By Marc Hemmes
Photos by Joe Pyle
Who would have thought… a mom and pop snowboard company in a small Colorado town that makes high performance boards from scratch? No wonder Venture Snowboards has such a die-hard fan base. Here’s a look at their big mountain freeride board.
“Odin” is the Norse god of war and wisdom. Big mountain freeriding legend Johan Olofsson and Venture’s own Klemens Branner teamed up to design this board for hard charging riders. This collaboration resulted in a Backcountry Magazine Editors Choice in 2012.
After looking at Venture’s description of the Odin, I was prepared for a big mountain cruiser, but I was also interested in testing other less-than-ideal snow conditions. I’ve had the chance to ride the Odin around 30 days so far. Everything from open bowls with a foot of fresh powder, to tight tree skiing, to wind scoured bullet-proof windpack (a specialty in my area).
On the downhill – The Odin rides like a high speed bomber. This thing wants to go fast. The faster you go, the better. Its moderate sidecut is made for large carving GS turns and makes it very stable at high speeds. The Odin has Straight-Line Rocker, which is flat in the middle with a slight lift on the tip and tail. It gives the board some nice float and a surfy feel, which was great in powder. I was impressed with how it handled in the air. While hitting drifts and dropping small rocks, it felt well balanced and not too heavy. This board was not built with the terrain park in mind.
I didn’t take the board on groomed runs, but it handled well on hardpack backcountry runs, never washing out and no edge chatter. It’s a beast when busting through crud and packed powder, fairly tank-like. I did notice that the board feels a little sluggish on steep jump turns and in tight trees (as to be expected for a big mountain board?) but I would say it’s manageable.
Skinning – The Straight-Line Rocker (SLR) works well for skinning by helping the board to float on top of the snow and keeping the tips from sinking in deep powder. The SLR, combined with the full wrap steel edge on each board half, make traversing on hardpack less likely to be disastrous. I haven’t pushed the limits on this, but I have yet to slip out while traversing on the Odin.
Construction – The board is rated 9 out of 11 on Venture’s flex rating. It’s a very stiff board indeed, which I really like for fast, aggressive riding. Like most splitboards, the Odin is not light in weight. I noticed this more when I was post holing up steeper terrain and had to strap the board to my pack, but it wasn’t anything too drastic. A benefit of Venture boards is the multiple widths available. To ensure that big-footed riders won’t be dragging heel and toe all over the mountain, the Odin has three different widths of board to choose from: 25, 26 and 27 cm.
Ecological Considerations – The designers utilize sustainably harvested hardwoods for the cores of these boards, and their entire operation is run on wind power. I’m impressed not only with how the boards perform, but also with Venture’s dedication to minimizing their environmental impact. I hope other snowboarding companies will soon follow their lead.
Durability – It’s a tank. All boards from Venture have a two-year warranty (which is longer than most); they offer that warranty because they know their boards will pass the test. The burly P-Tex material on the sidewall and base help to protect the board for the long run. The top laminate is solid and doesn’t scratch easily like other boards. I put this to the test while skinning up the trail and clanking the two halves together.
Overall – I really enjoyed riding the Venture Odin; it’s a high performance board built for the aggressive rider. Extremely fun at high speeds, dreamy in the powder, and it does the trick on most backcountry conditions. The going rate of $895 is a fair price when compared to the rest of the offerings in the splitboard market today.
Board sizes – In 25cm waist width: 160, 164 and 168. In 26cm waist width: 165, 169 and 173. And in 27cm waist width: 174. The Odin comes with Voile hooks/clips. The Odin is also available in a solid board version.