Splitboarding is relatively new compared to ski touring, and only in 1994 did the first splitboard DIY kit come to market via Voile. Since then, the sport has exploded in popularity and we now find ourselves in the Golden Age of splitboarding and ski touring gear.
Choosing the ideal splitboard should be based on your objectives (where and how you intend to use your setup most often), and your abilities and size. The board you choose will determine three things: float, maneuverability and edge-hold. Basically, a longer, wider splitboard will offer better float in deep powder conditions, and will provide more edge-hold. The tradeoff though, is that it won't turn as easy and will probably require you to take wide arching turns. Conversely, a shorter splitboard will turn easier and lends itself to making tighter, quicker turns, with the tradeoff being it won't float as well in powder or have as much edge-holding ability.
When sizing a splitboard for length, it's best to start around chin height. If you find yourself being below average weight for your height, then size down in length. If you're a strong, powerful rider or above average weight for your height, then it's best to size up in length.
When determining your ideal splitboard width, keep in mind that width will affect float, edge transition and toe drag. A wider board provides better float in powder conditions, but will take a touch longer to transition from edge to edge. If you wear a US Men's 11 boot, it's best to opt for a Wide board to prevent toe drag.
The camber and flex profiles of the splitboard influences edge-hold and pop, as well as float ability and turn initiation in powder conditions. A standard camber and stiff flex profile provide better edge-hold and pop, whereas a splitboard with more rocker and a softer flex profile provide easier turn initiation and improved float in powder, but won't be as stable at high speeds.
Splitboards are generally shaped in three ways: Directional, Twin, and Directional-Twin. A Directional shape will have the mounting points set back towards the tail, and board is usually wider towards the tip and a bit narrower towards the tail. This shape improves float and provides easier turn initiation in powder. A Twin splitboard shape is identical from tip to tail and the mounting points are towards the center. This shape provides better freestyle qualities if you're up for backcountry spinning and jibbing. Lastly, the Directional-Twin is identical in shape from tip to tail, with the mounting points set back slightly towards the tail.
A splitboard is a sum of its shape, profile and construction qualities, and these qualities determine how and where the board is ideally used:
- Freeride Performance - built for hard charging, wide arching turns in open bowls.
- Choose a Directional board with a stiffer flex and traditional camber underfoot. Consider sizing up in length for better edge hold in variable snow conditions.
- All-Mountain Performance - a quiver-of-one that can tackle any and all snow conditions and terrain features. Also known as, versatility.
- Choose a Directional Twin or Twin with a moderate flex, and balanced blend of rocker/camber to provide quick turn initiation and solid edge hold.
- Powder Performance - when you're a powder fiend and want the most float, and playful, snappy feel for deep day after deep day.
- Choose a Directional board with lots of tip rocker (reverse camber) and consider sizing down in length if you like to slash and spray.