We were again in the beautiful Alpbachtal at Shops First Try 2020 and tested the newest splitboard material for you. The event is constantly developing and in our opinion all snowboard brands should be represented here - if they want to play a role on the German market. The atmosphere was awesome, everyone was in a great mood and ready for any kind of prank.
This year we have paid much more attention to our videos because of the strongly increased interest. You can watch them one by one on our YT channel, best you subscribe to it right away so you don't miss anything. We have also launched a Girls/Women Special which is about the introduction to the topic of splitboarding. Mary and Marie, two pro riders from Arbor were ready to answer our questions. Don't missout to check our gallery for board-weights.
But now - let's start with the splitboard reviews!
The snow conditions were good and varied for testing. From hard, melted, blown in - untouched snow, up to the hard artificial snow on groomers, everything was there. For the ascent tests we have chosen a blown off area from 35 to ~ 38 degrees and for the way down we found some relatively moderate terrain with up to 15cm of blown in snow.
What is new and interesting?
Amplid - Surf Shuttle Splitboard with Stratospheric Topsheet.
The Amplid Surf Shuttle Splitboard is developed and tested in the Alps. The following characteristics have been noticed during the First Impression Review.
Ascent: The Surf Shuttle resembles the Millisurf like an egg to the other. The basic weight is slightly higher than the Millisurf, but the surf shuttle also moves in the lighter area of the splitboards. Due to its shape it has very good lift and climbs excellently, even if the shape is more powder-oriented. Even with the very hard 35 degree inclination we felt safe without crampons. There is a noticeable difference to last year's model, the Tour Operator.
Downhill: I can say that the Surf Shuttle will work in powder, even if we could only test it in up to 20cm of snow drift. This is due to the shape and I think we don't need to make a big statement about this anymore. More interesting is the performance of the powdershapes in hard and rough conditions. And here I dare to say that the Surf Shuttle does everything that is expected and that makes it good. From the first impression, Amplid's Surf Shuttle is a board with which I would also go on very ambitious tours and fully trust it. In general the Surf Shuttle is quite surfable, but still stable if you want to and the edge gets pressed into the snow properly. The flex is a bit softer than the Millisurf but still rather hard.
Concerning the POP we could not quite agree. Compared to the Millisurf it has less, but still enough to be considered very lively. Regarding the new topsheet, that according to Amplid, prevents the snow on sticking on the board halves, we were not yet able to test it. Stay tuned for a more in-depth comparision beginning of next season.
Jones - Solution Splitboard completely reworked
Everybody knows the Jones Solution, everybody knows that it is an excellent splitboard. But with the reworking of the shape and the fine-tuning that the new solution has undergone, it has gotten a lot better:
Ascent: The 3D nose was of course of special interest to us during the ascent. Does the board slip away from the front when you stand on the edge or does it hold anyway? Now that we have been able to test it under different conditions and like other boards in up to 40° in hard conditions, we are convinced that the contact points are optimally placed and the board works very solidly in ascent. As with almost all splitboards, the balance point of the new Solution is optimally placed and hairpin turns work perfectly even in steep terrain. As usual the new Solution will place itself among the best splitboards of the season 20-21.
Downhill: The new Jones Solution is top. Very maneuverable, stable, lively and thanks to the 3D nose, a whole new riding sensation arises in the powder. The float is noticeably better, so surfing in powdered water has become even easier and contributes to an increased fun factor. When it gets steeper and the conditions are less "surfy", we trust in the new Solution. Edges hold in every situation. Jones investment in a complete redesign of the board has really paid off.
Weston - Backwoods Carbon Splitboard
After we were extremely enthusiastic about the Weston Backwoods, we wanted to test the almost 1000g lighter carbon unit compared to the classic Backwoods.
Ascent: As expected, you can feel the significantly lower weight under your feet, it goes uphill almost like in flight. The board floats up in the powder, it is stable on the edge, everything you expect from a board of this class. Even in steep terrain up to 40° hard snow it holds well and the hairpin turns go easily off the foot. It is a board with which you can go and enjoy long tours.
Downhill: For us as "slim" testers with max. 75kg it is unfortunately too hard tuned. But we can well imagine that it works much better for heavier people.
Salomon - Taka Splitboard
The Taka Splitboard from Salomon is tested and developed in Japan. During our First Impression Splitboard Review in the Alps we noticed the following.
Ascent: Like most splitboards it has a clean pull forward which brings a lot of efficiency in the ascent. Compared to other splitboards in the test, it is a very light board, whose low weight you feel positive in the ascent and not negative in the descent. That means it has the "right" weight of a splitboard. The S-Rocker and also the relatively strong Taper contribute to the good float in powder, which we could only test to a limited extent with 15-20 cm blown in snow. What we could test very well was steep ascents on hard, blown off snow and many hairpin corners. Here the Salomon Taka Splitboard behaves solidly up to a gradient of about 35°, although less stable than other boards in the test. So you can see the compromise between a strong powder orientation and ascent performance.
Downhill: We were able to test the Salomon Taka from fresh drift snow up to a depth of about 30cm, ripped and wind pressed natural snow, up to hard artificial snow. Our first impression: The Salomon Taka is very agile and is great fun to ride. Due to its shape it is powder oriented and its qualifies here. Nevertheless, it is also strong in rough, rugged snow or on hard slopes. There was nothing to complain about and we can only recommend the Taka to everybody who is interested in such a splitboard to try it for one or more days.
Korua - Escalator Splitboard
The Escalator Split of Korua has the right name - either in the ascent as also in the descent, one can nicely escalate with it.
Ascent: In our First Impression Review it even gets a little more percentage points than the Surf Shuttle. We felt very safe and not a single slipping, even in the steepest part of our test section, was noticeable. The Escalator belongs to the lightweights and the price-upscale splitboards. The balance point of the Escalator Split from Korua is relatively far in front, which makes it easier to turn on steeper terrain. Compared to the Coffee Race, which was already a very good splitboard, Korua has, in our opinion, added another one on top.
Downhill: Hmm, what can I say, you look at Nicholas Wolken and you see: Yes, this thing can carve very well - or is it the rider? Both!!! It was also easy for us to carve the Korua Escalator properly, although not as extreme as Nicholas had been seen. But not only that, it is also is very maneuverable and for a "carbon plank" pretty well tuned. Compared to the Coffee Racer, it is a more classic board that you are more likely to get on and not have to get accustomed to it so much. The Escalator is "On and off goes the fun"!
Goodboards - GB Splitboard
After we hadn't seen or heard anything new about Goodboards Splitboard development for a long time now, we were very happy to discover a new splitboard in the range just in time for the 10th anniversary of the Goodboards brand. As always, it has a rather classic shape, it moves in the range of the right weight and is ready for any outrageous action.
Ascent: The Goodboards can keep up solidly with the other brands. It pulls forward properly, comes out of the snow well and even when it comes to the steeper hairpin terrain it performs well. Although it doesn't hold up as well as one or two other boards from our First Impression Review, all three testers felt confident with it. Even up to 40° under hard conditions it was possible to walk without crampons with the appropriate technique. With hard terrain I don't mean ice, but hard snow with good grip during ascents.
Downhill: The Goodboards Split will be fun for everyone who loves classic shapes. Properly "cambered" it carves like it should. You can accelerate nicely out of the curves and it's also good to have for some piste fun. An Olli 180, then some butter on the bread and back in the direction of travel, is also suitable for less piste-affine riders like us. Rather harder tuned, it can also withstand high speeds. In powder as well as in hard conditions it convinces with its smooth running. It floats up like most classically shaped boards. All in all the new Goodboards is a board with which you can do everything a splitboard heart desires.
Although YES claimed a few years ago that there will be no splitboard, they are releasing their first model 20-21. Very excited we took the board under our feet. It seems to be very wide and with the bulges at the contact points we were a bit skeptical as always. But we had to be proven wrong very quickly.
Ascent: Yes, it is wide and you can feel that also in the ascent. But the bumps on the sides contribute to more stability in the ascent. In deep conditions you have the advantage that you sink less, but when it gets steep and hard, crampons are needed earlier than with other models. Nevertheless the guys from YES have brought a great splitboard to the start with their first model, the YES RP-Splitstick. You should definitely test it at the next opportunity.Downhill: Yo what can I say about the downhill. It goes downhill. It floats well with its large contact surface and the edge hold is solid too. For me personally it is too much board, but there are surely splitboarders who have a lot of fun with it.
Have a look at the video in which the board is presented.
The Mendiboard Backcountry is, as the name suggests, fully geared to backcountry touring and ready to experience all mountain adventures with you. At Mendiboard you can see that the company is 100% focused on splitboards. A lot of attention has been paid to the fine-tuning and it can hardly deny its origin in the Pyrenees. The constantly changing snow conditions there, just like here in our local Alps, demand a board that can cover everything. This is where the strength lies.
Ascent: We had the chance to take the Mendi under our feet more often and were able to test it from the finest powder to really crappy conditions. The long traditional camber gives the Mendiboard a good grip on the edge. This way you can climb safely even in steep terrain and hard conditions, compared to other boards. If it gets deep and powdery, the Backcountry of Mendiboard has a short but higher nose than other boards on the market. This gives extra lift and helps you use less power while tracking so you can go further. It is well balanced and the hairpin turns come out of the leg easily. Thanks to the enormous effective edge length it has a very nice forward pull which makes walking even easier.
Downhill: In changing conditions we noticed the following in addition to the excellent riding characteristics in powder and hardpack. If the snow is crusty or has a harsh cover, the Mendiboard Backcountry pops out very well compared to other classically shaped boards with its higher nose and wider contact surface. All in all the Mendiboard Backcountry offers a top package of price and performance. We can recommend it with clear conscience to a lot of splitboarders who like classic shapes.
Here the video in Spanish. If subtitles are not automatically displayed, just hit the CC button in the YT player.
Burton - Pow Wrench
The Pow Wrench Split is a thoroughbred powderboard with good ascent characteristics.
Ascent: Unfortunately we only had the Burton Pow Wrench under our feet for one day, but even here we tested the board in as many situations and snow conditions as possible. We noticed a solid ascent up to about 35° in hard conditions. If it gets steeper, some walking technique is required to get further safely, or crampons of course. Nevertheless, compared to the other purebred powder boards in the test, it performed well and we felt safe. The Burton also pulls cleanly forward and is well balanced, so hairpin turns are fluid and easy to do. As is usually the case with the Burton, the weight still leaves something to be desired, but this should be balanced out by more durability.
Downhill: Fortunately we found a nicely filled chute and were able to expose the Burton Wrench Splitboard to its beloved powder. Yes it goes as expected from Burton excellently downhill and makes a lot of fun in powder. There is nothing to complain about in terms of agility and directional stability. Even on hard slopes you are agile and controlled despite the powder shape.
- Stranda - Decender Split
From next season Stranda has with the Descender Split another splitboard in its program where you can also tackle challenging tours. This board is not tested directly by us. A good friend of ours, who we absolutely trust with his splitboarding skills, had the board one day in a resort and one day on a tour under his feet. Here his conclusion.
Ascent: Well tuned, the Descender copes with soft, fluffy snow as well as difficult conditions like harsh or wind-pressed snow. Compared to the Shorty, the ascent is much easier due to the more moderate and somewhat harder tuned nose. The board halves have a stable "underfoot flex", which gives you some extra efficiency on bumps or in deep snow. Also the ascent in steeper terrain is easy. Well-balanced, the tail sinks in sharp turns and the board turns wonderfully. For traverses or crossings the "low camber" profile and the long effective edge contribute decisively to a secure hold.
Downhill: As the name suggests, the Descender Split is built for downhill riding, but still has far-reaching ascent characteristics. Thanks to the directional freeride shape, it accelerates in deep snow and holds solidly in icy passages. The Descender Split's downhill ride is amazing. The directional freeride board accelerates in deep snow and in variable conditions. The board can be ridden excellently in narrow forest descents or technical terrain as well as in wide open fields. Also on the piste the board can be carved very nicely and withstands even the hardest artificial snow. Dampening and flex are tuned so that it flutters relatively little even at higher speeds. It is fast and feels very safe. This board can be your equipment for all situations.
Enfuse El Stylo Splitboard Binding:
We also had the chance - thanks to Ben from Konvoi Snowboards - for taking the brand new Enfuse Splitboard binding under our feet for two days. The minimalist style is great. The binding is very easy to mount.
Ascent: The binding can definitely keep up with the other bindings on the market. The power transmission is good and the switchover has also worked well in relatively favorable conditions. It is neither iced up nor were there any problems when putting it together. We simply removed the snow and attached the binding. We used the lever carefully, as it seemed a bit delicate to us. Nevertheless the binding could be assembled well. The skepticism regarding the very spartan heelcup could not be confirmed in easy conditions, but also in steep terrain. Neither Deeluxe nor Fitwell slipped out. On the contrary, the power transmission is stable.
Downhill: The Enfuse EL Stylo is also stable in downhill. The power transmission is fast and direct, also due to the milled aluminium baseplate and the stiff highbacks from Nitro Snowboards. There is not much to criticize here either.
Of course there are still some things to optimize before the binding goes on sale. These are for example the overall width, the climbing aid and other small things that are already on the optimization list of the guys from Enfuse.
We are happy to see that the binding market is getting a little bit revitalized again and that there is a further development in this area as well. We are looking forward to the next version. This binding is very promising in any case.
In addition to the great testing opportunities at the Shops First Try, there was again a great supporting program in Alpbach and an evening trade fair where you could exchange detailed information and answer questions that arose from the tests. The companies were happy to answer questions on all topics. If you have further questions about the presented material - please ask them under the article, we will try to answer them as far as possible.