We updated our annual list of the best splitboards of the year. Here are a few you’ll want to add to your bird-spotting list, presented by the Mountain Weekly. One caveat though, a bunch of these splitboards will be tough to get your hands.. 16/17 Splitboard Watch-list
1. Lib Tech Travis Rice Goldmember
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.
2. Olive Splitzo
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.
3. Never Summer 25 Split
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.
4. Spline Killer Split
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.
5. Venture Zelix
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.
6. Plum 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.
7. Oz Fantasy Blaster
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.
Splitboards and splitboarding have grown up a bit now, and the awkward, web-footed, clumsy contraptions have morphed into some pretty good looking ganders.
Past winners below:
Never Summer: Prospector Split
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.
Venture Snowboards: Whatever you can find
Oh, Venture. Silverton, Colorado-manufactured radness, I rode Venture boards for eight years. While they’re taking a hiatus this season, there are lots of long-term Venture fans hoping that Klem, Lisa and the crew will stage a comeback. The Storm split was my go-to board in the Himalayas, throughout BC and the U.S, while more recently the Odin has been great fun while integrating some trickery into my bag of backcountry moves. While watching for a Venture this year may be like Waiting For Guffman or bagging a unicorn, it’s a classy brand that has a reputation for solid, bomb-proof product. Consider yourself lucky if you can find one available at secondhand!
Lib Tech: Travis Rice Split 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. If you’re looking for a splitboard that features industry-leading ecological construction, proven technological performance (Magne-Traction, etc) and an established reputation as a multi-year production model, this is a board you’ll want to check out. Made in the USA and with an obvious connection between Travis and Wyoming, expect to see this Parillo-spiced top-sheet on skin-tracks throughout the region.
Arbor: Abacus Split
I love 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… So yeah, they make beautiful, hip boards, but the artisanal vibe doesn’t end at the top-sheet, 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; Mark Carter and Bryan Iguchi are no slouches, the Abacus sticking 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 Split
The Explorer Split is a terrifically versatile entry-level splitboard. 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. Like the Lib Tech Travis Rice Split, the Explorer features Magne-Traction (albeit a more mellow version), and the finished product incorporates some thoughtful environmental considerations, too; recycled steel edges, Bio-wax factory wax, and a 1% For The Planet commitment. I also like the skins-tensioning notches built into the design, a nice way to cut down on overloading the swear-jar when making tracks!
Olive: Numbchuck Split
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. The overall profile is flat giving you great float in the deep stuff while holding an edge when you need it. As a small brand it’s unlikely you’ll see it in a shop near you, but 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.
Furberg: Freeride Split
Made in Norway, Furberg is advancing some pretty cool design features into their ‘boards, and the Freeride Split benefits from the bunch of them. Never mind it looks like a bleached pickle, the innovative sidecut, camber and materials selection has already won them some serious accolades in big-mountain Euro circles. My buddy Wiggles just wrapped up a season in New Zealand and is officially a Furberg super-fan, the man usually destroying a board or three each season; his Freeride split is returning to Canada intact, something to be said for durability in design.