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Backcountry Skiing vs. Splitboarding: Key Differences and Similarities

Backcountry Skiing vs. Splitboarding

Skiing and splitboarding are great ways to enjoy the winter wonderland of the backcountry. With the right preparation, these activities can be both safe and rewarding.

For those who love adventure, the backcountry is a perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. There’s something special about exploring the mountains, forests, and rivers that can only be experienced firsthand.

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting, backcountry skiing offers a unique challenge that is both exhilarating and rewarding. So if you’re looking for an exciting way to explore the great freshies whether on skis or boards, be sure to give backcountry a try!

In this article, we will discuss some tips for getting started in backcountry skiing and splitboarding. We’ll also cover some basic safety information to help you stay safe while enjoying the great outdoors.

1. What is Backcountry Skiing?

1. What is Backcountry Skiing

Backcountry skiing is a type of skiing that takes place in the backcountry, away from designated ski areas.

I love backcountry skiing because it’s such a great workout. You really have to use your entire body to travel uphill and skiing in the backcountry is an amazing way to experience the mountains.

Backcountry skiing can be done in any mountain range or forested area with enough snowfall. In order to safely ski in the backcountry, it is important to have the proper equipment and knowledge.

Skiers should always carry avalanche safety gear, such as a transceiver, shovel, and probe. It is also important to have a partner and to know how to read avalanche forecast reports.

2. What is Splitboarding?

2. What is Splitboarding

Splitboarding is a type of snowboarding that allows riders to travel into the backcountry without the need for a chairlift or other mechanized assistance. Splitboards are essentially two snowboards that can be connected to form a single board.

Splitboarding is a great way to access the backcountry, especially if you’re not comfortable with skiing down steep, unfamiliar terrain. It’s also much easier on your body than carrying all of your gear on your back.

Splitboarding is a relatively new activity, and as such, there is not as much information available about it. However, the same basic safety principles apply to splitboarding as they do to backcountry skiing.

Same as in skiing, it is important to have the proper equipment, such as an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe. It is also important to have a partner and to know how to read avalanche forecast reports.

3. The Key Differences Between Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding

3. The Key Differences Between Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding

The biggest difference between backcountry skiing and splitboarding is the equipment. Backcountry skiers use skis, poles, and boots, while splitboarders use a board that can be split into two pieces.

Another difference is that backcountry skiing generally requires more physical exertion than splitboarding. This is because skiers often have to hike or skin up slopes to reach their desired descent.

Splitboarders, on the other hand, can strap their boards to their feet and walk or hike without much difficulty. This makes splitboarding a bit more accessible for those who are not in peak physical condition.

4. The Key Similarities Between Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding

4. The Key Similarities Between Backcountry Skiing and Splitboarding

Despite the differences in equipment and physical exertion, backcountry skiing and splitboarding share many similarities.

For both activities, it is important to have the proper safety gear and knowledge. Both activities also require a certain level of fitness, as well as the ability to read terrain and snow conditions.

Lastly, both backcountry skiing and splitboarding are great ways to explore the beauty of the natural world. Whether you’re shredding powder on skis or carving turns on a splitboard, there’s nothing quite like spending time in the great outdoors.

5. Pros and Cons of Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

5. Pros and Cons of Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

Pros:

  • Getting out of the resort crowd
  • Going into areas that few people have access to is exciting.
  • A new way to meet like-minded people
  • Changing the gym routine and achieving better outcomes (staying in shape)
  • Saving money on passes or tickets
  • Some of the most amazing and smooth bends are all yours

Cons:

  • A lot more difficult than it appears
  • Avalanches, slipping, and getting lost can all be very dangerous
  • Oftentimes, conditions won’t be ideal
  • Expensive for all the equipment

6. Best Times for Backcountry Winter Activities

6. Best Times for Backcountry Winter Activities

The best time for backcountry winter activities generally depends on the location. In general, the best time to go out into the backcountry is when there is a good snowpack, which usually occurs from late December to early March in most areas of the country.

However, if you arrive late to the party or the conditions are not ideal, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the backcountry. Snow can often be found at lower elevations well into spring and even early summer. And, of course, you can always find snow year-round in high alpine environments and at glaciers.

No matter when you go, always be sure to check the avalanche forecast and be prepared for changing weather conditions. Winter storms can roll in quickly and create dangerous conditions, so always err on the side of caution.

7. How to Choose the Right Gear for Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

7. How to Choose the Right Gear for Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

When it comes to backcountry skiing or splitboarding, having the right gear is essential for safety and comfort.

Here are some of the most important items you’ll need:

Avalanche Transceiver: This device helps rescuers find buried skiers and snowboarders after an avalanche. There are a variety of different transceivers on the market, so be sure to do your research and choose one that fits your needs.

Shovel: A shovel is necessary for digging someone out of an avalanche as well as building snow shelters. It’s also helpful for getting rid of excess snow when setting up a camp.

Probe: A probe is used to locate people who have been buried in an avalanche. It’s important to have a probe that is lightweight and easy to use.

8. Clothing for Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

8. Clothing for Backcountry Skiing or Splitboarding

When choosing your clothes for backcountry skiing or splitboarding, it’s important to consider both function and style. You’ll want clothing that will keep you warm and dry while also allowing you to move freely.

Some good options include layers of synthetic materials such as fleece, down, or Primaloft insulation. Waterproof-breathable materials such as Gore-Tex or eVent are also good choices for outer layers.

Make sure to pack extra clothing in case of emergencies, and be sure to wear bright colors so you can be easily seen if you get lost.

9. Skinning Tips for Skis or Splitboards

9. Skinning Tips for Skis or Splitboards

I remember the first time I went skinning. It was a little daunting at first, but after practising more, reading and watching a few YouTube videos I felt confident enough to try it on my own.

Since then, I’ve gone skinning several times and it’s become one of my favorite backcountry activities.

If you’re new to the activity, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  1. When skiing uphill, you want to glide your skis instead of lifting them. This will help you move faster.
  2. You can also pull your skis uphill, but don’t push them down because this will slow you down.
  3. To get better traction, press your heels into the snow.
  4. You should also roll your ankles to get more skin contact with the snow.
  5. When skiing on steep hills, flip up your heel risers to make it easier to climb.
  6. Don’t climb too steeply or you might fall over.
  7. Finally, practice making uphill kick turns so you can turn quickly while going uphill.

Remember to Follow Basic Skinning Etiquette

Knowing and following basic skinning etiquette will help keep you and others safe on the mountain.

Here are some basic skinning rules to follow:

  1. Yield to uphill traffic. This means if someone is skinning up the hill, you should let them pass.
  2. Don’t stop in the middle of the skin track. If you need to take a break, move off to the side so others can pass.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re skiing in areas with trees or rocks, be mindful of where you’re putting your skins so you don’t rip them.
  4. When skinning uphill, it’s important to stay on the track that has been created. This will help you move faster and avoid getting stuck. If you need to take a break, move off to the side so others can pass.
  5. When skiing or snowboarding down the mountain, it’s important to be aware of other people below you. Always yield to downhill traffic and be sure to stop in a safe place. Never stop in the middle of the slope.
  6. If a backcountry area is closed, it’s important to obey the signs and stay out. Closed areas are closed for a reason – usually because the risk of an avalanche is too high. There’s no point in risking your life or the lives of others just to get some runs in.
  7. When traveling in the backcountry, it’s important to be visible to others. This means wearing bright colors and using a headlamp when it’s dark. You should also carry a whistle to make yourself heard if you get lost or injured.
  8. It’s also important to leave your dog at home when travelling in the backcountry. Dogs can easily get lost or injured, and they can also be a danger to other people in the area. It’s best to leave them at home where they’ll be safe and happy.

10. Safety Considerations When Travelling in the Backcountry on Skis or Splitboards

10. Safety Considerations When Travelling in the Backcountry on Skis or Splitboards

Before heading out into the backcountry, it is important to have the proper safety gear and knowledge.

As we mentioned before, all skiers and splitboarders should carry an avalanche transceiver, shovel, and probe. It is also a good idea to take a first aid kit and a map of the area.

It is also important to know how to read avalanche forecast reports. These reports provide information about the current conditions in the backcountry, as well as the potential for avalanches.

Additionally, it is always best to ski or ride with a partner. This way, if one person gets into trouble, the other can help.

Finally, it is important to know your limits. Don’t push yourself beyond your comfort level or skill set. If you’re not sure about something, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

11. Backcountry Skiing vs. Splitboarding

11. Backcountry Skiing vs. Splitboarding

Backcountry skiing and splitboarding are both great activities, but it can be tough to decide which one is right for you. Both have their pros and cons, so it comes down to what you’re looking for.

Backcountry skiing is a great option if you’re looking for a challenging workout. It’s also a good choice if you want to ski downhill.

Splitboarding is a better option if you’re looking for something easier – it’s perfect for beginners. Splitboarding is also good for snowboarding fans because it gives you the chance to ride down the mountain on your snowboard. In the end, it’s really up to you.

12. My Personal Preference

12. My Personal Preference

I prefer backcountry skiing over splitboarding. With skiing, I have the added bonus of being able to use skins to ascend the mountain, which is great for my physical fitness. I also find that skiing downhill is much more enjoyable than splitboarding. It just seems to flow better and I can go faster.

However, I understand that not everyone feels the same way. Some people might prefer splitboarding because it’s easier or they enjoy snowboarding more than skiing.

It really comes down to personal preference, so it’s important to try out both activities before making a decision.

13. Final Thoughts

13. Final Thoughts

We hope this guide has helped teach you the basics of backcountry skiing and splitboarding. These are both great activities that can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels.

Just remember to always be safe and take the necessary precautions. With the proper safety gear and knowledge, you can enjoy these activities without any problems.

Thanks for reading! Have fun and stay safe!

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Picture of Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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