The Mountain Weekly News 2018 Splitboard Test took place over 2 months last season, with the majority of time spent touring and riding backountry zones across Wyoming and Colorado. Find out which brands made the cut for best splitboards of the year.
Thanks to an epic snow year we had the pleasure of testing all these splitboards in deep pow. Isn’t that what splitboarding’s all about, searching out untracked powder and getting away from the masses? Checkout our favorite 2018 splitboard reviews below:
Olive Numbchuck Splitboard
Olive, a Canadian snowboard and skateboard manufacture based in Alberta, Canada has once again made the list of the best splitboards of the year. In fact one of the most epic days of the season came while riding the Olive Numchuck Splitboard. What sets Olive splitboards apart from every other board on this list is the construction. The Numchuck’s tips and tail are reinforced with Aluminum throwing star inserts, which help to protect the tip and tail when touring and riding off piste.
This hand built board is designed for splitboarders looking for a stiff ride and ultimate control in big mountain terrain. The Numchuck is a rockered splitboard with camber underfoot and a big ole nose that offers insane float. This splitboard may feel a bit heavier than other splits you have ridden in the past because, Olive uses a special formulated urethane to encapsulate the core from tip to tail, creating overall bomber construction throughout the board. This split is available in size 157 and 162 for $985 by ordering direct from http://oliveskateboards.com/
Arbor Coda Splitboard
New on the list for best splitboards of the year is the Arbor Coda. The Coda Splitboard in particular has been my personal go-to favorite for the past few seasons. The Arbor Coda Split is the most fun, surfy splitboard on the market. Hands down. Arbor’s Coda Splitboard is built around the System Rocker platform with added Grip Tech sidecut contact points. You can take this splitboard anywhere and do just about anything with it. In fact the Coda Splitboard most likely will ride as good if not better than your favorite resort board.
Like to hit jumps in the backcountry? If so the Arbor Coda Splitboard is for you. The Coda Split comes with reinforced stainless steel tips and tail for added durability. Available in sizes 158, 161 and 164 for $699 at Evo.com
Never Summer Swift Splitboard
Never Summer has been manufacturing hand made snowboards in Denver, CO for over 25 years offering some of the most durable & unique boards on the market. New for 2017/18 is the Never Summer Swift Splitboard featuring a 3/4″ tapered design (the most in the Shaper Series). Along with an early rise nose, the Swift adds a feature and a trend we’re starting to see on a bunch of boards as of late, especially powder shapes, the bat tail, better known as a swallow tail.
Clearly with the Swift’s shape this splitboard can eat powder for breakfast. Here’s what Gags at Never Summer had to say about the Swift:
“It’s a snowflake crushing machine”
When it comes to surfing big powder days the Swift Splitboard can move buckets of snow. Whats interesting though is the board performs well in choppy, chunder snow too, and even hard pack thanks to the Vario Power Grip sidecut’s amazing edge hold. The only hiccup with this board comes when touring as the shape isn’t flat under foot; instead it’s a pretty aggressive profile. If you can find a pair of skins that fit right and adjust the way you tour just a bit, the Never Summer Swift Splitboard will surely lead you to deep untracked turns. Available in sizes 157, 162 and 167 for $999 at Backcountry.com
Signal Snowboards Splitboard
For the first time, Signal Snowboards has entered into the splitboard world, most likely a result of signing John Jackson. Hand-built in Huntington Beach, CA, Signal Snowboards has done things entirely different from the rest of the industry. New for 2017/18 is the Signal Split, a directional twin that offers up a good bit of float and a ton of freestyle pop.
This cambered splitboard is snappy thanks to the use of poplar and yet super stiff with a fiberglass carbon top sheet. The one thing to keep in mind is the Signal Split is a full cambered board. We used to joke and call this Tomahawk tech. If you’ve been riding rockered boards you’ll want to find your edges again, carefully. The weight is a little on the heavy side but the durability will last with the ABS sidewalls. Heading to AK and planning on sending big lines? This is the sort cambered splitboard you might want underfoot. Here’s what stands out about Signal and one of the reasons this board made the list of the best splitboards of the year: Signal Snowboards is offering a subscription service that you can signup for to get this board for only $55 a month. Or you can just purchase the board outright for $599 direct from Signal Snowboards.
Lib Tech T. Rice Gold Member Splitboard
Lib Tech’s another brand that has been making hand made snowboards, splitboards and even surfboards in Washington state for decades. Returning to the list of best splitboard of the year for 2017/18 is the Lib Tech T. Rice Gold Member directional twin swallow tail Splitboard. This board is the sharpest board on this list and by that I mean the Magne-Traction edges will cut you if you don’t detune them. Along with 7 sharp contact points, the Gold Member Splitboard comes with a pointed nose and low swing weight, making this board ride more like a traditional snowboard than a splitboard. If you like to send jumps in the backcountry while touring and have an affinity for spinning, you will love this board.
The Gold Member splitboard runs a C2X rocker/camber hybrid profile that offers a medium-to-stiffer flex with more camber than rocker throughout the board. Along with being a light weight ripping splitboard, the Lib Tech Gold Member utilizes Firepower construction which puts balsa, aspen, basalt and birch along with a whole bunch of other natural materials throughout the board. This is one of the more lively splitboards ever built. Available in sizes 159 and 163 for $969.95 at Lib-tech.com
OZ Snowboards OZsym Splitboard
Back for a second year in a row is Oz Snowboards based in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. Hands down the OZsym Splitboard had the cleanest construction of any of the boards we put under foot. And by cleanest I mean everything was made specifically to be a splitboard as opposed to a snowboard company trying to figure out how to make a splitboard. When in ride mode, the board really sealed together nicely, especially with the added contact point between the feet. Whats wild is Oz Snowboards are just using the regular old Voile clamps on this split yet this board seals up incredibly tight thanks to the patented SplitLock tech and a another industry innovation from Oz Snowboards, a beveled sidecut.
When it comes to going down hill this board f*cking rips. The OZsym is an asymmetric splitboard with camber between the feet and rockered tip and tail. The OZsym Split uses Carbon Fiber construction and wooden stringers running throughout the entire length of the board. This board truly excelled in deep powder, had great edge hold on wind blown pow and was a breeze to tour on. The OZsym Splitboard is available in sizes 154, 157, 162 and 165 for $899 from Ozsnowboards.com
Venture Paragon Splitboard
Another brand making hand made snowboards and splitboards in the state of Colorado is Venture Snowboards, based in Silverton. What makes Venture snowboards stand out from the competition is where these boards are designed and built to be ridden, in gnarly big mountain terrain. The Paragon Split is a rockered splitboard with a 6 out of 11 on the flex meter, which means the board is a lot softer and more forgiving than past Venture boards.
Venture uses Aspen wood in the Paragon core, which was sourced less than 100 miles from their factory. And their entire operation is based on wind power if you’re wanting a green split. The Paragon Splitboard is a directional shape with a slightly setback stance so clearly it rips in powder but you can still ride switch and easily throw down off cliffs and backcountry booters. The construction is bomber, as always from Venture, complete with P-Tex sidewalls & carbon steel edges. If you own a Venture snowboard, you know the deal: This thing’s going to last a while. Available in 156, 157, 160, 161, 165, 166, 170 for $899 at Venturesnowboards.com
Rossignol Sushi Splitboard
The funkiest shape on the list of the best splitboards of the year goes to Rossignol for the Sushi Splitboard. The Sushi split is the brainchild of Xavier de la Rue. Do we need to say anymore? This powder-eating machine is just that. If you ever road a Fish snowboard you are really going to dig this shape. With a big ole nose and slight taper this board will always keep you afloat. It’s got a short tail which is surprisingly responsive for this sort of shape.
The Rossignol Sushi is a rockered splitboard with camber under foot. The board is a bit on the wide side yet can still suck up bumps with ease thanks to rubber inlaid against the edges. The only hiccup comes when trying to stay in skinny skin tracks; otherwise this board is a blast and not just on powder days. Thanks to the use of Magne-Traction the Sushi can hold it’s own on icy hard packed snow too. The Rossignol Sushi is available in one size a 154 for $549.95 at Backcountry.com
Jones Explorer Splitboard
Without Jeremy Jones, the brainchild behind Jones Snowboards, most of us, myself included, would’ve never been exposed to splitboarding. Jeremy, as of late, has put his carbon polluting heli days in the backseat in trade for leg power. And with that Jones Snowboards was born. The Jones Explorer Splitboard is a fun and easy-to-control board that offers a camber profile underfoot and a long effective edge. Toss in a rockered tip and tail and this splitboard does what it was built for, surf deep powder snow.
The Jones Explorer is a directional splitboard with a slightly setback stance. If you’re someone that likes to drop off rocks, cliffs and butter in the backcountry, you will enjoy the freestyle feel with a 6 out 10 flex rating. The Jones Explorer is available in sizes 152, 156, 158W, 159, 161W, 162, 164W for $699 at Evo.com making this the most affordable entry-level splitboard in the Jones Snowboards line.
Weston Big Chief Splitboard
Weston Snowboards, based in Minturn, Colorado, has been getting better and better each season, most likely this has to do with their R&D spot (Meadow Mountain) being located literally right out their backdoor. The Weston Big Chief Splitboard has been winning numerous awards of the year, including our 2017 SIA Editor’s Choice Award, and here’s why: Like any real big mountain board, The Big Chief is a directional splitboard built for speed. That just may surprise you with how malleable it rides with the rocker-camber-rocker profile.
The Big Chief splitboard comes with a healthy dose of bamboo, poplar and paulownia wood for a nice green feel. Available in sizes 157, 164 and 168 for $899 at REI.com
Coldsmoke Voodoo Splitboard
Rounding out the list of the best splitboards of the year is another smaller Colorado based company, Coldsmoke Splitboards. Based in Gunnison, Colorado, these guys have the legendary terrain around Crested Butte and the Elk Mountains to access for R&D. And it shows in this splitboard, that’s most likely been flying under your radar, until now. With increased camber under the backfoot the Coldsmoke Voodoo split manages to edge nicely on firm snow, transitioning smooth and concisely from edge to edge. The edge hold was especially apparent while making turns in steep terrain. When it comes to riding powder the rockered tip and tail on the Voodoo splitboard keeps the board floating atop the snow regardless of how deep it is.
Cold Smoke is a small production company that takes the time to build each and every board by hand. The Voodoo comes with a plain black sintered base which goes super fast, and when combines with a wood core, the board remains lightweight. In fact it’s two-thirds of a pound lighter than the original model. Available in sizes 154, 158 and 163 direct from http://www.coldsmokesplitboards.com/
That rounds out the list of the 2018 splitboards we are standing behind. All the boards above (and below) are guaranteed to get you to the goods.
2016/17 Best Splitboard Below:
by Tyler Bradley
Lib Tech Travis Rice Goldmember Splitboard
It’s a Lib Tech, it’s a Travis Rice, and thank goodness its graphics don’t involve any more thoughtful catamaran.
While the nautical musings have been left on the cutting room floor, the camber profile on the TRGM does resemble a seagull in flight, with elongated camber and shortened rocker improving your glide and float. Think shorter wingspan with revved up performance, a terrific snag and addition to your backcountry quiver.
Olive Splitzo Splitboard
The latest addition to the Olive split portfolio, the Splitzo is a progressively cambered all-mountain board that bridges the gap between freestyle and freeride; You don’t need to choose one or the other, the divide effectively closed between your fave backcountry disciplines. Hits and hips, big lines and drops, the Splitzo has all your neuroses and paranoia covered with this pill of a splitboard.
Never Summer 25 Splitboard
I can’t wait to get in the backseat with the Blaho Bros. “Bat Tail” on this ‘board. The low-pro, notched butt-end of this Never Summer split is designed to drop your backside just enough to porpoise your nose up and out of the pow as you break the white wake down the mountain. Cool design, utility graphics, this is a sleek black shredder of a ride.
Spline Killer Splitboard
Justim Lamoureux’s brainchild, Spline boards are research, design, and engineering refined mountain killers. Since its inception, The Killer Split (a split version of the signature Quiver Killer) has seen more peaks in and around the Squamish-Whistler corridor than you can shake a stick at. A carbon infused fiberglass blend keeps things lightweight and poppy, and the one off custom resin tints are bee-yoo-tee-full.
Venture Zelix Splitboard
They’re baaaack! After a season in limbo the Branners are back waving the Venture Snowboards Banner from l’il old Silverton Colorado. The Zelix is another terrific model-mash design, blending freestyle and freeride chops into a great do-it-all deck. Combining legendary durability with cottage industry know-how, great to see these guys back on the map. It’s no wonder Venture is back at the top of our list of best splitboards of the year.
Plum Talps Splitboards
Plum still seems to be suffering from pretty crap distribution in North America, but if you can put in the time and legwork the products are worth it. Know more for their Feyan split bindings, Plum also makes some sweet splitboards for the aspiring mountaineer in all of us. Family owned and genuinely French, these decks are designed for burly, Alp-y terrain.
Oz Fantasy Blaster Splitboard
I guess it’s a pretty good sign when a brand sells through its entire production run this early in the season… Renowned for their custom ‘board options, Oz has several splitboard models, from the asymmetric OzSym to this, the Fantasy Blaster. Flat, fat and floaty, this carbon enhanced split looks as dreamy as its graphics suggest. Stoked to see another Colorado company make the cut for the best splitboards of the year.
Splitboards and splitboarding have grown up a bit now, and the awkward, web-footed, clumsy contraptions have morphed into some pretty good looking ganders.
2016/17 Best Splitboards Winners:
Never Summer Prospector Splitboard
Full-disclosure here, I’ve coveted my friends’ Never Summer splits for a while. US-made, Colorado-made, whatever, my interest has more to do with what I can only guess is the “elastomeric underfoot stabilizers”. Working in concert with an encyclopedia-worth of other tech and comfort features; There are no heated seats, but the dampening effect underfoot on the downhill, and the rocker profile when climbing, are design considerations you can actually feel doing what they’re supposed to. I’d probably switch out the Chinese hooks for K-clips, but would be hard-pressed to mod anything else. Never Summer altered the industry with multiyear warranties, and they stand behind a dang good product.
Lib Tech Travis Rice Splitboard HP
Aside from producing some of the best boards in the world, Mervin Manufacturing also has some of the best infographics. Horses flying aeroplanes? Awesome. Since you’re looking for a splitboard that features industry-leading ecological construction, proven technological performance (Magne-Traction, etc). Combined with an established reputation as a multi-year production model. The Lib Tech T. Rice this is a board you’ll want to check out. Made in the USA and with an obvious connection between Travis and Wyoming. Also expect to see this Parillo-spiced top-sheet on skin-tracks throughout the region.
Arbor Abacus Splitboard
Everyone loves Arbor’s design aesthetic. Their decks always look like they’d be totally relaxed sitting in a micro-roastery surrounded by distressed-wood-pallet walls and masonry jars full of micro-brewed shaving lather… Furthermore, they make beautiful, hip boards, but the artisanal vibe doesn’t end at the top-sheet. Actually it’s at work throughout the entire split. The Abacus bonds an old-world craftsman vibe with real-world materials, their Wyoming-heavy pro-team vetting the boards and getting the goods. Guys like Mark Carter and Bryan Iguchi are no slouches. The Abacus sticks it to lazy koalas by way of a genuine eucalyptus top-sheet and a variety of other mind-full materials. In all seriousness, though, their ecology-based mindset is inspiring, their “Returning Roots” program a great way to give back.
Jones Explorer Splitboard
The Explorer Split is a terrifically versatile entry-level splitboard. Because of the price and reliably we put this board on the list of the best splitboards of the year. The design isn’t that of an over-the-top, concept-heavy quiver addition. Rather, it’s a well-designed stepping-stone for those new to the backcountry or to folks on a reasonable budget. Almost like the Lib T Rice Split, the Explorer features Magne-Traction. (albeit a more mellow version). Hence the finished product incorporates some thoughtful environmental considerations, too. Including recycled steel edges, Bio-wax factory wax. Plus a 1% For The Planet commitment. Last but not least it offers rad the skins-tensioning notches built into the design. This is a nice way to cut down on overloading the swear-jar when making tracks!
Olive Numbchuck Splitboard
Both a color and a garnish, Olive has been pressing skateboards and snowboards for two decades in Edmonton, Alberta. Their Numbchuck split features an elongated nose and shorter, flat tail. Because the overall profile is flat giving you great float in the deep stuff. At the same time the board can hold an edge when you need it. As a small brand it’s unlikely you’ll see it in a shop near you. However the US-Canadian exchange rate is so screamingly good right now this is a split you may want to snag for your quiver. I mean, nunchucks? Who are we to say no? K-clips lock this unit together and it is Jasper-approved. This is the first time Olive made the list of the best splitboards of the year and surely not the last.
Furberg Freeride Splitboard
Made in Norway, Furberg is advancing some pretty cool design features into their ‘boards. As a result the Freeride Split benefits from the bunch of them. They made the list of the best splitboards of the year for the first time. Never mind it looks like a bleached pickle. The innovative sidecut, camber and materials selection has already won them some serious accolades. Especially in big-mountain Euro circles. In fact, My buddy Wiggles just wrapped up a season in New Zealand and is officially a Furberg super-fan. Also this guy usually destroying a board or three each season; his Freeride split is returning to Canada intact. There’s something to be said for durability in design.