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The Spark Family

It’s Manufacturing Day 2015 – an annual salute to the companies and people dedicated to manufacturing right here in the United States.

In-house anodizing


MFG DAY is designed to amplify the voice of individual manufacturers and coordinate a collective chorus of manufacturers with common concerns and challenges                    –



Spark R&D is humming right now with autumn being one of the busiest times of the year for us. Orders for this season’s gear are shipping out while we are still producing products up to 20 hours a day, seven days a week.

Machine Shop at SparkFor nearly 10 years, we have been proudly manufacturing our splitboard bindings and accessories right here in Bozeman, MT USA. At Spark R&D we design, 3D scan, 3D print, CNC machine, CNC turn, bend, punch, tumble, anodize, injection mold, print, laser engrave, assemble, inspect, test, package and ship all in house.

We are fortunate to do all of this with a view of the Bridger Mountains from our shop. We have an amazing team of skilled employees, mostly splitboarders, who work tirelessly to produce a product that they not only stand behind but often stand on – i.e. they ride the products they make. Many of our employees are students or graduates of Bozeman’s own Montana State University.

In the warehouse!We all feel very lucky to work in manufacturing and to do it an industry that we feel so passionate about. Here’s a huge shout out and high five to all of our Spark employees as well as all of our customers who support what we do. Thank you!

Happy Manufacturing Day!

Follow #MFGDay15



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Category: Spark in the Field.

Photo Credits: Jess Oundjian

Mike HanfordIt’s always fun heading into a trip a little blind. Inevitably, best-laid plans always change, which is why my cohort Jess Oundjian and I ended up deciding to set out upon a 5000km road trip through the Balkans to get to our planned destination, the home of the gods, Mt Olympus in Greece.

The gods would test us numerous times on our quest. Flexibility and a sense of humor would prove invaluable…

Our plans had formed a few months earlier. An exploratory trip into Morocco’s high Atlas range, with the added bonus of tacking on a surf trip was Mike Hanford Splitboardingthe original aim. Worried about the possible lack of snow, we started to look at other options. To the East, Georgia was getting hammered and Greece was lining up its best season since the fabled Winter of 2011. Weighing up the relative pros and cons, we decided on Greece and after pricing up flights including the inevitable excess baggage, we decided to drive. Roof box bolted on and Apollo the Subaru was ready to roll.

Travelling by road meant we could plan a route that took in a number of other likely looking locations across the Balkans.

In my mind this trip was to be about splitboarding untracked lines in exotic locations, but as the weather shut us down over and over and our plans changed more times than underwear, the story became about the other side of the trip, maybe the funnier side – the travel, the culture and the parties.

First off was Zagreb, famed for its medieval old city and its architecture. After a morning wandering around the city’s streets we did what comes naturally and decided to find a good pub. Luckily, Jess and I share a love of hearty food and craft beer, it’s the only thing that comes close to the bond we’ve built being in the mountains. That night we devised a technique that we utilized to good effect during our short city stops – We’d find the local skate shop and ask their advice on places to see, eat, drink and party. It never failed and is a travel tip I strongly recommend.

After doing some recon at the bar the night before, we woke up a bit worn out and reconsidered our drunken decision to break up the next leg of the journey to northern Greece with a stop in Macedonia. In the sober light of day, the plan still sounded good, so we packed up and headed on our way.

Photo: Jess OundjianWe had little to no info on the small resort of Popova Sapka we’d decided to make our target, but en-route, a light bulb moment occurred. Searching the hashtag #Popovasapka on Instagram instantly connected us with Maya and Meto, an amazing couple who are pioneering a freeride scene at their local mountain.

We slept in the car the first night because our hangovers had prevented us from arriving at a reasonable hour to contact them, but the following day we were able to link up. Maya and Meto showed us around their home mountain, put a roof over our heads, and fed us handsomely, even if they were a little confused why we would leave the freeride mecca of Verbier to come hang out with them.

With Greece still stuck in a storm cycle, we had to put Olympus on the back burner. Social media had come up aces once again and connected us with Themi, a Californian with Greek roots who had also lived in Queenstown for 5 years. He was filming a documentary on snowboarding in Greece and suggested meeting us in Vasalitsa, which he described to me as the freeride hub of the area.

All I had been told was that there was a peaceful mountain refuge sitting at 1850 meters that would welcome us with open arms

We got back on the road and headed into the snowstorm, again with little info on our destination. All I had been told was that there was a peaceful mountain refuge sitting at 1850 meters that would welcome us with open arms. Darkness was falling, drifting snow and zero visibility led to numerous wrong turns, but eventually, we arrived.

Like a scene from a horror movie, it was pitch black outside the refuge, yet music thumped from within. Cautiously, we approached to find the place completely packed. We had unwittingly stumbled upon the last Saturday of carnival, which was clearly when shit gets loose. Luckily, being well trained in the art of stumbling into parties mid-flow, Jess and I had beers in hand within five steps of passing through the doorway.

We were immediately made welcome by Dimitri, the excitable, self-proclaimed, unqualified snowboard instructor of the mountain. To round out his Photo Jess Oundjianresume, he proclaimed himself our drinking coach, too; Greek schnapps, Jager and umpteen beers later, Dimitri had ensured we played a good game of catch-up. At some point during the evening one of us remembered that we actually needed a place to sleep. We found that the owner of the refuge was the person who’d just become my new best friend. After more beers, dancing on the tables, and some air guitar, he informed us the refuge was full, but since we were such tight homies who go way back, he offered us his bed and he crashed on the sofa.

Hangovers are worse when you haven’t mentally prepared for them. Sometimes you go out fully aware that the next day you’re going to feel, look, and smell like a badger’s anus and you’re ready to embrace it, water and aspirin on the bedside, coffee ready in the kitchen, and drunkenly made plans with your fellow partiers to meet for brunch.

This was not one of those times. After dusting ourselves down, wrapping ourselves in merino and sinking three cups of coffee in different forms, we were out and up the hill. Luckily it had been a big night for the rest of the local crew and combined with their apparent general lack of urgency to do anything and we actually looked quite respectable. No need to be first on the chair, first on the bootpack here.

Mike Hanford Splitboarding5 days, a road gap, a roof box ripped apart by high winds, night riding under portable LEDs, lots of flat light in minus twenty conditions and not a bluebird day later, we were out of there.

With just a week left until Jess had to be back in Switzerland to compete in a FWQ event, we had to make some decisions. Mount Olympus didn’t have a weather window and was looking less and less likely. The south of Greece where we had other aims was hitting nineteen degrees Celsius and photos were showing locals enjoying the beach. Our best lead was a call I’d received to let us know that there was a crew filming in Kosovo, so after again utilizing social media and the international couch surfing network to get in touch and check conditions, we were on our way to Brezovica, Kosovo.

We rode into Kosovo with Google maps failing us and we actually had to rely on road signs and common sense. We arrived on time and without a wrong turn, obviously.

High clouds, flat light and strong wind once again dominated our time in Brezovica but we were left amazed by the terrain available and made a promise to ourselves that we would return in the near future for a longer spell and some extended time at a basecamp in one of many accessible yet untouched back bowls. Locals informed us that the resort had recently been purchased by the same company that owns Val D’Isere with the intent to privatize everything and make another mega resort. It seems we aren’t the only ones to see the potential of Brezovica.

Leaving Kosovo seemed to go against all my instincts. The storm looked to be clearing for a few days followed by another huge storm, which did incidentally drop over a metre of fresh in 24 hours just days after we left to head back to Switzerland.

But, Jess had to get back to kick ass in Switzerland on the FWQ so we again packed up and hit the road. It was a long drive via some dubious Kosovan back roads in order to avoid motorway roadwork before we hit Ljubljana, Slovenia. We took a day here to reflect on the trip and used the skate shop technique to find good beer. With so many decisions to make each day – stay where you are? Head to the place that’s forecast new snow but could end up being rain? South? North? – it can get a little draining. But each decision reminds you to make the most of wherever you are on any given day.

Living your life in the mountains provides you with a million opportunities in every direction, but this trip was proof that as long as you proceed with good friends and a positive attitude with the goal of as much fun as possible, you can achieve it.

– Mike Handford

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Category: News.

At Spark R&D we’re always working on ways to improve our products, and your time in the backcountry. We’ve gone through a number of versions of crampons and touring brackets since first introducing our Tesla bindings for the 2013/14 season. Our latest versions are a significant improvement over the initial versions we’ve released, so we are replacing the older ones for free. Click below for more details!


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Category: Products.


HURRY — Sale ends Sunday, May 31…

The Spark R&D Spring Sale is happening now!

 Magneto and AfterBurner bindings are 30% off.  Shop early — quantities are limited!

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Category: Products, Spark in the Field.

Venture-Spark rig 1

Spring is one of the best times to get out and do some splitboarding.  We still have plenty of snow high in the mountains around Bozeman, MT.

Anyone interested in doing some splitboarding in the Bozeman area, we have some demo binders and Venture splitboards available for your use!   We also have a few select splitboards from Amplid, Never Summer, and Burton.

Call 866-725-2085 or email for all the details and to schedule an appointment.

Local pickup only.


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Category: Cool Stuff, Products.


Friends and fans of Spark: It is time, once again, for our (semi) annual Spark R&D T-Shirt Design Contest!

The trade show season is upon us and we are giving you a chance to design the graphics for next year’s T-Shirts and Hoodies. If you happen to come up with something that blows us away, you could score a new pair of Tesla bindings for your trouble!

So, get those creative juices flowing. If you think you have something for us, read the guidelines below:
— Design a shirt that contains the Spark R&D logo. (Download Logos here)
— Do not change or alter our logo in any fashion!
— Keep it to two colors maximum.
— Designs size should be within 12”x12” (30cm x 30cm) and created using 1 or 2 ink colors for screen printing (T-Shirt fabric does not count as a color). Artwork is best submitted in vector format – .pdf, .eps, .ai, or other supported file. Thumbnail .jpgs will be accepted for preview only. If your design is chosen, a full size 300dpi resolution file will be requested (dpi does not apply to vector art).
— Submit entries to and be sure to include your full contact – mailing address, phone number, and email!

-–Submit your entries by December 31.  Extended to January 9!

Once we choose the winner, we will make you famous by shipping your shirt design all over the planet. This will be our limited edition shirt graphic for the 2015/16 season. We will hook the winning designer up with his or her own shirts and hoodies, as well as a pair of binders.

Good luck to everyone and start designing!

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Category: Spark in the Field.

Robin Hill 1

By Robin Hill

Photos by Emma Light

Nov. 15, 2014

Late fall in Bozeman, Montana, fires the stoke, but also tests our patience. Every fall, I tell myself I am going to wait a little later to avoid the shark-fin infested slopes of the early season. I was doing well fighting the itch this season, until the cold snap hit last week, and the mountains turned white! Boom, just like that, I was in my car on the bumpy road to Fairy Lake in the Northern Bridgers.

I love that feeling mid-way through the season, when your legs are strong, and all of your gear works without a hitch. This was not one of those days. My skins just about blew out my shoulder as I tried to yank them apart. When I finally did, there was a nice layer of potato chip crumbles on the skin glue. These would make a nice addition to my un-waxed snowboard. Nice! After floundering around for a good ten minutes, we finally set off and skinned up and out of the parking lot towards Frazier Basin.

Robin Hill 2I’m not going to lie: I was feeling a little rusty out of the gates. On my first kick turn, I took a backward slide into my friend Emma, shooting photos for the day. She was super impressed!

As we crested the lower bench, we got our first glimpse at the cirque. This view always gets me; it’s like something out of Lord of the Rings with the big overhanging rock walls, and steep narrow couloirs. The rocks were covered in a beautiful white layer of frost. The shoots are definitely still a little sparse, but starting to see some coverage.

We dropped in on the south side of the cirque in a narrow, left-trending shot. It caught me off guard: It was narrow, with about two inches of light fluff on top of crust. Steep jump turns right off the bat — alright! Down in the basin, we tried to boot up a south facing chute, to no avail. The nearly bullet proof layer underneath the new snow limited out kick stepping abilities and sent me for another backwards slide into Emma. I bet she got some rad shots!

Despite the aches and pains, couple of dings to the board, and challenging snow conditions, it was great to get out on the snow with some friends. Stoked to get again soon — pray for snow!

Robin Hill 3Emma Light (

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Category: News.


Spark_Shop_Plates_raw_vertManufacturing Day, this year on October 3, is a national effort to spotlight manufacturing and manufacturing job opportunities in the United States. The mission of MFG DAY is to “address common misconceptions about manufacturing by giving manufacturers an opportunity to open their doors and show, in a coordinated effort, what manufacturing is — and what it isn’t.”

The idea is, by working together during and after MFG DAY, manufacturers can address common issues they may face, connect with future generations, take charge of the public image of manufacturing, and ensure the ongoing prosperity of manufacturing in the United States.

Spark_Shop_Pad_printingAt Spark R&D, we are proud of the fact that all of our products are manufactured and/or assembled in our shop in Bozeman, Montana, USA.  From machining to anodizing, laser engraving to assembly– everything is done by a skilled team of workers who are also passionate splitboarders.  Building and riding the best splitboard bindings in the world in our own backyard is also an advantage: In-house design and manufacturing capabilities allow our products to quickly evolve, and provides us the flexibility to cater to niche customers within the splitboarding market.

Spark_Shop_Assemble_back“There is simply no way we could offer products at our level of quality and price if we weren’t manufacturing them ourselves,” said Spark R&D founder Will Ritter.  “It also can be just as fun to figure out the manufacturing of a product as it is to design it.”

As it turns out, the benefits of manufacturing locally are many.  “I never thought of it when Spark R&D was in its infancy, but it’s been very rewarding to create a cool place for people to work,” Will continued.  “If we had an external factory, we’d have about a quarter of the employees. I’m very happy to be paying snowboarders in Montana to make as much of our stuff as possible, rather than strangers that have never been on snow in another country.”

Happy Manufacturing Day!


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An open letter from your friends at Spark R&D

Shop 2

I don’t know about you – but the past year FLEW by for us at Spark R&D! The introduction of our new Tesla System bindings last season left our phone ringing off the hook and our email inboxes flooded with email subject lines like this: “I want the AfterBurner more than I want my mustache to connect to my beard.”

Seriously. We wouldn’t make this stuff up.

Mag 1

New green Magnetos on the assembly line.

Last year was indeed crazy for us at Spark and now we have a lot happening around the shop. For the 2014/15 season, we have doubled our factory space and added new machines and team members to continue developing and manufacturing the best splitboard bindings and accessories in the world.

Despite the busy year, we charged ahead with midnight design sessions and dawn patrol product testing missions. Our goal has always been to make splitboarding more accessible and simple with solid gear and breakthrough products that fill in the gaps for the split community … while giving our customers and dealers a voice in what we tackle next.

With that in mind, NEW for this season:

  • Our first-ever hardboot splitboard specific binding, the Dyno DH, along with a Dynafit Toe Piece compatible hardboot touring crampon, the D Rex.  See our entire Hardboot lineup here.
  • Tesla Heel Locker. Riders now have the ability to lock down their heel in tour mode to better adapt to diversified terrain types where quick descents, side-stepping, traversing, and skate splitting become more effective means of backcountry travel.  Find more info here.
  • Low Rider Heel Loop Kit. This XS heel loop positions highbacks lower on the leg for a better calf fit for the not-so-tall, and allows for better heel-toe centering for smaller boot sizes.  Specs and info here.
Dyno mix 1

New for this season: The Dyno DH hardboot bindings.

Meanwhile, we continue to collaborate with champion companies in the industry – utilizing their already established tech (why re-invent the wheel?) and integrating it into the splitboard binding world. Throughout our product line, we are proud to partner with: Burton, Voile, G3, Dynafit, Verts, and new for this season, Black Diamond, Bomber Industries, and One Binding System.

We have also produced a custom, limited edition splitboard specific binding for Burton called the Hitchhiker, which is available exclusively through their distribution channels.

Heel 5 Lrg

The new Tesla Heel Lockers.

Yes, it’s been a crazy ride for us at Spark and this year will no doubt be the same. Our success for the season does not go without many thanks to our loyal Dealers, Ambassadors, Customers, and Friends. Thanks for taking the ride with us and for all of your support over the years.

See you on the skin track!

Spark R&D

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Category: Spark in the Field.


The awesome beauty of Norway, where ocean and mountains collide.

By Justin Lamoureux


Justin Lamoureux and crew in the Lyngen Alps, Norway.

Through a haze of jetlag I hear Miikka Haast say, “…it starts with a 20 meter rappel into a 50 degree, 3-meter-wide couloir…yes, let’s do that…” Sounds like a great first run in Norway!


Justin rapping into Øksehogget, or the “axe cleave” — his first run in Norway.

This past May, I was lucky enough to join friends Miikka Haast and Jonas Hagstrom in their adopted playground of Tamokdallen and Lyngen in Northern Norway. I didn’t know what to expect, but as I soon found out, the area is mind blowing.

Rising right out of the ocean and up to about 1,800 meters in elevation, the area is primarily alpine terrain. ‘Steep’ would be the best single word to describe the riding.

Nearly every mountain has epic, steep faces and couloirs splitting the rocks. Access is easy — straight up — and if you need to cross a farm to get somewhere, just be sure to close the gate behind you.

My trip had 11 days of possible splitboarding and we rode every single day. From powder to slush (mostly powder) we got the best conditions of the year and rode some area classics.

Highlights included two possible first descents; a second descent; camping out; hunting for first descents; and overall had an epic time.


Jonas Hagstrom in the Lyngen Alps.

I never thought it would be that good in Norway, but it is an amazing place and truly worth a trip.

There are not a lot of places to stay in the Tamok area, so if you go, hit up Aadne Olsrud at Olsrud Adventures ( He has places to stay and, as the local avalanche forecaster, has tons of area info.

Takk Ullr!!


Miikka Haast scouting the lines.