Maybe you’ve heard of splitboarding, or thinking of getting into the sport, and asking yourself: What is a splitboard?
I come from a snowboarding background, starting in high school and continuing through to my late 20’s, all in the Canadian Rockies.
I always had friends that backcountry toured. When I did decide to try touring, it was only natural that I went straight for splitboarding!
If you are a snowboarder that wants to get into the backcountry, or a skier that wants better performance in powder, or a newbie that just wants to know what a splitboard is, this article’s for you.
A Look at Splitboards
What is a Splitboard?
A splitboard is basically just a snowboard that's been cut down the middle. When the two halves are together, it acts like a snowboard, and when they are separate, the halves act like two skis.
There are many different kinds of splitboards, from different manufacturers, with different features. But the basic principles are the same. What makes a splitboard different from skis is that it provides a single, bigger platform to carve through powder. Splitboards have a more surfy feel, perform better in deep powder, and are a fun way to get back down a mountain.
Why Use a Splitboard?
A splitboard is used for backcountry touring. They are not for dedicated resort use. If you want a board for your local ski hill, then a proper snowboard is the way to go.
A splitboard is needed for the backcountry because it breaks down into two skis. Why? Because that is how you get up the mountain. With your splitboard in “ski mode,” and climbing skins attached, you climb your way up the mountain using motions similar to cross country skiing.
Splitboards are used with specialized bindings that are set in one direction when you are in ski mode, and then setup a different way for snowboard mode.
As a side note, you do have the option to use snowshoes and pack your resort snowboard on your back, but this option is cumbersome and outside the scope of this article. If you have a splitboard, you don’t need snowshoes, you don’t need to pack your board up the mountain, and you don’t need to pack your snowshoes for the descent.
Once you ski to the top of your line, you move your snowboard bindings from ski mode to snowboard mode, putting the two halves of your splitboard back together again. Then you step in and carve your way down the mountain!
What Are the Different Kinds of Splitboards?
Splitboards are similar to most resort boards you’ve seen. They are typically directional twin, although some are fully directional. Directional typically have shorter, stiffer tails with unique shapes. Directional boards can only be ridden in one direction and are your best choice for aggressive shredding in deep powder.
Example of a Directional Board
Most people will find directional twin splitboards the most versatile and familiar board shape for all of your splitboarding adventures. Directional splitboards are for advanced, strong riders.
Can You Try Splitboards Before Buying?
Want to try a splitboard without the commitment?
AQ Outdoors and Splitboard HQ have a variety of rental options if you want to try splitboarding, or want to try different splitboards before committing to a purchase. You'll also get a store credit from your rental if you do decide to buy a splitboard.
It is highly recommended you take an avalanche course before heading into the backcountry, and have the equipment listed below.
Splitboard HQ offers a variety of avalanche courses and splitboard courses/ trips. Check our listings here.
To check out our Splitboard Collection, go here!
Other Splitboarding Articles
About the Authour: Dan used to instruct for AQ Outdoors and spent his 20s chasing whitewater up and down the Rockies and across Western Canada. He can still be found surfing local waves, trying to get some old moves back. If you're a mountain biker check out his site Hardtail Canada.
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