What's the best setup for a backcountry snowboarder—splitboard, snowshoes, or short skis?

Ask Dr. Flake

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Splitboard, and it’s not even a contest. Sure, backcountry snowboarding began and thrived with snowshoes, and later evolved with the advent of short skis. But here’s the problem with the aforementioned climbing apparatuses: You have to lug a hefty snowboard, complete with two-pound bindings, on your back—which, besides frying you physically, has a way of snagging on every damn branch in the forest. On descents, snowshoes or short skis—now on your back—do the same. But behold the splitboard, which plays the role of skis while ascending, snaps together at the top, and acts as, well, a snowboard when it counts—going down. Yes, early splitboards were a bit twitchy underfoot. But today’s premium splitboards, from companies like Burton, Prior, and Voilé, ride smooth and stable, with a negligible sacrifice in performance—especially in backcountry powder, where they belong.