A splitboard is a snowboard that has been cut in two, vertically, to make two ‘skis’ and is key for any snowboarder who wants to access the true backcountry. Once apart, these skis can be used to hike uphill using climbing skins to reach the perfect powder out in the backcountry, similar to a snowshoe. Once you’ve reached the top, you fit the skis back together to create a snowboard to ride down.
While splitboards ride similarly to normal snowboards they won’t feel exactly the same. Splitboards are usually stiffer to compensate for the reduction in rigidity and you may notice extra chatter or flex on piste.
Splitboards requires specific bindings, clips, and equipment to ensure a safe ride down the mountain. We’ll take you through the follow splitboarding essentials:
- Split hooks and tip and tail clips
- Climbing skins
- Avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel
- Avalanche airbag
Riders tend to size up when it comes to powder boards; allowing for more float in deep powder. Consider a board with a tapered tail and some form of rocker allowing your tail to sink and your tip to rise.
If you’re looking for something a little more playful, ideal for riding switch and hitting side hits, go for a twin tipped board.
Go for a directional and stiff board with camber under your back foot to give you performance and control and rocker in the nose to stay afloat in deep powder.
The interface connects your bindings to your board; whether you’re touring or riding. Currently, there two main interface systems the Voilé puck system and the Karakoram system.
You can use regular bindings with the Voilé system but a specific pair of splitboard bindings is always recommended. They are more durable and lighter for backcountry and often come with features for a wider range of motion going uphill. But fortunately, you can use your normal snowboarding boots with splitboards and bindings.
Crampons can come in handy, especially on icy peaks, and with most brands building crampons compatible with their bindings you won’t regret having them in your pack.
While most regular snowboarders don’t need poles they’re essential for hiking up mountains, giving you added balance and power on flat. Collapsible poles are a good option, allowing you to store them in your pack while you ride down.
Riding outside the designated ski area boundaries means taking a risk and accepting the dangers you might face, whether it’s avalanches, cliffs, tree wells, or simply getting lost. If you aren’t comfortable making the decision of which route to take and where to go, don’t take the risk.
Carrying the right gear and knowing how to use it does minimise some danger from avalanches so make sure you’re educated on what to do if the snow slides.
Most European and North American resorts have companies that offer avalanche safety training where you learn about the dangers of backcountry, how to lessen them, as well as further understanding of snowpack and stability and avalanche rescue. You can also find these classes in most UK snow domes.