Niche Fathom Splitboard Review - First Thoughts
The Niche Fathom Splitboard is a new board to the Splitboard HQ lineup for the 2021/2022 season. It caught our attention through the zero waste manufacturing process and for the great price point in comes in at. In a market that is now saturated with splitboards from a seemingly endless line of manufacturers, the Fathom had some great user features that we at Splitboard HQ really dug.
Niche Fathom Splitboard First Thoughts
In full transparency we have yet to ride this board, this is a first thought review upon pulling it out of the shipping box. That being said, myself and the Splitboard HQ team have ridden many a splitboard and can get a pretty good feel for the overall performance of a board from the look and feel of it.
UPDATE (Jan 11, 2022): I managed to get the Fathom out over the holidays and it rides very much along the lines of the description below. Has enough float to be great in pow, and the long sidecut allows riders to hold high speed turns without the fear of washing out. I rode it in a 30 degree avy bowl and thoroughly enjoyed pow slashes off the wals and riding fast on the open parts.
My first thought when unboxing it was that it has quite a unique shape to it. It reminded me somewhat of a park style board in the nose and tail. However the Fathom has a long sidecut and felt incredibly stiff when putting it through a quick ‘on the floor’ flex test.
These features certainly fall into the style of board I personally like riding. Stiff with a long sidecut, ideal for going fast and a solid feel in all manner of snow conditions. Riding primarily in the Canadian Rockies zones of Kananaskis Country, 93 South, 93 North and near Sunshine and Lake Louise, we spend a lot of time in the alpine riding everything from light dry pow, to bulletproof proof windslabs. With that all in mind a board that performs well in variable conditions is certainly something I gravitate towards.
Photo: The Niche Fathom in 149 cm and 161 cm side by side
The other feature that I enjoy for my boards is the directional camber with nose rocker profile. The camber translates into a traditional, poppy feeling board that also provides a long point of edge contact when side hilling on icy ascents. This is something I consider super valuable in my day to day splitboarding. Now, if you are going to be just shredding pow laps in the trees then this is much less of a consideration.
The one thing that did surprise me, and this is purely anecdotal (as I haven’t used a scale and weighed the board), is the weight of the board. I had read a bunch about it being ultra light weight. At first ‘pickup’ this didn’t feel the case. Certainly lighter than say the Never Summer Swift (on the heavier but ultra durable side of splitboards, gotta love Colorado Rockies built durability), but certainly heavier than the comparable Arbor Coda split.
There is zero waste from the manufacturing process of Niche Boards
So, after a grand total of 5 - 10 minutes checking the board over my initial first thoughts are:
- The design falls into the category of boards I am drawn to. All round, stable and stiff in good and bad conditions
- Long sidecut which makes it perform well at speed in big open terrain
- Conversely, this makes riding tighter lines feel less ‘carvy’ and more forced in a lot of situations
- The stiffness and traditional camber will make for a poppy feeling board that will climb well and perform in challenging snow conditions (on the up and down)
- I was surprised by the out of the box weight. Certainly not one of the lighter boards on the market. In saying that it isn’t super heavy either.
- Hard to comment without putting a few seasons on it but the Fathom look and feels like it will be pretty durable and take a beating
- It seems really good value for the CAD price of $750 + tax
- The Niche Fathom won’t be a super playful board designed for a surfy pow feel. More of a big mountain charger kind of board
- I love the fact that it is built from recycled materials and there is zero waste. You can see a video below on the story about that.
What the Niche Fathom Splitboard is Best For
The Niche Fathom Splitboard is truly an all round mountain board. From my perspective it is designed for:
- The rider who wants a splitboard that can ride most snow conditions well
- Climbing in icy or sub-optimal conditions
- Navigating variable snow descents
- Feeling solid underfoot at all times.
- The budget conscious splitboarder
- The environmentally conscious splitboarder
- Riding fast in open terrain and feeling balanced and reliable underfoot
There is however a limitation to all round splitboards performance. What I don’t think it will be great at is:
- Tight tree or couloir descents
- As a flexy, floaty, playful pow board
- Being the lightest weight board on the market
Niche Fathom Specifications
|LENGTH||EFFECTIVE EDGE||SIDECUT RADIUS||WAIST WIDTH||REF STANCE|
|144 cm||1020 mm||6800 mm||242 mm||520|
|147 cm||1050 mm||7000 mm||245 mm||540|
|151 cm||1090 mm||7300 mm||250 mm||540|
|154 cm||1120 mm||7500 mm||254 mm||560|
|157 cm||1150 mm||7700 mm||256 mm||560|
|161 cm||1190 mm||7900 mm||258 mm||560|
Photo: Bases of the 149cm and 161cm side by side
Niche Fathom Summary
In summary, at first glance, the Niche Fathom Splitboard seems to be a really well, ethically built splitboard that will fit riders looking for a good price point all round board. It isn’t going to have you buttering and dropping pillows with ease (though, you certainly will be able to, just not its primary design purpose) but it will have you ascending, and descending in all manner of conditions and at a price point that most riders won’t balk at (especially when some carbon models like the Amplid Millisurf Splitboard are running at close to $2K)
The environmental component is just the icing on the cake of a well built and well priced all round splitboard.
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About the Author: Simon Coward. I am a long time splitboarder who has seen the evolution from the early day ‘Frankenboards’ to the very modern and user friendly gear of today. I primarily ride a hard boot setup though I do spend a handful of days out on softboots every season. I also love the education component of backcountry travel and safety and have been an AST instructor for many years.