Splitboard Gear Review I

Courtesy - Spark R&D

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Going from inbounds resort riding to the backcountry, my first assumption was that the backcountry gear will be clunky, heavy, and most of all under-performing when it comes to the snowboarding part. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how well it performed both on the ascent and descent. It’s tough enough to make a piece of equipment perform as desired, but when there are multiple elements to consider, it poses quite the challenge. Here’s our perspective of one of the set ups we use:

Spark Surge Binding Review:

Courtesy - Spark R&D
Courtesy – Spark R&D

Narrower translates to weight savings

The binding footprint seems a bit slimmer than a typical binding. This reduces weight and if you have a mid-size or narrower boot (size 11 or smaller) it should be a comfortable fit. It is also incredibly helpful when you are skinning up a mountain. The fit allows for an agreeable climb, which means you don’t have to ratchet down your straps so tightly that you cut off circulation.

Very stiff leads to responsive

The base plate is made of out of aircraft aluminum. The high-back looks like plastic, but once you get your hands on it and get into it the binding is stiffer than it appears. All in all, it is very supportive and responsive providing excellent control with little output.

Rip n Flip and “Snap” ramps equals easy conversion

The Rip n’ Flip High back allows you to quickly go from a straight high back that makes it easy to ski up a mountain to a max forward lean to ride down a mountain in a second. To set the binding for snowboarding all you need to do is slide the binding over the pucks and “snap” it in. For touring the large toe pin slides into the hinge and “snaps” in as well. No cables, no removable pins, no problems…the system Spark has designed is well thought out and allows for a quick reliable transition in all elements and conditions.

Durable/ Built to last

Personally, I am very hard on my equipment and having gear that doesn’t break when I slam things is critical for me. Everything the binding is made of from the aircraft aluminum baseplate and the connecting pieces, to a firm fiber glass high back make you feel that these bindings were built to last. All in All we highly recommend these bindings if you are looking for a splitboard binding.

For more about Spark R&D and what they offer check out their website: http://www.sparkrandd.com/

Smokin’ Pow Wow Splitboard Review

Splitboarding MeadowSmokin’ Snowboards have always been known for their amazing free ride and park boards. They have won a few Good Wood awards over the years from Transworld and are now in their second season of manufacturing Splitboards. With Smokin’ based in Sparks, NV, just outside of Lake Tahoe, the lure of supporting local, reducing our carbon footprint and their reputation for building a reliable board was enough to take the leap.


Surprisingly, the board is incredibly light even with all the extra hardware needed on a splitboard. The entire board from tip-to-tail has a metal edge, there are extra connectors and clips but it doesn’t seem to add to the overall weight. The Voile clips connecting the board also hold true joining the board solid providing almost as good of control as a normal board.

A “Free your Mind” type of Shape

Courtesy Smokin Snowboards
Courtesy Smokin Snowboards

When I originally rode this board the large nose tripped me out. I attempted to ride the board as if it had a wider side cut for its size. Like they say on their website “Free Your Mind” and accept the fact that the side cut is designed to ride smaller so that if you hit firmer snow it is responsive, but if it is steep n deep it will let you float incredibly easily without any added energy. Trust the equipment!

A “Killer” in Touring

The Pow Wow and Jetson pictured here at Shoreline of Tahoe
The Pow Wow and Jetson pictured here at Shoreline of Tahoe

Splitboarding requires you to spend the majority of time going uphill instead of down. I was definitely impressed with this board’s performance. The camber shape allows you to easily climb without slipping like other “rocker” shaped boards would.

For their second year making splitboards it seems like the Smokin’ crew spent a ton of time doing research and development to make sure they released a quality product. If you are looking to support a company that is still making their decks in America, Smokin’ is definitely a good option to check out.  For more about the gear they manufacture go here: http://smokinsnowboards.com/


Later we will talk about other brands we use when heading into the backcountry.

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