So you bought a snowboard and you keep falling off it? Maybe you should get some snowboard bindings. Agree? Here is everything you need to know about snowboard bindings before buying them and how the hell can shock absorbing baseplate help you when you clear a 50 feet cliff.
Snowboard bindings are not really a big issue, as long as you get the right ones. Otherwise they can be a pain in the ass. The goal is that you do not feel them but they still give you total support and confidence that your boot is firmly planted into the binding. And they should be light. Uh, guess they are a big issue. Snowboard bindings transfer the movements of your body to the snowboard you’re riding on and of course keep you attached to your board. That is quite a big deal. OK, first you need to decide if you are going to ride strap-in bindings, step-in bindings or maybe even flow style bindings. What’s the difference?
STRAP IN SNOWBOARD BINDINGS
Strap-in binding is the oldest concept out there, the most tested and the most popular. And the choice of most of the pro riders (which aren’t paid to ride something else). The strap-in binding has two or sometimes three straps that secure your boot into the binding. You have a highback at the back of your foot so you can press on the heel edge with more power. As you will see, the advantage of other two systems is ease of use and faster strap in time. But as HC snowboarders like to say: “I do not need to strap into my bindings any faster than I already do! Hough!”
STEP IN SNOWBOARD BINDINGS
As the name step in bindings tells you, there are no straps to secure, you just step into the binding and ride away. There is special mechanism in the binding that locks the snowboard boot in place. Oh, did we mention that you need a special snowboard boot for the step in bindings? One that is compatible with the step in system of the selected step in bindings manufacturer. That kind of limits you boot choice to the boot of the same company that made the bindings and then that’s it. Then there is a psychological issue, with no straps and sometimes even no highback (some step in systems have highback integrated into the boot) your foot looks and feels kind of loose and naked on the snowboard. But hey, that is just us. So to stop complaining, the step in binding is great for beginners as they can really step in quickly as they get of the lift and do not wipe out in front of you… if the binding isn’t clogged with snow at the moment, which makes it impossible to step in… great, here we go complaining again.
Are called Flow bindings because the Flow Company invented them and is as far as we know the only company that makes them. The flow binding has a movable highback, that can be pulled back all the way to the ground, so you put your boot into the binding from behind. Then you pull the highback back up, tighten it and you are set.
Plate Bindings are bindings for hard boots and alpine riding. Hard-Boot Bindings have a hard baseplate and steel bails that hold the hard boots, they can also have a heel or toe lever. The better, faster and stronger you ride, the stiffer plate binding you need. Oh, and the heavier you are too. Hard plate bindings totally lock your hard boot and your foot onto the snowboard so they give you high responsiveness, maximum leverage and power for carving at high speeds and on hard snow. Since these are the only bindings that go with the hard boots there is no real choice here, if you intend to be a real racer / carver then you get hard boots and hard, plate bindings. If not, and if you feel more comfortable in soft snowboard boots, then stay away from these bindings. Obviously the do not get together.
SNOWBOARD BINDINGS AND BOOTS COMPATIBILITY
Now on to some general snowboard bindings buying stuff you need to know. First and most important is buy your snowboard boots first or at least at the same time and in the same shop where you are buying your snowboard bindings. This is totally understandable if you are getting a step-in setup that has to be compatible. But even with normal, strap in snowboard bindings make sure that your snowboard boot fits nicely into the binding. Every manufacturer makes his snowboard bindings a little differently and designs them with their own snowboard boots in mind (if they make snowboard boots too that is) and vice versa, they make snowboard boots with their bindings in mind. So snowboard boots and snowboard bindings from the same company fit together best. But this is not our point, don’t buy all the stuff from the same company, just make sure you try your bindings with your boots. Bindings also come in different sizes S, M, L that can hold different snowboard boots sizes. Again it depends from the company which binding size is for which boot size. Generally, better and more expensive snowboard bindings are lighter, more durable and more comfortable than cheaper ones. They are also more adjustable.
WHAT BINDING SIZE TO CHOOSE?
How can you tell if the binding is the right size? You must be able to easily adjust the straps without leaving too much strap on either side of the binding. Your boot must fit in nicely and fill the binding completely, the toes must not overhang the binding more that a few inches. Put on your boot, step into the binding and strap in (not to hard). If you can not feel the straps and your boot is not dancing around in the binding you should be fine.
BASELESS SNOWBOARD BINDING
This is not really a type of binding it’s a just a type of strap in snowboard binding with different baseplate. Uh, or to put it better, without the baseplate. Baseplate is the part of snowboard binding that comes between your boot and the snowboard. It gives you some shock absorption and padding for better control and reduces toe drag. The no baseplate argument is that you can feel your snowboard better and more directly if there is no baseplate, so you can control your snowboard better. How convincing is that? Lets just say these days you can very rarely see a baseless snowboard binding. Since we are already talking about baseplates lets go to snowboard bindings parts.
Baseplate in snowboard binding is as already said the part of snowboard binding that comes between your boot and the snowboard, to give you some shock absorption and padding for better control and to reduce toe drag. Talking about shock absorption, don’t get carried away. Just how much shock absorption can you get from a thin piece of plastic and rubber when you stomp a 60 feet jump. Not saying its useless, but sometimes when reading the promo material you just have to say – come on!
METAL BASEPLATE – PLASTIC BASEPLATE
The material used in baseplates can be metal or plastic. Ordinary plastic is cheaper. Better plastic and plastic with carbon, Kevlar etc makes plastic bindings stiffer and more durable and more expensive. Metal baseplate are also very stiff. It is just something you need to decide for yourself, what “feel” you prefer.
Straps are the part of the snowboard binding, that actually hold you boot in place. Most of the time you have 2 straps sometimes, rarely three, if you have a really high highback. Ideally – straps must secure your boot tightly into the binding without you feeling them (too much). So straps tend be wider, softer and more ergonomic these days. Burton for instance makes the lower strap actually a toe strap, that goes over the front of your foot. I did hear some good words about this from different people.
HIGHBACK AND HOW HIGH SHOULD THE HIGHBACK BE?
Highback is the part of the snowboard binding behind our boot. It helps us transfer our weight to the heel edge of the snowboard better. Higher highback gives you more power and control, good for freeriding and carving, lower highback gives you more flexibility and freedom, better for freestyle. Anyway, the “low highback is good for park and jibbing” is OUT together with other anklebreaking stuff. The angle of the highback also matters, if you lean it forward, you get more pressure on the heel edge. Every snowboard binding should allow you to adjust your highback.
ADJUSTABLE SNOWBOARD BINDING
How adjustable is your snowboard binding? If you can adjust your binding to your boot and your riding style it will feel better. With some bindings you can adjust all sorts of things, with some you can do it all by hand, with some you need a big bag of tools. Maybe on the other hand, too much loose parts that can be adjusted means that the binding can become loose faster and you can even start loosing some screws from the binding if it is not made well. And the again, once you set your snowboard binding to your preference, how many times will you actually change and readjust it.
BUYING SNOWBOARD BINDINGS
- Bring your snowboard boots
- Put your boots on and step into the binding
- Make sure your boot fits nicely onto the baseplate
- Strap in (not very tight) and make sure your boot does not dance around
- Wider and ergonomically designed straps are better
- The lighter the binding the better
- Check for binding – snowboard compatibility. What? Yes, Burton snowboards only have 3 holes for bindings, every other snowboard has four. Make sure your binding has the right hole pattern or that you can exchange the hole piece of the binding
- Check for anatomical design of the snowboard binding
- Check for the adjustability of the snowboard binding
- Other features like gas pedal or toe ramp, tool less adjusters, gel in baseplate… this ads to the price
- And of course – the color and the look, you can just not have snowboard bindings that do not match with your snowboard.