Snowboard Binding Guide
Snowboard bindings are what keeps you attached to your board. They give you control, response and also offer cushioning and vibration dampening material to pad landings and help you ride longer. As is the case with any piece of snowboard equipment, there is an unlimited amount of information available, and you can be as basic or involved and technical as you wish. However, there are a few main things to keep in mind to help you determine the binding that is right for you.
I. TYPE OF BINDING
For starters, there are two basic types of snowboard bindings. Choosing what style (Traditional Two Strap or High-back Entry) is right for you will be the first choice you have to make
A. Traditional Two Strap Binding
This style binding utilizes an ankle strap and some version of a toe cap to lock you into your binding. These bindings are designed to sink your heel as far back in the binding as possible, leaving no gaps or spaces. This gives you the best, most responsive fit every time. These bindings require you to ratchet yourself into your bindings at the top of every run. If function and response is what you are looking for, this style binding is the one for you.
B. Highback Entry Binding
This style binding is pre-set and is one in which the high-back of your binding folds down in some way. These bindings are incredibly quick and amazingly convenient! There is no need for sitting down to strap in, and no awkward bending or rolling to get back to your feet…… it is just lift and go! If convenience is the name of the game for you, look no farther than your high-back entry style binding.
Many manufacturers will give a number rating ranging from 1-10, 1 being softest and 10 being stiffest. Generally speaking, a soft binding will have a rating of 1-2, medium will be 3-5, stiff 6-8 and very stiff 9-10. Flex ratings and feel may ultimately vary from binding to binding.
A. Park or Freestyle
Riders who spend the majority of their time in the terrain park laying down tricks are considered park or freestyle riders. Snowboard bindings in this category generally offer a softer flex allowing greater room for error, easier landings, and the ability to tweak grabs.
The all-mountain category includes riders who do a little of everything: powder, groomed runs, park, etc. These bindings usually have a medium to stiff flex for all-purpose use.
This category is all about the steep and the deep – powder and speed on challenging terrain. These bindings have a stiffer flex for better response and energy transfer to the snowboard for going fast and going big.
There are many different components to your snowboard bindings. Understanding what these components are will help you understand how a binding works and help you make a more informed decision on bindings.
There are two straps on your snowboard bindings. The ankle strap and the toe strap. These straps can have different padding and be made from different materials to increase the comfort and dial in the fit of your binding.
i. Ankle Strap
This is the strap that goes across the top of your foot. It is the larger of the two straps and secures your foot and keeps you attached. A wider strap will give you a more distributed pressure while thinner straps will use less materials and keep your bindings light.
ii. Toe Strap
This is the strap on the front of your binding. There is a traditional style that is worn over the top of your foot. These are usually found on lower end bindings. There is also Toe Cap style and Hybrid style.
a. Traditional Toe Strap - This strap is usually on lower-end bindings and simply holds your boot in place. It cannot be used as a toe cap strap.
b. Toe Cap Strap – This strap sits on the front of the boot, wrapping over the toe box for comfortable and stable positioning. This strap helps align the foot for better placement in the heel cup, ultimately giving more response to the board.
c. Hybrid Toe Strap – This strap is usable in a traditional style over the foot or tilted forward for use like a toe cap strap.
Another important part of your binding is the buckles. These are what ratchet you down securely into your binding. Aluminum buckles are the most common. These keep weight down, function well even when super cold and usually ratchet many ladders at once. Lower end bindings will have plastic buckles which aren’t as smooth, but still functional. Higher end bindings will have lighter materials substituted for aluminum such as magnesium. This decreases the weight immensely, but is not a necessity in a functional binding.
A highback is the vertical plate from heel cup to lower calf. It controls the heelside edge of your board. Stiff and tall highbacks are intended for enhanced control and speed. Soft and shorter highbacks are intended for park riders and beginners looking for flexibility and ease.
**Forward lean adjustments on highbacks enable you to easily adjust your binding positioning on the go for placement preferences.
D. Heel Cup
The Heel Cup, or Heel Loop is the most important part of your snowboard binding. It is where you get all your power and all the response from. The heel cup transfers energy from your high-back to your toes. It is what allows you to have quick snappy transitions from your heel edge to your toe edge. Stiffer materials used for the heel-cup, like aluminum allow for less flex and better response as opposed to plastic which keeps the cost of the binding low.
This is the main connection between the binding and the board. Baseplates are made with a variety of materials that feature different strength-to-flex ratios. Higher end bindings will have stronger baseplate materials and will optimize board flex, power transmission and durability. Cushioning on baseplates allow for comfort and power transmission and vibration dampening.
**Canting – A small amount of tilt in the footbed ergonomically angles your stance and knee position slightly forward for a more natural stance.
The disc is what attaches your binding to your board. It fits in the middle of the binding and has a 4X4 pattern which will line up with the holes on your board. With the exception of Burton, all discs are compatible with all boards! This offers you the greatest amount of choice, which is the best part of snowboarding…..unlimited options!! Lucky for all riders, most companies offer discs that are compatible with 3-hole Burton boards and both of the EST Channel systems.
Materials are a key factor in the responsiveness and the weight of a binding. It is also a determining factor in the price. As materials become lighter and stronger, the price of your binding will increase. Most bindings will use plastics and metals or some combination of the two. Materials used in your straps will go from synthetic to real leathers. The better the materials in your bindings are, the better they will fit, the more responsive they will be and the lighter they will feel.
Bindings, unlike boots, will fit a range of sizes. Adjustable heel-cups will allow you to have a more precise fit and even feel on a binding. When adjusting your binding, you want to make sure your boot is centered in the binding. Your heel and your toe will hang over the footbed slightly, you just want to make sure that they hang over evenly. All straps are adjustable as well and should be centered on top of the boots when tightened down.