OK, I realize it's a little early to think about snow...but it's an inevitability (that some even look forward to). So rather wait until the season is half over again I'm trying to plan ahead.
In past years I have been snowkiting with standard snowboard and/or alpine boots/skis depending on conditions. I am hoping to take snowkiting to the next level this winter with a "randonee" set-up. I am hoping this will open up new possibilities and adventures for going off the beaten path and scoring new spots that are normally hard to access. Any suggestions and comments on gear choices and good sources (new - used - discount) is appreciated. I am based in the US, so probably best to look for sources locally.
Boots: I would like to get a nice pair of boots that offer a good combination of comfort and mobility, without losing too much stabiltiy and powered up performance
Bindings: I would like one of the randonee bindings that has good striding performance and solid performance with heels down.
Skis: I am giving serious though to the Lightening wood skis for the soft snow days and for ski-in conditions. I already have other metal edge skis that I can use when necessary.
If you prefer snowboarding to ski's you might want to think about a split snowboard. Tricky part is finding 1 that's not directional. Most have backset binding set ups for deep powder & steep descent riding. Venture makes a great factory split called the Helix that is great for backcountry gravity or snow kiting. Never Summer also makes a great board that works for for both - I can't remember the model but rockered designs seem to work best - especially if there's much powder. Both these companies custom build the splits and the build quality is amazing - these boards will take long lived abuse. You can save $ by making your own split with a Voile kit but unless you know how to install a metal inner edge I have doubts about durability for kiting. Soft boots(whatever brand you like) and Spark splitboard bindings are light & durable and no loss in performance vs a solid board.
lewmt wrote:If you prefer snowboarding to ski's you might want to think about a split snowboard.
Appreciate the input lewmt. The split boards sound interesting and I have looked at them briefly in the past, but I'm wondering how they are for trekking in or climbing considerable distances. I definitely enjoy using a snowboard in certain conditions but also like the feel and the versatiltiy of skis that can be used for travel over snow. So with this randonee set-up I'm striving for I'm trying to cover all the bases.
As far as trekking or backcountry venturing goes a splitboard offers everything rondonee or telemark gear offers. Its all about what you prefer in your riding. You have to have skins for any of them. Since the invention of Spark splitboard bindings weight and performance issues vs a solid board aren't what they used to be and transitions are only slightly more cumbersome than with rondonee gear. I know guys that regularly make 6-7,000' of verticle in a day on splitboard(that's only counting the uphill portion of the trek) and most avid splitters can easily keep up with most avid rondonee & telemark riders.
I have 2 boards. My Venture Helix is the most versatile, do everything well board. Its rockered but flat between the bindings and can be mounted 100% centered in your stance. I haven't had a day kiting or backcountry riding where I wished for something else. It skins in fresh or well established skin tracks really well. I also have a Twisted board that I had custom split. The guy that did it installed inside edges on the cut edge. The Twisted is especially great in deep powder and if you're breaking trail skinning in backcountry its the easiest I've ever used. Its limitations are in hard packed conditions whether skinning or riding. Not enough contact with the snow under the center if you're skinning a steep, established skin track. Its also like trying to control a cafeteria platter riding downhill in wind blown, or hard packed, or variable gravity turns. The Twisted definitely pops off the snow kiting a little better than the Venture but its not drastic.
As I mentioned above Never Summer also builds a really similar board to the Venture Helix. You wouldn't lose anything in build quality or performance with the NS. 1 of the Blaho bros is into kiting and was pretty focused on kiting with its design. There are other splitboard builders but I don't know of any boards that really offer the versatility for kiting + backcountry.
Thanks for all the info and insights on the split boards. I'll definitely look into it more. I wish there were more opportunities to try some of the gear - so in some cases relying on good reports from people is the only thing possible. The split boards sound like a good way to get some of the advantages of seperated skis/skins on the way up with the joys of riding a snowboard on the way down.
I know this out of your territory, but if you ever find yourself in Conway NH near Mt. Washington, there are 2 consignment shops in the area that have smokin' deals on all kinds of winter gear. Ragged Mt. and IME are the places. I always stop in when I am passin' thru to see what they got. JR