I’ve recently been riding a Never Summer Swift 167X Splitboard, they just started producing the Swift as a split this season so i thought i’d share my thoughts on it. You can find reviews of the solid version elsewhere in this forum, in my experience with NS snowboards the splits ride pretty similar to the solid decks, although it looks like, in this case, the split offerings tend to be bigger, stiffer and damper than the solid Swift.
This splitboard was given to me by NS.
I understand some folks on the interwebs believe that an ‘objective’ reviewer needs to return free product to the manufacturer after reviewing it, so let me be clear that, generally, the NS crew is always welcome to come up here and take their boards back... however, for this stick they'll have to catch me first!
I’m not writing this to try to convince folks to buy into the NS brand; i’m writing to explain the ride characteristics of this board relative to other models i ride, also produced by NS.
I’ve been snowboarding since 1987, in the Rocky Mountains, Coast Range, and Columbia Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. I have a degree in Physical Education (Outdoor Pursuits) and have been certified in freestyle snowboarding instruction. My riding style tends towards ‘big mountain’ and I like to jump. I generally spend more time in the backcountry than in bounds, and i prefer to be in the alpine rather than below treeline. I’m 6’ tall, 175 lbs, with size 11 feet. My stance is regular, F 24 deg, B -6 deg, 24” wide, and i tend to go with wider boards in the 161 - 169 cms range. I’ve been riding NS boards for 20+ years due to their craftsmanship and durability.
Most of my splitboarding has been done in the Columbia Ranges, which are in between the Coast Range and the Rockies. These mountains receive abundant snowfall, mostly fairly light powder, but can also get the warm moist Pineapple Express or, worse yet, rain or sun crusts on the snow surface, which can range from breakable to bulletproof. We also get some continental influence which can bring wind affects, crusts and slabs, facets, or on a good day, super low density blower. So, while i wish all my days were powder, in reality i’ll take what we get, and we get a bit of everything here….. but a lot of it is powder, yah!!
The Swift Split is a new offering on the market this season, replacing the Prospector Split in the NS line up. Similar to the Prospector, it’s a directional board with 20mm taper. In contrast, the Swift is wider, it uses the new Fusion RC profile (more rocker in the nose, more camber in the tail) and has a longer, pointed nose and a shallow swallow tail.
The descriptions of boards in this review will follow this format:
Model, Size (X=wide), nose / waist / tail widths, sidecut, effective edge, dampness and flex description, rocker / camber (RC) profile type, and stance set back (inserts compared to length).
Please note that the “Vario” sidecuts, and descriptions of dampness, flex, and profiles are all specific to NS boards. Numbers given for sidecuts are not comparable to sidecut measurements for other brands.
Swift Split 167X - 32.0 / 26.4 / 30.0, Vario 870, Edge 125, Damp 87% firm, Flex 87% firm, Fusion RC, set back 3”.
For comparison, here are the specs of my other NS splitboards of similar size, and my solid board, so you know what I'm comparing the Swift to:
Prospector Split 167X - 31.7 / 26.2 / 29.7, Vario 890, Edge 134, Damp - cushy, Flex - firm, Extended Tour RC, set back 1.5”.
West Split 164X - 31.0 / 26.6 / 31.0, Vario 858, Edge 126, Damp - mid, Flex - mid, Ripsaw RC, set back 0.5”.
My go to board for in bounds riding lately has been the Twenty Five, it’s pretty ideal for Revelstoke Mountain Resort.
Twenty Five 166X - 31.6 / 26.8 / 31.0, Vario 836, Edge 125, Damp - cushy, Flex - mid firm, Fusion RC, set back 2”.
When i first looked at the Swift Split in the NS catalogue, i wasn’t quite sure what to think… I wondered if the shape of the nose and tail would really make much difference? I’d been thinking that my ideal splitboard would be a Chairman split, with maybe 8mm taper, but coming from the Prospector, the Swift looked like a bit of a step away from that, with a shorter edge and deeper sidecut.
But… I do like fat boards, even if they’re a bit more work on the up track, and I’ve been totally convinced the Fusion RC profile is the bomb for powder riding.
Materials and construction are top quality, as expected from NS.
I’ll try anything once, or twice, but i wasn’t prepared to fall in love with this board.
Spoiler: i totally fell in love with this snowboard.
On the Snow
The first things i noticed about the Swift are, it does like to turn, it’s really fun in the trees and on hardpack it carves short and long turns nicely.
It floats well in powder, and the early rise, pointed nose eases into turns without hooking. The tail is very effective due to the added camber of the Fusion RC, and the extended edge and width provided by the swallow tail.
For some reason, it took me a while to figure out where to mount my stance on this board. With my back foot centred on the rear set of inserts, the tail is just under 17” (from centre of binding). That seemed quite short to me. I like to have plenty of tail, to ollie, catch landings, finish turns and to absorb the terrain when you gotta point it. But, the design of the tail more than makes up for the shorter length. The Fusion RC and swallow shape give you a lot to lean on back there, it’s very powerful and you can really crank on it!! And when you’re riding the tail, the swallow shape provides a lot of stability, it doesn’t slip out at all. The short tail length also makes quick pivots and jump turns feel easy.
At first i tried opening up my stance to 25” wide, with my bindings centred on the outside sets of inserts, but i found i had to be careful not to over weight the nose when initiating turns. So i brought my front foot back one inch, to my normal stance, which made the nose bigger and allows me to dive into turns without going over the bars… so my stance is now set back 3.5” on the board’s length. That’s a lot more than I’m used to, but for me it’s the sweet spot on this deck.
Once i found the sweet spot, i started to realize how sweet it is! This deck has given me full confidence in every condition, from maching groomers, to tight trees, cliff drops, bottomless pow, steep faces and chutes, to gnarly bed surfaces in no fall zones, the Swift sends it.
This board has a lot of features… many of them, like the carbonium top sheet, ptex sidewalls, reinforced tip / tail, 5501 base, full wrap edge, etc. can be summarized with “top quality, bombproof construction”.
Some of the other details affect performance in specific ways, which may be worth pointing out.
“Fusion” RC is NS’ newest take on their tried and true, rocker in the middle, camber underfoot profile. The Fusion mix puts the more rockered original RC in the nose (along with an early rise tip), and the more cambered Ripsaw RC for the tail. This profile makes for great floatation up front and lots of power in the back. It also has a great planing attitude in deep snow which is fast and stable. On the skin track, going uphill, the additional camber in the tail allows for more pressure where you get the most grip, underfoot and behind.
The swallow tail does have some kick on it. It’s clearly not designed for riding switch, but if you have to back it up in a technical situation, you can keep the tail from digging in without much effort.
The flex and dampening on this board is a continuation of the Big Mountain roots at NS which have come through in the T5, Titan, Raptor and more… it eats up terrain and shreds it.
This board, for me, is the best snowboard ever. Quite nimble, very stable. Great in powder, reliable on firm snow. Big, wide, stiff, damp, with plenty of pop. Really fun, serious big gun.