G3 AXLE Splitboard – Responsive New Splitboad from G3
The new G3 AXLE splitboard is a cool new splitboard shape. Designed to be as good on the way up as it is on the way down. The Engearmet crew took the AXLE out for several test days in the Colorado backcountry. This detailed review is a collaboration featuring some great insights from Gore Range legend Mike Sanchez. Enjoy the deep dive!
AXLE – Built to Handle the Backcountry
G3 built the AXLE to handle the demands (and abuse) of the backcountry. Using carbon fiber in a woven pattern to create rigidity and polyurethane sidewalls for dampness. You can see the impressive use of carbon fiber in the pic below. The board is pretty light too. Noticeably lighter than some other splitboards we have tested. I mounted the Karakoram Light Ride interface on this setup.
Sean Sewell’s Impressions of the G3 AXLE
Previously, I have tested two other G3 splitboards (Black Sheep and Scape Goat). It had been a while since I had seen any new splitboards from G3, so the AXLE really piqued my interest. When the AXLE showed up, I was immediately impressed with how light it was. The build quality felt good too. G3 sent over the G3 Splitboard + Glide skins too.
I found this construction to be very responsive. This came in hand when slashing though slopes of wind crust snow with blower powder on top. It gave me a little more confidence in tackling the variable snow conditions. The AXLE toured up well and was easy to ride. Whether bombing down a run or playing in the powder, the board responded the way I hoped it would. It performed well in deep powder if I leaned back just a bit.
I am sure a bigger version of this board would have been even better for my wants. For reference, I am 6’1″ 205lb (before gear and backpack) size 11.5 boot. I usually ride 165 or bigger boards. I felt that this board was fun to ride and would recommend it. For more insights, I passed the board onto Mike Sanchez. Mike is a hard booter, hard worker and all around badass.
G3 Carbon Axle 162 CM
Outfitted with Spark R&D Dyno DH hard boot bindings, Spark R&D tech toe pieces,
Scarpa TX NTN telemark boots with toe inserts.
Testing was conducted by Mike Sanchez over 3 2400 vertical foot runs around Frisco Colorado.
With having a solid telemark background and gear finally being designed for discipline crossover, it made sense to put this lightweight board to the test with hard boots.
Colorado experiencing a very snowy 2018-2019 season it was impossible to find hard crusty snow…not a bad problem to have. So this review is lacking those talking points
First Day on the AXLE
On the first tour the temp was relatively warm for January in Colorado so pulling apart the skins for installment was fairly easy. The first observation was how well the tip clips were positioned and seem to hug the tip tightly. Second, the ease of the cam action, easy positioning of the skin and secure, curved design of the tail clips made me more than confident that these skins would stay exactly where they were intended to be.
The skin track was in a well-used condition by a variety of user groups and the traction capabilities of the G3 skins were flawless even on a trail frequently used by snowshoers and trail runners. Lower down on the packed out trail it crosses directly through the run out of a historic slide path. With the avalanche forecast pointing out a deep persistent slab, it seemed prudent for safety to bypass the runout and cut directly up, providing an opportunity to see what this split brought to the table as far as breaking through a completely virgin Colorado snowpack.
With powder skis in my personal quiver with measurements such as 168,135,145 tip, waist, tail respectively, I honestly wasn’t expecting miracles. I was thoroughly impressed with this 162CM for cutting a fresh track in poorly consolidated snow. The modest length was easy to maneuver through the tight aspen sections and of course, the grip of the skins didn’t even seem challenged by the steepness of this ‘shortcut’. Popping back out on the multi-user group trail and climbing higher the trail splits and becomes a true skin track that sees a fair amount of traffic. With several switchbacks, the chance to see how well it kick-turned was presented with absolutely no difficulties. Bottom line this thing climbs like a beast much larger than its size!
Skins pulled easily and the board went together as expected. What wasn’t expected was how the binding angles, plastic ski boots, and the warm snowpack would conspire against my quest for nirvana. Front foot was set at 15°positive, back foot was set at 3°positive. Way less than ideal for the lateral stiffness of these boots. The first attempt at a turn my stance was obviously wrong. Slowing down proved that the unconsolidated snowpack was gonna be a problem for me on this run because I submarined below a buried crust and went all the way to the ground. Kinda spooky to say the least. After digging myself out and getting the Carbon back on the surface I clipped back in and figured I would need to quickly adapt or I was gonna have to dig myself out many more times. I used the contours of the terrain to traverse and minimize the number of turns I would need to make. As long as I kept my speed up the tip of the Carbon wanted to plane out and stay on the surface, I tried to accommodate as much as I safely could.
With a couple more extrications before reaching the TH, I was disappointed by not being able or wanting to do a short second lap.
The second run was a week later and Uller just kept on bringing the goods!
With my stance adjusted to 25°,15° positive for the front and rear foot respectively and both moved rearward 15mm I was ready to see what this board truly had to offer this powder seeker.
Stoke was high and fresh legs set the tone for the ascent. I used my runout shortcut again and was not surprised that nobody else had used it since I was last on it on skis. With 3+inches of fresh snow on it, I was expecting to regret the steep angle I had set. Having passed an overheating AT skier shedding a layer down lower I was expecting him to pass me on the shortcut…Not one issue on the Jchute runout bypass. So it appeared as though I kept my 3rd place track on the skintrack for the day. Studying the marks in the snow to see how many are before you are entertaining.
At the transition area, I was layering up and having a snack when the AT skier arrived. We introduced ourselves and talked shop for a bit while we slowly transitioned. The wind picked up and visibility went away almost with the blink of an eye. With everything stowed away, we both were excited to get a taste of what was below us. 5 blissful turns into it this G3 Carbon Axle was showing me what it was made for… Euphoric powder turns!
I haven’t had many in the past 10 years or so being I have dedicated almost all of my time to becoming proficient at Telemark…..but I was enjoying the best splitboard powder run I have had in a long time!
Testing Day 3 – Jan 28, 2019
Same trailhead, same transition destination.
Made arrangements to meet with an AT ski partner. With 5 or so inches of fresh and the wind doing what it does the runout bypass trail was almost erased but not quite. Tracks in the snow on the main trail looked like a group of 2 or 3 were ahead of us. Once above their transition spot evidence of a skin track was nonexistent until we got to the wind-scoured area. Then only wind etched compacted snow was the only evidence of previous human passage.
We got to the transition and not wanting to keep my ski partner waiting on my snowboard cravings I changed over as quick as I could. We were both done about the same time, maybe he was a little faster as he was able to grab a handful of gorp out of his bag. We quickly discussed a safe travel plan that involved leapfrogging each others position as we descended. Luscious powder turns were plentiful once we were below the slightly wind effected snow.
Less than ideal snow conditions
The first 3-4 turns had a slight crust below the fresh snow that provided me with a little insight into how this board would handle in less than ideal conditions. I definitely don’t seek out hard conditions, but it was comforting to know that the sidecut profile held a positive edge on a slight buried crust. The plan from the onset if time allowed was to descend 800-1000 vert and then re-skin to the high transition and drop more to the North of our previous descent line and set ourselves up for an easier traverse back near the bottom of the avy path runout.
From the previous time out that I never mentioned avoiding redundancy was that the traverse is not perfect for a snowboard because of a few side stepping uphills. With more experience and confidence on this setup, I knew exactly where I wanted to switch back to ski mode. When we got there I didn’t hesitate to snap out of the plate bindings and quickly and efficiently switch over sans skins.
One thing that many riders may overlook is how well a splitboard actually skis without skins on. Being a fairly experienced skier I figure my skills can help bring this conversation to the surface. Very few zones are perfect for a complete board descent so I feel this is an important design attribute to consider.
With all that said, once in ski mode on both times out on the traverse I kept it in ski mode all the way down to the parking lot and felt confident the whole time. I even made several linked up telemark style turns in the few wide open areas along the way.
Mike’s overall review of the G3 AXLE splitboard
In summary, would I recommend this G3 Carbon AXLE splitboard to my friends that are inclined to buy a splitboard,? Yes I would!
I dont have anything negative to say about how this board climbs,rides or skis. One thing I noticed from the beginning was the lack of a capped topsheet. In my experience ptex style sidewalls are far superior in the durability department,so this board should stand the test of time and easily handle anything you may throw at it!