Having a firm and secure connection between both skis when in snowboard mode is absolutely the most important aspect of a quality splitboard. Currently, two systems are primarily used: the “S” hooks style, and the Karakoram clips / latch approach. The SL Split comes standard with the “S” hooks.
I hadn’t noticed an immediate difference until comparing them directly to a Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Split with Karakoram clips. The SL Split could be flexed slightly, roughly 2 mm, while the Travis Rice could only be pushed to create a 1mm difference between both sides of the base. On the contrary, the “S” hooks do slide together quicker than the clips, making the transition more streamlined.
Flotation / Playfulness
Though the stance of the SL Split is slightly set back and directional, I mounted my bindings as similarly as I could to a twin-tip park board, i.e. with a centered stance, in hopes that my riding style didn’t require a change just because I was on a different board.
Upon strapping in, I noticed little significant difference between the SL Split and the park boards I generally ride in powder, as I prefer to keep a small, but effective quiver (Burton Easy Livin 158, GNU Riders Choice 157.5). The SL Split kept me stoked and floating on top of the snow, despite riding in conditions ranging across the entire snow spectrum from punchy crust in the moonlight to blower pow.
Whether it was launching a natural hip or doing Nicolas Muller-inspired nose butter 3s, the SL Split was predictable and supportive going switch and regular. This was of huge importance to me since my riding time is split roughly 60/40 between regular and switch. I didn’t expect this to be a problem with the SL Split, but it was nice to confirm that it rode as well switch as I’d hoped it would.
Inbounds / Park
The standard version of the SL Split, the SL, was designed by Never Summer to excel in the park. Curious how well the split iteration would perform here, and to give me some sort of baseline comparison of just how playful the SL Split is, I took it into the park at Park City. Granted, this isn’t what the SL Split was designed for, but I wanted to get a sense of its full potential.
Rolling through the jump lines and hardpack snow gave me the opportunity to experience different aspects of the board—such as its quick turn radius and comfort being airborne.
The SL Split turns quickly and responds fast to rider input, making slashing and railing through turns easy on groomers as well as in powder, which Never Summer claims is aided by their Carbon VXR Laminate Technology. The VXR technology uses carbon stringers to transfer energy to the effective edge without stiffening the board or adding weight, and, according to Never Summer, is intended for those who “prefer a freestyle feel to their board whether in the park or freeriding.”
I cannot comment for certain on how much of this feeling was directly related to the VXR tech, but it was most noticeable when making quick and fast turns, as I frequently do in the park, as the board reacts quickly to rider input without losing an edge.
The SL Split was stiffer than I expected, given that splitboards frequently lose a portion of their core integrity from being cut down the center. (This was one of the major reasons I chose not to cut my own board and get a manufactured splitboard.)
If I had not spent three hours in ski mode touring to the peak or had not seen the board split while I was on it, there would have been few, if any, indicators to alert me that I was indeed riding two separate planks fixed together on the descent.
Never Summer rates the board as a 5.5 out of 10 on their Flex Meter scale, but in my experience, when ridden with splitboard-specific bindings that keep a very tight lock on both sides of the board, the SL Split felt stiffer than what I anticipated a 5.5 to be—it was more similar to the Lib Tech Travis Rice Pro Split, which Lib Tech rates as a 7 on their flex scale. The stiffness of the SL Split was ideal when pinning it through chunder or when fully committed to a “no fall” line.
The Never Summer SL Split is a lightweight, freestyle-oriented board that turns quickly and floats well in every condition I was able to test it in. The flotation and playfulness of the SL Split showed me a good time when buttering off knolls and when pinning it down chutes.
If you’re a larger person looking for an extremely stiff and wide powder gun, this may not be the board for you.
But if you’re a newcomer looking to enter the splitboard realm, or a veteran of the backcountry looking to take your park tricks to powder without sacrificing performance, I would strongly recommend the Never Summer SL Split.