How to get started: splitboarding


HOW TO GET STARTED: SPLITBOARDING

If you’re wanting to head off piste into the backcountry, away from long queues and lots of people, looking for a new adventure then you’ve come to the right place. As splitboarding rises in popularity we’re here to give you all the information you need to get started. 

Our stores have a wide range of splitboarding equipment, so if in doubt, visit us in store and get expert advice from our knowledgeable staff. 


What is a Splitboard?

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:

  • Splitboard
  • Interface
  • Bindings
  • Split hooks and tip and tail clips
  • Climbing skins
  • Crampons
  • Poles
  • Avalanche transceiver, probe, and shovel
  • Avalanche airbag

Splitboards

As splitboarding is rising in popularity, more and more brands are releasing their own options with a variety of camber profiles and shapes. Choosing the right splitboard is similar to choosing a regular snowboard based on your weight, ability, riding style, and not to mention the terrain you’ll be riding on.  

 

While some snowboarders prefer to create their own splitboard using different power tools, factory made splitboards are the easiest but more expensive option. With sealed inside edges, factory inserts, and pre-installed clips, they’re ready to take on the mountain without the fuss of hacking up your board.  

 

Many brands now offer women specific splitboards with narrow waist widths, softer flex, and a larger range of smaller sizes.  

POWDER 

 

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.  

 

FREESTYLE 

 

If you’re looking for something a little more playful, ideal for riding switch and hitting side hits, go for a twin tipped board.  

 

FREERIDE 

 

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.  

 

INTERFACE 

 

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.  

 

BINDINGS 

 

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. 

 

Split Hooks and Tip and Tail Clips

Split hooks help keep the two halves of your splitboard together giving more torsional stiffness.  Tip and tail hook clips are small plastic pieces that connect at the tip and tail. These give your splitboard a more solid and supportive ride. 

Climbing Skins

Aside from your splitboard itself, climbing skins are the most important part of your kit as they provide the necessary grip for you to ascend. Adhesive-backed pieces of fabric, climbing skins attach to your tips and tails to allow you an easier walk up the hill by using tiny hairs that point towards the tail of your board also preventing you from sliding backwards. Held on by glue and mechanical hardware it is essential your skins fit your skis or splitboard properly or you’ll have a hard time.  

Splitboard Crampons

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.  

 

Poles

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.  

 

Avalanche Transceiver, Probe and Shovel

Every rider should carry an avalanche transceiver, a shovel, and a probe to help you find, and be found, in the event of an avalanche. Even with proper rescue technique, the chance of survival in an avalanche is very low so it’s important you can act quickly.  

Avalanche Airbag

There are two types of avalanche safety packs designed to increase your chances of survival in an avalanche burial.  

The first is an airbag which can be activated and inflated within seconds to help keep you afloat of an avalanche by keeping you in a more horizontal position, preventing you from sinking, and allowing you to be carried along the surface of the snow mass.  

The second system is an AvaLung pack which allows you to maximise your available oxygen in the snow mass, while expelling CO2 away from your face.  

Many more experienced ridings carry both.  

Don't Forget

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.