kThe Burrton Skeleton Key is a board I’ve wanted to try since it came out but didn’t get to. But then Dan, a guy I met on the chair, let me try it so thanks Dan! It was pretty much everything I was hoping it would be and it unseated the Branch Manager as a favorite. After riding this I went out and straight up bought one. Then I got to try the 2018 thanks to Gravity Sports at Mt Bachelor. It really is a great way to surf powder and groomers. The 2018 and 2017 Burton Skeleton Key seem to be the same except for the price difference.
Size: 154 and 158 (own the 154 and demo’d the 158)
Conditions: About 2 feet of powder with some groomers on the way to the chairs, one day. A couple of other days about the same or better. Lot’s of good snow groomer days and a few spring days hard in the morning slowly transitioning to slush by early afternoon.
Riders: James, Peter, Jimbo, Zobel and a few others
Boots: Burton Almighty, Adidas Tactical ADV, Burton SLX, Burton Rover, Burton AMB, Adidas Samba.
Bindings: Union Atlas, Union Superpro, Burton Genesis, Burton Genesis X, Burton Cartel, Union Force, Union Contact, Flux SF, Flux DS, Union Contact Pro, Union T.Rice, Burton Mission
Liked the Genesis X and Atlas bindings best with this board. Liked the Tactical ADV and think the Imperials, SLX’s or Ions would be a great combo too. My Almighty’s were a touch soft.
Set Up: about 12 front -12 back and about 22″ wide
Approximate Weight: Felt normal bordering on light.
Sizing: The 154 felt like magic when it came to quick nimble turns in the trees compared to the 158 and I think I might prefer the 154. However I liked the drive and more powerful feel when opening up on groomers. Its core is a little on the thin side and at the time I write this I’m 180lbs after a long steamy piss right when I wake up so per Burton I’m right at the 2018 limit of the weight recommendation. That being said I’m usually heavier than the weight recommendations and with the way I ride I’ve never damaged a board due to bad food choices. I’m kind of in between the 154 and 158. If there was a 156 I think it would be perfect for my boot size (most important, weight and height). Still both are fun and it comes down to how you want to ride. Short and quick the 154. A little more drawn out and opened up on the groomers 158.
Flex: Nice flex that feels pretty firm between the feet but it was pretty easy to butter the tail. The 158 feels a touch stiffer but that can vary from board to board. Maybe there was a little bump to the flex to handle a higher weight recommendation but I’m not sure.
On Snow Feel: The Burton Skeleton Key got that same great stable feel that so many of the Family Tree tapered directional boards have. The more I ride it the more I feel it’s a more playful, directional, quicker turning and surfy version of the Flight Attendant. I wouldn’t of thought that it had 10 mm of taper. It’s not wash proof but a lot less washy than you would think for a tapered board. It’s a very off the tail kind of surfy ride that’s got a super quick lively feel underfoot. It’s just pure powder surfing fun.
Edge Hold: It’s fine for anything but hard to icy snow. In comparing this to a lot of our other Snow Surf and Freeride favorites it’s a little behind when it comes to grip. When the snow is hard you really have to dial back your turning and the edges let go easier than most in this class. It’s an improvement over Burton’s Flat Top and Flying V camber but in our opinion, it needs a little more if you want to ride in the harder snow.
Turn Initiation: So quick and snappy edge to edge. It’s like the Branch Manager and a real tree cheetah. It’s super quick in tight situations and I could react so quickly that it made me feel like I was a better tree rider. The board just went where you wanted it to go with minimal effort. With other boards I could do the same line but often there is an awkward moment getting the board where you want it and I loose my poise but with the Skeleton Key I felt like it was setting me up to be cooler than I am at every turn.
Turning Experience: The overall turning experience from rolling it over from edge to edge quickly in the trees to making big sweeping carving turns is really fun. The Freeride Geometry sidecut is pretty interesting because on groomers it feels more like a double ender like the Flight Attendant does but in powder it feels pretty surfy like it should. It’s a fun board to turn and even though it’s super quick edge to edge it’s not a super tight turner when the side cut is completely engaged. Still you can make fun circle carves and enjoy your self every time you put your weight into a turn. It’s a great daily driver for those that only want directional surfy turns and mainly ride only when the snow is medium or softer.
Skidded Turns: Not ideal but not as bad as camber. You really want to know the mechanics of turning otherwise you could catch an edge on the tail if you get off your game. Still its pretty forgiving for having this much camber going on.
Carving: Nice springy surfy carve with the Burton Skeleton Key. I could really lay it out as long as I put a little more weight on the back foot.
Speed: It could handle some decent speed but it’s not quite a bomber. I rode the Burton Flight Attendant after and I could feel that offer up a much more damp ride.
Uneven Terrain: Just about perfect and I could hammer turns in moguls all day. The only minor complaint is it’s a little bucky if you try to power over bumps instead of around them.
Powder: This is what the Burton Skeleton Key excels in. We have had up to a few feet of pretty decent Sierra and Cascade snow with the 154 and it floats effortlessly with a foot or 2 to spare. It’s the board I want to take out when it’s a powder day but not bottomless and just jam through the trees. We liked the 154 Burton Skeleton Key better than the 155 Branch Manager across the board on a head to head test….except for riding switch. It has almost 10″ of setback on board with a 22.75 inch/58cm stance width which is really insane how far back it is for a 154. That’s more than the Branch Manager, Landlord and Flight Attendant. Also, the nose and waist is pretty wide for this size so that helps too. So does the rocker in the nose. It turns small and floats big. That get’s my pants tight and makes for a fun but sometimes awkward ride if I don’t tuck correctly.
Jibbing: maybe but nahhgonnadoit!
Pipe: Maybe to slash the walls on a softer day.
Jumps: Really good spring off the tail and it boosted me higher than I thought each time I hit a little natural feature. Really great for a directional air and much more pop than you would expect for such a thin board.
So the more I ride the Skeleton Key the more I like it.