Spectrum Series: How to Choose A Splitboard

From your lightweight splits, to the powder decks, to everything in between—after this article, you'll have a better understanding of what kind of splitboard you'll want to ride.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when looking to get a splitboard:

  • Where will you find yourself splitboarding: Long approaches, at your local ski resort, short and deep pow runs? Are you going to end up on top of a big, steep line that may have some variable conditions, or are you cruising through powder-filled trees?
  • Is this your only splitboard? Or are you looking for a second board to handle different terrain?

The Spectrum:

Lightweight Splitboards

Here we have our lightweight splitboards. These boards are chosen by those who are conquering technical lines that start before sun up (and often end after sun down), and those who no longer want to make the up a lot easier so they can take multiple laps. Most of these boards use carbon to keep the boards light, without sacrificing performance on the way down. Here are some options:

Weston - Backwoods Carbon Split

Weston Backcountry’s Backwoods Carbon has a directional camber shape, with a tapered tail and early rise in the nose and tail. The tapered shape starts with a long, wide nose for optimal float and ends with a narrow, shorter tail for quicker edge-to-edge turning and stability. The early rise on the nose is much larger than it is on the tail, which keeps the board up on the snow in powder and maneuverable in the trees and on tight terrain.

Just because this board is maneuverable doesn’t mean it can’t rip, though! With vertical aluminum stringers and a 45 degree-laminated paulownia core, plus a carbon topsheet, this board can handle anything you throw at it. You'll find someone riding this splitboard on the steeps of Huntington ravine, on long approaches in the Adirondacks, and also at your local ski resort, skinning up before the day gets started—really, this thing does it all.

Voile - Spartan Accent Splitboard

Voile has been revolutionizing the splitboard game for way longer than most. Every splitboard setup will usually sport some piece of Voile equipment, even if it’s just a tip and tail clip or bolt. The Spartan Ascent is Voile’s everyday splitboard. It's not gonna be your steep line crusher, but because it's softer than most boards in this category, it makes the board more versatile—and way more fun—on 99% of terrain you will come across.

Its laminated paulownia wood core with 2 sheets of a Voile carbon weave and rubber just near the edges (to absorb chatter) creates a smooth, damp ride. The shape of this board is just like its heavier counterpart, the Voile Spartan: traditional camber, with early rise at both ends—but with a little bit more rise in the nose than tail for epic float and maneuverability. If you're heading into the woods, or doing morning laps at your local ski resort and want something on the lighter side of boards, then this is a great option to look into!

G3 - Blacksheep

It took me a little bit of time to like the G3 Blacksheep. I'm not a huge fan of fully-rockered splitboards, because they don’t grip as well on the hike up due to the pivot point being right between the bindings—underfoot—when touring. But! If there is one exception to my rule, it’s the G3 Blacksheep.

Though this lightweight carbon splitboard is fully-rockered, it seems to be mostly flat and offers a stiffer flex, which keeps it rigid, maneuverable, and stable in chunder. The Blacksheep offers a poplar paulownia wood core with biaxial stitched carbon to keep the board light and to give it torsional stability, keeping the board snappy edge to edge. G3 also throws in some triaxial glass for torsion and flex. To summarize: there aren't many boards that can do it all the way that the Blacksheep can.

Daily Driver Splits

These are the splitboards that you can—as the category name suggests—take out every day. Whether the conditions aren’t so great, or it’s an unexpected pow day, their well-designed shapes and constructions will keep you having fun regardless.

Weston - Backwoods Split

The Backwoods is a staple in the Weston lineup. Like its ultra-lightweight brother, the Backwoods Carbon, it features a directional, tapered shape with a directional underfoot camber. This is one of my favorite decks out there, and anyone who hops on this thing is going to have a blast, guaranteed. Sporting a bamboo/poplar core for a poppy but damp ride, with a hole-less base to keep the board moving quickly on snow, this board also has some carbon stringers that run tip to tail to add even more pop and stability.

Plus, if you enjoy the outdoors, and want to support a company that cares about the planet, then Weston is your brand. They donate the profits from each Backwoods sold to the National Forest Foundation, and donate 1% of their total sales to 1% For The Planet to help offset their carbon footprint. Pretty cool if you ask me!

Never Summer - West Bound Split

Never Summer offers their well-known West Bound snowboard as a splitboard, too. This thing is great for those who are looking for a maneuverable ride on the way down, with some of the best float in powder that you’ll ever come across in a splitboard. Never Summer is known for their bomber construction, and it shows in the West Bound: a NS pixie dust wood core and a carbon web layup with fiberglass give this board great responsiveness. They've also added in 2 layers of their RDS 2 damping system to absorb chatter and shark hits that might normally pull an edge out of a board—it's meant to be ridden aggressively.

With this superb ride comes a caveat, however: you'll be sacrificing some grip on the uphills due to the rocker/camber hybrid profile. The heavy rocker between the feet and under the foot zone while it's in touring mode creates a pivot point that doesn’t distribute traction to the whole skin. Keep this in mind especially if you've never splitboarded before and you’re new to skinning.

Burton - Flight Attendant Split

Are you coming from a background of riding twin snowboards, but want a board with a bigger nose to handle powder in the backcountry? Or do you just want a super-versatile splitboard? The Burton Flight Attendant Split just might be the board for you. A directional camber shape with a slight taper in the tail and a softer, larger-volume nose allows this board to float and maneuver extremely well in powder. On hardpack, it'll behave similarly to a twin snowboard, since its camber zone is situated from right outside the feet inwards for optimal grip and stability.

This board has turned riders who have only owned twin boards for their entire lives into directional snowboard aficionados, so park riders beware! The guts of a Flight Attendant include a top glass running from tip to tail as well as in a 45 degree weave, a super-light wood core, some more top glass, and a 45 degree carbon weave for stability and pop. Get on this thing and slash pow, jump off cliffs, or even go hit a natural pole jam—the Flight attendant is ready for it!

Weston - Rise

The Rise is Weston's women's-specific directional twin splitboard. "Directional twin" means that the board has a twin shape with a setback stance for optimal float and maneuverability in powder. This shape allows for creativity in one’s line, and the camber profile (with flat zones to an early rise at the tip and tail) will conquer butters, cliff drops, and jumps with ease.

With a paulownia/poplar wood core, coupled with carbon stringers running from the inserts to the tip and tail on both halves of the splitboard, the Rise maintains its poppy characteristics and turns with precision every time. The softer middle section of the board helps to make the board feel playful and fun, cementing the Ride's status as an well-rounded daily driver.

Powder Splits

Powder Splitboards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This category has everything from super-versatile snowboards that perform well on powder and some mixed terrain, to super-directional shapes with powder being their only focus.

Burton - Anti-Social Split

Burton’s Anti-Social Split falls under the women-specific designs in their Family Tree line, though I will gladly throw anyone who has a smaller build on this board because it is so fun to ride. It has a directional camber shape with a tapered tail, creating an effortless feel in powder and quick edge-to-edge ability.

Though it does have a more powder-focused design, the Anti-Social is also a fantastic daily driver splitboard—it can definitely hold its own in the chunk. With a glass weave both above and below its lightweight wood core, combined with Burton’s Infinite Ride technology, it behaves the same on day 1 as it will on day 50 and beyond—all Burton boards go through a process where they over-build the boards and break them in before you even see them at the store. So grab the Anti-Social, go for a hike in the woods, and shred some pow.

Rossignol - Sushi XV Split

The Sushi is a unique design in the Rossignol lineup. Designed with long time Rossignol rider and freeride legend Xavier De La Rue, this board was created for those deep powder days where you'd want a surf-like ride above all. The Sushi offers a HUGE nose for float, and a very short, stiff tail to allow for maximum stability in powder.

Wherein lies the rub? The Sushi is not very versatile—if you're just looking for a splitboard that goes straight up to ride pow lines straight back down, then it's great, but if you're doing longer approaches with a lot of switchbacks, then it probably won't be the ideal board for you—it doesn’t tour very well. It's great to have as a 2nd board setup, or if you only splitboard a handful of times each year. Also, if you are headed to Japan, this might not be a bad thing to pick up—it'd make your trip one that you'd never forget.

Sizing

Sizing for splitboards is all over the place. There is a common misconception that a splitboard has to be larger than your resort board. In many cases, I believe that to be true, since you'll certainly want extra float in powder. In a case like the Rossignol Sushi XV split (that only comes in a 145cm length) or any other boards that fall under the “short fat” category, however, you absolutely can ride them shorter.

Overall, I recommend looking at the weight ranges often found on the sticker on the back of a snowboard. If you’re super tall but don’t weigh a lot, then you'll want to be closer to the bottom of the weight range. Same with the inverse: If you aren't the tallest person and weigh a bit more, you'll want to sit at the upper end of the weight range of a board. All of these are simply guidelines that can be broken however. If you know you like a specific size of snowboard, then don’t let me or anyone else try and tell you differently—ultimately, you know your riding style better than anyone else out there.

As always, if you have any questions, pop into our social media DMs, hit us up on our online chat, call us up by phone, or just come on in and visit us on Church Street in beautiful Burlington, Vermont! Enjoy the ride!

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