The Borealis Drakkar snowboard is an eco friendly freeride snowboard billed as ‘The ultimate weapon for deep powder snowboarding’. It also claims to be efficient on hard packed snow so you don’t have to give up performance on the piste while getting to the off piste. My Borealis Drakkar snowboard review was conducted in knee deep powder in Les 2 Alpes and waist deep powder in Alagna.
Long before snowboarding was invented, when Sir Bruce Forsyth was still a wee lad, the Vikings would raid the UK in their longships. The longships were called a Drakkar and just like Sir Brucey they were light (for his height), nimble (in his heyday), and built to last (surely its time to retire!). All of which are characteristics the Drakkar snowboard aims to emulate.
Who are Borealis Snowboards?
Borealis snowboards are a new brand from the Provence region in Southern France entering into the market with 2 boards in 2013/14. The goal of Borealis snowboards is to create state of the art but eco friendly freeride snowboards that help you to enjoy mother nature without damaging her.
The Borealis founder, Ben Hall, grew up in the mountains and is passionate about protecting them. He is also a passionate back country snowboarder and decided to use his intimate knowledge of what freeriders want to create high quality but environmentally friendly freeride and back country snowboards.
About the Borealis Drakkar eco friendly freeride snowboard
The Borealis Drakkar snowboard is packed with state of the art technology to help your freeride snowboarding improve. Its core is a combination of bamboo and, the snowboard mainstay, popular which is harvested sustainably and FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified. The Bamboo is 100% sustainable very light and its unique properties add strength, waterproofness and extra pop.
The topsheet and sidewalls are also made from bamboo to help save weight while also adding strength, vibration dampening , pop and of course to help create an eco friendly freeride snowboard. The bamboo top sheet in particular should create a unique poppy flex that creates a different ride all together.
To create additional stiffness and give extra torsion to the board quadratic carbon strings run from tip to tail. They are a lively quartet giving stability and security at high speed.
The Borealis Drakkar snowboard has a hybrid camrocker profile designed to give you float in powder, power in the turn and plenty of pop. It achieves this through its progressive nose rocker which will keep the pointy Forsythesque nose out of the white stuff through extra flex and more rocker. In contrast the tail rocker is stiffer, shorter and less pronounced to give quick turn initiation and to put less strain on your back leg. Between your feet is a mellow camber, which gives pop and power out of the turn.
The edges of the Drakkar borrow magnatraction from Lib Tech with what Borealis call sidewaves. They are strategically placed waves on the side (clues in the name?) that look a little strange but aim to give you more contact points with the snow meaning better control and better grip.
Finally the base of the Drakkar is a high quality sintered base so it should be harder and faster than an extruded base.
Borealis Drakkar Snowboard review in powder
We were very lucky on our final day in Les 2 Alpes to have knee deep powder perfect to conduct my Borealis Drakkar snowboard review . I will start by saying I fell in love with this board but it wasn’t an instant love affair. Let me explain….
The first run of the day, and my first run of the Drakkar was almost fresh tracks on a black run in knee deep powder, it was going to be an epic powder day. I set off built a little speed and started enjoying the float. It all went wrong when I tried my first toeside turn as I stacked embarrassingly right under the lift. My embarrassment wasn’t to stop there, healside turns were fine but every time I tried to turn toeside I got a face full of powder as I struggled to get my weight over the toeside and couldn’t even sweep turn it.
At the bottom one of the other guys needed to adjust his bindings so I didn’t feel too bad having a fiddle and breaking the ‘no friends on powder day’ rule. As a short term solution I tilted my high backs further forward to help bend my knees and to push my feet forward slightly. It worked, on my second run I was able to turn either way no problem.
From here on I was loving Borealis Drakkar. I found myself going faster, jumping higher, riding more aggressively than ever before in powder. I was reaching the bottom of off piste sections minutes before my friends who were on all mountain boards and would normally be about the same pace. It is a board that is made to ride fast and aggressively in powder.
The progressive rocker in the nose did a great job of keeping the tip of the Drakkar out of the snow and not once did I think about getting my weight on the back foot. A couple of times I landed jumps with my weight too far forward and was bracing for a tomahawk or two however the flex in the big nose of the Drakkar saved the day and I rode away having nailed a nice air, despite getting it wrong – but hey no one else knew!
I have since ridden the Drakkar again this time in waist deep powder in Alagna, Italy. However visibility was very poor and as such I struggled to get up enough speed for the Drakkar to show what it can do. In fact at slow speeds it is very hard to keep the Drakkar out of the snow, and once you are in getting the 163cm back out requires a lot of effort.
I think with the conditions I would have struggled with any board however a smaller board would have been easier to manoeuvre and less exhausting. When conditions meant I could get up some speed the Drakkar handled the very deep powder really well.
Off piste the Borealis Drakkar eco friendly freeride snowboard felt light, powerful, responsive, poppy and forgiving. It is made to ride fast. Friends commented that I was riding like I owned the mountain, I certainly felt like it.
Borealis Drakkar snowboard review: on the piste
The Drakkar is 163cm long however it has an effective edge the same as a 158, which according to charts is my ideal all mountain board length. However most of my recent riding had been on a the 154 Pathron Sensei which is a fairly narrow freestyle board that leans towards all mountain.
Although the Drakkar feels light under your feet the extra width and length were obvious to me when riding it on the piste. Initiating turns required more effort and to me it felt slightly cumbersome. Personally I don’t like riding the piste with a big set back stance, so I found it slightly awkward and it put too much pressure on my front foot. But these are personal preferences.
Putting personal preferences aside the Drakkar performed well on the piste. It has great edge hold due to the sidewaves which I can’t remember ever failing me. It feels solid when gunning it at speed and although at first I was worried about catching an edge (because it felt big) I never did. It cuts through crud like its not there, absorbs vibrations very well and feels solid as a house when ridden flat.
On piste I feel it is better ridden fast and aggressively as once you start going slow it becomes harder to turn. However as a freeride snowboard that you use on the piste, to get to the off piste, it does the job very well.
Borealis Drakkar snowboard review: Conclusions
I hit a lot of rocks when riding off piste in Les 2 Alpes. The good news is Drakkar ploughed through them however the bad news is I damaged the board. Being honest in this Borealis Drakkar snowboard review I have to mention that the base took quite a beating.
The technician who patched it up said the base is not the highest quality they have worked on. I asked Ben Hall the Borealis founder about this, he said the base material is DuraSurf™ 4001 which is tough, widely used in the industry and considered an average sintered base material. So lets put the damage down to the speed I was going and the amount of rocks I hit! The good news is next year Borealis will be using an ISO7500 sintered base, which is the best available, and will make the Drakkar even better.
To conclude, like Sir Bruce Forsyth (in his heyday) the Drakkar (when in its off piste element) is light on your feet, responsive and nimble. It comes into its own when ridden fast and aggressively. It probably won’t last as long as Sir Bruce Forsyth (little will) but unlike the regular cringing while watching Sir Brucey riding the Drakkar will make you smile from ear to ear.
The Borealis Drakkar eco friendly freeride snowboard means I can ride powder harder, faster, bigger and better than ever. For that reason it is now my board of choice when there is fresh snow to play in.