BUYING A NEW SPLITBOARD?
Category: News on 04-09-2018
A little tale about finally getting my mitts on a Prior Splitboard for the forthcoming winter through splitboards.eu. Just add snow...
Prior splitboards have always appealed to me. It’s an independent company founded by Chris Prior in 1989 and they still handbuild boards, skis and splitboards that you can even customise them. It’s got roots, pedigree and all the hallmarks of authenticity. I’d been in touch with them in 2013 and although the were extremely helpful in that special Canadian way, I decided to buy from a resort shop instead. Now that I’ve had more time splitboarding, I’m ready to try a different board, but where to start?
Buying a splitboard, especially for the first time, is a bit of a stab in the dark with lots of pitfalls and there can be big bucks at stake. Who to listen to, who to buy from, what will suit my riding, what will be different about the splitboard from my normal board, what bindings to get etc, etc, etc.
Now, I find Gear Talk is as dull as a midwinter’s day in Riksgränsen so the sooner we can get to the riding part, and away from the buying and setting up part, the better. Equally, the less dramas we have about the selection, delivery and issues of our new toys, the less complaining we will hear on those long ascents! You with me?
This year I recontacted Prior as I wanted to get a splitboard that is more expressive, something that opens doors, not closes them. This, in my opinion, is the fine print in choosing the right splitboard for you. It’s a mistake to think that a gnarly, stiff board is going to make you ride lines you’re too scared to take on. It’s not the board… Equally, a freestyle board isn’t going to suddenly make you more agile or make you fly. But you don’t want a board that will limit your progression either so it’s time to be honest with what you are likely to want to ride regularly and where to realistically go onto from there.
When I enquired about a more backcountry freestyle splitboard for the coming 18/19 winter, the nice people at Prior put me on to the European distributor of Prior splitboards, splitboards.eu, which I was really stoked to find out about, and for many reasons which I can share with you now.
For me buying a splitboard has a few elements that you can arrange in to a triangle if you want.
Price, Advice and Service.
You want a deal, obviously, you want advice so you get the right stuff and you want convenience for returns, parts and delivery. Shops may not be convenient or cheap and websites might not give you the advice and it can be costly to have a board delivered/returned.
Splitboards.eu have a similarly core history to that of Prior (oldest and largest purveyor of splitboards in EU) so I guess it’s logical they are working together. This site is as close to buying from a (good) shop as you can get online, personal advice (not just marketing bumpf copied and pasted), deals on full set ups, free delivery in the EU (!) and their range has been carefully selected. The advice and range comes from a good source, the team of shredders helping Mr. Splitboard himself, ex Voilé rider Simon Graf. I notice they’re all riding Prior boards 😉
I know what you are thinking, a self-titled Mr. Splitboard? Heheh. I just love the German-speaking world’s wacky sense of humour aesthetic, it’s so underrated! For example, in Austria, how seriously do they take skiing there? Very. How serious do they take silly Après skiing? Very. Whether it’s a holiday or an adventure, it’s supposed to be good clean fun. I feel like I understand him given the name of my own company…Sincere apologies to Simon if he does insist on being called Herr Splitboard at all times 😉 His title might sound funny to Britishly self-depricating ears but the reality is that this guy has climbed almost all the highest peaks in Europe on a splitboard has been advocating splitboarding since before a lot of the cool kids were even boarn. He knows his stuff and only sells what he tests and recommends, which is a fascinatingly modern approach to retail. It’s straight to the core of a sector that has exploded into the mainstream recently, generating a much-needed boost for core shops in resort and online along the way.
So, back to buying a splitboard… splitboards.eu have a splitboard pack/set up configurator that gives you a chunky discount and guides you in what you need to buy to complete the set, without the risk of buying things that don’t work together (bindings and crampons mainly) and has most of the desirable brands in tow with many more sure to be joining up soon.
Although it could probably do with a little design polish and some more English descriptions, it’s a great idea which is sure to be imitated if it hasn’t been already. For me this is a sign that the vendors know what they are on about and are there to help you make the right choices. This will hopefully prevent you from moaning to your friends on long splitboard tours about your gear too 😉
All choices have been tested, which I found really reassuring when purchasing, a headtorch to your stab in the dark if you like. This is most likely carried out at their annual CTM gathering near Silvretta where you can go meet some like-minded souls and then try and get away from them again on brand-hosted demo splitboards. This is another clue that their claim of being the biggest splitboard shop in Europe is not just based on how many boards they have in a warehouse but on real life experience and passion for their subject.
Splitboarding in 2018/2019 for horsemouth snowboarding is going to be about effort on the way up, expression on the way down. I want to feel like I can spin, spray and slash to my heart’s content because that is what I like powder for, that’s why I walked all that way after all.
I’m always seeking out fun, feature-filled zones to unlock so why not do exactly that on a splitboard? I think this represents a departure from expectations: I’m going to find the kind of run that I like. For me, this is the freedom of choice that touring is supposed to provide, it’s not just about ticking off named routes for exercise.
For this mission I have called upon the services of the Prior Shotgun XTC 162 through splitboards.eu, a lighter board that should be nice and playful for tight trees, pillow lines and natural features. I’ll be sticking with the Spark Afterburner bindings although I might swap them out for something less burly and I know who to turn to if I do…
Stay tuned for a run down of what happens when all the forces unite!
Until then, get fit then get fat, it’s going to be a cold one I reckon.