The best-known tools of the backcountry snowboarding trade all deal with avalanche rescue - beacon, shovel and probe. But if you really plan to get out there, you should be prepared for other types of emergencies. A survival kit with things like firestarting gear, navigation equipment, emergency shelter and multi-tool is a must.
On its latest installment of Every Third Thursday, a monthly Web series, Signal Snowboards decided to build that survival kit (or at least part of it) into the snowboard itself. They started with the idea of a splitboard, which is a snowboard that splits into two skis to allow backcountry snowboarders to ski up the mountain and then snowboard down. Instead of two pieces, the Survivor is split into three pieces, with the middle piece utilizing the board's natural curve as a shovel. The two outside pieces work as small skis.
From this basic triple-split design, Signal added all kinds of a peripheral gear. A retractable saw blade in one of the skis makes for what looks like a rather large, capable saw for cutting firewood. A flint mounted to the side of the snowboard lets you start a fire. A built-in compass and thermometer give you important readings about your environment. The board's base is done up in "rescue me" orange with an SOS sign. In the end, the board addresses three of the 10 essentials - navigation (compass), fire (flint), and emergency shelter (shovel for building snow cave).
With everything going on in the survival aspect of the board, it's easy to forget that this thing is a snowboard first and foremost. And even in that element, it brings multiple functions. Not only do all three pieces clip together to create a regular snowboard, but the two skis can be connected without the middle shovel component, making a smaller, lighter powder surfer for having a little fun in deep snow.
After building the board, the crew took it to Colorado's Berthoud Pass and used it both for shredding and shoveling together a massive, nine-man snow cave/fortress. Testers admitted that the ride was a little soft and awkward because of the three-piece design and inner metal edges, but given all it can do, it seems fun enough. The shovel looks solid enough for doing work on the snow cave (it got plenty of help from more traditional shovels), but it doesn't look like a suitable replacement for an actual avalanche shovel. There's no footage of the saw spitting out firewood or the flint sparking the campfire, so we're not so sure how those worked out in real life.
Check out the full story in the video below. And for another unique snowboard creation, check out last month's look at the inflatable snowboard.
Source: Signal Snowboards