When you’re riding your snowboard down the slopes, your board, riding style, boots and bindings work together to respond to your body’s movements and transfer energy. For that reason, picking the right snowboarding equipment is essential for having a good time on the mountain. Bindings are one of the most underappreciated pieces of snowboarding equipment that many people get wrong on their first time. If you’re looking for the ideal snow bindings for the next season, or are a first-time buyer, here’s what you need to pay attention to in order to make sure you get the right pair.
Types of Snowboard Bindings
There are three basic snowboard binding types – strap, step-on and rear entry. Strap bindings are the most popular ones, and as their name implies, they feature two straps – one at the ankle and another at the toe. The ankle strap goes across the upper part of the boot to secure your feet into the heel cup area and the highback. The highbacks are immobile, and they feature several adjustment options, great cushioning and support. On the downside, you’ll have to manually buckle and unbuckle the straps, which can be troublesome.
Step-on bindings are similar to strap bindings, except they feature reclining highbacks that allow you to get in and out of them more easily, which is great for most beginners and preferred riders. These bindings have a yoke system to stabilise your feet, applying uniform pressure across your forefoot. These bindings are heavier and most experienced riders looking for performance claim they take away from the overall board control.
Rear entry bindings give you the best of both worlds – the support and control of strap bindings and the ease of use of step-on bindings. They look similar to strap bindings, as they feature ankle and toe straps, but some models come with a single large panel that extends throughout the top of the snowboarding boots. Their most notable characteristic is the folding of the highback that gives you that easy entry into them. Even though they’re easier to get in and out of than strap bindings, you’ll find it difficult to adjust them. Additionally, the overall fit and support are lower than what you get with strap bindings.
Compatibility With the Board and Fit
No matter what type of snowboard binding you choose to buy, you need to ensure they are compatible with your board. The binding baseplates have either discs or bolts that attach to the binding interface and can be adjusted to your preferred board stance. You have to make sure the baseplates are compatible with the interface of your board. The majority of bolt patterns are either 4×4 or 2×4.
As far as fit goes, you need to make sure the bindings accommodate the size of your boots. A properly fit binding will grip your boots snugly without forcing it into position or squeezing it into place. The bindings should allow for some flex, without allowing shifting or wobbling. The binding straps shouldn’t dangle when tightened, so you need to pay attention to this when trying different models. There are bindings specifically made for women that feature highbacks and dimensions designed to fit women’s snow boots.
Riding Style and Binding Flex
The snowboard bindings you choose should match your skill level, the type of terrain you ride on, as well as the flex of the boots themselves. Most beginners and freestyle snowboarders choose bindings with a flexible, short highback for a more forgiving ride and easier recovery when performing jumps and tricks. More advanced riders, however, prefer bindings with a stiff, tall high back for better control at higher speeds, in steep terrain and deep powder snow. Your choice can be narrowed down based on your preferred riding style.
All mountain bindings are suitable for any type of terrain, including powder, park, pipe and well-groomed runs. The flex level of these bindings varies based on your preferred riding terrain and skill level, but most choose bindings with soft or medium flex, whereas racers prefer bindings with a stiff flex.
Freestyle bindings are best suited for performing tricks, jumps, spins, and riding on park features like rails, half-pipes and boxes. These bindings generally have a soft flex for easier maneuvering.
Freeride and split-board bindings are best for snowboarding through side-country and backcountry terrain. These bindings are stiffer for improved control.
Powder bindings are the stiffest and provide the most control on long and wide boards that float in deep powder snow.
At the end of the day, the bindings you choose should snugly fit your snowboarding boots, your ability on the mountain, and the type of terrain you snowboard over. These pieces of snowboarding equipment can make or break your experience, and it’s important to get the right pair to make sure you’re not only comfortable but safe and capable of performing to the level you need to.