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Home Forums Splitboard Talk Forum Snowshoes first instead? or straight to split?

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    Considering entering into snowshoeing + snowboard world. Pondering to pull the trigger on MSR Lightning Ascent and maybe a better powder board. I think this would allow more versatility and money saving before assessing how much into it I am.
    Some other suggested to start directly with splitboarding, but the entry ticket is not the cheapest really, I understand a full set (boots, bindings, board, skins, etc) is above €1,200

    what’s your experience? how difficult is snowshoeing with a board onto your backpack? any hint is appreciated. I dont plan any overnight trip, nor anything too complicated. And I am based in Italy


    I find splitbarding to be way more efficient than snow shoes, especially on any kind of flat or rolling approach.

    You should be able to find a used split board in a powder shape for the price of snow shoes and a solid powder board.

    Matt Wood

    Spare yourself.


    People always forget you can save a lot of cash by splitting a board yourself. I found an older never summer online for $35, and bought it and split it. After skins, split specific bindings (even used), you can likely get a full setup for under $400 if you are budget minded.

    I’d take an old board and used gear over snowshoes any day. Snowshoes suck.


    Wow, all pretty negative I see. Thanks for the feedback.
    Also my friends snowboarders believe splitboard is an incredible and useless effort, they say “you save the daily skypass tkt and do just one ride”.
    I think it’s just a different way to experience the mountain and thought snowshoeing was another nice way to do it.


    I snowshoed with my board on my back for many years before splitboards were a thing, and then for a few more while I saved up to buy my first one. If you already have snowboarding gear, finding a used pair of snowshoes is a great cheap way to get out into the mountains and find some untracked lines. MSR snowshoes are (or were) the best, but I certainly wouldn’t buy a new set when there are probably dozens of pairs close to you gathering dust and/or on eBay or Craigslist. Also, if you’re heading into snow deep enough to warrant a new pow board, then snowshoes still suck quite a bit breaking trail in really deep snow.

    Also, unless you’re touring somewhere without any trees, carrying a snowboard on your back can be very frustrating as you catch branch after branch, bringing loads of snow down onto your head and neck. That alone was the biggest factor for me making the switch to a split for the Northeast woods. And yes, splitboards are also way more efficient on flats, rolling terrain, and pretty much anything else you’d actually want to ride down.

    Re-reading your original post, if you have the cash to buy $250 snowshoes and maybe a new pow deck ($400-700), you should definitely invest in a used split setup instead. You can find some new friends, or better yet, head out into the solitude and do your thing yourself.


    I think we are being positive about you getting out more than negative about snowshoes. A lot of our perspective comes form the western US and Canada where there is usually a good amount of deep snow about. In these conditions snowshoes take a lot more effort. If conditions are more firm or shallow in Italy, then shoes are a bit more functional than they are out here.

    That said some of my best memories are from bc riding before splits came along. You just have to set one track where you can get lots of different runs from it.

    Nothing wrong with buying some used shoes as suggested above. If you cant find a good deal on used regular shoes, I’d go for a pair of Verts because they are about half the weight of many shoes, cost less, and you might still use them from time to time as you advance as a splitboarder. If you get a pair of regular shoes, bolt a Voile heel lifter into them.


    Another factor (here in the Wasatch) for additions to, or alternatives to a split is the recent low early season snowpack and ever increasing elevation of the snow line. This situation is making trail-heads very dicey for exiting, assuming there is snow at all.

    Early season I hiked with my woody until I could skin in, and then I was often walking out carrying my split, because it was so dangerous. Even now the high sun angle is making many exits dicey, even on the north facing, so I’d say be open minded, especially as our winters undergo changes. Personally, I’ll be getting verts and modern woody (shark snowsurf) for next season just to deal with the poor approach/exit situation during the shoulder seasons.

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc


    the newer Verts have a binding which folds flat for better storage, nice upgrade.


    Think outside the box 😉

    IMG_20171222_075819569 by Matthias Motorizer[/url], auf Flickr

    IMG_20171222_080631918 by Matthias Motorizer[/url], auf Flickr

    Also good for powsurfing, but without the advantage of reuseing the bindings…

    IMG_20171217_093211861 by Matthias Motorizer[/url], auf Flickr

    IMG_20171218_203135_817 by Matthias Motorizer[/url], auf Flickr

    always waiting for the next dump


    If you’re just dabbling, I might snow shoe first. But if you’re pretty committed to backcountry riding and know you like hiking, I’d invest in a split.

    I took my AIARE Level 1 a couple weeks ago. I’d never toured before. There were two snowboarders in the class, me on my Voile split and a guy who rented some snowshoes. Again, I’d never toured before, lagging behind the skiiers. I fell down a couple times in transition. But I was still much, much faster than the guy in the snow shoes.

    Keep in mind who you might go out with. If you are both in snow shoes, maybe not a big deal. But if you’re with skiers or someone on a split, you will probably be holding them back. A lot.


    I find splitbarding to be way more efficient than snow shoes, especially on any kind of flat or rolling approach.

    the converse of this can be a + on the slow shoe side, if your terrain is conducive to going straight up, it doesn’t have much traversing, then slow shoes could be a reasonable option. I’d go with Verts or BillyGoat Plates as @Scooby2 suggested.
    Also if your partners are touring / skinning / splitting then for you on slow shoes your route may be different, it’s more efficient to go straight up on the shoes, rather than switchbacking over and across, so you’ll need to be responsible for making your own decisions in terms of route finding and safe travel.
    Once you have the boot back in it’s be easy to recycle it, so put your ups in where they give you options.
    and start saving, its worth it!!

    never summer snowboards
    phantom splitboard bindings
    dynafit touring
    atomic boots


    I have snowshoes. I know it can be done and have done it a few times before I got a split, but I do not consider them a realistic backcounty access tool. If the snow is firm (corn season), maybe, but you still have the board on your pack going up and the snowshoes on your pack coming down. When it is too steep to snowshoe, you have the board and the snowshoes on your pack going up. Unless you can resist the temptation, you are very likely to cause issues with all the skin track users when you snowshoe their skin track.

    I also have Verts. When it is too steep to skin and the snow is somewhat deep, Verts are invaluable. However only after the pitch is steep enough that you cannot skin.

    If your resources are lean, try to find a used splitboard set up or a cheaper splitboard. Now is the time to start hunting deals. Skinning is so much faster and so much easier than any of the options. No one chooses to carry their board on their pack when they do not have to. Also, with a split, you can take advantage of existing skin tracks instead of making your own snow shoe track.

    If you still ride a resort a lot, keep a solid board. If not, a split will work fine in bounds for occasional use.

    I had a buddy once who thought he had found a far superior method of BC travel to skinning. It was Verts. He expected he could use them everywhere. His first day out had a bit of a crust under the fresh snow and he did keep up with the skinners (I also think he was extra motivated to prove himself right). He was so excited. The next day was a more typical powder day. He wallowed. It took him forever to get up the slope and while we were all using the existing skin track, he was busting his butt putting in a Vert track. He never used the Verts again on skinnable terrain.

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