No announcement yet.

RVL8 Backcountry Skiboarding Options- A Review

This is a sticky topic.
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • RVL8 Backcountry Skiboarding Options- A Review

    As I tour and ride in the backcountry I am often asked by skiers and snowboarders why I am on such short boards and what the advantages are . I have also been asked by many folks about what the binding options are for using skiboards in the backcountry and their pros and cons. I wanted to focus in this review on the three binding .options I have worked out using existing RVL8 bindings and skiboards to tour and ride effectively in the backcountry and their relative pros and cons. I also wanted to focus on selection of backcountry skiboards. I am focusing this review on RVL8 boards and bindings and not on the over 110cm longboards such as the Spruce boards . The Spruce boards are great but require custom backcountry binding options that are difficult and more expensive to get done. Also I am not discussing Summit skiboards which are constructed like regular skis and allow the user to have any long ski backcountry bindings to be drilled in to them. RVL8 boards are meant not to be drilled and instead are meant to be used with riser mounted bindings inserted on machine inserts.

    Backcountry skiboarding vs backcountry skiing or snowboarding

    IMG_0040 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    For me the main advantages are control on the descent and ease of the uphill. The unique wide bodied short length format of some of the RVL8 skiboards allows adequate flotation for breaking trail and yet ease of climbing and manuevering . If you have ever tried to make a kick turn on a steep climbing traverse with a 180cm ski compared with a 110 skiboard you will appreciate the advantage of the shorter length. Transitions are much easier with a short skiboard as you can leave climbing skins on and not stepping out of your binding while latching everything down for descent and then strip the skins off while still in your binding .
    IMG_0988-1 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    If you ever have to boot climb with your board on your pack it is much easier to climb with short boards or your back compared to long skis or snowboards.
    IMG_0196 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    The main advantage for the descent on skiboards in the backcountry is control . In soft often variable backcountry snow turn initiation is difficult especially at slower speeds. In order to turn in crusty or difficulty 3 D backcountry snow you need to be going faster on long skis or snowboards to get the turn to happen . It is much easier to get skiboards around in this kind of snow at slower speeds.
    The unique design of the wide bodied RVL8 skiboards allows easy turn initiation while still retaining plenty of float to avoid getting bogged down in this kind of snow .
    In descending steep backcountry slopes skiboards are naturally slower then big wide long skis or snowboards and tend to float deeper in the snow rather then higher . This causes a natural breaking action and allows me to take a straighter line down the slope and still remain in control piloting a board that is moving slower and allowing me to change direction and avoid obstacles in more control.
    Yet their remains plenty of float to enjoy the downhill . Many skiers and snowboarders can't understand that such short boards can float but of course , yes they do !

    Binding options.
    For me the two RVL8 non release stock binding options have been a game changer in allowing me to easily access the backcountry on my skiboards. Yes, you do forego safety release using these options but folks have been using non release bindings on skiboards for years as have I . I do feel the danger with non release bindings is less with the shorter lever arms of the 110cm and below skiboards compared to long skis . Of course there is the concern that the boards will not release in avalanche conditions but again the risk may be a bit lower with the smaller boards and of course snowboarders do take the same risk of not releasing from their boards in avy conditions. Both the RVL8 soft boot system and the RVL8 receptor bindings are easily modified to be used in the backcountry to tour by the user without requiring outsourcing to a custom shop. All of these binding options will require you to buy climbing skins for around 100 dollars and a highly recommended strap on crampon called Skeats for about 40 dollars , Additional costs are discussed in the sections below.

    RVL8 Soft boot binding
    IMG_0768_zps09ec5008 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    The RVL8 soft boot system is the easiest to use for the backcountry as other then skins and maybe strap on crampons the binding does not need any additional parts to tour effectively.
    I discuss this binding option in detail in the link below .

    The advantages of this option is the light weight of the snowboard boots you use .
    Disadvantages are the weight of the binding is heavier then a modified receptor binding and of course the control you get with a snowboard boot is less than with a hardboot.
    I find that I am a bit slower on touring with this binding as there is no free pivot and I am basically just relying on the front strap to hold the forefoot of my boot down.
    I do think however that this is a great binding option and really a lot of fun and I used it extensively.

    Modified Receptor binding with Telemark cables
    IMG_20210117_095228942 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    My current iteration of this binding is my current #1 recommendation for those folks interested in getting into backcountry skiboarding. It requires an outlay of only 60 dollars for telemark cables and heel elevators and 20 dollars for Voile Straps and no custom work at all . It is a great out of the box solution . It allows efficient free pivot touring, easy transitions and descent in the regular non release binding you are used to in your regular hardshell ski boot. Disadvantage is that there is some limitation of the full range of your boot as the boot hits the top of the receptor binding if the heel is lifted way high but this is only noticed on flat land touring not climbing and is not much of a disadvantage. I discuss this binding option in detail in the link below.

    Modified Receptor binding with Dynafit toes and telemark heel levers
    IMG_20210317_121516503 by Jack Jue Jr, on Flickr

    This is my favorite backcountry binding , but it does involve more custom work and more money . It also requires a special ski boot with Tech toe inserts. You have to be familiar with drilling plastic hdpe plastic and creating counter sunk holes and have drill bits and a home drill . It will require you to buy front Tech(Dynafit) toes for around 180 dollars and telemark heel levers for 10 dollars and a splitboard heel elevator for 40 dollars and maybe 10 dollars for plastic pieces and some extra machine screws. You will need to drill countersunk holes in plastic pieces and mount the tech toe pieces into plastic parts yourself. If you do all this you will have a really unique full pivot touring skiboard binding that is a joy to climb and descend with. I discuss this binding modification in the link below. . If you already have a receptor binding , I would highly recommend beginning backcountry with the previously discussed modification with telemark cables first and only going to this binding if you really want to get into backcountry a lot as it involves a lot more work then the simple telemark cable mod and requires special boots.

    A word on Skiboard selection.
    For backcountry touring I would recommend the wide bodied RVL8 skiboards. I find that in soft backcountry snow the width of your skiboards is all important . RVL8 is unique in producing a whole line of very wide bodied skiboards that I have personally used and found great for backcountry riding. These are the Condor , Rockered Condor , Spliff, Blunt Xl , KTP and Blunts.
    I have been climbing and riding in the backcountry on all these boards but I now prefer the Condor , Rockered Condor and Spliff as giving me the most float for my backcountry adventures but I am a bigger heavier guy and certainly the shorter boards would work and be fun for others. I do prefer the Blunt Xl over the KTP for backcountry because of it's nice rocker although being similar to the KTP in size.

    Let me know if you have any questions !
    Understand that backcountry skiboarding is a high risk activity and I recommend you take avalanche courses , purchase additional avalanche gear such as beacons , shovels and probes and go with experienced backcountry riders. Also this a personal modification that you choose to use on your skiboards accepting all risks inherent with equipment failure and backcountry risks . This is not a manufacture recommended use of your binding or these binding parts and is only a binding modification I have done myself for my own use and am sharing with the skiboard public for their own education as to possible personal ways of modifying their bindings for backcountry use.
    Boards :
    Blunt Xl, DLP, Spliff, Condor, Rockered Condor , Slingshot, Sherpa, Icelantic Shaman
    K2 BFC 100 Grip walk sole , Dynafit CR Radical AT boot, Ride Insano Snowboard boots
    Zero Pro Non release Binding
    Modified Receptor Backcountry Bindings (Bill Version and Slow Version)
    Spruce Riser with Attack 14 GW /AT binding
    Custom Risers with Fritschi Backcountry Bindings (Jeff Singer version 1, Bill version)
    Rocker and Sbol Soft Boot Bindings.