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Spark T-Shirt Design Contest

Have you ever wandered through your local shop and thought, I could design a way sweeter t-shirt than this? Do you have some epic or maybe just burgeoning design skills? Well, here is your chance to design that shirt you’ve always wanted, for a brand you know. It’s once again time for Spark R&D’s annual T-Shirt Design Contest.

If we choose your design, you’ll win a pair of splitboard bindings for your efforts, as well as a hoodie and t-shirt with YOUR design on them. (Plus, you’ll be famous according to us.)

Here are the rules:

–  Design a shirt that contains the Spark R&D logo.
–  Keep it to two colors maximum (t-shirt fabric does not count as a color).
–  Design needs to fit within a 12” x 12” (30cm x 30cm) area.
–  Artwork is best submitted in vector format – .pdf, .eps, .ai, etc – but we’ll take .jpgs and .pngs too.

So start sketching and show us what you’ve got. Don’t be shy, just have fun with it. We love seeing the creative ideas you all come up with every season.

Please submit entries to and be sure to include your full contact info including mailing address, phone number, and email. Designs must be submitted by Tuesday, December 22nd. We’ll pick a winner by the end of the year.

Good Luck!

Spark R&D Logos

Spark Logos (.zip)


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Category: Cool Stuff, Spark in the Field.


Ready to Roll. Gear set-up is crucial

Dedicated Spark R&D product tester and splitboarder, Frankie Devlin, just returned from a couple weeks in South America adventuring around and getting his splitboard on. He was nice enough to answer some questions for us about his trip.

What were the exact dates of your trip?
We flew out of Vancouver on Sept 18th and returned on October 5th. It was really cheap to fly out of Vancouver because of the exchange rates right now.

Who did you go with?
My good friend Eben Sargent has been going to ski in South America since 2009. He has an awesome habit of working really hard for a few months and then traveling to someplace rad on the super-cheap program. I knew he would be a great person to travel with and we would be getting into some mountain adventures for sure. He asked me to go and we both thought that Tad (Elliot) would be a great addition. Tad just got done with his first season of fishing in AK and was looking for some adventure. He’s a super solid snowboarder and just an all around great guy to hang out with.


Converted and ready for splitlife

Where were you based out of?
We were based out of Amanda (our Rental van). She was a pretty basic 2WD Mitsubishi L300 that was converted to a dirtbag camper by Wicked vans. Getting the van was cheaper than renting a car and paying for hostels. I have friends that did a trip like this with no car, but we were on a pretty tight schedule and we wanted to maximize our time for shredding. A 4×4 would have been nice for some of the gnarlier access roads, but with tire chains and some east coast redneck skills, we were able to get pretty much everywhere we needed to go.
As far as location, we spent a bunch of time in the Maipo valley. Eben’s Chilean climbing guide friend, Seba, is in the process of building a stone refugio up in the mountains there. It is right next to a creek at the base of four massive couloirs. Every time we went into town, we skinned back into the refugio with a load of firewood and some whiskey or beer. When we got there, we were splitting firewood with the adze on Eben’s ice tool, so we bought him a Brazilian camp hatchet as a thank you gift. We are super grateful to be able to hang out at the refugio. Thanks Seba!

Was this your first trip splitboarding in South America? If not, where else have you been?
This was my first trip to South America. I have never even been to Mexico. It was really awesome to go to a completely new place and go snowboarding. There is so much terrain there, it’s pretty mind blowing. We spent 2 weeks touring around and we never went more than a few miles from the van. If you had the time and motivation, you could put together some really incredible adventures.

What are you thinking about when you plan a trip abroad to spend time in the backcountry?
When you go to ride backcountry terrain in South America, you really need to be able to count on your gear. There is a small, but growing splitboarding scene there and gear is really expensive and hard to find. If you are out in the backcountry for a few days and you break something, that’s it, you’re screwed. You can’t just run to the local shop and grab some parts. You have to make do with what you have. Bring extra screws and straps and other things that you could easily lose or break. I really believe that Spark Bindings are the best for something like this since they are relatively simple and really reliable compared to the other options. We beat on our gear pretty hard every day and didn’t have any major setbacks.


People still grab Indy. Proof.

You’re not going to an all inclusive resort, what factors do you take into consideration?
If you’re going to do a trip in this style, you need to be OK with some level of dirt-baggery. There were three of us living in a tiny van and skinning many thousands of feet each day. We took two showers in 18 days. The van definitely got a little bit funky. You also need to be ok with a little bit of variety and at the same time, a lack of variety. Pesto flavored Ramen for breakfast? Sure! Avocado and cheese sandwiches for lunch every day for two weeks? Sure!
The other big factor is access. Most of the mountain roads are pretty sketchy. The nice ones are nice because there is a mine or some other project going on. There will be huge dump trucks, loaders, horses, tanker trucks full of sulfuric acid…. pretty much just expect the unexpected. Being able to speak a little bit of Spanish helps with talking to the guys in the guard shacks and ordering empanadas. You just have to be really flexible and go with the flow. We drove up two separate valleys only to be shut down by mining operations miles from the snow. When we asked if we could drive up their road to go snowboarding on the beautiful mountains behind them, they laughed and told us to go to the ski area.

What is your gear set up for a trip like this?
We weren’t really sure if we were going to be doing more high alpine mountaineering stuff or pow riding, so we ended up bringing everything. We had normal touring gear, glacier gear, technical ice tools, boot crampons, splitboard crampons, a tent, stove and all that good stuff. I brought some extra boot liners which was awesome. I was able to change out for dry liners every couple days. Tad was definitely jealous of that one. We ended up riding a lot more pow than we expected so we didn’t use the glacier gear, but it was nice to have the ice tools for a couple lines. There’s lots of good food down there, but you aren’t going to find your favorite energy bars or anything like that. I brought a couple boxes of bars and some other favorite treats from back home.


Frankie down a steep and narrow couloir

What did you not pack that you realized you needed when you were down there?
SOCKS. Seriously. Three pairs of snowboard socks is not adequate for an 18 day trip. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I would definitely recommend bringing an extra duffle bag full of snowboard socks. I also wish I had brought one of those two pound bags of sour patch kids. We couldn’t find sour patch kids anywhere…

Take me through your favorite day on the trip.
The best day of the trip for me was riding a really long and skinny couloir above Embalse El Negro. From the van, the line looked improbable at best, but the scale of the Andes is deceiving. We had to wake up before dawn to traverse for a couple miles along the edge of the lake. It was almost 5500′ from the lake to the top of the line and the snow varied from spring corn to knee deep blower pow with everything in-between. We were super lucky to find gorgeous stable pow in the upper couloir. This line was definitely conditions-dependent and we got fully hooked up.

Any famous lines or peaks that you really had your eye on?
This trip was more about exploring and riding fun lines with good friends as opposed to riding sweet objectives. We definitely saw stuff that would be worth some planning and effort for a trip in the future. We got a pretty good view of Cerro Aparejo from the Yeso road. It is an absolutely beautiful peak that I would love to explore some day.


Yes, those are Minions

You can’t spend all your time snowboarding, what were some of the other highlights of the trip?
In the middle of the trip, we went down to Chillan for a day of lift accessed bluebird pow laps. We had an amazing day and on the way back into the city we saw a huge circus tent and a guy waving people into the parking lot. We were all pretty tired, but Tad put it this way, “How many times in your life are you going to get to ride pow in September and see a Chilean circus in the same day?” Good call Tad. We stuffed some beers into our pockets and paid the $4 for the mid grade seats. Inside was an experience for sure. There were about 30 attendees in a 500 person tent and maybe 6 performers that were all rotating into different roles. There was a contortionist, a silk twirler, some standup comedy and even a cameo from a random street dog that the backstage guy had to kick out. At intermission, the performers all changed into their vendor uniforms and tried to sell us spinning glow sticks and churros. After intermission, we got to see a couple more acts. The best one by far was three people in Minion costumes singing the YMCA song in Spanish. I have no idea why this was happening, but it was pretty damn hilarious.

What and when is your next trip?
As far as North America goes, I plan on riding more lines in the North Cascades this winter as well as in British Columbia. Justin Lamoureux showed us around BC a bit last season and it was really rewarding. A few local buddies are planning an Alaska trip for the spring and I am really excited for that. I would also like to go back to South America next season and work on some specific objectives. It would be amazing to travel south to Patagonia and also check out some of the riding in Argentina. Two weeks is just not long enough to squeeze all of that in.

Thank you, Frankie for taking the time to share your experiences on your trip to Chile with us. We look forward to hearing about your next adventure.

Below are a couple of additional photos from Frankies’ trip. Stay tuned to the Spark R&D blog throughout the season for more trip reports and interviews!

– Dan, Spark R&D


Tad Ripping it up in South America

Tad enjoying the goods in South America





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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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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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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!