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Eastern carver enjoying Western Canadian conditions: post trip question marks


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Just got back from a three day trip to Kicking Horse, BC. Had the privilege of witnessing lots of untracked powder and managed to hold my own. However I'm wondering if my equipment setup could of been better. I guess answering the "why aren't you riding a soft setup?" question multiple times a day got to me somehow. The fact I've been riding race boards for over 20 years and consider ridding a soft boot setup to be a different sport altogether did not appear to be a valid answer to most!

In hard pack land Quebec I usually ride a 168 Renntiger GS but resurrected a 158 Volkl spline on which I mounted my brand new F2 step-in titaniums and wore my also brand new Deeluxe 325s. I had no real issues following my 2 skier and 1 soft setup snowboard friends, but I wasn't as "flexible" in the chutes and steeps as I which I was. I have the feeling making heel turns was overly difficult since I started many turns from a standing toe side (shoulders perpendicular to board), then turned my shoulders (to "normal" position) to finally turn the board. My soft boot buddy being more comfortable making "blind" heel side turns managed (I believe) to make tighter turns by not having to "look" at were he was going. This leads to me to question my angles, my technique and my board!

Do some of you use different angles when you pass from a hard pack day to steeps/trees/couloirs/powder conditions or on your different boards? Are your "free ride" boards shorter which was my initial reaction (and confirmed my 158 would be fine)? While I don't think I would of been at ease with a long board in the chutes, whenever I was on open terrain, crud of the bottom of the mountain groomers I was longing for length. The short board also (I believe) led me to dislike the flexibility of my 325 in the "Free Ride" mode. On some runs I actually stopped to tighten my boots and change the flex settings on the boots...

Sorry to be so long winded, a new board will be purchased within the next year or two and I'm looking for feedback and advice. Appart from the obvious fact my technique and physical shape needs to be better for the next western outing, what else should I look into? Is a soft setup inevitable?


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You can pound nails with a wrench, but a hammer is better. Proper tool for the situation and enjoy the different boards / setups/ gear for where they are best suited :)

Work smarter, not harder in the snow. Don't question your set up or techniques that work in the hardpack east. For something that is completely alien and different in big mountain back-country powder runs, you have to adapt and change to what works best. Embrace the softboots :) CARVING is still CARVING :)

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I use F2 Carve RS or Proflex/Blax version "plastic-fantastic" for pow/freeride. BX/AM type of board for in-between conditions, propper pow or freeride board in more then 6" of soft snow. Walk mode or soft BTS is the way to go. Drop the back angle so there is no underhang (actually, small overhang is better), front binding 40-45 degrees. Lifts/cants to your prefference.

And, no, soft and hard are not 2 different sports, just 2 different branches. Fundamentals of good riding are the same.

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Do some of you use different angles when you pass from a hard pack day to steeps/trees/couloirs/powder conditions or on your different boards? Are your "free ride" boards shorter which was my initial reaction (and confirmed my 158 would be fine)?

I use the same angles, which are about 45 degrees each. When hardpack angles were higher, I mellowed them for powder. These days I work with the same settings for both.

My "free ride" (assuming that means mountains, not aerial tricks in the park) boards are the same length as my piste boards, 156 as it happens. Back in the day, with traditional designed powder boards, those boards had to be long, but that's no longer true. I rode a Con Artist earlier this year at 152 one-size-fits-all. It didn't fit me, but it rode ok.

In my view the main thing is to ride a powder board. The main problems with piste boards is... they're designed for the piste. so broadly they have tails which are too stiff for powder (they don't allow you the same control as a mushy tail); they have insufficient width, so balance is "sporting"; they are overall too stiff for powder, which is a subtle medium; they don't have the right sidecuts/ taper for optimal use in powder.

It's not really about soft or hard boots, it's about the board.

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Sure, a swallowtail or dedicated powder board may help, but its the boots mon ami, but not in the way you think. Unless you are seriously into tricks or riding switch, then hardboots can perform just as well or even better than softboots in downhill powder riding.

But... your... boots... cant... flex... properly... You need a spring system. I hated the powder mode of the original 5-position mechanism, the RAB sucked, and riding in walk mode left me in a cast for three months. Do NOT ride in walk mode. There are currently three or four spring systems on the market for Deeluxe boots, Id do everything possible to get one, tune it, and finally enjoy progressive flex.

Not until I added springs to my 700s could I kill in powder, ride in bumps, and also rail carves. There are a bunch of shell mods you can do as well that'll get those boots flexing to extremes, but I found that using two different liners (a stiff pair for carving and a soft pair for freeride), buckling up the boots in a different way (for powder have the ankle strap cranked down, keep the upper two buckles kinda loose), and of course having a wrench to loosen up the spring compression if I wanted even more flex, was more than enough to allow me to tackle everything in the same pair of boots.

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