How to Choose a Splitboard

Splitboards are gaining popularity fast among riders. Initially, snowboards, which were partitioned in the middle, were launched in the market in the ’90s, but splitboards were not as common. Nevertheless, since then, plenty has changed, and split-board manufacturers have recognized splitboarding’s potential. 

That said, selecting a suitable splitboard is as tricky as it is crucial. Typically, a splitboard acts as your body’s extension in irrefutably obligating circumstances. Regardless of the route, you’re riding; it’s essential to finalize your adventure and make it back to land once you get started. 

Having a suitable splitboard for your route and size will facilitate efficiency when on your tour. Today we talk about how to choose a splitboard, everything from what to look for to additional tips on what to consider when selecting the right splitboard. However, before we delve into that, let’s first find out what a splitboard is and its purpose.

What is a Splitboard?

How to Choose a Splitboard Width

A splitboard is a type of snowboard that can be split into two parts similar to skis. They are utilized with climbing skins to climb terrain similar to telemark skis or alpine touring. The significant difference between skis and splitboards is that splitboards will have an extra metal edge for additional grasp when in ski mode. 

With several tweaks, you can change your splitboard into an entirely functional touring ski. In the middle of the board is the binding for ascension, then you wear suitable climbing skins, and once that’s done, you’re ready to begin your adventure. 

The benefits of a splitboard tour include the probability of an easy climb and the gear required, compared to snowboarding or touring with snowshoes. So, without further ado, here are some valuable tips on how to choose the most suitable split-board for you and have the best time of your life in the mountains. Here we tackle the topic of how splitboards work.

How to Choose a Splitboard Length

Selecting a splitboard with the perfect length is almost the same as choosing the appropriate length of a traditional snowboard. The most effortless way to do this is to refer to a size chart with suitable board lengths for various body weights. 

For example, you might find that a 145 cm long splitboard is suitable for riders weighing 135 to 145 lbs. So, once you check a reliable chart and have an idea of the correct splitboard length, it’s time to weigh in your riding style and the kind of route you’d like to discover on your board. This will allow you to decide if you should choose a shorter or longer board from the above length. 

Here’s what to consider: 

  • If you have a powder or freeride snowboard, or something similar, you’ll most likely be fine with the same size splitboard.
  • If you own a freestyle board, you might be better off with a splitboard that’s several centimeters longer, as this will enhance your performance on softer snow. 
  • An extended splitboard holds your body and gear weight efficiently compared to a shorter one. Also, it’s ideal for flotation on snow. When climbing, the additional length offers improved glide, resulting in enhanced proficiency when skinning. 
  • On the other hand, a shorter board is usually more lightweight than a lengthier one, which comes in handy in adventures with plenty of climbing expeditions. 
  • Additionally, a shorter splitboard is more navigable, thus making it more effortless to maneuver kick turns when skinning and moving through the trees when descending. 

Meanwhile, there are plenty of personal preferences that go into picking the length of your splitboard. Therefore, regardless of what you’re advised, if you would like a shorter or longer board, you can consider that when choosing your splitboard’s length. 

How to Choose a Splitboard Camber and Rocker

If you’re familiar with snowboarding, you’re probably conversant with most snowboard profiles like flat/rocker, camber, rocker vs. camber, rocker, and flat. These are the same for splitboards, though most fall under the camber/rocker, rocker, and camber categories. Picking the most suitable one will significantly rely on the terrain you’re on, personal preferences, and how you ride. 

Camber

The raised center part distinguishes this type of splitboard. 

Pros:

  • Excellent grip: Camber offers consistent edge contact, which leads to superior edge hold, specifically on harder snow. This is particularly evident when skinning and descending. 
  • Decent control under high speeds: Another thing to love about cambered splitboards is that they provide a steady feel that allows them to handle swift and aggressive riding impressively. 
  • Constancy when turning: The great edge hold develops a stable feel when riding. 

Cons:

  • Reduced floatation: This mainly happens in powder. Considering this splitboard has no turned-up tail and nose, like a rockered splitboard, it usually doesn’t float as decently when descending or ascending on deep and soft snow. Nevertheless, with ample experience and skills, it’s effortless to ride a cambered splitboard in powder. 
How to Choose a Splitboard Shape

Rocker

A rocker is the complete opposite of its counterpart. It features a constant arch which curvatures from the middle of the board. This way, the tail and nose of a rocker splitboard are turned up off the snow’s surface. 

Pros:

  • Impressive flexibility: With this board, there is reduced edge contact, which facilitates easy, swift turning. 
  • Outstanding flotation: A rockered splitboard offers decent flotation, particularly on soft snow. With the turned-up tail and nose, this board comes in handy in keeping you afloat. 

Cons:

  • Reduced grasp: When skinning, various factors can impact your tour, like snow conditions and riding style. For this reason, you can’t solely blame the splitboard if you’re sliding. Nonetheless, rockered splitboards will facilitate reduced contact between you and the snow than a cambered board due to the turned-up tail and nose.
  • Reduced edge control: While flexibility is a good thing, it has its downsides. Reduced edge contact translates to reduced control and grasps on hard snow, irrespective of whether you’re moving downhill or navigating a steep terrain when skinning. 

Camber/rocker

Nowadays, most splitboards blend rocker and camber structures for best results. There is a wide array of designs of the camber/rocker combination. All the same, here are some common features: 

  • Decent flotation: While this splitboard’s flotation is not as good as a rocker splitboard’s, the raised tail and nose helps you stay afloat when you’re on soft snow. 
  • Excellent grip: The cambered underfoot maintains excellent edge contact, especially when skinning. Also, the impressive skin-to-snow interaction with this board allows for a steady grip when skinning. 
  • Great edge control: The underfoot has a cambered build which offers a few of the edge-hold aspects of a completely cambered board. 

How to Choose a Splitboard Shape

It’s time to choose the ideal shape, now that you’ve decided on the most suitable design and length. Most splitboards are classified as directional twin or directional. The simplest way to make a decision on the shape you’d like is by looking at your snowboard’s shape, as most riders will go for a splitboard with the same profile. 

For instance, if you have an actual twin snowboard, you’ll most likely go for a directional twin splitboard. All the same, here’s what you need to know about each splitboard’s shape.

How to Choose a Splitboard Length

Directional twin

Directional twin boards have the same appearance as true twin snowboards. True twin snowboards are equipped with a completely symmetrical flex and shape. However, they typically feature a somewhat slant stance, and the profile of the flex and shape may vary from tail to nose. 

Furthermore, these splitboards are flexible for traversing throughout the mountains and in other conditions. Therefore, if you prefer a directional twin or twin snowboard, this is the way to go. 

Directional

Typically, directional splitboards feature a short tail and an extended nose. This build makes them more suitable for riding in one direction. Besides, the asymmetrical arch is rigid on the rear for appropriate carving, while the soft nose comes in handy for adequate flotation. These features make directional splitboards excellent for speedy carving as well as traversing in powder. 

True twin

There is a close to no chance to find a fully symmetrical, true twin board featuring a centered bearing. Thus, if you prefer traversing with a splitboard similar to a true twin board, the directional twin board is the closest you’ll come. It has a minimal bearing setback. 

How to Choose a Splitboard Width

Like snowboards, splitboards come in various widths, though most versions are available in wide and regular models. Selecting the most suitable width for you is dependent on how your snowboard footwear fits on your board. 

Similar to a conventional snowboard, the adequate width lets the heels and toes of the footwear hang on the board’s edges marginally. However, this should not be more than 2cm on either edge. This offers you decent leverage when turning. 

So, here’s what you need to remember:

  • If you pick a splitboard that is too wide, you might not get ample leverage to move from a given edge to another efficiently. 
  • Again, if you choose one that’s too narrow, you’ll most probably lose control. This is because your heels and toes will overhang, making them susceptible to dragging when turning on the snow, resulting in losing control. 

It is also worth mentioning that a few splitboards are relatively wider than standard ones. For example, some are more than 320mm wide on the nose, 300 mm on the tail, and 275mm on the waist.

Typically, these splitboards are structured to offer superior flotation in extremely deep powder. Due to these board’s width, you will traverse a shorter distance than you would in a more conventional freeride splitboard; so, make sure to refer to a reliable size chart. 

Other Features to Consider

While length, shape, width, and design are vital when choosing the right splitboard, there are other somewhat essential features to consider, including:

Flex

Compared to traditional snowboards, splitboards are more rigid. The rigidity comes in handy in offering sufficient edge hold and control when descending and ascending. Besides, it supports the weight of your gear. 

That said, there is a wide variety of flex when it comes to splitboards. The best way to determine the most suitable one is to choose a splitboard that’s designed for your style of riding. For example, if you prefer going fast during your tour and require a splitboard that can handle high speeds, it would be best if you choose a rigid flex. 

Also, if you’re searching for an all-in-one type of board for various terrain and conditions, a splitboard equipped with average flex might come in handy. Again, if you like making multiple turns through powder, the most suitable option will be a soft flex. 

Moreover, many splitboard manufacturers alter the flex all through the board’s length. For instance, a splitboard might be more rigid around the tail for fine carving and edge hold though less rigid around the nose for decent flotation when traversing through soft snow. 

Sheet materials

The top sheet materials will impact the rigidity and stiffness of your splitboard. While splitboard makers develop unique top sheet varieties, the primary options are carbon and fiberglass.

Carbon

This is equipped in most high-end boards to increase rigidity and lessen weight. The inclusion of this material can significantly alter the price, so you’ll have to consider your budget and whether or not you require it. On the other hand, if you plan to take long tours with significant elevation advances, it might be worth investing in carbon’s decreased weight.

Fiberglass

This is the most common top sheep material. It is cheap and can be used in various ways to attain specific flex prospects. Nevertheless, it is much heavier and less rigid compared to carbon. 

How to Choose a Splitboard Camber and Rocker

Attachment hardware

Typically, splitboards feature clips situated at the tail and nose and the middle seam. These clips come in handy in keeping the skis steadily locked together when you’re preparing your splitboard for your adventure. 

No need to purchase specific clips as they all function as needed. That being said, it would be best if the two halves of the board were tight. This is because some snowboarders tend to search for clips with a specific design. 

So, here’s what you might want to remember:

  • Some clips give room for modifying the tension, allowing you to remove play that could come up with time. This guarantees that the two halves of your splitboard remain tight. 
  • Other clips revolve, hindering them from holding onto something when you’re skinning. 

Customarily, splitboard makers have had to make holes on the board to fit the clips. This might turn out to be a problem as the bolt head is left exposed on the board’s base. 

On the other hand, more contemporary board manufacturers are currently designing boards without this; thus, you get a much smoother base for a supreme quality traverse. Therefore, if the clips on your board don’t impress you, you can purchase separate clips elsewhere and install them or have them installed effortlessly. 

Skin fastening spots

With the many splitboard designs on the market comes those with dedicated fastening points to attach the climbing skins. This is something you can ride without since climbing skins feature fastening mechanisms compatible with all boards. Nonetheless, it can be a handy consideration if you are not able to choose between two boards. What’s more, splitboards feature precut skins to eliminate the inconvenience of having to trim them. 

Tip and tail fortification

When traversing, there are high chances that you will run into rocks, trees, and other obstructions. For this reason, most splitboard manufacturers tend to upgrade their boards with sturdy top sheets and fortification in susceptible parts. Nevertheless, it is worth ensuring the splitboard you purchase will keep up. 

Something else to check for is the tail and nose reinforcement. When your board is torn apart, the tails and tips of the skis can be more susceptible to damage. Therefore, many manufacturers incorporate metal at the tail and nose. 

Mounting mechanism

For bindings to mount on your splitboard, you can utilize channel or insert mounts. These two mounting systems are equally reliable. To make your decision easier, here’s what you need to know; 

Insert mounts 

Nowadays, most splitboards feature pre-drilled inserts. Typically, they can hold any splitboard bindings. Additionally, they are easy to use and reliable. Plus, their unchanged mounting pattern provides enough options for placing the bindings, letting most riders locate the stance, as well as the most suitable angles. 

Channel mounts

Other splitboards have an integrated channel mounting mechanism as opposed to the inserts. These are easily recognizable as they have four apertures situated parallel to the splitboard where you can attach the bindings. 

This mounting system provides plenty of options for choosing your stance. For this reason, if you have a distinct stance that’s rather extensive or features tricky angles, you might want to go for a board featuring channels. 

Final Thoughts on How to Choose a Splitboard 

Well, there it is, how to choose the right splitboard. Splitboards are not easy to choose from, so hopefully, this guide has helped make the process easier. All the same, make sure to consider your budget and personal preferences in the process. It might not be a good idea to choose a splitboard that doesn’t meet your personal preferences, even though it is effective. Take your time, stay safe and have fun! 

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About the author 

Bernice

Bernice often jokes that she is better at climbing than walking. With avid parents of climbing, her first encounter with the high vertical rock walls was at the age of one. Her favorite style of climbing is bouldering.

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