The Borealis Viking is a freeride snowboard, that is designed to be ridden everywhere from piste to powder to park. With very strong green credentials, in this all-mountain Borealis Viking review I’ll not only look at how it performs for different riding, but also ask is it the most eco-friendly snowboard on the planet?
Who are Borealis Snowboards?
Borealis are a relatively new snowboard brand based out of Avignon in France. Being located close to the little known off-piste Mecca of Mont Ventoux, they specialise in freeride snowboards and splitboards. Since they launched around five seasons ago, they have added new boards to their range each year and have grown a strong following.
The Borealis crew are just as keen to protect the outdoors as they are to enjoy it. So they have placed sustainability and green credentials at the heart of their business. And without compromising on quality, they constantly strive to make the most environmentally friendly snowboards possible.
Which brings us to this all-mountain Borealis Viking review. They claim this is their greenest snowboard yet, and that it is ‘probably the most eco-friendly snowboard on the planet’.
Before we get into the review, a word to the green. The snowboard that is best for the environment is the one you already own, as reusing is far better than buying anything new. That said, if you need a new board, choosing something with a lower carbon footprint that’s made from sustainable materials is the virtuous thing to do.
Borealis Viking: Most eco-friendly snowboard
From the outset they have used environmentally friendly materials and the Borealis Viking is no different. The core is made from high quality, lightweight FSC certified wood – this means it was harvested from a sustainable forest that will be there for generations to come.
The top sheet is made of bamboo rather than plastic. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants, not only is it sustainable, but by harvesting bamboo’s growth is increased pulling more CO2 from the atmosphere. Bamboo has elastic properties that help dampen vibrations and add pop, it is also waterproof to protect the core.
Triaxial fiberglass has been replaced by 100% organic triaxial basalt fibre. Produced naturally it provides pop, stiffness and vibration dampening in a sustainable way.
Likewise the Volcanic strips are 100% organic and replace less green alternatives such as carbon or graphite stringers used to add pop, rigidity. Placed in V shapes between the binding inserts and contact points they keep the Viking responsive and stable.
Most snowboards are held together by epoxy resin, which is a glue full of volatile organic compounds that are both unsustainable and can be environmentally toxic. Instead all Borealis Snowboards use Greenpoxy eco-resin, which is made from recycled biomass. It’s both sustainable and far better for the environment.
To wrap up what is probably the most eco-friendly snowboard on the planet, Borealis give the Viking – and all their other boards – a coat of 100% natural NZero Eco Wax. All snowboards are then packed in recycled cardboard and wrapped in recycled bubble wrap using recycled tape.
Borealis Viking: More than an eco-friendly snowboard
It is all well and good going green, but for the most eco-friendly snowboard to be any good it needs to ride well too. The Borealis Viking is designed to be part way between a pure freeride snowboard and an all mountain directional twin.
It has an elongated, slightly pointy, rocker nose that sticks out around 10 cm beyond the front contact points. This makes it look like a freeride board and will provide float in powder. Effectively, it means you have a setback of around 10cm when riding in fresh snow.
However, the stance is in the middle of the front and back contact points. So you stand in the centre of the effective edge, just like you do on all-mountain directional twin snowboards. So on the piste and hard snow the nose has no effect meaning it behaves like a board without a setback stance.
The Borealis Viking has a skimrocker profile inspired by skim boards. This means it is flat between the bindings with rocker in the nose and tail. In the nose it has a long progressive rocker to keep it floating above the snow, whereas in the tail there is a shorter rocker to improve control but means you can ride switch in powder.
Overall the Borealis Viking had a medium flex, but it’s stiffer towards the tail. This enables the nose to flex out of the snow again aiding powder riding, whilst the more rigid tail provides more control and pop.
The edges are hardened steel that can take a hit or two and give a firm grip. Along the edge are strategically placed sideways – similar to Lib-Tech Magne-Traction. These provide extra grip in icy conditions and also help to engage the edge at the start of the turn.
Finally the Viking reduces vibration by placing thin rubber strips – Vibrafoil system – outside the inserts. And to top it all off – or perhaps I should say bottom it off – the base is top of the range sintered IS7200, which is one of the hardest and fastest bases widely used on snowboards.
All-Mountain Borealis Viking review
So far I have ridden the Viking for three days in Sainte Foy, France. The pistes were in great condition but unfortunately the off-piste was cut up, icy and thin. Despite the conditions we had an off-piste guide and spent a day in the backcountry hunting for powder.
Borealis Viking review: Groomers
At 163 cm long the Viking is about 4 or 5 cm longer than I normally choose for all-mountain board. It’s the same length as the two powder boards I have reviewed, the Borealis Drakkar which is a joy in powder but feels unresponsive on the piste, and the Furberg Freeride which is fun on the piste if ridden very aggressively.
Both of these freeride snowboards are amazing in powder, but you pay for that with less fun, or more effort, on the piste. Going slowly they both feel unresponsive and more difficult to engage and edge. So I was worried that on the piste the Borealis Viking would feel similar.
During this all-mountain Borealis Viking review I was also a little concerned about the skimrocker profile. I’ve always been a fan of camber finding flat bases lack the power, speed and responsiveness of camber. To be honest I had found previous flat base board felt boring.
But all my worries were dispelled within the first minute. The Viking instantly felt responsive, precise and powerful. The flat section makes it fairly very stable and the rocker tips meant presses and buttering were a doddle. I also got impressive pop when ollying.
The biggest surprise was that I found the Borealis Viking incredibly easy to carve – probably because with a flat base it is easier to use the entire effective edge. Although the perfectly groomed, wide empty pistes of Sainte Foy certainly helped, I saw a huge improvement in my carving and feel this was in part due to the board.
My other boards of this size feel like you have to put a lot of effort in to turn on the piste and that you can’t ride slow and lazy, but the Viking felt perfectly at home on the piste. It was easy to ride, forgiving and fine going hard and fast or slow and lazy. Everything from dynamic cross under turns, to jump turns, to long arching carves was easy.
Borealis Viking review: Off-piste
Although the Borealis Viking doesn’t have a set back stance, the extra long rocker nose combined with directional flex is ideal for riding powder. Unfortunately, I have not had the chance during this all-mountain Borealis Viking review to properly test this out as conditions away from the piste were pretty dire.
However, on a day of backcountry riding we did find a couple of stashes of powder. When I hit them the nose kept out and there was plenty of float with an alluring surfy feel. I know from the Borealis Drakkar and Furberg Freeride how good a powder board feels in it’s element, and the float from the Viking felt pretty similar.
It is hard to tell for sure, as I had perhaps five to ten powder turns, three or four time so more powder riding is required. Compared to my powder specific boards I assume you’ll get less float from the Viking in really deep powder, and perhaps you’ll lose a little stability on steeps or when really motoring.
But where it really excelled was in less than favourable off-piste conditions. The north face slopes we encountered were cut up and exceptionally icy. We took on one steep slope that was very treacherous and actually pretty scary – one slip and you would end up in trouble.
Proper ‘bend and pop’ jump turns were required just to get down it. The manoeuvrability of the Viking made it fairly easy to do this. And the wavy edge, and flat profile gripped the ice exceptionally well giving a solid foundation I felt I could trust.
After this we stayed away from North facing slopes and headed onto the slightly softer south face. It was still tough conditions but the sun had softened it just enough so that it was crusty rather than bullet hard ice. There were some very technical and tight sections where the manoeuvrability and responsive nature of the Viking really helped.
With thin sketchy snow you could not ride fast and aggressively and you needed to take it easy. The Viking was perfect for these conditions, and I know I’d have struggled on my powder boards.
For varied off-piste conditions, tight lines, or slopes with difficult access, the Borealis Viking would be perfect and easier to ride than a dedicated powder board. And you’ll still be able to slay any powder you find almost as well as you can on a 100% powder board, all on an eco-friendly snowboard.
Borealis Viking review: Freestyle
Unfortunately there is no park in Sainte Foy, however there were plenty of side hits I enjoyed dueing this all-mountain Borealis Viking review. I found the pop surprisingly good for a flat board leading to plenty of airtime. It is also light for a big board so grabs and spins were pretty easy.
The rocker made nose and tail presses very easy, and I imagine it would be a lot of fun on boxes and rails. The flat profile should make it fairly forgiving, and more stable to 50:50 and board slide.
The big draw back from freestyle riding is that is a directional board. I fell a few times when landing 180s I would normally ride away from, and although I landed some too I was far less comfortable than on a true twin. Although it certainly didn’t help that I was set up to freeride with a +27 front foot and -3 backfoot.
Having said that riding switch was fairly easy once I got the hang of it – I even managed to carve switch. But with a forward stance and directional flex landing tricks switch was always going to be tougher than on a proper freestyle twin.
Is the most eco-friendly snowboard any good?
It seems a bit obvious to compare the Viking to its Nordic namesake, but for this all-mountain Borealis Viking review I am going to do it anyway. The Vikings are known as fearless warriors who raided all over Europe, but they were also farmers, sailors, hunters, and everything from accomplished beer drinkers to creative tattoo artists.
Its this versatility combined with ruthlessness that gave the Vikings their success. Likewise it is versatility that makes the Borealis Viking not only the most eco-friendly snowboard but an excellent all-mountain snowboard that is ruthless off-piste.
From euro carves to presses, steep chutes to easy blues, and hard ice to deep powder, the Borealis Viking can handle anything. And the icing on the cake of this all-mountain Borealis Viking review it that it’s probably the most eco-friendly snowboard on the planet.
The Borealis Viking comes in 163 and 167 lengths and costs €519. If you would like to buy ‘probably the most eco-friendly snowboard on the planet’, go to: www.borealis-snowboards.com