Frequently Asked Questions
Why did you invent Drift boards?
Drift boards were originally designed for snowboarders as an alternative to split boards. They are also a great improvement over snowshoes.
Are Drift boards better than split boards?
While we don't claim that Drift boards are always better than split boards, they do have some big advantages. Here are a few reasons you might choose Drifts over a split:
Drift boards allow you to take any board in your quiver into the backcountry. You can choose the right board for the conditions, and not ride a board that has been cut in half.
Drift boards are very efficient. Studies show that carrying weight on your back is much more efficient than carrying it on your feet. Particularly in situations where you are taking big vertical steps, the lightweight Drift boards really shine. Don't be surprised if you reach the top before your friends.
Drift boards transition quickly. At the summit, Drift boards are consistently quicker than split boards. You'll be strapped in and waiting for your buddies to finish up.
Drift boards are about 1/3 the cost of a typical split board setup. Assuming you already have a snowboard or two, it's a cheaper way to get into the backcountry.
The smaller, wider footprint of Drift boards gives them unique advantages over skis, such as maneuverability in trees, quick turns up hill, scrambling straight up steep sections, etc. They also have a dual-position heel riser so they kill it when things get steep.
Drift boards an excellent companion for powder surfing.
What are the downsides compared to split boards?
If the terrain is steep and icy enough, Drift boards can reach their limit a bit before skis do because the shorter board maintains less skin contact with the snow. But we do make a crampon that can be quickly installed for those rare moments. We have yet to be forced to turn back before our friends on skis or splits.
On hard, icy traverses, the wide board, minimal binding, and lack of metal edges can make it harder to hold an edge. Again in these situations, it's best to throw on the crampon and just climb the hill.
You need to carry the Drift boards on your back when you descend. They're so light that you won't notice them, but they are an extra thing on your back.
Do Drift Boards fit in skin tracks?
Yes. Drift boards love established skin tracks, and we take our turn breaking trail, just like everyone else.
Why don't you have a high-back binding?
The Drift board bindings are minimal on purpose. You'll be surprised at how well they support your foot. The minimal design keeps the weight down low, and allows the boards to lay flat on your pack for the descent.
The Drift boards have a hole pattern that works with split bindings and you're welcome to use those if you prefer.
Why don't Drift boards have metal edges?
In our testing we have not found metal edges to be worth the extra cost and weight. Drift boards were designed exclusively for uphill travel. Metal edges on skis and snowboards exist primarily to help them turn while sliding downhill, not to provide grip when climbing. While a metal edge my sometimes help skis cut into firm snow, it's the skins that provide traction. Anytime skis are only on their metal edges at an angle, they are going to slide downhill. We bring our skins all the way the edge of the Drift boards, so the edge is never meant to contact the snow anyway. If you really want a sharper edge, you can trim back the skins and sharpen the edge of the carbon Drift boards.
Can Drift Boards go downhill?
While you can glide down a mellow slope, and step down in powder, the Drift boards are not designed to descend like an alpine ski. The climbing skins are permanent, the bindings have a free heel, and the skis don't have a metal edge. Besides, it’s more fun to ride your favorite board down anyway!
Are Drift boards better than snowshoes?
The main thing a snowshoe has over Drift boards is that they are cheaper. That said, we can't imagine using snowshoe ever again. Drift boards do everything a snowshoe can do, but they glide so you don't have to pick up your feet. You can travel a lot faster in the snow on Drift boards. Plus, they look better!
Considering purchasing some approach skis? Here are a few things to consider as you shop:
What are they made of and how are they built?
Watch out for approach skis that are built like a traditional ski or snowboard that are primarily designed for downhill travel. Fancy wood cores, carbon stringers, metal edges, side cuts, removable skins, and p-Tex bases are all largely unnecessary while climbing uphill and only increase the ski’s weight. Drift boards were designed from scratch to be the lightest, strongest way to climb uphill, with no ties to tradition downhill ski or snowboard manufacturing methods. Most other approach skis come from ski or snowboard companies that haven’t consider the need for different construction for uphill travel.
How much do they weigh?
In the backcountry, every ounce adds up very quickly. Take a close look at listed weights, and don’t forget the weight of bindings and skins if they are not included. It’s hard to beat carbon fiber if you’re looking for the greatest strength to weight ratio.
How long and wide are the skis?
Narrower skis sidehill better on firm thin snow, but if you’re in it for the pow, wider skis will give more surface area for float and still sidehill well. Shorter skis are easier to maneuver over and around obstacles and perform better on more direct routes uphill. Watch out for skis that are too long, they can be dangerous when sticking up too far or hanging too low on your backpack on the way down the hill.
How much do they cost?
Approach skis are a great lower cost alternative to splitboards. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of bindings if they don’t come with one. For approach skis that require a splitboard binding, you’re getting pretty closet to the cost of a complete splitboard setup. While you can buy the boards only and use a splitboard binding with Drift boards, most of our customers buy the board/binding packing and are on their way for under $500.