Snowboard bindings are more integral to the snowboarder’s experience than people realize. The bindings are the direct connection between you and your board, making it crucial to pick the best brand for your riding style. It is also essential to pick a binding with the proper amount of binding flex according to the brand and style of your boot. It can be rather difficult to pick between the plethora of binding choices out there. So, here is our 2016 Buyer’s Guide to Snowboard Bindings.
Three Riding Styles:
The first and most important thing to figure out before you buy any binding is exactly what style of snowboarding that you will be doing. There are general styles of snowboarding: Freestyle, all-mountain, and freeride.
Freestyle snowboarding essentially means trick or park riding. Essentially, if you spend your time doing cool tricks for your friends, this is your style and you’ll want a softer flex binding. A softer flex will provide you with greater room for error, the ability to do tweak grabs, and create a cushion for softer landings.
All-mountain snowing boarding including a little bit of everything including groomed runs, park, and deep powder runs. For this style, you’ll want a medium flex binding.
Freeriding is all about downhill deep powder boarding, which usually includes high-velocity boarding. For this style, you’ll want a stiffer flex for better control.
Flex Rating for Snowboard Bindings:
Most manufacturers will advertise their bindings with a flex rating, which is usually a number between one and ten. A flex rating of one is generally the softest and ten the hardest. For Freestyle, you’ll want the softest flex possible—which usually means between a one and a two flex-rating. For Freestyle or park riding you’ll want the stiffest flex. So, nine to ten will be your best bet. For freeriding, stick to a flex rating of about three to eight.
Types Of Bindings:
These are the most common type of bindings, and come in every flex rating and can suit any style of snowboard.
Speed Entry Bindings:
Also called Rear-Entry bindings, these bindings feature a hinged high back that will drop down allow you to step into them. These are a bit fancier than the strap-in models and are the easiest to get in and out of. They are generally considered more comfortable than the strap-in bindings. However, they tend to be less versatile than the regular bindings and also break down easier.
Bindings come in fairly generic sizes including small, medium, and large. However, you will want to get as close as you can to the right size. Always check a manufacturer’s binding size chart before purchasing and (if you are not purchasing online) try them out with your boot.
Nothing is worse than getting to a hill and suddenly realizing that you can’t ride the hill because you got the wrong size binding. It’s a mistake all too often made, as most people don’t think about it after considering the right size of boot. So, as you test out your bindings make sure that your boot doesn’t hang off the bindings, or if the straps are too tight (or too slack). Of course, most straps can be adjusted but if you have an overly small or an overly large boot, it may not be able to be adjusted to your size. This is unlikely, but can still happen.
Otherwise, your boot should fit snuggly into the binding but allow for some flexibility.
Bindings come in all shapes and sizes, as well as many variations on mounting capabilities. As you likely know, snowboards usually come with hole patterns that are meant to be attached to another hole pattern on your bindings. It is highly unlikely that you will come across a binding that will not be compatible with your board. But, it is still good to check.
Other Binding Features:
The vertical plate from the heel to the lower calf is called a Highback. This feature controls the heel-side edge of your board. If you want better speed control, you’ll want a still and tall high back. If you want flexibility for tricks, then a soft and short highback should be your choice.
Also, if you’re a trickster, you might even consider bindings with no highback at all—this will allow your board to feel more like a skateboard and give you more maneuverability. Otherwise, highbacks usually have forward lean adjustments which allow you to easily adjust the position of the binding.
Baseplates are made with many different features that affect the overall flux ratio and are the main connection between the binding and the snowboard. The more expensive bindings will usually feature a stronger baseplate. If you want power transmission, durability, and optimized board flex, you’ll want a more expensive binding. Baseplates usually come with cushion for maximized power transfer and comfort.
Baseplates usually create an angle between your foot and the board that will create tilt—which means you will be standing at a neutral position allowing for maximized speed while moving downhill. Baseplates tend to be one of the first items on a binding to wear out. So, it’d be a good idea not to skimp on quality when considering which binding to purchase.
When considering purchasing a pair of bindings, there is a total of five strap set-ups to consider: one piece, ankle strap, hybrid toe strap, traditional toe strap, and toe cap strap.
This strap set-up will usually be seen on youth or rear entry binding. It is one large strap that covers the entire boot from your ankle to your toes. In general, if you are a more experienced rider, it is a good idea to avoid these strap set-ups, as they will limit your riding style versatility.
The ankle strap is the largest strap and securely wraps around the ankle. This is likely the most important strap and needs to be checked regularly for safety, as the binding will fail if not working properly. Also, before you purchase any binding check to make sure that the ankle strap is functioning properly.
Hybrid Toe Strap:
Bindings with the strap will come in either in a traditional style—over the foot—or a tilted forward design. The Hybrid toe strap is generally more secure in the traditional form, but may restrict some movement—especially for freestyle borders.
Traditional Toe Strap:
This strap holds your foot in place.
Toe Cap Strap:
This strap wraps around the toe box of your boot, making it the most important strap for stability and comfort. This strap sits on the front of the boot and serves to align your boot for placement in the heel cup. For safety purposes, always check to see if this strap is functioning properly and is secured in the appropriate manner. Otherwise, this strap needs to be secured in a proper manner in order to provide better response and control for board steering.
Burton has been making high-quality bindings for over thirty years, and their most recent products never fail to impress. The Burton Genesis bindings are designed to maximize flex and control. They accomplish this with their Zero-lean Kickback Hammock Highback—which, for the most part, operates as a double highback. This design acts like the suspension system of your car, creating maximum comfort for the rider.
Otherwise, the baseplate of this product (Flex FullBED Cushioning System and B3 Gel) is surprisingly lightweight for how sturdy it is. Also, Burton is renowned for their highly comfortable strap system, and this product lives up to the reputation. The innovative React Strap and Gettagrip Capstrap is one of the most versatile on the market. This product may be a bit more expensive than your average binding. But, it is definitely worth the few extra dollars for such a high-quality product.
GNU Outdoor Splitboard Bindings:
Also known as the Bent Metal X KaraKoram Split Tail Hunter Binding, this binding could, quite possibly, be the single most innovative binding recommended by this buying guide. If you are an experienced user, you are likely aware that one of the most frustrating things about the design of most bindings is that they usually place you too high off of your board. With the GNU Outdoor Splitboard Bindings, that is no longer the case. This GNU binding systems attaches your binding to your board at a total of five points, allowing it to sit closer to the board than nearly any other design. This design allows for extreme control and maneuverability.
Otherwise, the GNU Outdoor Splitboard bindings come with dual Height Risers, Tour Mode Axle System, a heel lever, air-flow highback, and a ride-stride forward lean system.
Salomon District Bindings:
These Salomon District bindings probably beat all other bindings in agility, flexibility, and overall strength. The baseplate of these bindings—the Shadow Fit—is, simply put, a workhorse. The flexible heel loop is extremely lightweight because it is made of ultra-light composite. For a mid-range flex rating of five, these bindings are surprisingly well constructed and are some of best bindings for tricks on closeout rails.
Otherwise, these bindings are made from industrial grade materials, making them some of the most durable bindings around. They also feature Kevlar Quickwire materials, ADJ Toe Ramp Universal Disc Baseplate, full Asym Supreme ankle Strap, and a Powerglide Aluminum Buckle.
Union Contact Pro Bindings:
The highbacks featured on the Union Contact Pro are carbon injected and thereby some of the most responsive highbacks around. The EVA bushings are also carbon injected, thereby they transfer quite a bit of energy from the binding to the edge as you are ride downhill. Also, the heel cups are CNC milled, as opposed to molded—which means that they are very lightweight while maintaining durability.
Otherwise, these Unions binding are a no-frills brand without losing out on stability or functionality. They include a mount type disc, dura flex base, and a prepreg carbon highbacks. They also—unlike other bindings featured on this list—can be purchased with a lifetime warranty.
Switchback Ethan Morgan Pro Combo:
If you are a tinkerer or have very specific requirements, the Switchback Ethan Morgan Pro will be your brand of bindings. The company allows you to pick your own baseplates, highbacks, and straps. This, in the industry, is referred to as the “modular approach” and it allows you the choice of a nearly infinite variety of binding combinations. Also, the Switchback Ethan Morgan Pro offers signature sets based upon the designs of top snowboarders from all over the world. So, with a little bit of research, you can be boarding with your favorite rider’s setup.
Otherwise, the Ethan Morgan generally comes with the Wrapback winged highback, and the ST baseplate pad, and Eames Straps. The highbacks serve for high-intensity pressing of rails or ledges; the ST baseplates feature solid and even padding throughout; And, the Eames Straps are some of the sturdiest in the industry. Lastly, the Ethan Morgan features glow-in-the-dark materials for the nighttime rider. Of course, any of these features can be switched out for something more preferable, which is exactly why these bindings are on this list of recommended bindings. The versatility presented here can’t be found anywhere else.
Rome Targa Snowboard Bindings:
The Rome Targa is one of the more robust brands of bindings out there, though it is less lightweight than some of the other bindings featured on this list. It features an aluminum chassis, which makes for great maneuverability and response time, as well as side-to-side flex. The V-Rod baseplate also encourages extreme maneuverability.
In addition, these bindings provide many setup choices. For instance, you can buy the product with a flat footbed or an angled one. The product also comes with a rotatable highback, offering you the choice of your exact preference of highback positioning. Also, these board prove highly efficient for those who like to mix up their boarding style. The highbacks are designed in such a way as to provide comfortable suspension while cruising down a hill, and ultra-responsiveness when moving at higher speed.
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