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I'm a snowboarder.

In preparation for a skitour trip, I was on the lookout for splitboards. But it turns out that even renting them can be a bit of a hassle and/or is quite expensive. As availability for a splitboard is questionable, I'd like to take my regular board with me on a backpack and do the ascent with snow shoes.

Simply attaching the board to the back of the backpack does not look like the best option. I heard from people that this causes the board to swing around and to be a pain for the shoulders.

Some people seem to have the boards horizontal, which allows them to have them closer to their back (good), but if walking through a forest or narrow passage this can be a problem. I don't know if that would be possible with my standard hiking backpack.

What's the best way to attach a snowboard during a skitour?

The board should not move around, it should not be (too) painful and it should still allow me to move around.

  • also, it depends on the duration of the climb, and the weight of your pack – njzk2 Mar 7 '16 at 0:00
  • for short walks, I have seen people putting the board between their back and their pack, horizontally. Or simply pulling it behind on a leash (not great if the climb is steep or the path complicated) – njzk2 Mar 7 '16 at 0:04
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There are three important aspects: Maneuverability, exposure to wind and firm attachment.

The optimal orientation for all of those is vertical. Most of the board is then covered by the body so there is minimal added wind resistance compared with horizontal mounting, were most of the board sticks out on the side and act as a huge sail. With horizontal mounting you have a much higher moment of inertia. So turning is awkward and you will much easier catch branches and the like (even though that can happen with vertical mounting too above the head, but much less). Firm attachment is also better, as you can fixate it farther apart, as backpacks are usually longer in height than they are in width.

So ideally you have a backpack designed to do tours with a snowboard. They have dedicated attachment straps on the back and are opened by zips along the backpack brim or even on back. This allows you to reach your stuff even with mounted board, which is very awkward with they usual closing with a top pocket and a strap on the outside towards the bottom. If you do not have such a dedicated backpack you need some kind of attachment points on the top and bottom of the pack. Many backpacks have straps on the side on the top and the bottom to mount skis or to compress them. You can use two additional straps (not part of the backpack itself) that you feed through those straps on the side so that they run twice from side to side over the backpack. Then you insert your board such that the lower binding is just above the lower strap, which keeps it from sliding down. Then you also attach the upper strap and tighten both. If your backpack is not filled up quite will, you will also have to tighten the straps on the side to make it stable. This is my usual setup as skier when I carry a board of a participant and it gives a very secure fix, but the problem with opening the backpack remains. So this is fine for occasional use, but if you like doing snowboard tours it is well worth to invest in a dedicated backpack.

  • Does that mean that having the board close to your back (better weight distribution) is not actually that important? – vertical shortcut Mar 6 '16 at 23:24
  • Well it would certainly be better but from a practical standpoint I would not know how to do that, apart from slipping the board through the carrying straps of the backpack. This is only viable as an improvisation for very short distances, as it is obviously uncomfortable. However dedicated snowboarding packs are usually built rather "thin" and I do not think that this little additional distance is so much of an issue (though i never had a board strapped very close to my back, so I do not know). – imsodin Mar 7 '16 at 10:25
  • @Imsodin, Ive seen some add-on attachments that have the two horizontal straps and other two vertical with a mesh pocket on the bottom. The two horizontal straps have an extra set of clips, once set on your pack, the snowboard is clipped in and tightened as normal but you can still undo the extra two clips and flip it on one side (like a book) to access anything that is covered by the snowboard. – Erik vanDoren Mar 7 '16 at 13:33
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I find that horizontal is often not convenient. It will get caught in narrow paths, it will get in the way of your arms if you use poles to go up, and it can easily get unbalanced, pulling strongly on one side.

On the other hand, most dedicated packs allow you to secure the board vertically, which works very well.

You need to secure it very tight to prevent it from swing from side to side, and also you need to adjust the height to make sure it does not get in the way of your legs while walking.

The only moment when it can be bothering is when you are facing the wind, because then it pulls from above your head.

Regarding the choice of snowshoes, beware that you will be much slower than people with split or skis with you (talking about ~50% faster on skis), and that you would tend to take different (more direct) approaches in steep slopes. (rather than zigzaging a lot like skis do)

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