If you can imagine your snowboard as a car, your snowboard bindings are definitely your steering wheel. As anyone who has watched the Fast and the Furious will know this is an imperative to winning the next quarter mile and for your shred setup its vital for your Performance on the snow.
There are three main things to consider when choosing your snowboard bindings: Fit, Flex and Features.
Obviously bindings come in different sizes to fit different boots, and a snug fit between boot and binding is vital for effective control. Perhaps less obviously, different bindings also fit different boards. While most brands’ products will work OK together there are exceptions Burton for example, make their boards with three-screw insert patterns, meaning you need a set of Burton bindings to ride them. These days, a lot of their boards feature the ‘ICS channel system’, two sliding inserts which also require a conversion kit (which Burton provide with new boards) or better still, one of their EST bindings. These are designed specifically to work with the channel, so won’t fit with other companies’ boards. Make sure your bindings will fit your boot and your board before you buy them!
Flex is determined by materials – the particular combinations of plastic, aluminum or composites used to make a binding. It’s a question of personal preference, but there is a general rule of thumb: Softer bindings are more forgiving and easier to ride, making them good for beginners, jibbers and park rats who’ll need a bit of extra ‘give’ round their feet to help with sketchy landings. Stiffer bindings offer greater response, making them better for free-riders and advanced freestylers who need that kind of precision control at high speed.
While most bindings share a lot of features in common, there are a few things that differ from model to model. Here are some of them.
Entry systems can vary, although most bindings still go for the traditional two-strap system that you can see here. Flow bindings, for example, have a folding high-back which means you can literally put the boot in their behind! Great for park laps and the avid split-boarder too.
Highbacks can be made of a variety of materials. Many top-end bindings feature milled out style high-backs to reduce weight, and some brands, like newcomers Switch-Back or Now, give you the option of getting rid of your high-backs altogether for that ultimate skate style Steez underfoot.
Straps also vary, both in size, fit and the amount of padding they feature. A lot of brands also produce ‘cap-strap’ bindings, where the toe strap fits over the end of your boot instead of across the top. I cant stress the importance of these enough! Go TOE CAP!
Tool-free adjustment is a feature that I favor as you wont need a screwdriver to make those adjustments on the fly.
Forward lean adjusters will angle the high-back forward so it fits with your natural riding position.
Gas pedals/Cushioning are a feature on many bindings these days – an adjustable toe ramp that lets you customize the fit to your boot shape.
is something that you’ll see on most bindings these days, especially high-end ones. It makes for softer landings.
My Top 3 Bindings for 2015/2016:
1. FLUX RK:
The flex is very soft but more responsive than you would think. You can bend this high back all the way back perpendicular to normal with ease. It also twists increadibly easy and is super playful. There is a lot of freedom of movement if you have boots without a spine. The urethane highback gives the binding a liveliness that i have never had underfoot. I love these bad jacksons!
2. UNION CONTACT PRO:
One of the lightest bindings ever produced, the Contact pro focuses the strength of Duraflex™ in critical areas of the base for power, and takes full advantage of Vaporlite Dampening everywhere else. Minimal board-to-binding footprint crucially reduces interference with your board’s true flex and provides a more natural response and feel.
3. SALOMON DEFENDER
Another new binding for this season – the Salomon Defender features their ‘Shadowfit’ heelcup for snug boot to binding interaction – with kevlar wiring implemented in this model to increase response. Big hitters where’er you take them – they’re mid-stiff and all about holding your lines.