The Travis Rice Split comes stock with Karakoram clips, which are truly the only viable alternative to the S hooks generally employed on splitboards. Rather than having a hook on each side of the board that slide into each other, the Karakoram clips have a latch on one side, and a clip on the other. This pulls each individual ski together and provides a much tighter and secure connection between both skis. Not having distance or play between the skis is the largest and most important difference between a homemade splitboard and one with Karakoram clips.
Though S hooks slide together somewhat faster than the Karakoram clips, in my opinion, and certainly in the terrain I was in, the time saved is unimportant when compared to the increased stability the clips offer.
Magna-Traction, Mervin Manufacturing’s serrated-style edge, gives the board seven points of contact along the effective edge of a board as opposed to two on a board without it.
It’s most evident when laying into a carve on a groomer or firm conditions, but is effective on any type of snow. Its effects (better edge hold/grip) were minimal on good snow days, but on the occasions that I found myself on southern-facing, sun-backed slopes, the Magna-Traction was there for me, locking in and allowing me to set an edge better than I would have been able to had I been riding a deck with a traditional edge.
Since getting my first Lib Tech, I have questioned their decision not to use a full metal edge wrap around their boards—the edges extend only slightly past the effective-edge contact points. This has its pros and cons.
Specifically, for splitboarding, it lightens the tips of the boards, which reduces swing weight. Reduced tip weight makes taking switchback corners or flipping directions slightly easier.
That reduced swing weight, however, comes with an increased susceptibility for the board to be damaged on the tips. Without the protection of the metal edge, I noticed that my board, as with other Lib Tech and Gnu boards I’ve owned, gets beat up quicker when hit on rocks, thrown in trucks, or slammed into trees—all things that I attempt to avoid, but that inevitably occur.
Whether the tradeoff is worth it depends on each rider’s preferences, but it is something to be aware of with Lib Tech’s boards.
A main concern for riders looking to get a splitboard (beyond the initial cost) is the misconception that the board will sacrifice riding performance compared to a regular board. The Travis Rice, more so than other splits I had ridden, (Never Summer SL Split and various homemade splits) disproves this.
Having brought the Travis Rice Split and a Rossignol Angus 161 to Alaska, I caught myself consistently reaching for and bringing my splitboard, even on road lap trips or days that we used a snowmobile. There was no incentive for me to choose the split, I was simply that confident in its ability to send it off cliffs and rail high-speed and high-consequence turns.
Mimicking Travis as much as possible, I put this board through the paces. Some days that meant sending forty-foot cliffs to small tranny finders, while other days it meant pinning it through couloirs with mandatory drops at the bottom. No matter the terrain, I felt confident jumping off whatever was in front of me, knowing the board would be there for me as a stiff, solid, and predictable landing platform.
The Travis Rice Split is designed and ridden by T-Rice himself. That alone gave me high expectations when strapping into this board, and it did not disappoint.
The TR Split proved most comfortable when charging hard and catching air. It floats well in every type of snow condition, and yet is stiff enough to power through any chunder and hold on through a full commitment line. For the advanced freestyle rider looking to bring their tricks to the backcountry on a splitboard, or for the big-mountain rider searching for a hard charging board, the Travis Rice may be ideal.