Gearhead Sean Sewell, our splitboarding addict, sat down with Kevin Clarke of Prowder Splitboards to find out what makes him tick.
How did you get into splitboarding?
Like most snowboarders who want to expand their backcountry experience I would pack snowshoes in addition to my board. I found it difficult to go on long hikes into powder and up vertical terrain with snowshoes. Attaching snowshoes to your backpack while riding annoyed me because of the bulk and added weight on your back. I found splitboarding solved the issues I had with snowshoes.
What influenced you to start Prowder?
I have been a freelance product engineer ever since I studied mechanical engineering and industrial design in college. There were two things that influenced me to start designing splitboards and interface technology. 1) the price of the equipment and 2) the technology at the time. These are things I still hold true while designing products. I ask myself what price would I like to pay for things like pucks, boards, bindings and interface connection systems and I start there with my design. With respect to other companies intellectual property and the final target price of the product, I start with a design that solves the issues of existing products and the future goals of the product that’s being created. Prowder was created for the rider by the riders. I almost envision the company as a snowboard nonprofit because we don’t create products for money, but for pure advancement of snowboard technology and thinking.
You take engineering a great product very seriously. Can you tell us what steps you take to research, test and design your products?
When designing a splitboard we made a list of positive and negative factors that are key to the function of the snowboard/splitboard design. A second list of rider likes and dislikes was also created. The third thing was the snowboard construction. We rode about 200 different boards that fit into the group of positive factors and rider likes. From the data collected we were able to create our base shape. This base shape was tested over a period of two years and about 40 prototypes. We would install camera systems on our legs to watch how the board would perform in variable conditions. We would use ink on man made slopes to see where the board was gripping or sliding. Over time we created our first perfect shape. R&D is key to engineering an exciting and bomber product, and we definitely covered it with this board line. Once we have a concept that works we reverse engineer the parts to find the least expensive construction method to reduce the final product cost. The process costs and takes more time to create a final product, which is why many companies will launch a product and skip these steps.
What do you most enjoy about making your own equipment?
It’s hard to sit and wait for a product or solution to come out. I never expected to be in the snowboard industry but when you’ve had enough with high prices, poor design, outdated technology, and the right solutions not hitting the market, you take things into your own hands. The best part about creating your own products after you have spent the majority of your life on the slopes, is you can personality make the sport better and possibly open up the industry’s eyes into new thinking and problem solving. The stuff we are working on is just the tip of the iceberg. We filed 5 patents this year with more in the works. Our goal is to allow the little guys and creative companies licensing and cut out the major players who push the industry down the same path of mindless consumer marketing. Technology should market the product not colors and false claims.
What do you most enjoy about the splitboard community?
The splitboard community is very small and everyone splitboarding in the backcountry is there for the same reasons. If you splitboard you already know what those are!
What does the logo mean?
We wanted to create a logo that had the feel of old school snowboard logos with a simple meaning and design. Nate Herschleb was the mastermind behind the logo. The circle and the inner triangle represents the splitboarding path from start, to top of mountain, the line down the mountain and then the journey back to the starting point. The two vertical lines represent the splitboard path up the mountain.
How has Prowder evolved over their years?
The Prowder vision hasn’t changed. The first idea and where we plan to push our concepts hasn’t changed either. We held off a few years to see where the industry was going before we launched our game changing ideas. Those will debut next season.
Where do you hope to see Prowder in the future?
I hope we can contribute to snowboarding and splitboarding. We would love to bring on new people with fresh ideas. We would love Prowder to be a collective for like minded engineers, snowboard/splitboarders and creatives that want to be part of change within the industry.
Check out Prowder.com for more.