How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

How to choose and equip yourself for splitboard?

The splitboard is an extraordinary piece of equipment that gives snowboarders access to a rugged ride, near or far from the ski lifts depending on physical fitness and mountain knowledge. 
So let’s make the most of it and explore its different aspects.


While our predecessors in the 1980s and 90s came from skate or downhill skiing to discover carving, freestyle or freeride, the modern snowboarder has much more choice and enjoys the best of both worlds: the movement ability of a ski on the climb, and the ease and enjoyment of a snowboard on the descent. Snowboard hiking has finally come of age...


What is a splitboard?

Previously, snowboard hiking was a nightmare. Snowboard on your back, climbing on foot with snowshoes or mini approach skis that you have to lug around on your bag for the descent. You really had to be motivated. At that time (thankfully now over), many snowboarders wanting to hike put on touring skis!

Then came the splitboard - literal translation: split board - lets you climb in skis and descend by snowboard. This invention doesn’t stop you sweating on the climb but it has revolutionised snowboard hiking. Practically, the board splits in two (or three or four) by removing the bindings to convert it into skis. Put the bindings on a gear and the seal skins under each ski for the climb, just like ski touring. Once you reach the top, put the two (three or four) parts together with the bindings (back in snow position), clips (heel and tip) and hooks that pull it all together to become a real snowboard. It's quick to do and on the descent there is practically no difference between a splitboard and a so-called “solid” board.

The first splitboard produced dates back to last century, to 1992, and was a Nitro with its own binding system but it was barely finished. It gradually evolved into the early 2000s, particularly with the American brand Voilé that created a standard for bindings. Jeremy Jones then did the sport and its visibility a great service by saying goodbye to his helicopter interests and launching his Jones Snowboards brand in 2011.

When it comes to innovation, the binding/connector systems in particular have made the different by improving comfort, handling and weight. The rise in splitboarding began in earnest at the beginning of the last decade, and last winter without ski lifts saw such a surge in splitboarding that all production stock was sold.

You no longer need to wait for the ski lifts to open to ride as splitboarding extends the season and the enjoyment.

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

Which splitboard should i buy?

Almost all the big snowboard brands have at least one splitboard in their range and some offer every solid board model in a split version, like the market leader Jones Snowboards.

The range is extensive and specialised so you can find a splitboard suited to your taste, level and riding style: from the short approach using ski lifts to long days of rugged hiking, from rolling slopes to narrow gullies, from the backcountry to high altitude, or all of this at once!

Although two-part splitboards are the most common, they are also available in 4 parts, and even much rarer in 3 and 5 parts that are really “hike” focussed (the “skis” are thinner and more efficient on the climb).


Here are the different types of splitboarding and the main models.

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Versatile models

    Go for a board with camber or flat camber, a slightly “pintail” directional shape (rear is narrower than the front), better suited to all terrains with safe handling. Reverse camber often lacks efficiency on the climb.

    Amplid Tour Operator, Jones Frontier and Solution,
    K2 Marauder, Korua Escalator,  Gnu Gorp,
    Lib Tech Split BRD, Nitro Nomad, Plum Transition…

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Backcountry models

    (Freestyle in natural snow).
    A whole range of playful splitboards has recently become available, often “twin tip” (symmetrical front and rear), distinctively freestyle. Some are particularly recommended for splitboard beginners as they are generally boards with ease and comfort, maybe at the cost of better pure performance.
    Slightly pintail models perform perfectly well in backcountry and will be more versatile than twins tips.

    Burton Hometown Hero split, Capita Neo Slasher, Dreamscape Splitboard 500, Jones Mountain Twin,
    Lib Tech T Rice Goldmember Split,
    Gnu Gorp, Salomon Speedway…

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Models for powder chasers

    For forest runs and good big powder conditions, swallowtail or fishtail splitboards and other long powder guns are particularly efficient, however they remain for a specific activity and are restricted on the climb. The type of board to complete a quiver or for riders who only splitboard in particularly favourable conditions...

    Amplid Surf Shuttle and Millisurf, Jones Storm Chaser and Mind Expander split, Nitro Squash split, Phénix Stingray, Plum Talps, Rossignol XV Sashimi Split and Sushi Split, Rossignol XV Sushi split...

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Models for mountains and steep slopes

    On steep slopes and alpine terrain, a long
    radius will be more efficient on the climb and give better hold on the slopes.
    It's particularly important to choose the right board width so your feet don't go over the edge!

    Amplid Milligram, Jones Solution Carbon, 
    Plum Prems, Rossignol XV…

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Four-part splitboards for difficult runs

    The four-part splitboard is a snowboard cut in three lengthways with the central part splitting into two to be carried on your bag. Making it easier to climb, it's strength is in the extra weight and efficient on tracks with extremely narrow skis.

    Phénix Blackbird and Corvette, Salomon Premiere.

  • How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

    Women's and smaller size models

    These models have a narrower waist (width between the feet) for smaller sizes and adapted flex.

    Amplid Mahalo, Jones Dream Catcher, Nitro Volta, Rossignol Diva and After Hours Split, Phénix Stingray…

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

A few tips for choosing the right splitboard

The width of the splitboard depends mainly on your shoe size so bigger feet
will be more restricted in angles on narrow boards.

Go for a splitboard just below your solid snowboard level and size as the
board needs to be efficient on the climb as well as enjoyable on the descent.
An easy, manoeuvrable splitboard with forgiving flex is still more exciting when
you’re heading down 1500 of positive elevation, and the conditions will be very
different between the summit and the finish on a half
frozen forest slope! Bear in mind that when splitboarding, it is rare to do more than one descent per outing unless you
have the constitution of an ox.

A lightweight splitboard is appealing, however the weight trade-off can often be to the detriment
of its resistance to impact or a bad fall. In short, a lighter, more expensive splitboard performs
better on the climb but there is also more risk of breakages. A
risk/reward assessment should be carried out.


Should i buy a second hand splitboard?
what you need to know and avoid...

Second hand splitboards are rare and sought-after. Be careful not to buy an old dud with a totally outdated system. As with a solid snowboard, but even more so, it’s important to check the base (look out for holes that can compromise the core) and edges (check for dents, even cracks!).
Find out how it has been used by the owner, how many times and its year of manufacture. If it comes with skins, check that they still stick together well.

Look out for “homemade” splitboards: no inner edges, pierced bases for inserts, etc.
This might have worked well for whoever did it for their personal use but when reselling it could mean you don't enjoy the climb or the descent.


Make your own splitboard?

Xavier de Le Rue began hiking with his solid pro-model (the Rossignol XV) that his supplier had cut with a sabre saw. Some cores in Salomon snowboards were designed to be cut in two to make a splitboard, and the manufacturer Voilé has sold a high number of its splitboard kits that are still current.
However, making your own splitboard is a risky business and requires some experience and equipment.

Tutorials can be found easily online for the more handy among you and fans of exciting adventures.

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

What connectors and bindings do you need for splitboard?

The splitboards are adapted to the Voilé inserts standard, compatible with all splitboard bindings, except for Burton and K2 which have replaced inserts by rails (the famous “Channel” system) so be sure to check that their bindings are compatible.

A splitboard binding can be differentiated from a standard binding by its connectors (pucks and callipers), specifically all screw-on elements on the splitboard and connecting the binding, both in climb mode and ride mode. The mechanism (pin or mechanical) and movements depend on the connectors.


The different systems (connectors and bindings) available

The Voilé Kit created in the 1990s, offers a connector system and a sliding panel that screws onto a pair of standard bindings. For a long time, this fairly heavy solution (the bindings are heavier than the panel...) had no competition. Fortunately, systems have moved on significantly: quick, lightweight and functional, they go from climb to descent position in no time.

Spark picked up the Voilé and incorporated its Tesla system, a built-in rail under the binding baseplate and a cover system under the toes to unlock it. The binding is proven, lightweight and affordable. Burton and Nitro use the Spark system.

SP Binding used the Voilé rail on its double entry (front and rear) binding baseplate, when K2, recently came to the splitboard bindings market incorporating the new Voilé pin-free system on its binding.

Karakoram offers its own two systems (incompatible between themselves) with lightweight, accurate bindings: the SL with a side lever locking system, and the Prime system that locks with a hoop under the heel.

The manufacturer Plum from Haute-Savoie, has developed an intuitive system that stands out with its centre binding (that tightens the two parts) and its 4 mobile corners, which doesn’t disturb the board’s flex. The brand offers bindings for all splitboard activities, from the carbon spoiler (Feyan) or plastic (Eterlou) binding, rear entry binding (Dari - with the SP Bindings rear entry system), to the hardboot binding (Sok).

Phantom and Spark also offer panels specifically for hardboots (to be stored in the bag on the climb, unlike Plum).

Union has developed its own system with a half-disc connector, a pin locking system and a completely plastic moulded or carbon injected binding (other brands are all aluminium) for more of a freestyle feeling.

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

Which boots to wear for splitboard?

Regular boots are enough for beginners’ splitboard or occasional practice.

However, be aware that they will be really put to the test, age quicker and find their limits.

For more regular practice, it’s better to invest in some dedicated boots with the following features:
- specific reinforcements on the cradle and upper (heal) for greater durability,
- a Vibram style sole for good grip,
- rear clearance in climb mode for easier walking,
- soles that can be fitted with semi-automatic crampons using the rear overflow,
- reduced volume meaning lighter weight,
- a breathable liner is a benefit as feet sweat a lot doing splitboard!


Among the dedicated boots available, particular mention goes to the Deeluxe XV (and its variants), ThirtyTwo Jones MTB, Fitwell Freeride, Nitro Vertical or even K2 Aspect.
Hardboots are also available, such as those from Pierre Gignoux with its extremely exclusive carbon Black Snowboard model that attracts extra-light enthusiasts. The majority of hardboot ride fans adapt ski touring boots with the Dynafit TLT5 being the most popular.
The new brand Key Equipment, expected this winter 21/22, should impress with a model close to the softboot yet with the climbing efficient of a hardboot.

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

What skins and knives do you need for splitboard?

Placed on the ski base, skins let you glide on the slow without going backwards - in other words, to go up. Where it gets complicated is that there are several types, with or without glue. Don't underestimate the choice of skins: a skin that is lightweight with good glide will make the climb easier and the splitboard experience in general.

- 100% mohair skin.
Benefits: glide and lightweight
Disadvantages: premature wear on abrasive snow such as hard and cutting cold or spring snow. Avoid using for glacier excursions.

- 100% polyamide or nylon synthetic skin.
Benefits: almost no hair wear.
Disadvantage: less glide than mohair.

- The skin that mixes the two, mohair and synthetic, sells the most.
Benefits: low wear so it’s very durable.

Skin with or without glue?
There are two ways of sticking the weave on the ski: standard glue is efficient but requires accuracy or silicon (without glue) that is easy but less durable.


To be safe when practising on frozen slopes or in certain scenarios, adding metallic parts to your bindings will give more grip on the snow, these are knives. Every binding system offers its own type of knife grip.
There are three main types: the knife that stays under the binding, one that stays on the ski and one that follows movement.

Tip: always have your knives in your bag. Put them on before finding yourself in a delicate position, before tackling an icy passage so they don't screw off for example.

How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

Accessories required

Don't forget these accessories for your splitboard session:

- A pair of telescopic (3 strands) or breakable (foldable) poles. Without poles there is no climb, they propel you forward, are useful for balance on risky passages, as well as on the descent to push on the flat of the valley.
- A minimum 20 L backpack to store a shovel and probe, with snowboard and skis carry option when you have to climb a gully in crampons.
- Avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe, obviously.
- Flask, Thermos or water bladder: you sweat a lot when splitboarding and you must drink!
- A snack to curb those on-the-spot cravings!
- Map or mapping/altimeter/GPS application.
- A pair of lightweight gloves for the climb and warmer gloves or mittens for the
- Sunglasses for the climb, goggles for the descent.
- Scraper (or ski pass card) to scrape the ice off bindings and/or edges when
pulling together your splitboard.
- Sun cream which can also be useful if the “boot” skin grips the snow in

- Crampons and pick axes for steep slopes or gullies.
- Duct tape rolled around the pole, plastic tightening collars in case of a gear nightmare (it happens).


Safety point

You don’t mess with safety in the mountains and splitboard is a learning environment that isn't totally obvious for those who haven't practised in a resort.
To review the basics, refer to our series of articles below on skiing and snowboarding.

At the end of the day, we are not born a splitboarder, we become one.


Our safety tips



Did you know that before going to rescue the victims of an avalanche, you must put your safety first? Find out what to do, with the help of pictures, and check out all the steps of an avalanche rescue without support.


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How to choose and equip yourself for Splitboard?

Mathieu r.

Splitboard enthusiast.

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