This year our annual First Impression Splitboard Test 21-22 was different than expected. Due to Corona we were not able to test the boards at the Shops First Try. So another solution had to be found. Flexibility is needed - what can we do? We have the splitboards sent to us and try to get a work permit in Austria. No sooner said than done.
After a few phone calls to the Chamber of Commerce and related institutions we knew how to do it. So we developed a Covid-Safety-Concept, did a bunch of paperwork and then actually met at Pez in the natural snow ski resort Hochkeil. As you know we love vanlife, not just because it's in vogue now, but because we've been doing it enthusiastically for 20 years. Nevertheless, it was great that we also had a lounge at the Hochkeilhaus to cook and talk splitboard. It felt like we were at SPLIT & RELAX, but in private! MARK YOUR CALENDARS NOW FOR SPLIT & RELAX 2022 04.-06. February. 2022.
It's the first year we're also testing women boards and our test crew is expanded with some good splitboarders. More about that later.
The snow conditions were variable, so perfect for testing. Testing was done in 20-30 cm of powder, with hard base. On breaking in and holding snow cover, rutted terrain, and on the slopes. All boards were tested by several people both on the ascent and the descent. The weight categories of the testers range between 72 and 85 KG without any gear. Those of the women between 52 and 65 KG. The test results reflect the opinions of the individual testers in consolidated form.
You can find pictures of the boards in the gallery! <<Almost all photos are from Lisa Kristin Photography --> Link to profile is below>>.
The Milligram is as top as ever. Here we did our Stratospheric Topsheet test, since we already know the ride and ascent characteristics. In some of our tests you can see less snow on the topsheet. As for the topsheet temperatures, according to the thermal imager, the topsheet stays colder so less snow should thaw and then freeze. We still need proper spring conditions with altitude that we get a little further in our consideration here. Furthermore, we found out that the 163 is a bit too soft for a body weight of 85 KG. Thus it deforms strongly and you sink far in deep snow. The 168 version also fits for the heavy guys. ;-)
Bryan Iguchi Pro 157
With the revision of the Bryan Iguchi Pro splitboard from Arbor, the versatility was again emphasized and further optimized. It has given us a lot of pleasure again. You can ride it surfy or in a more aggressive style. On hard snow conditions you feel the edges biting into the snow due to the Grip Tech. Sometimes, when you are in a carving turn, it "plucks" if you are not used to the Grip Tech edges. The surfy feeling is strengthened by the three-dimensional nose. Compared to other splitboards, it's tuned to be relatively soft, so it rides playfully and forgivingly and is up for any downhill fun. Even on the slopes, you can always enjoy fun tricks and try to push the Bryan Iguchi to its limits or go to your own limits. In varying conditions it remains stable and you are in control on the move.
On the climb, the Bryan Iguchi Pro delivers the performance you need to be safe on steeper, 35° terrain. Although it is relatively soft tuned, it is still stiff enough to get good edge hold. Forward pull and balance fit perfectly. All in all, a board with which we would also get involved in ambitious adventures.
The Arbor Coda is tuned a little softer compared to the Bryan Iguchi Pro, which brings an even more surfy feeling in the powder. Although the Coda is a mountain twin, the nose remains on the surface even in powder without having to transfer a lot of weight on the back foot. If you go from powder to wind-pressed rough terrain, the edge holds well and control can also be maintained. At very high speed, there can be sometimes a slip. On the slopes it is impeccable, the edge holds and the board is fun. Again, the idiosyncrasies of the Grip Tech bulges on the edge should be noted.
On the ascent, the Coda is noticeably heavier than the Bryan Iguchi at 161 cm. Again, the weight comes in the comprehensive test report. Performance is good, despite the rocker profile it holds up quite well when traversing hard terrain thanks to the "parabolic" shape (reverse radius between binding and contact points). If it gets deeper, it floats up and the balance is decent. If there is some snow stuck to the board, the nose will tip off a bit sooner than other boards in the test when making kick turns, and the climbing characteristics will be slightly compromised.
All Burton splitboards in the test are equipped with the channel system, which makes the boards a little heavier. For this, the binding adjustment is very simple and this is also an advantage for rental purposes. The Burton boards have a massive preload that remains stable for years. This is reflected in a very good durability of the boards again.
The Burton Straight Chuter is tuned for steep gullies, bigger drops and aggressive riding. Accordingly, if you're a little lighter you will need neat strength in the legs. Due to the aggressive shape, the stiffness, and the range of use, in normal touring use it is somewhat cumbersome to handle. On the tail, however, it gives a lot of security and even in changeable conditions it can be ridden fast and controlled.
On the ascent, the Straight Chuter is noticeably better than the Hometown Hero and the Hometown Hero X. Edge hold is solid even in hard terrain up to 35°. It is well balanced and the kickturns come off the foot easily. It comes out of the snow well and even in deep conditions the climb is less strenuous than with boards that may weight less but flex more.
Hometown Hero X
The Burton Hometown Hero X is the "Every Day" splitboard from Burton. It is slightly heavier than its competitors in the same price range, which manifests itself as less agile on the descent compared to other boards. Lightly tapered, it floats up well and rides solid in deep conditions. It is very stiff and has good pop, so it is geared more towards heavy riders. Once you get used to the ride characteristics it is a lot of fun and strong on piste as well as off piste. In tracked snow or hardpack it remains stable.
On the ascent, the Hometown Hero X is solid due to its stiffness and by the S-Rocker with decent camber it floats well. The edge hold is good, but slightly lower compared to the Straight Chuter. The strong tailing and the relatively wide tail requires a wide-legged ascent style.
The Burton Leader Board is a bit stiffer than the other Burton boards, so you need real power in your thighs here. It wants to be ridden very actively and aggressively. If you have the power, it's fun and you can feel its qualities. Controlled charging through changing conditions and a surfy feeling even at high speeds characterizes the Burton Leader Board.
On the ascent, it performs good. It is cleanly balanced, pulls well forward and the edge holds - similar to the Straight Chuter.
COMERA (a small factory from Italy):
The Comera Camos has a super cool look and feel - except for the color scheme, which is a matter of taste. It is one of the lighter boards on the market, but not a flyweight. With a large radius, an early high nose, and a camber almost down into the tail, it results in a very long effective edge. It is strong in the climb and yet fun and agile in the descent. It is tuned relatively soft, but still has enough pop in the tail that it feels lively when carving and gives you that certain momentum out of the turn. Regarding the flex it is similar to the Arbor Bryan Iguchi or the Amplid Milligram. Thus, speed in rough conditions requires a good board feel.
On the ascent, the Comera Camos is solid, has decent grip and the balance point is optimally set. In our test with about 35° slope it was a bit weaker than for example the GB Split or the Korua Escalator - but still very strong. This is due to the softer tuning. It floats up nicely and even in deep snow it sinks in relatively little. The skin attachment with two notches on the nose works flawlessly and makes it possible to assemble the board even with skins attached.
GB Split Camber / GB Split Rocker-Nose
Goodboards has two versions of the GB Split available. One full camber version and one with a rocker nose. The GB Split Full Camber has a massive camber of almost 10 mm, it has a traditional shape and is very stiff - although slightly softer than the Burton boards. Compared to last year, the core has been slightly optimized to reduce its weight a bit more. It's fun on the downhill. As with all traditional boards, good footwork is required. The edge holds very well, even in rough conditions. At higher speeds you ride safely and controlled in any terrain. The GB Split is slightly less maneuverable than its brother GB Split with rocker nose. In deep snow, it wants to be ridden on the back foot and floats on top. The rocker nose version can be ridden with less effort and is more maneuverable.
On the climb, the GB Split was the strongest of all the boards tested. This is due to the strong preload and the massive camber. The GB Split with rocker nose is slightly less strong in the ascent, but in our opinion it is compensated by the playful feeling while riding.
The two boards fit amazingly together and would make an optimal splitboard quiver.
The Frontier is similar to the former Explorer Split. The flex is in the middle range. It is very agile and great fun even with a weight up to 77 KG. The edges hold well. At high speeds it loses some smoothness compared to the Jones Solution (similar to the Arbor Coda) but is still good to ride, even in difficult and changing conditions. It rides playfully, forgiving and with little effort. In powder it is surfy and can be ridden well with centered weight. All in all, it's a nice all-around board that can be ridden with less power in your legs.
On the ascent, the Frontier is solid on the move even in hard, low-grip conditions. In powder, like most boards, it gets up well. With weightier riders, the soft flex is noticeable in the ascent.
The Korua Escalator performs still in the top range, our enthusiasm from last year was confirmed by all testers. It flies through deep powder it plows through hardpack and even in rough terrain it is super stable at high speeds and can be ridden in a very controlled manner. The whole board is superbly tuned and the short but hard tail gives stability on drops and other features. The large holes of the skin attachment give you direct faceshots in powder from time to time. If you get a little too much back position in hard conditions, the tail acts as a brake with the two "tips" and you come pleasantly back to the front. The Escalator is most comparable to the Nevado from Konvoi in terms of riding characteristics. In terms of stiffness and pop, it is somewhere between Goodboard's GB Split and the Nitro Slash. The new waxable topsheet needs to be waxed, otherwise there's a decent amount of snow stuck on here, which negates the weight savings. If it is prepared with a biological "Allconditions wax", it works well and little snow sticks. So here's another plus for the Escalator. Korua has managed to modify the heavy topsheet of the past to keep the board lightweight. Despite the aggressive look, the Escalator is very versatile.
On the ascent, the Escalator is very strong. It convinces with very good edge hold even in difficult passages. The board is well balanced, kickturns go easily out of the foot and even if snow sticks to the topsheet (due to the waxable topsheet rather rarely), the nose comes out of the snow nicely. The skin attachment is well chosen and skins can be mounted when in ride mode.
What all Nitro splitboards have in common is the excellent skin attachment. Here, no other brand can currently keep up. The possibility to attach the skin still in ride mode or to unroll after assembly brings additional safety and comfort. Nitro has a whole range of splitboards for different purposes and for every riding style. Here you can clearly see the years of experience in splitboard construction. Also in terms of price, the boards are in a good range. In terms of weight, the Nitros are in the good midfield.
The Nitro Slash is a powder optimized splitboard that is great to surf without demanding much strength from your thighs. It floats up just right, not too much and not too little. Thus, you are also at high speeds well and safely on your way down. In tracked terrain and hardpack it irons over the obstacles and even here it withstands high speeds without much material deformation. It carves solidly on the slopes and is all in all a lot of fun. It can be ridden over either the front or back foot, with a little more weight on the back foot having a big impact on the riding characteristics in powder. The tail is stable and gives you stability even on small drops despite the short length. Compared to the Escalator, the Nitro Slash requires less footwork and can't quite keep up in terms of carving performance. Nevertheless, it is at the forefront of powder-oriented boards. In terms of stiffness, it ranks between Arbor Bryan Iguchi, Amplid Milligram, and Korua's Escalator.
On the ascent, it works well. The stiffness is good so that it provides decent edge hold in hard to icy conditions. The brackets are balanced so that the nose comes up and kickturns turns are very easy to manage. Both forward pull and float are optimal.
Nitro Miniganger (KIDS)
The Miniganger is the optimal beginner board for children, with a length of 132cm it is the shortest splitboard on the market. The shape is relatively narrow and perfectly suited for children's feet. Also for normal riding on the slopes it works wonderfully. My son uses it 90% of the time when we are on the mountain. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to share the fun of splitboarding with their children. Statement from my son, he started when he was 8 years old): "The Nitro Miniganger is super awesome - a normal snowboard is a bit more maneuverable. Touring is a lot of fun even if it's more strenuous than using a lift." Click here to read our article Splitboarding with Kids in which Miniganger Split developer Tommy Delago and legend Jeremy Jones share their experiences of splitboarding with kids.
The Mahalo has only been walked and ridden by one person - as soon as there are more opinions we will comment on this.
The Veda splitboard is comfortable and easy to ride. When you push it to its limits you notice the different radii of the Grip Tech. Thus, it is similar to the men's boards from Arbor (see Bryan Iguchi Pro) in terms of cornering. Relatively soft tuned it also fits well for lighter women. It rides playfully and also cuts a good figure on the piste. In powder it floats on top and is nicely maneuverable. At high speeds in rough terrain it deforms relatively strongly and it requires some sensitivity in order to ride it in controlled manner.
On the ascent, we could not see anything negative. The edges hold up nicely and the Grip Tech gives a little extra support. In deeper snow, the board comes up well. As with the Coda, the center of gravity is set so that it is optimally balanced, but when some snow sticks to it, the board halves sink and the climb is somewhat affected. The Veda moves in a nice perceived weight range.
As for the Swoon splitboard from Arbor, the nose rocker is shifted slightly towards the tail, what makes the board float better and thus facilitates a surfy ride in deep snow. Like the Veda, it is nice and versatile. The Swoon is also relatively soft tuned and comfortable to ride. If snow conditions change from soft to hard, more expirience is needed to ride it in controlled manner. Arbor has also optimized the weight, this pleases us very much, as companies often make shorter and narrower but not really lighter boards. More details about the weight will in the comprehensive test.
The Swoon is also good on the ascent. Increased edge hold due to the Grip Tech and good floatation. In our model, everything fits. The center of gravity is set so that even if there is snow on the nose, the ascent performance is maintained.
Hometown Hero (UNISEX)
The Hometown Hero has been described by our testers as a good splitboard, which rides quite normally in both powder and hardpack. It floats, it has edge hold, and it's fun, but it's a bit more sluggish than other boards in the test.
No drawbacks could be found on the ascent, except the weight. It ascends just like the men's Hometown Hero X.
The Konvoi is for ladies with well-developed thigh muscles. With a length of 161cm, it rides like a 155. After a very short familiarization, the Nevado for women is very agile and, despite the length and the corresponding weight, very easy to turn. At higher speeds it is extremely smooth and you are safe and controlled on the go, both on the slopes and in tracked terrain. The edge grip is excellent, this is also due to the unique channels in the base. Controlled and very safe you are also on icy slopes or in hard terrain. In powder you are the queen, it floats and you can do everything your skills allow even at high speeds.
On the ascent, the Nevado FEMALE also cuts a great figure. The edge holds in any position and the nose comes out of the snow super. It pulls forward and is top balanced.
Here the recommendation goes rather to ladies who have good to very good snowboard skills, because they have the ability to exploit the full potential of the board.
The Mendiboard Backcountry for women gave the testers a lot of fun right away. Super maneuverable and very agile, the board feels playful and with great ease. It is lively in the pop and the curves are very easy to initiate. It floats at its best and it can be ridden over both the front and back foot. In crusty snow , it either stays up or breaks in without "biting hard". This has to do with the slightly higher pulled, relatively short nose. So you can ride even in demanding conditions very pleasant and energy-saving. On the slopes it carves reliably and even on ice the edge is strong enough, granted that you bring the necessary pressure on the board.
On the ascent, after the first steps it came the statement " With it you feel so free ... it is much lighter than my 107mm wide freeride skis" The testers felt safe in every moment, even in steeper terrain and hard ground. Like the men's version, the Mendiboard Backcountry FEMALE is ascent-optimized, has a clean forward pull and is very well balanced. The effective edge is very long on the Mendiboard Backcountry, it has a classic profile with a raised nose. Little snow sticks to the topsheet.
A tester even said she would ride the board all season, even on the slopes.
The Squasch female seemed extremely agile to our testers, almost like a skateboard - this was probably also due to the very short length with 148 cm. With the mid-size pronounced Swallowtail and nose conditioned it is a thoroughbred powder board which also has good riding characteristics on grippy slopes. If it is hard, woman must get used to it here to bring the edges fully to use. In deep powder, the tail drops and the nose comes up very nicely. Also in steep terrain the Squash can be ridden excellently. The board is tuned fairly soft and requires relatively little force to use.
On the ascent, the Squash FEMALE is surprisingly good. Sure in powder everything is great, but it also works flawlessly in hard conditions and steeper terrain. Kickturns go easy as pie and the edgehold is good but not outstanding. Here the recommendation goes in the direction of a second board in the Quiver.
STRANDA Descender FEMALE
The Female Descender is super turning and maneuverable. Due to the low weight, little effort is required and the board is playful and forgiving. The flex is very comfortable, so that unevenness can be easily compensated and a lot of security is given.
In direct comparison with the Nevado, it has a little less smoothness and edge grip at high speeds. In powder it has very good lift and woman quickly gains speed. On the slopes, it can also be cruised in a relaxed manner, whereas the Nevado requires a bit more leg work and wants to be taken more aggressively.
It is a great all-rounder that is easy to ride.
On the ascent, the Female Decender is stable, the edge grip is very good, although slightly less than the Nevado. As for the edge, it is more comparable to the Nitro Squash. Here it makes up some points, as it is shorter and lighter. Kickturns go loose from the foot and also the balance points are excellently set. Thus, the nose comes up well even in deep conditions and the ascent is well possible with relatively little effort
Meanwhile, all boards work quite well on the ascent as far as edge hold is concerned. Of course, there are nuances where, for example, a GB Split climbs better than a more powder-oriented and softer Arbor due to the extremely long effective edge and the hard tuning. As far as the balance points are concerned, i.e. the position of the brackets. there are still differences. Thus, the Kickturns are easier to manage with a Nitro Slash than with an Arbor Coda. There are also significant differences in the skin mounts. One advantage of splitboards that have holes or a notch for skin attachment at the nose is that you can assemble the board halves before you remove the skins or put the skins on before you put the board in hike mode. These are advantages in comfort and when changing skins in difficult terrain it also brings advantages. If the "skinholes" at the nose are very large in deep powder you will get a jetstream of snow in your face.
From a weight of about 85 KG (naked) makes the hardness of the flex clearly noticeable. You sink deeper and the way up costs more power.
In this year's test there were no pure rocker boards, so the forward pull is also solid in all the boards
On the downhill each board has its advantages and disadvantages due to the shape and case of use, more about this in our comprehensive test.
If you want to know how to choose the perfect splitboard set-up, here you can go to our Splitboard Gear Guide.
Also to mention is the brand new Enfuse splitboard binding which we could test on 12 tours:
The binding is super with shoe size 43, great comfort of the climbing aid, very good power transmission - comparable to a Plum. The interface is super clean and extremely light compared to other interfaces. With a little tuning you can make the binding perhaps the lightest binding on the market. With top ascent properties. It is also fun on the descent. In terms of feel, it is very direct, more like a splitboard binding than a snowboard binding. There will be more information in our comprehensive test.
THANKS TO ALL WHO MADE IT POSSIBLE, THE BRANDS AND THE PARTICIPATING PEOPLE AS WELL
Photographer: Lisa Kristin Schrötter INSTAGRAM: lisa_kristin_photography --> Check out her Profile
Tester: Mike, Leo, Ikka, Henning, Pez, Patrick, Laura, Lisa, Marion, Steffanie
If you have questions, just post below the article - we would be glad to further help you!