Winter is the season where manypeople hit the slopes to experience the fresh powder and thrill of speeding down the mountains. Traditionally, snowboarders and skiers use ski lifts to ascend the mountain before carving their way down. But a non-traditional experience that is quickly gaining popularity in the freerider community is splitboarding.
If you can’t get enough action on the slopes and you can’t decide whether to ski or snowboard, a splitboard is a unique piece of equipment that gives you the best of both worlds. Splitboards have a multi-purpose design that can be used like traditional snowboards or be split apart to be used as skis. The duality of the split snowboards allows adventurers to carry less gear for ascending and descending mountain peaks.
However, your experience on the mountain is dependent on the quality of your gear. The best splitboard can ensure that you have a great day on the slopes, but choosing a design is easier said than done. To help splitboarders get started in their search, we’ve made a comprehensive guide and selected the four best splitboards in 2020 that you’ll enjoy using for your mountain adventure.
How To Choose A Splitboard – Buying Guide
Skiers and snowboarders know that having flexibility in their gear is important because it will affect their overall performance. A snowboard split in two or used as one piece needs to have flexibility, but the level of flex is entirely up to the rider. There are split snowboards that are highly flexible and other models that are fairly stiff. Whether you want more rigidity, or less will be based on a rider’s level of experience and the terrain.
Beginner or intermediate splitboarders are better off having more flexibility in their powder splitboard for a couple different reasons. Flexible boards are more forgiving overall and easier to maneuver. When you’re learning to turn on ascents and descents, the additional flexibility can make it less frustrating to learn new skills. A snowboard splitboard with more flexibility has slightly less grip so that they are easier to turn. Thus, you will also have a more forgiving hold on the edges, which makes turning easier too.
However, advanced or expert splitboarders may choose a stiff or more rigid splitboard because of the different advantages that less flexibility provides. For free riders, less flexibility is better because it will help them enhance their performance and go faster down the mountain. With increased stiffness, the splitboard will have a better grip, which assists riders in making quick and secure turns. The edge hold of the board will also be better if it is stiffer, which makes descending a slope with speed a lot safer and enjoyable.
Sometimes the balance is good and having a board with both flexibility and stiffness will perform better on a large variety of terrain conditions. On softer terrain, like fresh powder, flexible boards tend to gently float on top of the snow. It is also easy for flexible boards to cut through the lightly packed snow. However, on hard-packed snow, stiffer boards perform better because of the enhanced edge hold. On crud or poor snow conditions, the increased grip that a stiff split snowboard has will make it easier to navigate the uneven surfaces. For backcountry splitboarders, snow conditions may not always be the perfect powder that riders dream of, so being prepared for ice or hard-packed snow is important too.
When you are shopping for your top rated splitboard snowboard, the flexibility of the model should be indicated in the product information. Most companies will rate the flex of their design by soft, medium, and firm so that you know exactly how much stiffness a board has or doesn’t have.
When we discuss the effectiveness of a board, we are talking about the top sheet of split snowboards, which is the part of the board you see on the top. A top sheet protects the internal parts of the snowboard and helps provide you with a stable base. The best splitboard snowboard will have a well-designed top sheet that combines strength with a lightweight feel to make it more effective when cutting through the snow.
The strength of the top sheet will help protect your board from the rough mountain conditions. With increased strength, your board will last longer and withstand small bumps and scrapes against debris on the trails. Even hard-packed snow can damage a board, so having more strength ensures that your board is suitable for a rugged adventure.
But with strength, increased weight can be a problem because you want to keep the overall weight of your powder splitboard to a minimum. Therefore, you want to look for strong, but lightweight materials. The best splitboard snowboard will use plastic for the top sheet because it is lightweight and extremely durable. Plastic will also resist the snow and damage from the snow, like scratches, which is beneficial on the slippery slopes. With less snow on top of your snowboard splitboard, you will carry less weight and can move more freely.
While the construction of your top rated snowboard splitboard is important, materials used in the core will determine the quality of the board. The top sheet materials have already been discussed, but the core of your board can’t be made of plastic. Instead, a snowboard split in two needs to have the durability to function as one whole piece and two separate pieces. The most common and durable materials include wood and fiberglass, which are blended to combine strength with a formed shape.
Wood is a great material because it is strong, but lightweight. A core made of wood will be durable enough to use as you climb the mountain and carve your way down. However, wood does need a little reinforcement and helps with the overall shape. Fiberglass is used to enhance the shape of the board and ensure that it is perfect for various backcountry splitboard adventures.
But there are two different types of wood, softwood and hardwood, that you will need to consider. A softwood, like Poplar or Spruce, will make a lightweight board that travels faster down the slopes of the mountain. A hardwood, like Beech and Birch, makes a stronger board that has better reinforcements to withstand extreme trail conditions. Both kinds of wood have their advantages and disadvantages, which means that softwood and hardwood is combined into one durable design.
The best splitboard will actually have a quality softwood and hardwood in its construction to make it both lightweight and strong. By combining the two types of wood, you get the best of both worlds and ensure you have a board that you can use for multiple years. The materials used for a splitboard design should be included in the product information so that buyers know exactly what to expect from their board in its performance and features.
The biggest feature that you should consider for your splitboard is the shape of the board. The shape is important because different shapes can enhance your performance depending on the terrain you are exploring, the carving performance, and the flexibility. There are a few different shapes that are available on the market.
A directional splitboard will have a longer nose, which makes carving powder easy. With the long nose, you can effectively make your turns through fresh snowfall without getting caught or sticking. A tapered nose splitboard has a tail that is thinner than the width of the nose. The tapering effect can help splitboarders move faster though the snow and down the mountain, but still have the stability needs for turning. Additionally, tapered nose splitboards have better carving performance because the heel edge has a sharper sidecut. The last type of splitboard is a twin board. The twin board will have a tail and nose that mirror each other so that they are exactly the same. The mirroring gives these boards a balanced flex from both directions.
Riders will have to consider the different shapes and features of their board to determine which style would suit them best. The shape of the snowboard splitboard should be stated in the product information; however, splitboard reviews are also a great resource for reliable information. Reviews can help you determine what terrain a specific splitboard model would be best for based on buyers with the first-hand experience of a product.
For splitboards, there isn’t a “one size fits all”. Riders can be a variety of sizes and heights, which means they need a board compatible in length and width. Most brands are concerned with inclusivity, so they will offer their boards in a variety of lengths and widths. But with so many size options, it can be challenging to choose the right one for you.
For estimating the length of your board, you can measure from your chin to your feet. The measurement will provide a loose reference for how long your board needs to be, but you should consider that depending on your style of riding, you may want a shorter or longer length. Free riders tend to size up for additional lengths on their boards because it makes them more efficient at floating through deep powder. Shorter lengths can make you turn faster and are easier to maneuver, which would be ideal for beginning splitboarders.
The width is a lot easier to determine because most widths do not have a large size difference. A standard width should suit most riders unless you have large feet and bindings. If your feet are larger than average, you may want an extra-wide width to ensure the correct fit. With the extra width, it will be slightly harder to turn, but you will have increased stability.
It is also important to keep in mind that most length and width measurements use centimeters instead of inches. Some brands may include a size chart which can estimate your height and suggest the best length splitboard for your needs.
In features, we discussed how the shape of the board can affect your performance. Specifically, we pointed out the different shape designs and their advantages. In this section, we will discuss shape in relation to the type of splitboarding style you enjoy.
As we said, the shape can be affected by the terrain, so if you have a favorite terrain, it’s easy to determine which splitboard is best for you. The most common shapes based on their terrain are powder and freeride, freestyle, and women’s splitboards.
The powder and freeride shape is best for freshly fallen snow that is still untouched. If you enjoy deep powder all year long, this board shape is hardened, but still flexible to provide the best experience on backcountry trails. With good direction, you’ll have better control in difficult snow conditions. Additionally, this shape can have an enhanced camber and rocker, which also provides better control over your splitboard.
The freestyle shape is also great for powder but can make performing tricks easier. A freestyle shaped splitboard is usually the twin shape, which means you get an even flexibility and better uplift to catch air to perform your exciting tricks. With the freestyle shape, you can turn the mountain into your personal playground.
Finally, because splitboarding is the up-and-coming winter sport, brands now have women’s splitboards. Women used to have to purchase shorter splitboards that were designed for men, but with the growing demand, now there are models that cater specifically to women’s needs. Women’s splitboards tend to have a narrower width, shorter length, less weight, and softer flexibility. All of these features combined make the shape and construction ideal for women’s anatomies.
Related Review: Women’s Snowboard
If you’re wondering how long skis and snowboards should be, you might be struggling with splitboards too. As we discussed, splitboards come in a variety of lengths. There isn’t one universal length that suits all riders. Riders will need to take their own measurements and use the results to estimate the best length. In general, you want your splitboard length to rest between your chin and nose.
The length of your splitboard will also depend on the application of weight. Longer splitboards provide more stability at high speeds and turns, which can be great for beginning boarders. A larger surface area also makes climbing up hill easier. But a shorter splitboard has more agility and weighs less. The shorter length can also be easy to carry uphill, but it also makes it easier for riders to effortlessly perform tricks.
Additionally, men’s sizes and women’s sizes tend to be different. Men are usually taller than women, so they need additional length to ensure their board functions properly. However, women’s splitboards tend to be shorter in length to accommodate the smaller statures.
The binding system is very important for splitboards because it is how you will stay connected to your board or skis. The best splitboard will have interface connect bindings and a function binding system, which ensures you get a high-quality performance out of your equipment. There are a variety of different binding systems that you can choose from.
Spark R and D bindings are the most common binding system featured on the market. These bindings incorporate a Tesla system to make them easy to use, quick to construct, and lightweight. With an integrated ascent help, these bindings have two hardness categories so you can choose what’s best for your needs. A heel locker will keep the bindings in place, so that you can skate or traverse with your splitboard. However, you will need pucks to change the position of your bindings from ascent to riding mode.
The Burton Hitchhiker splitboard bindings are a combination of the brand’s own design and Spark R and D bindings. The combination of the two creates a binding that uses the Tesla system and Burton bindings to enhance the comfort and stability for the rider. The Hitchhiker bindings are fast on the ascent and descent, which is ideal for intermediate, advanced, and expert riders. Keep in mind that the Burton bindings are only compatible with Voilé pucks.
The Karakoram bindings are more expensive than other options, but they feature a complete interface and heel locker in the design. Splitboard reviews often state that these bindings are stiffer on the descent, which makes the rider more sensitive to the feel of the board. The Karakoram bindings are also easy to use and transfer without the need for additional tools.
A Union Expedition binding is another choice on the market that has two different designs. The Union Expedition FC used forged carbon for a bombproof connection for backcountry adventures. However, the Union Split system has a great performance that is easily connected with just one pin. Both bindings are well-constructed and can be easily changed for uphill and downhill travel.
Finally, the K2 Far Out bindings are the most durable design suitable for backcountry riders. These bindings have an all-day-long comfort with the ergonomic Sender ankle and Perfect Fit 2.0. These features work to make uphill and downhill travel efficient and comfortable.
No matter which bindings you choose, you want to ensure that they are easy to use, durable, and functional. Bindings are not always included with the purchase of split snowboards, so be prepared to search separately for quality bindings. If bindings are included in the purchase, the type of binding should be indicated in the product information.
Q: Should you de-tune a splitboard when you use it?
Whether or not to want to de-tune your splitboard will be up to each rider. Some riders are happy with a product straight out of the package and have no urge to change the product. However, splitboards straight out of the package may not always deliver the best performance. When you are riding your powder splitboard and feel the tail is catching on the snow, you may want to consider de-tuning your board.
The sharp edges of the factory cut or molded splitboard may be so finely cut that they don’t glide through the snow, but instead create an edge. The edge can make the tail catch which makes riding your splitboard more challenging. To de-tune the board and reduce the chance of the tail catching, you can use a piece of sandpaper to file the tip and tail until it is tuned how you see fit. By rounding off and softening the edge, you’ll catch less in the snow and have a smoother ride.
De-tuning is not mandatory. As we stated, some riders feel their splitboard is perfect out of the package and others feel they can make it a little better. Some brands will even tune the board for you so that you don’t have to worry about de-tuning it yourself. If you are worried about damaging your board while you de-tune it, consider contacting the brand for their recommendation.
Q: How often should I wax my splitboard?
All splitboard should be waxed to reduce the amount of friction with the snow and to provide a layer of protection against the water and ice. Whether you are waxing for the first time or re-waxing to perfection, the frequency of how often you wax will be determined by a variety of factors. Wax won’t last forever and eventually it can rub off the board, so you need to be prepared for when the time comes to re-wax your board.
Waxing your splitboard is similar to how you wax snowboard and skis. You will want to use ski and snowboard waxes to get the best performance and quality. However, how often you need to wax will depend on the construction of the board. Sintered base splitboards need more frequent waxing.
Other factors that determine the frequency are how often you use your splitboard, the terrain conditions, and your speed. The more you use the board, the more often you’ll have to keep applying a fresh coat of wax. If you frequent the mountain, you should check before each trip or run to ensure that your powder splitboard has a proper amount of wax. Rough terrain conditions can always wear down your wax faster, so be conscious of hard0packed snow and ice. Finally, how fast you travel will affect how often you need to apply wax. Traveling at faster speeds creates more friction and wear down the wax faster.
In general, you shouldn’t feel slickness on your board when you rub your hand along the bottom. There should be a slight tackiness and you should never feel slickness. When the bottom is slick, you know it is time to re-apply the wax. But there are also splitboard snowboard skins that you can attach for better traction, too. The skins are safe to use with the wax and can be easily applied for the climb uphill. When you need to go downhill, you quickly remove the skins and tuck them away in your bag.
Q: Which foot should be in front?
Have you ever noticed when using your split snowboards that your stance when the board is in once piece may differ from other people? Some people rest with their right foot forward and others with their left foot. The difference is based on which foot is dominant. The dominant foot is placed at the back of the board and used to control your steering.
For beginning riders, you may not know which foot your dominant foot is but there is a simple test you can do to find out. Riders who are unsure should allow a friend to gently shove them from behind. The friend should watch for which foot moves first to catch the person and coordinate the balance. Whichever foot you use first to break the gentle fall is your dominant foot.
It is worth noting that you do not need to be aggressively pushed. Instead, when you’re a little off guard, your friend should shove you just enough to force you to take a step forward. The shove should be steady but not hard enough that you actually have to catch yourself from falling to the ground.
Q: How to clean and store a splitboard?
When the seasons’ change and the snow melts, you know that it’s time to store your powder splitboard for the offseason. While you may miss the snow, you want to be sure that you’ve properly stored your splitboard for when it starts to snow again. Before a board can be safely stored, you should review the board for any damage or dings, check the edges, clean the board, and reapply the wax.
A top rated splitboard snowboard can be easily cleaned off with the hose. The water will wash away any accumulated dirt and grime so that you can dry it with a towel. If you have grease or stains that won’t come off the board, you can try using a citrus-based solvent as a mild detergent. Once you have removed the dirt, you want to ensure that your board is completely dry. The edges should be re-sharpened, which will reduce the chance of rust building up in the storage time offseason. Additionally, you may want to remove any old wax and apply a new layer. Whether you remove the old wax is up to your discretion, but the board should be stored with a new layer of wax for protection.
Once you have taken all the steps to prepare the board for storage, check again that it is completely dry. Once it is dry, you can store it in something, like a ski bag, if you wish. While you don’t have to wrap the board up, it should be stored in a dry location that is away from the path of direct sunlight.
It is important that you take the steps to properly care and store your board because it will ensure that your board lasts for multiple splitboarding seasons. A snowboard splitboard is a big investment, and you wouldn’t want to have to purchase every winter. With the proper care, your board will remain durable and provide the best performance year after year.
Q: Do I need splitboard bindings?
Yes! You cannot use your splitboard without a set of bindings. The bindings are what secure your feet to the board. When the snowboard splits into two parts to act as skis, your heel will remain free for the climb. But when you use the bindings as a snowboard, your feet will be completely secured to the board, as per the usual for snowboarders.
The vast majority of the time, you will need to purchase bindings separate from the splitboard board. Most brands do not include bindings with the purchase of the board, so you’ll have to look elsewhere and attach or hire a professional to mount the bindings. Additionally, most bindings have a universal fit and will be the correct size for a variety of splitboards, no matter the brand. However, you may want to double check the product information or splitboard reviews to see which bindings are actually compatible with your splitboard.
Q: What is the difference between a regular snowboard and a splitboard?
There are a lot of different snowboard types on the market, but it’s important to understand that a snowboard is not the same as a splitboard. A snowboard is a solid piece of equipment that snowboarders use to descend a mountain. The board uses bindings to secure and steady your feet but does not split apart.
A splitboard can be used as both a snowboard and as skis. The splitboard uses locks to secure two pieces together into a snowboard. The snowboard is used for descending the mountain, as you would with any regular snowboard. However, splitboarding eliminates the need to use a ski lift. Instead, the splitboard separates into two separate pieces that act as skis. The skis can then be used to climb up the mountain.
Another difference between a regular snowboard and a splitboard is the bindings. Snowboard bindings are mounted in one position and are not interchangeable. Splitboard bindings are interchangeable and can be repositioned for the ascent and descent. Overall, splitboards are versatile pieces of equipment that are quickly gaining popularity in the world of winter sports.
Globo Surf Overview
When it comes to winter activities, trying something new can be an exciting change. Splitboarding is a newer sport that is quickly becoming popular because it gets people active and combines skiing with snowboarding. With a quality splitboard, you can get your daily exercise as you climb the mountain and have the thrill of racing down from the top.
The best snowboard splitboard will be durable, easy to use, and functional. Riders can embrace the action of two thrilling sports but save time and money by investing in one design. Our comprehensive guide breaks down the most important features every splitboard should have and provides you with a few top rated splitboard snowboard designs to get started in your search. With the best splitboard at your side, there’s no excuse to stay off the mountain.
More Snow Reviews:
- Snowmobile Pants
- Snowshoes For Women
- Snow Gaiters
- Snow Toys
- Ski Helmet Headphones
- Snowboard Padded Shorts
- Antarctica Books
- Freestyle Snowboard Boots
- Kids Ski Pants
- Ski Boots For Kids