Splitboard Snowboard Vs Snowshoe – which is better?

If you are a snowboarder who doesn’t mind earning your turns and you’re keen on getting out into the backcountry then you basically have two options for uplift: Split board or Snowshoes. I’ve covered a fair few thousand vertical feet on both, and each have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Going up

This is probably the most important factor especially if you are planning on doing a lot of ascension under your own steam. Generally speaking, splitboards are a more efficient way of moving around in the mountains, they are way less effort to move across deep soft snow and on flatter sections you can actually let the 2 skis glide which is both quicker and saves you energy. Where snowshoes can compete with splitboards is on short steep, technical sections. On snowshoes you can walk straight up much steeper slopes than on splitboards, especially if the snow is a little hard. This can be much quicker for a short distance than on a splitboard where you have to zigzag up the slope doing kick turns. Over long distances though, splitboards will almost always be quicker and less effort than snowshoes. Another advantage of splitboards on the way up is that you don’t have to carry your board on your back which is heavier and can also unbalance you in deep snow.

Going down

So now you’ve had it to the top, which is the best for riding down? When splitboards first came out they weren’t that great to ride. The two halves often had a bit of play in the attachment and you could sometimes feel the edges in the middle of the board catch in the snow. Over recent years the boards and perhaps more significantly the bindings, have got much better. Now you really don’t feel much different between your splitboard and your regular snowboard. If you are on snowshoes you can take whatever board you want! This is obviously the ideal situation, the only drawback is that you’ve got to carry your snowshoes on your backpack on the way down. When I used to snowshoe, I always felt that I was holding back a little on the way down – you really dont want to ragdoll down the hill with snowshoes strapped to your back!

Ease of use

I would have to say that snowshoes win here! splitboards have got a lot of different parts and can take a little while to transition from split, when going up, back to snowboard for going down. Changing a split board from form to the other involves removing the bindings, splitting the board, putting the bindings back on and then sticking on the skins to the base of the two halves of the board. All this can take about 10 minutes although will, no doubt take longer the first few times you try!

Once you got the hang of how the equipment works its time to learn how to use it. Again snowshoeing is easier here; its basically just walking with

On the other had putting on snow shoes is relatively quick, you just need to step into them and tighten the straps similar to how you would put on snowboard binding. Then you just need strap your board to your backpack and you’re good to go.

Although snowshoes will have a good few minutes head-start on the trail they will soon get caught up by the split board which is quicker over the snow.


There is a big difference in cost between a snowshoes and a splitboard set up. So depending on budget this might be the deciding factor for a lot snowboarders wanting to get into the back country.
A snowshoe setup will involve the snow shoes and collapsible poles and

A Splitboard set up involves the split board, the bindings, skins and collapsable poles

Standard Splitboard Setup

Total cost $1609

Standard Snowshoe Setup

Total cost $340

Wrapping up

Split boards and shoeshoes can open up the true potential of the mountains and one you get to the top the ride down is always worth it! However, going up hill under your own steam is hard work and not everyone’s idea of fun! So if you are just getting into backcountry riding I would definitely recommend starting of by buying a set of snowshoes or renting a splitboard before you invest in a splitboard of your own. Once you get the bug then and start going on longer missions then a splitboard is definitely the way to go. They are better at moving over all kinds of snow and more efficient on the way up, leaving you plenty of energy to shred on the way down!