Gear Review: Gilson Pioneer Snowboard
Type: All Mountain Board
Lengths: 145 | 150 | 155 | 160 | 165
Quick Summary: The Gilson Pioneer shines in the park and as an all-around playful fun ride, but also holds its own on the steeps, bumps, and any other terrain the advanced rider can throw its way.
Gilson Snowboards are handmade in Winfield, Pennsylvania. The company is on a mission to build boards that are “More fun to ride“. Gilson designs all of their boards with a patented 3 dimensional base to give the boards a catch free ride. I’ve been riding the Gilson Pioneer for almost a month at Big Sky Resort with the goal of testing the design from the peak to the park.
The Gilson Pioneer’s 3 dimensional base include their “soft edge” as well as the “pow channel”. While riding the board at lower speed and lower edge angle I felt the board eased into turns with a surfy soft initiation. When the board gets some more aggressive input and higher edge angle it held a carve in most any condition. In the park the board landed jumps nicely allowing an easy wash around for any short rotations. The soft edge provided an even slide on boxes and rails. Although I didn’t find much difference with the “pow channel” in deep soft snow, I did feel that it improved the glide as the temperatures increased and the snow turned to slush, almost as a built in large-scale structure to the base.
The Gilson Pioneer has a subtle positive camber profile which is flat enough to compliment the catch free feeling from the 3 dimensional base. The subtle camber is enough to provide some performance to the board when tipped high onto edge in a carve or flexed to pop off jumps and onto other features. The Pioneer has a “smooth flex” that feels softer between the feet and stiffer at the tip and tail. This flex gave the board a soft buttery feel for flatland maneuvers and in the park. This complimented the “soft edge” making it a fun, playful ride. However the soft flex between the feet made the board slightly unstable through choppy, bumpy terrain especially at higher speeds.
After multiple weeks of scraping the Pioneer’s sintered 4001 Ptex base across some of Lone Peak’s legendary rocks, it’s showing no more than a few minor scratches. Add in the full poplar core (that is standard in all Gilson boards) and the Pioneer feels solid. It should handle about any abuse that it’s dealt. That solid feel does come with a price though. The Gilson Pioneer weighs a full 1.5 lbs. more than comparable boards its size. Just something to consider when slinging on your pack for the next ridge hike or when you go to pop over that next snow fence.
When I first looked at the board the immediate question that I had was, “what’s the best way to tune it?” After some consideration I found an online video tutorial from Gilson about waxing the base. After a slight modification to the scraper and about double my normal wax time it was ready for the upcoming warmer temperatures. Tuning the side bevel on the edges can be done with a home tune kit, but the base bevel is more difficult because of the “soft edge”. I went to the local tune shop and they said that after contacting the company the only option for the base was an older tuning machine, like a GrindRite Vertical Edger, that they didn’t have in the shop. If your local area doesn’t have one you may be stuck without the ability to give your base edge a bevel.
With its “soft edge” and “smooth flex” the Gilson Pioneer seems like it would be a great board for the beginner to intermediate rider as they progress on the mountain. The board shines in the park and as an all-around playful fun ride, but also holds its own on the steeps, bumps, and any other terrain the advanced rider can throw its way.
Here’s a closer look at the Gilson Pioneer All Mountain Snowboard from GilsonBoards.com:
Gilson Pioneer Features:
- All Mountain
- Smooth Flex
- Soft Edge
- Pow Channel
Gilson Pioneer Specs:
- Flex Profile : SmoothFlex
- Base Design : Soft Edge/Pow Channel
- Core : Poplar Hardwood
- Graphics : Sublimated
- Base Material : 4001 Sintered Ptex
- Sidewall : UHMW
- Inserts : 4cm x 2cm | 28 Pack
- Fiberglass : 20oz Triaxial Weave
One of the great things about Gilson is that they are only a phone call away. These guys are super helpful to answer any and all questions you have about their snowboard lineup. Get the contact details at: GilsonBoards.com.
Get the full scoop about the Gilson Pioneer in the following videos from Gilson Boards:
Watch more videos from Gilson Boards on Vimeo that talk about the Pow Channel, Soft Edge, Flex, and more.
Disclaimer: Gilson Boards sent a Gilson Pioneer 160 to A Mountain Journey to be reviewed on the site. This post reflects our honest opinion about this snowboard. Hope you enjoyed our Gilson Pioneer Snowboard Review.
Guest Blogger Profile:
Jeremy Wood is a snowboard instructor and guide based out of Big Sky, Montana where he lives with his wife and mountain chihuahua.