Powder Surfers’ Guide to the Universe — Voile V-Tail Splitboard Review


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  
Voile V-Tail Splitboard

Voile V-Tail Splitboard

The moment I stepped out of our Toyota Ractis rental car in Niseko, Japan and into our guest house I saw a row of snowboards drying out on a rack. I had very little expectations of Hokkaido, but when I saw that 90% of those snowboards had swallow tails, and huge rockered noses, I knew the myths of deep Japanese powder were nothing but truth.

I also realized that my Voile V-Tail Splitboard was going to blend in to this powder-minded culture just fine, even if my glaring Western ways did not.

Voile brought back their powder specific splitboard for the 2013-2014 season, and there are few better places to put this board to the test than the deep slopes of Hokkaido. I have previously spent time on solid versions of a similar shape snowboard, and I had my reservations for how a split version would perform both on the downhill and the skin track.

The V-Tail split is designed with rocker in the nose and a slight rise in the tail, while the majority of the board is regular camber. More often than not you see a full rockered construction for powder specific snowboards. The V-Tail shape combined with a wide rockered nose allows this board to effortlessly ride through deep snow. This board dismantles that all too familiar “backseat” riding stance when charging through the deep stuff, and the turning power still remains largely in the front foot. That asymmetrical back foot fatigue that plagues us snowboarders on powder days is noticeably less debilitating.

This side profile image clearly shows the rockered nose, camber, and the slight rise in the tail.

This side profile image clearly shows the rockered nose, camber, and the slight rise in the tail.

This board is definitely meant for deep snow riding, but I also found it to perform well in hard pack and crud conditions due to its stiffness and design. The rockered nose and camber construction combination allow it to break up most anything in its path. The tail is stiff and supportive but not “playful” in the sense that when pressure is put back, this boards wants to have you leaning forward in hard pack conditions, unlike a softer freestyle board.

The camber in the construction really comes into effect in the stiffness of the board and how it transfers to the split skis when in tour mode. I was thoroughly impressed with how this board performed on the skin track. Other fully rockered powder splitboards I have toured with were soft and “noodley” when split, making it extra challenging on hard icy skin tracks as well as breaking trail through deep snow because the skis would bend and curve like a ripe banana.

The Voile V-Tail is responsive, sturdy, and supportive when skinning through all types of snow conditions, yet the rockered tip provides float and ease of trail breaking. The position of the touring bracket is balanced on the skis which allows the rider to kick turn and skin effectively (this can be a common problem with board shapes that have large noses and short tails).

With the split skis base to base you can see how cambered the board is as well as the rockered nose.

With the split skis base to base you can see how cambered the board is as well as the rockered nose.

Although I found this board to be an absolute powder shredding dream, my gripe about the Voile splitboard has to do with their skin attachment system. I have used Voile skins in the past, for several years, and they are functional skins when used in optimal conditions. Yet I strongly believe that all skins for backcountry travel should have a tip and tail clip. Voile does not currently have a tail clip incorporated in their skin design and I have personally experienced the pain of failed skin glue in cold snowy conditions. Without a tail clip as a backup, the situation of failing skins can escalate, especially when wallowing in deep snow. I tried to use a different skin with a tail clip, but with the unique shape of the V-Tail, it was incompatible.

With the unique tail shape, a system that utilizes a tip/tail hole attachment may be the most effective. But it’s probably worth experimenting with other brand’s tail fix systems as well. All things considered, I used Voile skins with this board and had success, but I’m always prepared to deal with the potential consequences, and I know from experience that problems will occur at some point. (Modders to the rescue, google this and see what you find.)

The lack of tail clip on the Voile skins is a potential issue while out touring.

The lack of tail clip on the Voile skins is a potential issue while out touring.

It’s hard to deny this shape of board for riding powder. This was totally confirmed for me when I saw the majority of the Hokkaido locals riding boards this shape on a daily basis. I saw a huge variety of board shapes that I have never seen elsewhere. I’m assuming it’s the intuitive minds of the Japanese trying to solve the “problem” of how to have the most fun sliding through one of their country’s most valuable natural resources; deep powder snow. It’s time that we learn from the residents of the powder capital of the world!

Sampling Hokkaido's finest.

Sampling Hokkaido’s finest.

Voile makes this board in four sizes; 160, 170, 180, and 190 cm. They recommend it by rider weight. I have been on the 170cm and I am roughly 5’11″ and weigh 160 lbs. The board weighs in at 3.44 kilograms (7 lbs 9 oz) without hardware and bindings.

Comments

8 Responses to “Powder Surfers’ Guide to the Universe — Voile V-Tail Splitboard Review”

  1. JayB May 19th, 2014 1:16 pm

    Great to see the splitboard stoke, especially in all that pow. Thanks for the beta about the board.

  2. Lou Dawson May 19th, 2014 5:14 pm

    Take my word for it, Coop can RIDE! that thing. Fun to cover some alternative glisse once in a while. Of course most of you guys know splitboard.com exists, don’t mind giving them a shout since they’ve been so nice about not posting the “come down the street to my party” types of comments. Lou

  3. Doug May 20th, 2014 4:58 pm

    Cool to see a review of a classic on board here on WS – Well done.

    disclaimer – I’m a swally snob… I’ve been riding multiple Swally’s (195, 180, 170) exclusively for years with the same pair of beater voile skins and no tail clips. In everything from Wasatch champagne pow to sloppy mank and icy groomers – in my experience your skins are way too long.

    Cheers!

  4. Kevin Bellamy May 21st, 2014 7:32 pm

    Sweet review Coop! My split skins sans tail clips where indeed problematic whenever snow contamination compromised the glue. Temporarily holding them on with ever-handy orange rubber straps would get me out of trouble, but at the price of drag. I eventually riveted on some Spark R & D tail clips and they work great. Maybe the Sparks could be frankensteined onto the V-Tail’s tails. Or maybe tail clips for skis would better suit the rounded tail ends.

    Have fun crushing in Mazamaland!

  5. john nobil May 21st, 2014 11:41 pm

    Last year, working with the tech guru at Mammoth Mountaineering, we dremelled a .5″ wide notch in the v-tail to accept a bd tail clip, worked great with some mild tension loading. Waiting to cut skins while tensioned was key to getting the most out of the slightly asymmetrical mount. I’d send a pic but that board has been gathering dust in deep storage somewhere in socal. Did somebody say “El Nino?”

  6. Coop May 22nd, 2014 9:47 am

    Thanks for the comments and info!

    John, that sounds like a great mod. I was thinking that punching a hole in the tail for a k2 style clip could also be an option. There would be drag without much rise in the tail.

    Keep the ideas flowing!

  7. Lou Dawson May 22nd, 2014 10:38 am

    Tip and tail holes really are a terrific solution for skin attachments. It’s actually become pretty standardized, with for example K2, Volkl and La Sportiva all using the same holes, and Montana skins actually includes a template with their skins for drilling holes, along with a very cool little hole filler and attachment lug. I’ll be detailing some of that eventually, but Coop, if you visit, be sure to remind me to show you. I actually like the Dynafit attachment method best, but it doesn’t seem to become a standard, for whatever reasons, probably because it’s easier to drill a hole in a ski than it is to cut a slot in the tip. Lou

  8. See May 22nd, 2014 8:06 pm

    I haven’t used any of the ski specific skins, so I have no actual experience with either the Dynafit or tip hole systems, but the Dynafit system seems like it could be asking for trouble skiing in shrubbery. The tip hole system might be better for making a sled. I’ve never had a problem with the BD attachment system except maybe wear on the tip loop.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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