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One of the obvious advantages to using a splitboard is getting the weight of the snowboard off your back but there are times when it’s simply unavoidable, such as in spring and summer. Splitboarding in these seasons often requires a dry approach, meaning you’ll be carrying your board (and boots) over dry terrain before reaching the snow-line. It’s a necessary evil but is also one of our favorite times to be in the mountains. Here are some tips to make this aspect of the approach more enjoyable.

Use approach shoes

Ever walk three miles in snowboard boots? Yeah, then you know how painful that can be. If you’ll walking on dry-trail for any longer than one mile or so you’re most likely going to benefit from using light-weight hiking boots or approach shoes. This will keep your feet comfortable while preventing blisters and increasing agility. Your feet will thank you, we promise!

The approach will likely be wet from snowmelt so keep that in mind when choosing an approach shoe. Most folks will choose a lightweight shoe with a low-profile and decent water resistance. You can stash your boots at the snow-line but take note sometimes this can be a tricky as you can lose them, forget them, or have them stolen. Unless you’re absolutely sure…avoid the drama and keep them with you. It’s also a good idea to bring a stuff sack to put your dirty shoes in and keep the mud out of your pack.

Choose a good pack

The hike in is often long so make sure you choose a pack with a good internal frame and support. This will allow you to carry heavier loads and more evenly distribute the weight of your board. When carrying your boots and board at the same time you’ll have two main options, A-frame and vertical board carry. There’s advantages to both and the best way to determine which option is best for you is to try both. You may even find that you use a combination of both methods depending on the situation. With both options your boots are stored strapped into your bindings.

Using the A-frame method, the bulk of the weight is closer to your back and caprovide more comfort over a long distance. On the flip side, it can also be a little awkward and unstable (Voile ski-straps help).

Using vertical board carry, the board is in kept in solid-mode and affixed to back of your pack. This method provides good stability but keeps the weight further away from your back.

Most backcountry ski and snowboard packs with offer both side-carry and vertical-carry options. Look for packs with strong straps and solid construction.

Be prepared

With blue skies and warm temps, it can be tempting to ditch the safety gear in the parking lot. Don’t do it. Mountain weather is unpredictable, always changing, and sometimes things just don’t go according to plan. Take the 10 essentials and be prepared.

  • map/compass
  • emergency blanket
  • extra layers (down, gloves, beanie)
  • first aid kit
  • fire starter
  • food/water
  • headlamp
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • splitboard repair kit

These items will add very little weight to your pack but can make a very big difference during your trip.

The dry approach can be intimidating and a ton of work but with practice, proper gear, and planning it’s an easy skill to learn. It can extend your shred-season and even open up the possibility of an endless winter. So take advantage of the longer days, warmer temps, and stable snowpack…go get after it!

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Jeff and Kelly Steele

Jeff and Kelly Steele are a married splitboard couple on a quest for an endless winter in the Pacific Northwest. Jeff is currently a brand ambassador for SnoCru and The North Face (The North Face Locals).