There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to choosing the right splitboard
The Prior All Mountain Freestyle (AMF) Splitboard is a true twin tip board with equal tip and tail width, and a centered stance and sidecut which makes for easy riding in both regular and switch modes. Handcrafted in Whistler, B.C., the production quality is evident in its final touches of perfection, alignment and materials. On paper, this board is made for those that like to switch, huck, and spin circles in the backcountry.. however after a first glance you may be surprised what else it can do.
This board wants to play. Like with traditional setback boards, my body was used to leaning back and forced to muscling out turns. It only took one run on the AMF to realize my whole riding experience was about to change. No more leaning back required, thanks to the centered stance, I felt comfortable, balanced and well in control. The help of the early rise tip and tail makes skimming the snow effortless, moreso than I ever would have imagined. Instantly, I felt like riding just got easier.
On The Snow
At 5’8 I ride a 155 board at the resort, and as it turned out, the AMF 159 proved to be the perfect size for my backcountry travels. Given my previous experience on the Voile Mojo (159) and Prior Backcountry Split (158), I always felt that the 158/159 boards were too big, too long, and too stiff, struggling to take control in tight spaces or having to muscle out my turns. That, plus the setback stance and the added weight of a pack in variable terrain made for a struggle most of the time. With the magic of an early rise tip and extended sidecut, I found little difference in how easily it turns compared to my 155.
Gear selection is importantly based on riding style, as much as it is about riding terrain. A board made for the chutes of Alaska, is not going to be the best board for you in the tree-infested terrain of the coast. I’m not a freestyle rider, but the versatility of twin tip gives me something else I needed and wanted more – mobility in the trees in deep, heavy, coastal snow. So when I find myself stopping and going along a run, getting stuck in tight trees, following skiers that don’t know where they’re going, on varied terrain, I need to ride switch to get out of tricky spots, and make tight and fast turns through the trees. Definitely something that is nearly impossible to do with stiff boards, and tapered flat tails.
Not that I would ride a splitboard regularly on hard or icy terrain, but this board manages to handle it. The AMF is damp, feels sturdy and offers good response on packed conditions and likewise on the groomers. It’s slight camber shape underfoot allows just enough edge control when you need it. I have felt the rocker tail slip and slide a bit on hard/icy groomers in the resort, but this isn’t a major downside considering I don’t ride in those conditions regularly.
To Carbon Or Not To Carbon
At 3440 grams, the standard construction is comparable to that of Voile and Jones boards. The XTC Carbon construction offers a 15% weight savings (2920g), and may appeal to a lot of splitters that understand the benefits of weight savings on long touring days. But not so fast, carbon will effect the stiffness of your ride – not necessarily ideal if you’re looking for fun and flexy foremost.
While the fibreglass construction offers some absorption in hard conditions, the carbon, with it’s added “pop” and responsiveness will jitter your bones quite a bit more. Prior has had a lot experience playing with carbon material over the years and note that their carbon weave is very damp when all things considered. If you’re struggling to make a decision ask yourself, do I like this board because of its flex, or do I want this board because of its twin shape?
This board makes the backcountry fun and playful again offering more mobility than you’d think at first glance of the spec sheet. Confidence in trees, on powder and on the hard packed, this board will best suite a rider that needs versatility and prefers a centered, balanced stance. As for the carbon, my two cents is that it may overshadow the best part of this board, which is its flex. And if you’re thinking the same thing, maybe also consider something even softer – AMF’s little sister, Lupin. Although noted as a board for females or lighter weight riders, this twin board does not sacrifice the fun factor. With Prior’s quality craftsmanship and the added bonus of customizing your ride with your own topsheet artwork, it’s not hard to justify the $899 price tag on the AMF. Your perfect ride is probably worth it.
Available sizes: 156, 159, 162, 165, 169
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