Any opinions on the Burton split boards?
I've been getting into backcountry a lot lately and am thinking of getting one to make some of the hiking a bit easier on the flats. Are they worth it. Do they work well as a board? Pros/cons?
With the skins on, in walk mode, it works very well on steep climbs. Great traction and the fairly short length make switchbacks easy. The board is heavy and after a long hike I really feel it in my hips. The fact that you don't have to lift your feet as high as you would hiking with snow shoes on and then not having to ride with too much extra gear on your back evens this out for me a bit. I'm seriously considering some lighter bindings to help lighten the load as every ounce shaved makes a difference on a long hike.
When you get to the top putting it back together is simple and it offers a great ride. In soft snow conditions the difference between this board and a non-split board is hardly noticable, it's a little softer than I'd like but that isn't a big deal. In hard conditions you can definately feel the difference but this has never bothered me as I would never ride this board in anything but powder or spring conditions. I've only dropped some small cliffs (10 footers or so) and it seems to handle it just fine, again it's a bit soft for this (at least softer than boards I like) but it stayed together no worries.
Now for the cons. This board sucks for touring. In walk mode, always keep the skins on and don't try to ski it. Waaaaay too short and soft not too mention that the binding interface in walk mode isn't the strongest or stiffest of attachments. If the conditions are right and you practice alot you might be able to pull off some tele-turns on it but I find it's more trouble than it's worth. I find that it is much faster to just walk it (meaning using the board in walk mode with the skins on) over rolling terrain as stopping to put it together for a short descent and then taking it apart again for a climb and then repeating takes too much time and energy. Some friends have suggested I try kick-skins with it (kick skins are very short narrow skins that you stick to your base just underfoot and they allow just enough traction on flat ground or small climbs but allow for enough glide to make the skis a bit more skiable) but I haven't had a chance yet.
Overall, it shouldn't be your only board and I'd never take it out at a resort but if you plan to make a lot of trips into the backcountry it's a great board for that. Definately practice with it on short backcountry trips before you really go for it. Oh and be sure to study up on your avalanche knowledge (consider taking a course) and never go into the back country alone and never forget a probe, shovel and beacon. You don't want to die out there.
Here's a good website to check out:
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