Not sure where to start when learning about splitboards? Start here. We tell you what you need to know about splitboards to expand your snowboard know how.
Congratulations! You’ve decided that it’s time to take your riding to the next level and that means it’s time to discover splitboarding. In the easiest terms, splitboards are snowboards that are split down the middle so they can break in to two skis for climbing, traversing and hiking your way into untouched backcountry and normally inaccessible terrain. Continue reading to get a better understanding of what splitboards are and the similarities/differences between splits and snowboards.
What is Splitboarding?
Before we get into details, be sure to take a look at our splitboarding overview video that explains what splitboarding is. The video will go over the basics and diagram the components of splitboard. The information in the rest of this guide will just cover the splitboard itself. When adding bindings, there are more pieces and terminology you’ll need to know that work together in the full setup. See our understanding splitboard bindings guide for more specific information on splitboard bindings and splitboard binding compatibility.
Anatomy of a splitboard
Design & Construction
When it comes to materials, splitboards are similar to snowboards in the way they are designed and constructed. The main difference is a splitboard will have an additional metal edge (down the center of the board) for extra grip in ski mode. Otherwise, you’ll notice more holes and clips that we will explain below.
Nose & Tail Clips
Located at the nose and tail of the board are tip clips, also referred to as nose and tail clips. These secure the alignment of the board and help keep it locked into place in snowboard mode.
Further down the inside of the board (closer to the binding mounts) you will find the another set of clamps called split hooks. These add additional strength to keep the board secure in snowboard mode.
In addition to the mounting pattern, you’ll also see a set of holes on each side in between the binding mount holes. These holes are used to mount your touring brackets and climbing bars that are used in touring mode. See understanding splitboard bindings for more detail on these parts.
Similar to snowboards, splitboards could have different types of binding mount patterns. You’ll commonly see a standard hole pattern (12 hole options on each foot) on the majority of splitboard brands. In 2014, the channel system began making its way into Burton splitboards offering more stance options and fine-tunability.
Riding vs. Touring Mode
When splitboarding you’ll often switch between what are known as riding mode or touring mode, depending on if you are hiking up or riding down. Riding mode is the standard mode of the board when clips are connected and the board is ready to ride. When you split the board into touring mode (also called ski mode), you unclip and swap each side and swap the two halves. After swapping, the outside edge of the snowboard becomes the inside of your skis. This will help add traction and offer stability while climbing and traversing in touring mode.
Board shapes and sizes
Just like shopping for a snowboard, there are many different shapes and camber profiles to consider in the splitboard world. We won’t cover everything here but for more detail on snowboard tech, check out our understanding snowboards guide. When choosing a splitboard, think about what kind of splitting you will be doing. Since splitboarding has grown so much in the past 10 years, there are now many more options to choose from and a board for every riding style.
Freeride boards are made to handle powerful, fast lines and will generally have a traditional camber profile. These boards will be stiffer and more aggressive but can handle the steeps and keep you ahead of the pack. Keep in mind you may want to size up a few centimeters when searching for a faster freeride board.
For those looking to hike and search out some natural terrain, there are many great freestyle options out there. Look for a true twin, possibly a rocker or hybrid profile and maybe a blunted nose and tail for less swing weight. With the right freestyle splitboard you can turn the mountain into your own personal terrain park.
If you only plan to hit the hidden stashes with this new splitboard, then opt for something a little shorter with a nice pronounced, rockered nose and tapered tail.
Rest assured ladies, the industry is looking out for you too. Many of your favorite brands now offer women’s splitboards, made to rip just as hard as the guys, but shaped and sized for the girls.
What other gear do I need with my splitboard?
Splitboarding does require more gear and accessories compared to a standard snowboard setup. Unless noted, splitboards only include the board with the tip/tail clips and split hooks pre-mounted. Everything else will need to be purchased separately. This list below is a standard set of gear you’ll need to complete your setup.
The skins go on the bottom of your skis when in climbing mode. Skins have a sticky backing that can be re-used. To adhere them, stick the top of the skins at the nose of the ski and slowly peel and press the rest of the skins on, tightening as you go down. To remove, reverse these steps and be sure to try to keep the back of the skins dry so the adhesive stays nice and sticky.
Just like a standard snowboard, you will need snowboard boots with your splitboard setup. Any snowboard boot should do the trick but there are some brands like that make more backcountry focused snowboard boots. These backcountry style boots will often have more traction and features that make it easier to tackle challenging terrain in and out of the bindings.
There are conversion kits out there that can allow you to use traditional snowboard bindings. For optimal performance, splitboard bindings are the best way to go. One thing to note is the splitboard interface. The interface is how the bindings connect to the board for both snowboard and ski mode. There are two main systems on the market (Pin System and Puck System) so be sure you are selecting an interface that is compatible with your board and bindings.
For more information on splitboard bindings and the various interface options, check out our understanding splitboard bindings guide.
Safety is the #1 most important thing in the backcountry. Having the right gear can make a difference between life and death. Listing out all the backcountry gear is beyond this guide but we do have a great guide on understanding backcountry gear you should look at.
Just like any other winter sport, staying warm and dry is key to having a good time. You’ll need your typical snow jacket, pants, gloves, goggles, helmet and anything else you wear to keep comfortable with out on the mountian.
Hopefully you were able to take away some valuable info about splitboards. Learning about spliboarding doesn’t stop here. Make sure to view our guide on understanding backcountry gear for a more detailed list of backcountry gear or our understanding splitboard bindings guide for more detail on splitboard binding types.