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How To Choose Snowboard Bindings
Published: Dec 22, 2020
Snowboard bindings are a direct connection between you and your snowboard. They transfer muscle movements to the board and allow you a more precise control of your board, which is why it is an integral part of a snowboarder's riding experience. It is important that your snowboard bindings are compatible with your board and style to have a better riding experience.
To choose snowboard bindings, you first have to know the types of bindings that are available on the market, then choose a specific one that matches your style of riding, your snowboard boots, and your board.
We have listed down the factors you have to consider when choosing snowboard bindings. These factors will help you be more knowledgeable about what bindings are compatible with your boots and snowboard.
Types of bindings
Strap bindings: Maybe the most usual type of snowboard bindings. These bindings feature straps that ratchet down, so that they can secure your boots in place, and allow for multiple adjustment options, while keeping the highbacks from moving. They provide an easy-to-use system, are responsive and secure, and have been the standard for many years.
One of our top choices for the best strap in bindings are the Union Atlas, which suit all-mountain riding, and snowboarders with intermediate to advanced skills. This snowboard binding has a stiff flex, and only weighs around 2 lbs. This version of the Union Atlas now features a new disc that has a lot of sliding room, where you can turn it sideways and get almost any stance width. It is also one of the best options if getting your boot centered in your binding is your priority. Check the current price on Amazon.
Rear-entry bindings: These bindings differ from others because they have a reinforced highback and a single strap at the toe. These types of bindings also have a reclining highback to allow for a quick and easy in-and-out. They are often heavier than strap bindings, and are more suitable for soft and firm-flexing boots.
The Flow Alpha MTN snowboard bindings are one of the best choices if you are looking for a rear-entry design. These bindings have upgraded ratchets for easier size and fit adjustments, and are some of the most solid, all around options, especially for intermediate riders who like to ride all-mountain. Click to see the price of the Flow Alpha MTN pn on Amazon.
Step On bindings: These types of bindings allow for the quickest in-and-out of the boots by just sliding in, and clicking your heel into place. However, they are manufactured by the company Burton Snowboards, thus, they are only suitable for Burton Step On Boots.
The Burton Step On bindings allow for a super easy on-and-off, and are really responsive. They will also allow for a smooth turn initiation and carving. In addition, the Burton Step On are light, and their highback flex has a really good twist, and allows for quicker heel edge turns. Furthermore, this binding will help you butter a lot easier, and is great for absorbing shock. It is equipped with a Re:Flex binding system that offers more flex, feel, and cushioning. Check the price on Amazon.
It is also important that you find a snowboard binding that matches your riding style. For the best results, you have to check that your snowboard bindings' flex closely matches the flex of your boots.
Park or freestyle: This type is best used for laying down tricks, jumps, spins, and for those who spend most of their time in the terrain park. They usually offer a softer flex that will provide you more room for error, and will also allow you to have easier landings, and the ability to tweak grabs.
The Salomon Spell snowboard bindings are one of the best value options for park or freestyle riding style. These bindings are ergonomically shaped, nicely padded, and easily flexing. They create an even and seamless contact with your boot, and grip your boot to secure your set-up. They also come equipped with ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) pads that are strategically in place for increased comfort in any conditions. Finally, the Salomon Spell are for those who want to develop their riding skills more. It is comfortable and versatile, and user-friendly. Check their price on Amazon.
All-mountain: Best used for powder, groomed run, park, and a little of everything, these snowboard bindings usually come with a medium flex for an all-purpose use.
There are a lot of all-mountain snowboard bindings on the market, but the Burton Cartel X are our best choice for all-mountain riding style. The Cartel X will surely help you perform quick maneuvers at high speed, and they are great for all-mountain carving, for a more powerful freeriding, and for charging through the park. These bindings will provide a smooth, continuous response that will let you turn your snowboard well. They also do a great job at helping you butter, and will allow your snowboard to flex easier underfoot. Additionally, this model has an exceptional highback rotation, which will make it easier for riders with big calves and even features. The bindings also line up well with the heel side edge for more symmetrical responsiveness. Additionally, they are very good in shock absorption. And the good thing is that they are compatible with all major mounting systems. Check their price on Amazon.
Freeride: Best used for the backcountry and sidecountry terrains, they have a stiffer flex, and will allow for a better response and energy transfer to the board, especially for high speeds and the extreme.
Our top choice for the best freeride snowboard bindings is the Union Force bindings, which are rugged and durable, and can offer a superior all-mountain performance. The Union force will help you push your limits while you explore natural, challenging terrains. Check their price now on Amazon.
Powder: These types of bindings are much stiffer, and will allow for greater control, especially when you are on wider, longer boards that are better able to float in the deep powder.
Our top choice for the best snowboard bindings for powder is the K2 Lien AT bindings, which are durable, tough, and suit the more advanced riders. These binding were designed to flex the way your foot is naturally meant to. They are also built to optimize power transfer, and provide comfort all throughout your ride. Check the K2 Lien AT bindings on Amazon.
Components of a snowboard binding
Buckles: Buckles are for securely closing your snowboard binding. They are super handy, and very easy to use thanks to the ratchet system on a ladder strap. Sometimes, you just need a few clicks to get a secure fit on your boots. These are usually made from a lot of different materials, and can also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Although there are some low-end bindings that are usually made with plastic buckles, which are more lightweight, there are also high-end buckles consisting of aluminum, or even magnesium, so that it can give you the best ratio of strength to weight.
Highback: This is the vertical plate that is located right behind your lower calf. This will provide support throughout your turns, and will transfer your energy to the board. Highbacks are also available in different materials, and you will find various heights, flexes, and shapes. Bindings that have shorter and/or softer highbacks will best suit freestylers or beginners, because they will offer more mobility and will make the ride more playful and forgiving. Meanwhile, bindings with taller and stiffer highbacks will best suit freeriders or advanced riders, because they will deliver more control, more precision, and more reactivity. With that in mind, you can always choose the feature you prefer.
Heel cup: These are the metal or plastic loops that are located at the base of the highback, but are not connected together. Although on some bindings, heelcups come as an extension of its chassis, on some bindings, its heel cup is an actual component that can be adjusted forward and backward to find a more customized fit. It is best that the heel of your snowboard boot fit in nice and snug.
Chassis: This can also be regarded as the soul of your binding, because this is the main piece, and the part that allows for a direct connection with the snowboard. These are also what manufacturers call “baseplates,” and they may come in a lot of different materials, like regular plastic, or aluminum, and some other alloys. The Chassis, or baseplates' major function is to transfer power to the snowboard with speed and accuracy. They can also absorb impacts, shocks, and vibrations caused by landings, terrain changes, or speed. These binding parts can alter the board's flex a little, and they are strong enough to withstand a lot of stress throughout the day.
Footbed: This is a part located on the chassis. This is where the foot lies, and this footbed is usually padded with EVA foam for comfort. However, you can always find other dampening systems, like air cushioning, for instance. Other bindings have a footbed that are canted, which means that they are slightly tilted inward to create a better ankle-knee-hip alignment. This helps in reducing stress on your joints, and can also minimize fatigue. Footbeds also have the ability to increase comfort and feel.
Straps: Some snowboard binding features two straps —the toe strap, and the ankle strap. The ankle straps loop around your ankle to keep your boot in position, and transfer the energy of your movement to the binding's chassis. Some snowboard binding straps are of higher-end quality, and are usually padded and designed to reduce pressure points and possible foot pain. However, some toe straps may also differ from manufacturer to manufacturer.
A traditional toe strap goes over your toes and will secure your boot on the footbed. They come pretty basic, and are usually less used by riders nowadays.
A cap strap will offer a more secure grip on the snowboard boot, as it wraps the toe box in front of your boot, and then pushes it against the heelcup.
Other types of bindings feature only one massive strap instead of the usual two. They cover the snowboard boot, and offer a more snug and strong hold. This feature is usually found on rear-entry bindings.
There are also hybrid toe straps, which is a blend of both. These can be used as either a traditional toe strap, or as a cap strap. It is also often called “convertible strap.”
Snowboard boot and binding compatibility
Bindings may come in a lot of different, but general sizes, from small to medium, and large. It is important that you have the right size of bindings for your snowboard boots, and that is why you always have to check the manufacturer's size chart to see what bindings may best suit your needs.
Remember that your snowboard boots shouldn't hang overly off your bindings, and that the straps should not be painfully tightened, or even have leftover slack.
A proper fitting binding should allow the snowboard boot to flex, and not to sway. Thus, if you have comfortable boots, and have that type of bindings that securely grip to it with no extra play, then you have found a very good match.
Snowboard mounting patterns
Snowboard bindings have different mounting options, and different hole patterns on snowboards. Most of these patterns are compatible, but again, it is always best to make sure, because most brands these days have these universal discs, and also make multiple discs to be compatible with different types of mounting holes. So, the best thing to do is to always check with the manufacturer.
On conventional snowboards, you will find four different snowboard hole patterns — 2x4, Burton 3D, 4x4, and Burton Channel.
3D and Channel technology are compatible, and made specifically for Burton Snowboards, but some board manufacturers have already begun licensing Channel technology from Burton. On the other hand, 2x4 is a variation of 4x4, and this mounting pattern gives the rider more mounting options.
The snowboard binding Channel System
The actual Channel System consists of two integrated slots that run parallel to the edge of the snowboard. This is the system used to attach your bindings to your board, therefore allowing for a full range of customizable stances. A Channel system also allows you to slide your bindings down the length of the entire snowboard.
This can be found on all modern Burton snowboards, but also on a couple of bindings from other companies. This offers a variety of stance variations and options. Understanding the ins and outs of this system will allow you to get the most out of your gear, and will also help you find a set-up that works well together.
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