|Overall Rating||Loved it!|
|Riding Level||Advanced - Expert|
|Fits Boot size (US)||< 8, 8-10, 10-12, > 12|
|Approx. Weight||Feels Light|
|On Snow Feel|
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Reef Men's Boards - Black
|Columbia Sportswear Canada |
Columbia PFG Offshore II Board
Womens Drift 2
Drift Boards 2019 - 2018 Review by The Good Ride
The Drift Boards are unique and at the time I write this they are the only legit uphill approach option for people with solid snowboards I can find that is in production. It’s a hybrid of a touring ski and a snowshoe with skins permanently attached to the bottom that, unlike snowshoes, can travel in skin tracks. Can’t even figure out where to put this review up on the site so just threw it in with Powder Boards until I find a better place. They aren’t perfect or something that makes Splitboarding obsolete but the first attempt makes a lot of sense in theory as well in practice. As a person that owns a sizeable quiver of solids, this is a truly welcome addition to my quiver. After slogging around at snail speeds on snowshoes for the last few months having Drift Boards has made my life massively easier.
Here is a not so quick initial take on the Drift Boards under the pretty lights but more review is to come from other riders with massively more split experience than I to round out our perspective of these.
Days: 5 but now own a pair and will be doing this a lot more.
Snow Conditions: about 1.5ft of wet to light powder to groomed firm snow.
Terrain: All in bounds in a regularly patrolled area. Nothing too steep. Probably like 25 degrees at most. Just the 3/4 mile uphill travel route I have at Mt. Bachelor.
The plus side of Drift Boards:
What really makes these little things keep up with normal split’s is they are super stiff (can’t even flex em) and the weight. Here is some rough math I did on it that might have something to do with it based on a study showing that 1 lb off the foot is equal to 6.4lbs off the back. [Authors: S. J. Legg a; A. Mahanty – This study was conducted in partial fulfillment of an MSc in Human and Applied Physiology, London University 1982. Published in: Ergonomics, Volume 29, Issue 3 March 1986, pages 433 – 438]
Drift weight: 2.4 lbs per board
Avg Split Setup Per foot: 6.25 lbs
Difference: 3.85 lbs per foot. So based on that study it takes 24.64 lbs off back per foot or 49.28 lbs total. Take -11 lbs for the average board on your back you get 39.28 lbs. I haven’t dried Mtn Approach but the older models were about 6lbs per foot each and had a pretty big footprint on the back. I think they are making a newer and lighter model and hope to test it.
So…yeah whatever that means…….but I can say that using Drift Boards instead of Snowshoes felt like it was almost twice as fast and massively less exertion even on the first day I did it with really shitty form. A few days before in about the same depth of snow, it took me about 40-45 min to get up about a 3/4 mile ascent in snowshoes. On Drift Boards, I was up in about 20-25 minutes but I felt like it was massively less exertion. Being able to hop on the skin track and not worry (well too much) about frothing pre-work skinners passing my out of shape ass was really cool. For once I felt like I took the red pill and I was traveling near Matrix speeds. The cool part was I was on my solid really fast. They also have crampons to put on if you hit some hard to icy snow to keep your traction. Also, you have a much more normal gait width when going up. At 6.75″ wide they aren’t spreading your legs out as much as snowshoes do so that’s easier too. The bottom line is everything about these is easier except for having to put on crampons if you hit a hard patch but who cares when you are that far ahead.
There are a few drawbacks:
- On some very mellow ascents near the top, I felt like I could use more ankle support. Now I could put on real split bindings on these because they are mounted with the standard split screw set up. This is really cool but it seems to add some weight. You lose a pound on the Drift Boards but gain close to 2lbs with most reasonably priced bindings. For example, my Union Expedition FC’s weigh about 1.8 lbs mounted on the Drift boards so the total weight rises from 2.4lbs per foot to 3.2lbs. Still, it’s almost half the weight of the average split per foot. You save a few pounds on the back going up and down but that doesn’t seem to matter that much compared to the feet. I’d love to see them create some sort of better support as I described in the vid. Maybe adding a light flip up high back (like on a snowboard) with an additional strap near the top would really help with support and maybe even be better than most split bindings. Also, going with some straps that have more surface area and a better hold like a traditional binding would really help.
- I wish the hill assist lifts had a little rubber on them so it wouldn’t be metal on metal every step.
- The edges are carbon fiber and I worry that with some serious time on these the edges could get banged up and lose their hold.
- You have to put the board on your back and this can suck on a windy ascent. With a good pack, it’s not as bad but still nothing like having just a backpack on.
- Also if you plan to go out for a while with a loaded backpack having a board there too kinda sucks.
So I wouldn’t say these are going to make people pissed they just bought a split and used splits will start popping up everywhere on Craigslist. Far from it. However, these sure do kill it for guys like me who dabble in safe uphill travel at their local resort. It’s about 1/3 the price of an average split set up and it opens up your whole quiver to new terrain. I can now ride whatever I want and not have to ride the same split every day. For a gear whore like me, that is glorious. It is also not a bad solution for short missions away from the local resort. Just please be safe! Don’t go stampeding off to the Backcountry and kill yourself. Take an Avy class, get the right safety equipment and do it right. It’s dangerous out there.
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