Gilson Signature Pro – Long Term Review

Gilson Boards Signature Pro Snowboard

Engearment is all about embracing new ideas – ideas that shake up our favorite sports in a revolutionary way.  That’s why we were so excited to sit down with Gilson Snowboards back in January.  They’re poised to kick-flip snowboarding on its rear end.  (We know that’s a skateboarding thing.  A little slack, please.)

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While they’ve only been around for a few years, Gilson, and their visionary leader, Nick Gilson, have come up with some great, dare we say, revolutionary, ideas:

  • Idea #1 – instead of a flat base, create two skis in the base, called the RCR or Raised Central Region. The idea comes from catamarans and their ability to haul ass. In theory, the two skis skim the surface on crappy snow, creating less drag. On better snow conditions, the board sinks into the snow and creates a higher surface area to help it float in powder.

Gilson Boards Raised Center Region vs Traditional Base

Gilson Boards Raised Center Region hardpack powder

  • Idea #2 –  the Soft Edge. The steel edges are raised up off the snow to allow for more playful maneuvering – buttering and drifting with ease. When riding flat or turning slightly, the soft edges engage, giving you control, but keeping things smooth.  Lean beyond the soft edge – over 12° –  and the steel edges engage, letting you carve turns and check speed.

Gilson Boards Soft Edges

Sound over the top? It is, but it really works.

The boards feature Pennsylvania poplar cores with some models including cherry wood stringers. All the boards are true twin with a camber profile. (For now!  Check out the sneak preview below!) They come factory tuned (so detune your edges if you prefer). They look beautiful and are definitely eye catchers.

Before we get into our review, let’s drop the big announcement.

Gilson Boards new shapes 2016

Next season, Gilson is releasing four brand new shapes!  We got special permission from Gilson to post these before they put them on their own website tomorrow.  Starting July 14, you’ll be able to pre-order one of these hand-built rides.  And, we hear rumors of a revolutionary splitboard system in the works.

Gilson Boards Signature Pro Snowboard base
When we tested out the Signature Pro at Copper Mountain during the SIA on-snow demo days, we were very impressed.  We had a ton of fun riding it in the pow, in the trees, and bombing down groomers. We were so impressed that we had Nick make us an Engearment-branded signature pro for us to use all season!

Gilson Boards Signature Pro Engearment

We’re a little proud…

Now, we’ve strapped into the Gilson over the last few months and have some additional impressions. The Engearment Signature Pro looks beautiful (just look at it – attache picture here) and catches attention wherever we go. We took it to Park City to ride in March. Unfortunately the conditions in PC were sub-par.  The snowpack looked like late April instead of mid-March.  It went through a major freeze cycle every night, leaving us with bulletproof ice all morning and mashed potatoes in the afternoon.

Gilson Boards Park City McConkeys Bowl

Of course, Engearment being as we are, we took it straight to McKonkey’s Bowl for some serious testing. The conditions were so bad that we had a pretty scary time trying to just make it down the mountain.  It wasn’t the board’s fault; all but the stiffest snowboard was having a hard time keeping a line and not catching an edge. We noticed that the Signature Pro comes with a full edge tune from the factory.  That may have contributed to some of the squirreliness.  We took every turn slow and focused and regrouped at mid-mountain.

Then, we swapped out riders for another perspective on it. Dave took it down a more mellow blue run and enjoyed it. The sun was starting to cook up the snow and it made turning and riding much more enjoyable. We could easily feel the transition between the soft and hard edges and the RCR kept the board moving faster than we’d expect from a normal board in those conditions.  By mid day we swapped back and were bombing down the warm spring snow.  It turned into a pretty fun weekend of riding corn and sharing smiles.

Back in Colorado, we took it out to Arapahoe Basin and Keystone for some more testing. We took a file to the hard edges at the tip and tail and detuned them, hoping for a less catchy ride. Mission accomplished! We were off getting some fun turns in the conditions we had (no new snow, warm temps). We hoped to get a few more powder days with the board this season, as that is were we feel the board really shines, but we will have to wait until next season. The few powder days we did have on it were enough to make us want to buy one. Now it hangs up in our living room, making a great conversation starter for guests. It really is a work of art.

The Engearment Signature Pro is the 165cm model, which checks in a 265mm at the waist.  The flex profile is balanced front to rear.  Gilson uses an Ultraclear Urethane coat on the topsheet, which allows them to put graphics directly on the core without completely covering the gorgeous wood.  Gilson uses 4001 Grade Sintered UHMW base material for strength and durability.  The core is surrounded by a 20 oz. triaxial fiberglass weave for torsional stiffness.  Sidewalls are also UHMW plastic to keep things strong and stiff.

Full specs of Gilson’s current mens’ lineup:

Gilson Boards Mens specifications dimensions lengths