SIA: The Splitboard Revolution


For the past few years, the focus in snowboards has been on camber: traditional, reverse, mixed. Everyone and their mother has been coming up with new ways to mix and match the various degrees and inversions of camber in different areas of the board (i.e. traditional between the feet with rocker in the tip and tail, vice versa, micro versions of that and so on.) And guess what? They're still pushing around the Jig Saw puzzle.

But, there was another trend in snowboards at the 2011 SnowSports Industries of America trade show this year: splitboards. And it seems everyone and their mother has jumped on this bandwagon too.

Here are a few of the new splitboards coming out for winter 2011-2012. The only problem? [Frown face.] There wasn't one women's-size version anywhere in sight.

1) K2 Panoramic:

The Panoramic splitboard is one cool part to the backcountry story K2 is telling next year: the splitboard is $650, with a flat zone between the feet and rocker in the tip and tail. The flat zone should give you great contact with the pow while the rockered tip will keep you from nosediving. The other stuff in this photo? K2's new backcountry-proven Hoes & Probes, which includes a shovel, probe, and pack all for under $180. Hidden inside the shovel's shaft is a kit that lets you turn the splitboard into a rigid rescue sled (with the help of the Lockjaw poles).

2) Rome Whiteroom

When I talked to the Rome guys about the Whiteroom, they quickly admitted they initially made it for themselves. They are, after all, based in Vermont, giving them immediate access to some hoot-worthy terrain. But, it's no surprise to me that the rest of the snowboard world would want Whiterooms for themselves too. A combination of Kevlar and carbon “V”-shaped bars, running lengthwise, will keep the torsional response high while a blend of low-density woods will keep it lightweight for the way up the mountain. With a big, rockered surfy nose and traditional camber from the front binding through the back, this board is bound to be a powder hog.

3) Jones Hovercraft

When Jones snowboards launched last year, it was made up of four snowboards: one splitboard and three boards ranging from a big mountain charger to a powder hound to an all-mountain steamroller. All rode exceptionally well at our snowboard test. Knowing Jeremy's persona–all for the backcountry via hiking and legwork–it makes complete sense that for 2011-2012 he opened up the splitboard doors and made every board in the line skin-worthy. Above is the Hovercraft, the powder fiend of the group, but the rest are just as aesthetically pleasing. Unfortunately, the price is still mid- to high range at $700-$800.

4) Gnu Billy Goat C2BTX Splitboard

At Outside's 2010 snowboard test in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, testers couldn't get enough of the Temple Cummings Billy Goat pro-model. They wanted to huck it off cliffs on lofty powder days and then charge down steeps with it. It was the ultimate backcountry board. Or so they thought. Now, in a split model, I'd say it might just have earned that name. Gnu couldn't stand alone in this, though, so Lib Tech also has a splitty coming out: the Travis Rice C2BTX Horsepower Splitboard. Also a favorite of the test, the T. Rice model could probably go head to head with the Billy Goat and tie. Prices are $850 and $970, respectively.

5) Burton Freebird

In just two sizes, like many of the above–158 and 162–the Freebird is meant to go anywhere, do anything. Mainly, get you out of the lift line. It's tapered shape and rockered nose are perfect for powder and its sidewalls are strategically designed to give you more float. 

Do you plan on splitboarding this winter or next? Or are you already doing it?