The Skiing Issue
By Jeremy Berger
on 1.23.14

K2 Ultra Split

K2-Gear-Patrol

Best Split Snowboard: For snowboarders keen on the backcountry, skinning up on a splitboard beats the snot out of hiking with a board strapped to a backpack. K2’s Kwicker binding system is arguably the easiest, lightest and best boot-to-board arrangement, and the newest version of the Ultra Split is the thing to attach it to. It’s designed for all-mountain use and abuse, with a durable bamboo core in each split and the Tweekend baseline that’s flat between the bindings and rockered at the tip and tail for a larger rideable surface.

Salomon Assassin

Salomon-Gear-Patrol

Best All-Mountain Snowboard: With Salomon’s reputation in the freeski world, it’s no surprise they excel with versatile snowboards as well. The Assassin is their jack-of-all-trades. It’s a true twin board — identical tip and tail lengths and shapes, symmetrical core and flex, centered binding stance — and has what Salomon calls a Rock Out Camber, which is flat between the bindings, camber under the feet and rocker in the tip and tail. All of that amounts to a board that can carve turns, ride in powder and handle rails and boxes in the park.

Niche Theme

Niche-Gear-Patrol

Editor’s Pick: We had the pleasure of doing some laps on the Niche Theme with some of the brand’s pro riders at Brighton Resort in Utah. SLC-based Niche makes environmentally friendly (lacquer-free, proprietary non-toxic resin, fiberglass-free, sustainable wood cores, hemp stringers instead of carbon fiber) boards at a factory in Antiesenhofen, Austria. The new Theme has traditional camber (convex rise from contact points) and medium flex; it’s lightweight, responsive, stable, and has plenty of pop and impact absorption — which is more than we can say for our body on a glades route yard sale.

Capita Ultrafear

Capita-Gear-Patrol

Best Freestyle Snowboard: The Ultrafear is a storied ride, formerly a limited edition and for the past few years a favorite among the snowboard elite. The graphics are a collage of awesome, including beautiful women in sunglasses with guns and aliens with antlers. The board has a flat camber profile and rockered tips, a dampening system in the sidewalls, and comes in six sizes. It excels at jibbing and works for riders of a variety of heights.

Flow Darwin ABT

Flow-Gear-Patrol

Best Powder Snowboard: You’d have to say that Flow’s Darwin is vaguely reminiscent of Burton’s Backhill, with its swallow(ish) tail and directional shape. But that’s the end of the similarities. This board is built for powder, with a wide, rockered nose, tapered swallow tail and what Flow calls Augmented Base Technology, which in the Darwin puts silicone inserts under the woodcore toward the back of the board for tracking in deep powder and dampening at high speeds. If you plan to eat the mountain alive, this is your chariot.

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