Finding the right bindings can make the biggest difference in your snowboarding. The bindings serve as a crucial connection between you and your snowboard. It can also affect how enjoyable the experience is.
There are different types of snowboarding bindings. So, if you’re thinking of getting some snowboarding equipment, pay close attention. Here are some essential things to know about snowboard bindings, which it’ll help you determine how to choose the ones that will best suit you.
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Five Different Types of Snowboard Bindings
There are five common types of binding for snowboarding, including:
Traditional Two Strap
Park riders, mountain riders, and other aggressive riders are familiar with this type of snowboard bindings. It’s also the most common and the most loved binding too. It has two adjustable straps, one across the toes and the other across the ankle.
You can ride in this all day comfortably. You can also make your two-strap pair of bindings more firm or flexible. The solid high back helps them suit your style of snowboarding.
There are, however, some disadvantages of the two strap-in bindings. One of them is that it takes the longest time to put on because there are four ratchets you must fasten.
The other is that adjustable straps mean you could fasten it up too tightly or too loose. Aside from this, the stiffer high backs offer more precision. Experienced riders prefer to use these traditional strap bindings for a reason.
Rear Entry Bindings
Rear Entry bindings have a high back that folds down. This enables you to slide your foot in and clip it back up in place. With rear entry bindings, there is just one strap over your foot.
You could get a rear entry option for more nowadays. These bindings are quicker and easier to put on than traditional bindings, and offer the same level of tightness all the time.
The only disadvantage that they have is that the “high-back” binding design has more flex. Some provide a snowboard expert with different feels they are not used to.
Out of all the options, the Burton channel step-in market is the most talked about. Although they are not the first to make step-in binding, theirs makes a tremendous difference. The high back, as opposed to stiff bindings, has positive feedback.
They also give a similar feel to traditional bindings, but you don’t have to bend the strap in. Just step and click. They are, however, a bit expensive, so watch out. Other brands make boots with these speed entry bindings under license.
Split board Bindings
Splitboarding has seen the most growth in recent times. It is no surprise that this kind of strap-in binding is also impressive. These are considered the best when it comes to the type of bindings available.
Split board bindings have traditional bindings but have a cut down base. This means you save some weight but also leave space for pins. These pins are used to attach them and the heel lift for skinning steep slopes, which is why it’s not recommended that you buy them unless you use them on a split board.
While working in the same way as ski bindings, hardboot bindings are very different. They are the most different of all the bindings we’ve discussed and are exclusively for those that do the hardboot style categories while snowboarding.
Important Binding Features to Look Out for
The baseplate, also called the chassis, is the sole of any type of snowboard binding. It connects directly to the top of the board and transfers power and movement from your foot to the board. The baseplate also absorbs the vibrations, impacts, and shocks produced by speed and landing, making it more comfortable to ride your board.
The chassis is usually made with materials like aluminum, plastic, and other alloys. However, the recent construction trend is to reduce the bulk of materials used and make it as lightweight as possible. This method of design helps to create more direct contact with the board and remove the dead spots in between.
A high back is a vertical plate that extends from your heel cup to the lower calf. High backs are vital for support when turning and maintaining your center of gravity after a rough landing. High backs are available in various heights, shapes, materials, and flexes.
For example, stiff high backs are made with different materials, including carbon, and have a very low flex rating. Stiff high backs are commonly used for stiff binding. Although they’re great for free ride boarders and more advanced riders, they are not a great option for beginner snowboarders.
Soft high backs allow great movement and flexibility while maintaining support. These are mostly recommended for beginners and freestyle riding because they are easier to control, even in deep snow.
Reclining (or rear entry) high backs are great for freestyle binding because they allow you to easily slip in and out of the binding from the rear, especially when you make a mistake.
A heel cup is an extension of the baseplate found on the base of the high back. These loops are either made of plastic or metal and can be adjusted forward or backward to suit your comfort level.
Straps help keep your feet secure in your bindings and transfer power from your foot to the high back and baseplate. There are two types of straps — ankle and toe strap.
The ankle strap is straightforward and secures the top of your foot and your ankles to maintain your boot’s position in the binding. They’re useful for transferring the power and response of the snowboarder to the binding. They can either be very thin and flexible for great response or heavily padded for comfort and reduce pressure or foot pain, depending on the user’s riding style and skill level.
Most rear entry bindings have one-piece steps that cover the leg from the ankle to wear the boot lace ends near the toes. One-piece straps can not be adjusted like a toe/ankle strap combo. However, some riders prefer them because you only need to set them up once.
Traditional toe straps are more common on less expensive bindings or younger models. They don’t seat the boot into the heel cup and cannot be used as a toe cap strap. So, adjusting your straps to match your boot model is essential.
Toe cap straps push your boot back into place as you ride, giving you a more proper and responsive fit. Some designs allow you to use them as a hybrid — that is, directly over the toe or with the traditional over-the-foot style.
Tips for Buying Snowboard Bindings
According to multiple expert reviews, pay attention to the type of rider, style of riding, and riding experience when buying. These factors are a rule of thumb when it comes to buying options. You’ll also need to consider the following:
One of the most important tips when it comes to purchasing the right bind between different types of snowboard bindings is to get the right boot size. Typically, there are three sizes available – small, medium, and large. Brands do their best to quote who the sizes are for, so don’t assume.
It doesn’t matter how good they look or how much of a snowboard expert you are. Those with larger feet should also check which brand works best for them.
The type of board you ride will take some type of snowboard boots off the menu. Before you get those speed entry bindings, know your board.
Here is one of those snowboarding hacks these big companies won’t tell you about. Bindings are longer lasting, and you’ll get good value for your money. It’s always better to spend more on your bindings, you can spend a little less on your board to stay on budget if you must.
Your Riding Style
You’ll see many buying options when it comes to your riding style which includes freestyle bindings, freeride bindings, flex bindings, carve bindings, plate bindings, and all-mountain bindings.
Although any binding can have any conditions, it could be more suited to a specific style. All-mountain riders who use all-mountain boards should go for an all-mountain binding. It’ll be better for the all-mountain rider than a freeride binding would be. Freestyle riders with freestyle snowboards should go for their freestyle bindings too.
Your ability level is also important. This is because more flexible bindings are more suited to beginners and freestyle. The more stiff flex it has, the better suited it is for an expert rider.
Higher High backs Mean Higher Performance
The use of high backs is great support for the back of your calves. This is important when pushing on your heel edge. So, make sure you test the flex first. A soft flex means a more precise ride. A softer flex means your bindings will be more forgiving. You can also get medium flex.
Height is another parameter to consider. The taller it is, the more leverage and response you’ll get. Shorter means a harder engagement, but it’s more forgiving. If you’re a beginner or you’re doing freestyle, get a shorter high back.
Taller high backs are more suited to backcountry riding, carving, and speed. You can also get pre-curved or straight high backs. The curves give you more support around the boot, but are less responsive.
Your preferred stance also plays a role. If you intend to adopt the duck stance on freestyle snowboards a lot, go for asymmetrical high backs.
Adjustment of pressure is important when snowboarding. All bindings come with some adjustability, but high-quality means more. Who knows, a centimeter difference could be enough to make the needed change.
The very least you should get is a toolless strap adjustment and an adjustable high back lean.
Between Straps and Caps
If you have an uncomfortable heel or ankle strap combo, that could lead to foot pain. Since binding straps are what you attach to the board, it should have enough padding. This will avoid boot damage.
You can also go for straps that are wire-reinforced for durability. Your straps are the most likely part of your binding to break, don’t worry if it breaks while riding. You can usually still come down carefully and find one at a rental shop. They often have spares.
Easy to Use Ratchets Are Important
Ratchets are the most overlooked part of a binding but vital. It should be easy to do and undo, even in the most extreme environment.
Are you up on a ridge, 3000 meters high with small amounts of edge, and are battered by snow and ice? Your ratchet should not be stressful to work. Make sure the ones you go for have pure silky smoothness for all-purpose use.
Remember that once you add gloves, the freezing temperatures, and exposure, the odds are stacked against you. At the very least, your ratchets should have a channel system that locks them closed. You don’t want them coming undone accidentally.
Do the Bindings Have to Match Your Board?
The answer is no. While it might look nice and attractive this way, it has no importance. Whether they match or not will not affect your riding. A good snowboarder is more worried about performance than they are with their image.
Trying on and Fitting Your Binding
Properly adjusted binding straps are important when snowboarding. Check that you know how to handle yours. Since bindings come in different brands, they also fit different boot sizes.
You may have to make some adjustments before yours fits. As mentioned earlier, make sure you get it fitted right with a tool-free adjustment. You don’t want to be battling with a binding screw or screwdriver to get it fixed.
When adjusting your bindings, the most important place to focus on is your ankle and toe straps. The key is to center them both over your boot. This way, you’ll eliminate any uneven pressure on the outside of your left foot or right foot.
Centering also leads to equally distributed energy between your legs, which means more board control and less fatigue.
Choosing the right bindings will play a profound role in your snowboarding experience. Make sure to apply the above tips for the best results, you won’t regret it!