Note: This post has been edited 8/15/2012 to include experiences with the rig after 1 year of testing in the backcountry. The new information will be found immediately after the original post.
The new 2012 Revel8 Rockered Condor has a number of unique features which make it a unique and revolutionary backcountry skiboard. My report on summer prototype testing is here.
Since my summer prototype testing I have been busy trying to think up simple touring modifications to allow me to use my snowboard boots and the Rockerbinding to tour in the backcountry.
In this thread I will discuss my latest design for a soft boot touring rig for the Rockered Condor .
Here is a view of the finished installation ... key points to notice 1/ voile crampon attachment in front of the binding and riser, .... 2/replacement of the Revel8 soft boot riser with shorter , wider and much lighter Edge Snowboard riser ... (the shortness of the riser allows installation and function of the ski crampon ) ,3/bungeed short heel elevator to the rear ready for deployment . ..4/ unused middle and top binding straps locked neatly to the rear 5/ Climbing skins are applied to the bases
Here is the boot attached , and crampon attached and heel elevator deployed..
Here is a picture of climbing skins applied to the base.
Climbing skins can be purchased from a number of suppliers. The skins used above were bought from Climbing skins direct and have the proper attachment hardware to fit the wide tip of the Rockered Condor. (130mm width skins, tip ring 70mm , )
Ok now for details ....
the basic touring design is very simple, the single front binding strap holds the forefoot of the boot to the floor of the binding , the boot pivots over the edge of the binding much like a traditional snowshoe binding works . The nature of the system allows for significant heel elevation in walking .. Here is a picture showing the amount of freedom of motion this very simple touring design allows..
The rear highback of the binding helps prevent the boot from sliding out of the front strap and the side wings of the binding help prevent torqueing of the boot from side to side as you step down ... in difficult traversing and angled climbing .. the second binding strap can also be deployed and attached loosely to prevent side to side motion of the boot while still allowing a bit of vertical motion .
Here is a detail of the Voile crampon piece attached to the front of the Rockered Condor ... this requires drilling the Condor and reducing the sizes of the supplied screws with a bolt cutter to attach the crampon holder... care must be exercised not to drill through or dimple the bases with either drilling or screwing in the wood screws.
Here is a view of the crampon attached to the voile crampon stud via a wing nut (10/32 or 5mm ) ..
Here is a detail of the bungeed plastic heel piece sitting out of the way on the rear of the binding high back
Here is a view of the plastic heel piece deployed with a flick of the pole
Here is a view showing the small heel lift ( about 1 inch) given by the heel elevator when the boot heel steps down
Here is an extra bit of equipment that the backcountry skiboarder can carry on his pack .. .they are ultralight mini snowshoes called " VERTS"
Here is my boot in the vert snowshoe and attached by the simple binding
So there you have the barebones of the Rockered Condor Soft Boot Touring rig....
Further information including suppliers of necesssary parts , the nature and use of the different parts of this backcountry rig , will be discussed later in this thread including details of installation .
The rig has had one full season of extensive product testing and performs great as detailed in the remainder of the posts on this thread. I will summarize the major updates to this rig.
1/ Production Rocker binding on production Rockered Condor with Crampon attachment
Initially the Rocker binding was supplied without it's own riser . Last season the production Rocker binding was supplied with 4 rubberized riser feet. It was discovered in product testing that a central ruberized puck was also necessary to have the factory supplied Rocker binding work as a backcountry binding to stabilize and prevent the central screws from loosening with climbing . This upcoming season all Rocker Bindings purchased through SBOL will be supplied with the central puck as well as the standard 4 rubber riser feet. Those who have purchased their Rocker binding without the central puck can purchase the puck as an aftermarket accessory directly from Rocker Binding for a nominal fee. The production Rocker binding with the central puck can be used instead of the aftermarket Edge Snowboard Riser and allows enough room for the installation of a skiboard crampon as pictured. Here is a picture of the production Rocker Binding with central puck.
Overall weight of the Production Rockerbinding with central puck and 4 rubber riser feet is heavier then a Rockerbinding used with an aftermarket plastic Edge Snowboard Riser. Those users who purchase a Rockerbinding can easily remove the rubber feet (they are just screwed into the binding base) and purchase an aftermarket Edge Snowboard Riser if they wish to save weight . The Production Rockerbinding does however have advantages for downhill riding . It has a higher riser height then the Edge Snowboard riser and also has a ride dampening suspension effect that the rigid Edge Snowbard riser does not. These advantages are definitely noticeable in firm, icy conditions.
2/ edited 3/26/2013 The new production Rockerbinding has a larger gap in the back of the binding which requires a larger plastic heel elevator to be used. I carry a 4" ABS drain cap that can be purchased in a local hardware store to use as heel elevators when needed. This particular cap has a wide flange and grate at the top that helps prevent the cap from sliding out the back . To put them in and take them out I simply loosen the front strap of the binding lift my heel up and pop the cap in behind my boot and then tighten my front strap . The cap stays locked in under my boot . To remove them on the fly , I just reverse the process.
Here is a picture of the plumbing cap I carry
Here is a picture of the plumbing cap in place
Here is a picture of the plumbing cap used as a heel elevator
3/ a circular fender washer is used between the screw and the crampon to provide a more secure and firm attachment of the crampon and prevent bending of the crampon.
4/ IMHO after extensive testing for an entire season . The Rockerbinding mounted on the Rockered Condor is a truly unique backcountry skiboard touring option. It is really the only production downhill oriented skiboard product that can do double duty ski touring without any special parts or modifications which is pretty unique. While using snowboard boots for regular resort riding is nice, the ability to skiboard tour with snowboard boots and yet have a no compromise downhill rig on the descent is a huge advance for backcountry riding. Hiking and climbing in snowboard boots is so much more comfortable then any kind of hard boots ! I also think the combination of the binding with the Rockered Condor is unique. The major advance for backcountry riding is that the Rockered Condor really allows a binding to be mounted dead center (which is the optimum position for climbing on skiboards) and yet perform great from that same center mount position going down in deep powder. IMHO all other 110 skiboards do better mounted set back for the downhill in deep powder. So it really is not just the Rocker binding but that binding combined with a specific skiboard that makes the combo so nice! Kudos to Greco for providing the hugely innovative Rockered Condor which is the perfect backcountry skiboard, and Kudos to Jake for providing the Rocker Binding , the perfect backcountry skiboard binding. A match made in heaven for sure for backcountry riders!
5/ This last season there were a large variety of riders on the Rockered Condor who wrote reviews of the skiboard. However, as far as I know I am the only rider last season who used the Rockered Condor with the Rockerbinding snowboard boot set up for backcountry skiboard touring.
6/ Although I purchased a pair of Vert Mini Snowshoes , I have never actually used them or carried them into the backcountry. The Rockerbinding , Rockered Condor rig with crampons and skins is fully competent for all condition backcountry ascending without any additional equipment necessary.
7/ This rig is a Non-release binding option. Use of Non-release skiboard bindings are limited to skiboards 110cm and less in length for safety reasons by manufacturers. For those riders desiring full release backcountry skiboard rigs two great options are available through SBOL and Spruce Mountain Skiboards . These options require the use of regular downhill alpine skiboots or hardshell Alpine touring (AT)boots. (They are NOT compatible with soft snowboard boots or hardshell alpine carving snowboard boots).
I have used and reviewed both of these rigs and they work great, although personally, I prefer the soft touring rig on the Rockered Condor.
Rockered Condor with Fritschi Eagle binding
Spruce Sherpa with Fritschi Pro-Ride binding
Pictures from last season :
I have experimented with a variety of ways to use or not use my poles on the descent . I have stowed them on the pack and ridden down without them , I have ridden with them held crosswise like in the video below. I have finally just settled on riding downhill with them in my hands just like I would on long skis.
Here is a video of this set up in backcounry light dry pow ..
In this video I am the first and the last rider in this sequence of three clips. In the first sequence I am on pretty firm snow and you can see how I control the board in firm snow by just "slarving" or sliding the board sideways. This is a very nice controllable way to descend firm snow on the Rockered Condor and I often do this rather then trying to sharply edge the board.