Hmm well now I am truly conflicted haha... I wish I had access to a longer board so I could try out the length...it sounds like I could use the 168w apparently and maybe be alright, only problem with that is if I try that out and think it feels good I will never know if the longer length would have been better, ahh what a conundrum
Normally I try to avoid these posts as board preference comes down to many of the variables that have already been mentioned such as type of terrain, snow conditions and your own style.
But, I am a little shorter than you at 5'9" and at the lower end of your weight at around 200-215 without gear and I ride a 200 cm Rad-Air Tanker for almost everything and get very tired of hearing everyone say that the boards are too long and current technology and designs should dictate that we all ride shorter boards.
I tend to disagree with this as I think that that the new design principles make longboards lighter and rocker makes them easier to ride and maneuver.
I have ridden the Jones 168 solution and flagship as well as the Prior Spearhead 178 and they are good boards, as well as the Gentemsticks in Japan and they all ride well, but for me they will not replace the ride and feel that I get from a 2m board or a 180+ swallowtail.
If you get the chance to ride a longer board, you should try one and then make the decision based upon what will work best for you. For riding in AK as you said in your post, a longer board will be perfect for most of the terrain you will find there. I think that your initial choices of the Jones, Venture, Prior and even the Donek customs are going to work pretty much anywhere. Longer boards can be ridden in trees and technical terrain, just look at Flo Orley from Austria as he rides a 172 to 187 (which is his pro model) on the Freeride World Tour, so it is going to come down to what you want and your own style.
As you said, you have quite a conundrum on your hands, but good luck and hope that you find a board that you are happy with as that is all that matters.
Well I am not gonna lie you all have been super helpful and I have heard great reasons for me to just try and go with the boards available to me and then there is enough logic here to make me want to just go for it and buy a longer board. As of this moment I believe I have narrowed my options to either the jones solution in 168w or a venture storm or odin around 181ish. Now I just need to decide which one to pull the trigger on. I was looking through the forums but couldnt find out whether or not the stiffness of the storm and odin was significantly different, anyone know? Also, any opinions on the options? I know jones has had some construction issues so I am wondering if these issues would be enough to hold you guys off the jones.
Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:06 pm Posts: 188 Location: Udapimp, Idaho
At 6' 210# I too am a long board lover, the first metal edged board I ever bought in '89 was a 170 back when I weighed 175# so maybe I'm just used to it. I do ride a 165 occasionally which feels short to me. My go to board for pow in the trees is a 173 and have no issues even bushwackin thru thickets, and use a 184 libtech for 1-2 foot dumps.
If your in a hurry, go for the 174 oden it will be a great board for you for any conditions the mountains throw at you, but a 180+ will excell in deep/bottomless. Then try to borrow/ rent a longer board to get the feel of it A rockered/tapered 180 for someone your size will be as maneuverable in the trees as a 165 traditional board.
good advice oh another thing I was thinking about, my current board is camber between the bindings and rocker at the nose and tail. That was one of the other things I really liked about the jones, it has the same profile as my current board. I think jones calls it camrock but I have also heard of it as wavelength etc. Anyway since I am used to this profile I was wondering if there were any long boards with this profile? I havent found any yet the closest is again the ventures which are flat between the bindings with rocker at nose and tail. If anyone has used the jones and ventures how similar is the ride between the two profiles? I typically do not like rockers as I like to have some camber in there but I like the rockered nose and tail for float and whatnot... so would this influence any of the suggestions that have been made? Probly should have mentioned this earlier but I digress
The prior spearhead and backcountry both have camber between the bindings and rocker in the nose and tail. Also another two boards that have not been mentioned yet are the winterstick Tom Burt and the Furberg and both meet your rocker/camber preference. The furberg is more powder focused and you definitely can't go wrong with the tb model. The priors and winterstick are available as a split or solid and I think that Barrows has a split furberg as well as a couple other guys on the forum.