Climbing skins are strips that typically attach to the bottom of skis, specifically nordic, alpine touring, or randonnée skis. These are designed to [...]
How to Choose the Best Splitboards of 2021
Published: July 14, 2021
Splitboarding involves the use of a splitboard, which is a snowboard that splits into two halves and forms skis, making them suitable for uphills. These skis are then connected back together, so that they can form into a snowboard again to use downhills. This is possible because the board features special bindings and attachments, which can be easily moved from a snowboard position to a ski position.
Choosing the right splitboard is like choosing a regular snowboard. To choose the best one, you have to pick a board that best suits your weight, ability level, riding style, and also the terrain you will be riding on. You also have to take into consideration that you will be taking this board on a different terrain than the one you usually take with your regular snowboard.
Read on, so we can help you choose the best splitboard, and guide you to figure out what might suit you best.
Types of splitboards
If you want to ride powder splitboards, you have to size up, and find a board that has some form of rocker, as this will allow for more floatation in deep powder. A board with a tapered tail is also a great option because the tail will sink into the snow, allowing the nose to rise above.
One of our top choices for the best powder splitboards is the Voile Revelator.
Weight: 6.38 lbs
Lengths: 154, 159, 162, 165, 169
Flex: Medium Stiff
The Revelator is one of Voile’s latest products. It rides quite well across a variety of conditions, and will give you a solid riding experience. When on powder, its slightly wider than average waist width will allow you to stay afloat, and will provide you with the ability to shred in soft powder. It has a medium stiff flex to provide optimum performance, and can even hold an edge on steep firm snow. It is light enough for the ascent, and while it is not a freestyle focused board, it will still allow you for some playful trickery. This board is best for those who are on a budget, and need a lightweight and quality board. It is also best used for powder days to huge climbs. Click here to check the price on amazon.com.
If you want a splitboard for freestyling, you have to choose a twin-shaped one. Although you don’t necessarily need to size up, it may still help if you plan on doing tricks in the powder.
The Jones Mountain Twin splitboard is one of our top choices for the best freestyle splitboards.
Jones Mountain Twin
Weight: 6.61 lbs
Lengths: 157, 159W, 160
Flex: Medium Stiff
The Jones Mountain Twin is easy, effortless, and efficient on both the ascent and descent. This board can hold its own, so you do not have to worry about sliding backwards; its camber will keep you in place. Plus, Jones has added notches in the board’s tip and tail to help keep your skins in place while touring. It will keep you afloat, it is easy on the skin track, and will provide you with lots of freestyle fun. With this board, you can ride confidently in a variety of snow conditions. Click here to check the price on amazon.com.
For freeriding, it is best to choose directional and stiff flexing boards. Look for a board with some camber under your back foot to provide maximum power and control, and a rocker in the nose, so that it can stay afloat in deep snow.
Our top choice for this category is the Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero X splitboard.
Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero X
Weight: 7 lbs
Lengths: 146, 150, 154, 158, 162
The Burton Family Tree Hometown Hero X is built for the icy slopes and tight tree runs. It is a solid freeride board, which is best for aggressive chargers. With this board, you do not have to lean back and throw yourself off balance, as its elongated rocker will keep you up and out of the snow. When straightlining, it will provide you with stability, and will ensure that you get all the reactivity and responsiveness that you need. This is recommended for riders who push themselves to their limits, and reap the benefits that this board offers. Click here to check the price on amazon.com.
Most manufacturers offer splitboards specifically made for women. These boards have narrow waist widths, come in smaller sizes, and have softer flexes. There are a lot of different shapes and camber profiles to be able to accommodate different styles of riding.
Best splitboard for women
Weight: 7 lbs
Lengths: 148, 152, 159, 163
Flex: Medium Stiff
The Nitro Squash proves to be a solid splitboard, as it provides optimum float, and performs well at the resort, for cat skiing, and for occasional splitboarding. It is super fun on the descent, and riding it in heavy snow seems effortless. It also provides good maneuverability, and due to its tip to tail camber, the edge hold is superior. This is a good option for powder riding, and for anyone who is new to splitboarding. Click here to check the price on amazon.com.
The best way to choose the right splitboard length is by consulting the brand’s or model’s size chart. These list what board is appropriate for your body weight.
Our chart below can help you get an idea of what board length best suits you, based on your weight.
|Rider Weight (lbs.)||Splitboard’s Size (cm)|
- If you have a snowboard for powder or freeride, and you like the way it rides, then you probably will be happy with the same size for your splitboard.
- If you like riding a freestyle board inbounds, then you may want a splitboard that is only a few centimeters longer, as this will provide better performance, especially in soft snow.
- A longer splitboard will both support your body weight and the weight of your gear better than a shorter splitboard. Plus, it will provide excellent flotation in soft snow. When going uphill, the extra length will provide better glide, which will result in better efficiency when skinning.
- A shorter splitboard is usually lighter than a longer one, which can be beneficial on adventures with lots of climbing.
- A shorter splitboard proves to be more maneuverable, which makes it easier to perform kick turns when skinning, and turn through tight trees on the downhill.
- If you opt for a splitboard that can do it all, and performs well whether in deep powder or spring corn snow, you should pick a mid-range length that is able to strike a balance between flotation and maneuverability.
One of our top choices when it comes to the best all-around splitboards is the Weston Backcountry Japow Splitboard, in a mid-length size of 154cm.
Weston Backcountry Japow Splitboard
Weight: 7 lbs
Lengths: 154, 159, 164, 169
The Japow splitboard comes from one of the top splitboard manufacturers, Weston Backcountry. It is named after the best rated shred destination because of its impressive all-around performance. This is a Japanese-inspired deck, which is ideally made for deep snow. It will allow you to glide over the deep stuff, will provide that surfy feel, and can hold its own even at higher speeds. This splitboard will offer you a smooth and effortless ride, while allowing you to stay afloat. Click here to check the price on amazon.com.
- True twin
Looking for a symmetrical, true twin splitboard with a centered stance is not likely. So, if you like to ride one of those for the backcountry, your best option is to look for a directional twin splitboard, which is designed to have minimal stance setback and to be ridden switch.
These boards have a longer nose and shorter tail, which makes them suitable for riding mostly in one direction. They have an asymmetrical flex that is usually stiffer in the tail, which is good for carving, and is softer in the nose to allow for good flotation. These profiles make them suitable for carving at high speed, and riding in powder.
- Directional twin
These are similar to true twin snowboards, which have a completely symmetrical shape and flex. However, they have a stance that is slightly set back, and their flex and shape profiles vary from nose to tail. These are very versatile boards that are good for riding all over the mountain, in many different conditions. So, if you like to ride a twin or directional twin snowboard, and want that same sense of freestyle in the backcountry, then opt for a directional twin splitboard.
How well your snowboard boots fit on the board comes from choosing the right width. The right width will allow the boots’ toes and heels to slightly hang over the edges of the board to give you good leverage when turning.
Too wide: If your board is too wide, it won’t provide you with enough leverage to maneuver easily from edge to edge.
Too narrow: on the contrary, if your board is too narrow, your heels and toes overhang too much, which may cause drag when turning, and will cause you to lose control.
Here’s a chart to give you an approximate waist width for boot sizes:
|Splitboard Waist Width||US Men’s Boot Size||US Women’s Boot Size|
|235-245mm||6.0 to 8.0||<7.5 to 9.5|
|245-255mm||8.0 to 9.5||9.5 to 11|
|255-260mm||10 to 11.5||11.5|
Note that there are a lot of splitboards that are wider than those mentioned above, so it is important that you check the manufacturer’s size chart to make your choice.
More often than not, splitboards are stiffer than a standard snowboard. This added stiffness will allow for a good control and edge hold on both uphill and downhill. It will also support your weight, and the weight of your backcountry gear.
You have to pick a board that is designed for the type of riding that you often do. This way, you can get the right flex for you. If you ride fast and need a high-speed performance from a board, then choose one with a stiff flex. If you are an all-mountain rider, a board with a medium flex will suffice, and is more versatile for a wide variety of conditions and terrains. For riders who like making surfy turns, and like slashing through powder, a board with a soft flex is a better choice. However, some manufacturers make splitboards with a flex that may differ throughout its length.
Fortunately, all clips are designed to keep the two skis securely locked together to set up for snowboarding. Thus, you don’t really have to pay much attention to them when shopping, as they do their job pretty well. But here are some factors you may still want to look out for:
- Most clips will allow you to adjust their tension to eliminate any play that can develop over time. This will ensure that you can keep the two halves of the board pulled together securely.
- Most clips swivel out of the way for them not to get banged up nor caught on something while you are skinning.
- Manufacturers have had to drill holes through the board, so that you can install the clips, thus leaving exposed bolt heads on its base. But some manufacturers are innovating on ways to avoid this. This results in a smoother base, to provide you with the best ride quality.
- If you don’t like the clips that came with your board, you can opt for clips that are sold aftermarket, and can be effortlessly installed.
Two main choices for a topsheet material are fiberglass and carbon. However, manufacturers are innovating with many unique topsheet options.
This is the commonly used topsheet material because it is affordable, and can be applied in different ways to be able to achieve certain flex features. However, fiberglass is heavy, and is less stiff than carbon.
This material is used in many high-end splitboards to reduce weight and increase stiffness. Carbon can dramatically increase the price, so you have to think about whether or not you really need it. If you do a lot of long-distance tours, the weight of carbon may be worth the added cost.
Climbing skins have attachment setups that work well with splitboards, so you do not have to worry about prioritizing this feature. These attachment points are for climbing skins to be kept securely in place, and is a nice feature if you are into the design of the board.
Some boards have predrilled inserts, which are simple and reliable. They can accommodate all splitboard bindings on the market. Their standardized mounting pattern offers ample options for positioning bindings, allowing most backcountry riders to find the stance width and angles that best work for them.
- Channel mounts
These are channel systems, instead of pre-drilled inserts. This can be recognized by the four slots that run parallel to the board, where the bindings mount. Channels allow for lots of options, so you can dial in your stance. If you have a unique stance, whether it is very wide or has super high angles, you may opt for a board with channels.
Tip and tail reinforcement
Tip and tail reinforcements are placed to protect your board from bumping against trees, rocks, and other obstacles you may encounter while riding or skinning. A splitboard’s tips and tails are more vulnerable to being damaged, which is why most manufacturers include metal at the board’s nose and tail.
Camber refers to the midsection of the board that is uplifted. This camber will allow for a good grip, and will create good edge hold, especially on hard snow. A good edge hold thus provides more stability while turning, and will also allow you to control the board even at higher speeds. The only downside with cambered boards is that they tend to have less floatation in powder.
A rocker is the continuous arc that curves up from the center of the board, which makes its nose and tail rise off the surface. A rockered board will allow for good flotation in soft snow, and good maneuverability. However, it will give you less edge control, and less grip when skinning.
This profile is a combination of a camber and rocker to offer you the best of both worlds. A lot of manufacturers innovate with many variations, but the typical attributes of a camber/rocker board profile include good flotation, good edge hold, and good edge contact, or good grip when skinning.
Always remember that before heading out on your first backcountry adventure, you must have solid knowledge about backcountry travel. And if you are a beginner, it is recommended that you take an avalanche awareness class beforehand.