and lighter on your back!
There are three main interfaces for splitboard bindings, Voile, Karakoram and hardboot. Just like their boards, Voile is focused on a super simple design that keeps the price down and will never fail you when you need it most. It works with pucks mounted to your board that can be adjusted for many different stances. Their Lightrail binding paved the way and now Spark R&D has taken over.
Spark R&D started as a small splitboarding binding and hardware company out of Montana and after selling out every across the country has grown to be a leader in pioneering new designs. There Tesla system eliminated the need for the sloppy pin system that dominated splitboarding for years. The Tesla works with a magniate snap that lets you pivot uphill in touring mode and firmly secures you to the pucks while going down.