Voilé Split Decision Snowboard
It sounds like a tall tale: a snowboard that rides well in any terrain but also allows you to hit the backcountry without lugging along snowshoes (or skis) to make the climb. But Voilé's newest incarnation of its Split Decision Twin Tip ($630; 801-973-8622), a snowboard that breaks down into beefy touring skis, is a true story. Introduced in 1995, Voilé's hybrid refines what was originally just a niche oddity into a true high-performance, all-mountain board. Gone is the flat tail that made riding fakey awkward, if not impossible. Gone is the inside sidecut on each ski that left a snow-spewing gap in the center of the board. (Duh.)
The design is remarkably clean, though it may not sound that way. Here goes: Bolt any strap bindings to the board's removable steel plates that in one configuration help bind the halves together and in another serve as randonnée ski bindings to let you lift your heels to scoot uphill. Hinge the toes of each plate to the skis with steel pins, slap on the skins, and you're ready to climb. Fast. The 120-millimeter-wide skins provide impressive purchase. Once you've reached the top, slide the binding plates onto mounts to turn them into snowboard bindings, lock them in place with the same two pins, and latch the halves into a solid whole with burly metal clasps.
With this updated version you can even rotate your bindings to customize your stance, as with any snowboard. Just be sure to really torque down the adjusting screws; I lost three of them during a three-hour ascent of Mount Adams. The metal edges running down the center of the board make for a stiff ride, and the raised bindings make the Split Decision incredibly responsive—a quality you'll appreciate on long descents of unknown terrain, or even corduroy-carving at your local hill.
—MARY CATHERINE O'CONNOR
Atlas Snow Tracker
Bucking the trend to outfit every man, woman, and child for Everest, Atlas Snow Shoe Company has designed an appealingly low-tech crampon for those of us who frolic in the snow at more hospitable altitudes. The Snow Tracker ($59; 888-482-8527) is a strap-on winter hiking cleat for everything from walking Fido around the block to negotiating heavily tramped winter trails. It works beautifully on hard-packed snow, icy paths, and any other conditions in which crampons are overkill and snowshoes flounder for lack of powder. The nylon-webbing straps accommodate all manner of footwear, from sneakers to hiking boots to snowboard boots. With a gentle stomp, aluminum fangs dig deep, while one-inch incisors provide good lateral grip. It takes all of two seconds to strap on the cleats, something you'll likely do quite often.