Top 10 Most Recommended SplitboardsPublished on 09/12/2022 · 9 min readAn explanation of splitboarding basics, some easy pointers, and a look at some of the most recommended splitboard equipment on the market.
Photo by Jason Robinson
We are in an exciting time to be in the market for a splitboard. First, costs and crowds alone are enough to leave many of us looking for a viable alternative to resort riding. Combine that with the huge advancements in splitboarding technology over the last 15 years, and these boards are only more appealing.
For those who may be a bit unfamiliar, we’ll cover how a splitboard functions differently from “solid” or traditional snowboards. How a board rides down the hill are practically the same for both split and solid boards. However, a split board is exactly that—split.
The board is split in half vertically to form two skis, this allows you to essentially ski tour uphill yet snowboard down. While wearing your standard snowboard boots you use the splitboard in tour mode, in conjunction with skins and poles, giving you a huge advantage in deep snow.
When you reach the top of your destination, you take the bindings off of the touring configuration and, using clips, combine the separate skis to form a board. Pop your bindings back into a snowboard stance and strap in to enjoy a much more playful descent than skiing can offer.
The invention of splitboards isn’t exactly new technology. However, it's only recently that the equipment has become adopted by the modern-day backcountry rider.
When I purchased my first splitboard setup about 15 years ago, the options were extremely limited and a bit crude. In splitboarding’s early days, it was quite the process to get your setup dialed. Most people would just split their traditional snowboard in half, then drill through and permanently install hardware.
Luckily today, setup is about as easy as adding the necessary components directly to our cart. And, assembly is as simple as tightening a few screws and cutting the skins to width!
Rise in Popularity
As the market began to open and offer more splitboard options, usership increased and the technology improved greatly over only a few years. Splitboards were at one point notorious for being heavy and clunky and were known for failing to offer the stability or durability of a standard snowboard. Today, the equipment is top-notch and offers a very comparable riding experience to a solid board.
The popularity of splitboarding grew as snowboarders that had spent time riding backcountry terrain just outside the ski-area boundaries got more and more exposed to the practice. Then Jeremy Jones threw gasoline on a sector of snowboarding that was already beginning to heat up; he started with his film trilogy: Deeper, Further, and Higher. These films showed the greater snowboard community the potential a splitboard could offer, and more boarders found themselves on the skin track.
Finding the Right Splitboard for You
The plethora of splitboards on the market today may feel a bit overwhelming. There are cambered boards, reverse camber, double camber, wide, mid-wide, directional, true twin tip, directional twins, and kids' and ladies' sizes to navigate as well. And although the proper gear can help save you from overpriced lift tickets, it’s worth keeping in mind that a splitboard setup is not inexpensive either.
Splitboard prices can run upwards of double that of a solid snowboard, so it’s crucial to pick a board you’re confident you will like. Many companies are now making splitboards, so there is a decent chance that the board you are riding now is available as a split also. Another smart option is to demo the solid version of a board that is also made as a splitboard and see which you like the most. All the necessary gear together—including board, bindings, skins, poles, and, of course, avalanche (avy) gear—will typically cost upwards of $2,000. So it’s important to make informed decisions on gear choices.
Get help from one of our Snowboard Experts here at Curated to find a board that is the right height, width, stiffness, shape, and rocker profile for you.
Skins, Poles, and Avalanche Gear
Once you have the board, you still need skins and poles to help complete your setup. The skins provide traction for ascents, while poles help with balance and maneuverability while climbing.
Skins are easily cut to match your board and are intended to produce either a better grip or better glide. Your personal use and preferences will help determine which is best for you, but an effective skin with a balance of grip and glide is a good place to start. My current pair of poles are the Black Diamond Expedition 3—they are durable and feel really nice in my hands.
Lastly, always a must when going on any backcountry trip, even if near a ski resort, is your avy gear. You will need a shovel and probe in the event of a rescue or burial, as well as a backpack to house these items. Another must is an avalanche beacon that is worn on your person at all times, turned on, and set to transmit. I use the BCA Tracker 3.
Bindings have been a huge advancement in the splitboard world over the last ten years. In the beginning, splitboarders were limited to a system of pucks that normal snowboard bindings could slide onto somewhat unintuitively. This primitive system left you hovering nearly an inch above the topheet of the board. It lacked responsiveness and felt sketchy in more technical terrain or at higher speeds. Modern splitboard bindings transition from tour to ride mode with ease. Bindings are mounted directly to the boards, sitting flush on the topshet, similar to how a regular snowboard is set up. This gives you a much more stable position on the board and a more comfortable ride. The whole attachment system has been streamlined and the equipment is not only lighter but more comfortable and reliable.
Spark R&D and Karakoram are two of the main manufacturers that have been pushing the standard for splitboard systems, bindings, and accessories over the last ten years. Recently, more traditional snowboard bindings makers like Union and Burton have begun offering splitboard bindings as well.
Lighter-weight and more durable hardware—combined with new developments in mounting systems—have led to a massive increase in splitboarding’s enjoyability levels. Better responsiveness and functionality of the binding/board interface have attracted intermediate and expert riders alike.
The 10 Most Recommended Boards
1. Most Trusted: Jones Solution Splitboard
From the board line of one of the pioneers of splitboarding, Jeremy Jones, is the “Jones Solution”. The solution to what you ask? I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s the solution to all of life's problems. Allow your troubles to melt away with this directional splitboard featuring a true camber profile, a mid-stiff flex, and a tapered directional shape providing better float. The solution to the problem you never knew you had.
2. Most Affordable: Capita Neo Slasher
The Neo Slasher is on the splitboards on the more affordable end of the market. It features a mid-body camber, a flat tail, and a wide-framed rockered nose. It is set back one inch from the center and is ready to get you into the backcountry while avoiding bankruptcy.
3. Craftsman’s Choice: The GOAT by Cardiff Snowcraft
Cardiff Snowcraft is a newer board maker that developed their line in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The GOAT is offered in both a split or solid board, has a directional twin shape, and is an absolute big-mountain charger. Bjorn Leines, a GOAT himself, says it’s the best board he’s ever ridden.
4. Lightweight: Nitro Doppelganger
This is a directional mid-wide splitboard that essentially has true camber. It does feature early and smooth transitions into the tips for better float but is still supportive as a camber board. The split’s lightweight Koroyd Powercore makes this an extremely light yet durable tool. The unique shape aids with more efficient touring and comes pre-drilled for a faster and more secure skin mounting procedure with the custom Nitro x Kohla hiking skins.
5. Most Recommended: Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro
One of the most recommended splitboards by Curated Experts is the Arbor Bryan Iguchi Pro. Another camber board with just the right flex. This split will give you a great touring experience without sacrificing any of the performance for the ride down. The board has 3° Uprise Fenders, which means that there are lifted side sections at the tip and tail of the board that help provide a smooth, catch-free ride without losing any of the board's pop.
6. Most Fun: Lib Tech Split BRD
The tapered C3 camber body lends itself to stable efficient climbing and reliable stability at speed or in more challenging terrain. Has a super big nose and a short tail for maximum maneuverability and float in powder. This split and its solid counterpart are an absolute joy in deep, fresh, powder snow. Fly like a BRD.
7. Most Coloradoan: Never Summer Proto
Built with a head start in Denver, CO the Proto is a hard-charging split that was already a mile high before the accent even began. This high altitude, high attitude rig is sure to take you to the summit. Being a directional, traditional cambered board that is relatively stiff it is going to be the best fit for the more advanced, all-mountain riders. Comes in sizes 157, 160, and 164 wide.
8. Most Room for Big Feet: Ride Splitpig
The Splitpig is wide enough to accommodate the largest of hooves. Essentially a Ride Warpig split in half this board has a really fun shape. A directional extra camber board that is shorter, blunter, and wider than most and poised to devour whatever crud you throw at it.
9. Most Surfy: Jones Mind Expander
The Mind Expander Splitboard is an alternative backcountry powerhouse and a top choice for trees, deep powder, and off-piste surf slashes. Surf shaper Chris Christenson teamed up with Jeremy on this board and now surfing the mountain is that much more of a reality. This hybrid directional shape sports a blunt nose for mega flotation. The short sidecut allows quick and snappy response, while the full-size tail provides stability for those big airs and hollow sections.
10. Best for Female Shredders: Gnu Barrett Split
Barrett Christy used the tried-and-true design of her all-mountain, directional, “Barrett” for this splitboard, and they have manufactured the ultimate ladies' backcountry shred vessel. This board is the result of over two decades on the cutting edge, tweaking, and fine-tuning women's specific boards. Featuring Magna traction for better grip while touring or riding in hard snow. Walk with compassion on this board, as a portion of the proceeds supports youth-focused education, health, and wellness programs.
Find Your Expert
Whether this is your first or next splitboard purchase, reach out to a Snowboard Expert like me to get customized advice and recommendations. We’ll help you to find equipment that’s right for you. If you’re still curious, read more about our favorite snowboard brands, all of which are making splitboards nowadays.