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Prior - Backcountry Split XTC

posted Nov 4, 2014, 12:54 AM by GoOut Project   [ updated Nov 16, 2014, 8:19 AM ]

The Prior Backcountry has now become a real classic. We had the chance to test the split and lightened version of the evergreen board: the Backcountry Split XTC. This is a report of our experience with the BC Split during the past winter/spring.

Technical Description

The Backcountry Split (BC Split) has been slightly modified over the years, but it is based on the original 'Freeride shape' designed by Chris Prior in the early 90’s. The BC Split has a classic all-mountain directional shape, a Hybrid Rocker Profile, with rocker on the nose and tail and traditional camber underfoot. The BC Split has also a minimal taper, which provides both power and drive on edge while allowing the playful rider to land or ride switch.


XTC Carbon Construction is an upgrade available on all Prior splitboards that saves an average of 500 g (about 15% of the weight) off the same splitboard model pressed with the
standard quadraxial fiberglass construction. 
The XTC Carbon Construction uses the same vertically laminated maple and aspen wood cores, sidewalls, bases, and nylon topsheets as in their traditional construction, but replaces the fibreglass weave with Carbon fabric.

Our test

We tested the XTC carbon version of the Prior Backcountry Splitboard (length 161, model 2013/2014) for an entire season. We had the chance to try the board in the backcountry on all possible snow conditions (powder, wet and heavy snow, icy crusts, windy slabs, firn, spring snow) and we also tested its performances on the pistesWe used it exclusively in combination with the Spark R&D Magneto bindings (weighing approximately 1.5 kg). This is probably one of the lightest possible splitboard settings, with a total weight of less than 5 kg!

First impressions on the snow
Since the first few rides we had a really good feeling with the BC Split. The BC is one of those boards that you immediately feel familiar with. As soon as you make the first turns you have the impression that it has always been your board. It behaves exactly as you would expect: no weird reactions when initiating or progressing through the curves, good snap and reactivity, and extreme rapidity in switching from one edge to the other.

Lightness & Riding Agility
The carbon version of the BC Split is definitely one the lightest splitboards on the market. Combined with a light splitting system and a light pair of bindings (for example we used the Spark R&D's Tesla system) the total weight of the board can be easily below that of an average non-split snowboard. Lightness is of fundamental importance in saving energies during the longest and steepest approaches. This means you can reach further and higher. Saving energies during the climb also means enjoining much more the descent. Lightness is also of great importance in improving the agility of the board during the ride, easing all the switching manoeuvres. 

Flex & Responsiveness
The flex of the the BC Split can be considered intermediate, maybe more tending toward the stiff end of the flex scale. The board rides really well both in deep powder and on firmer snow and even on the piste the behaviour is good, although vibration becomes more noticeable. Of course, the piste is not the ideal terrain for the BC
Split. The elasticity of the board is more than sufficient and its response is prompt, without being nervous. Thanks to the cambered underfoot profile the reaction force in response of the flex is noticeable and it generates a good and playful thrust on jumps and during tight turns. 

Edge Grip
The BC Split has a hybrid Rocker/Camber profile, with a moderately pronounced rocker quite close to the two tips that is just enough to let you effortlessly float in deep snow, without dramatically changing the behaviour of the board during the turns. The central traditional camber provides good edge hold and stability, especially during fast and ample turns.

Although not extremely pronounced, the rocker on the nose is noticeable in deep powder and it effectively helps the floating even at low speed. In deep snow the nose always points up and stays out of the snow without great effort, as a result your ride can be more
efficient and more fluid.

The BC Split is a good all-rounder. Its favourite terrains are big backcountry lines, but thanks to its agility it is always easy to turn, very quick and precise also in tighter spaces, as in the woods or on steep and narrow couloirs. The BC Split has very good capabilities even on the pistes: its great edge hold gives you good confidence and control even at full speed with only limited vibration.

The sintered Durasurf base is quite tough. It is hard enough to protect from relatively strong impacts with rocks and we had the chance to actually proof that a couple of times. However, because of its extremely lightweight construction, the top certainly requires some extra care, especially when carrying the board or when using it in touring mode. The flex and elasticity also tend to weaken quite rapidly with time. For this reason it is important to choose the correct length for your weight: a few extra cm will offer more support
and durability.

Our verdict 

The Prior Backcountry Split XTC is the ultimate lightweight splitboard for demanding back­country freeriders, as well as guides and explorers, who are looking for an extremely light splitboard to be more efficient and save energies when skinning and to have top performances in riding big lines. If your riding style is fast and with large arcing turns, you'll love the BC Split. It is a quick, responsive and very agile all-rounder with the best performances on big and steep backcountry lines.

 Lightness & Agility   10/10
 Flex & Responsiveness     7/10
 Edge Grip     8/10
 Floating     8/10
 Versatility     8/10
 Durability     7/10
 Total Score  8.0/10

Switching from touring to riding mode, including skins removal.