Your guide to buying snowboard bindings
It might seem like they all do pretty much the same job, but there are some key differences between snowboard bindings that you should be aware of before you buy.
Our binding buyer's guide will show you what to look out for so that you can choose a binding that matches your style and meets your needs. We'll look at:
- Styles of binding
- Binding construction
- High back
- Base plate
Once you've got your head around it, jump into the range and shop all snowboard bindings, but until then, we'll get started...
Styles of binding
There are loads of minor differences between models, where manufacturers have adapted the basic design to suit a particular niche, but broadly, they mostly fit into three categories:
Let's look at each one, discuss the differences and what they do best.
As with boards and boots, flexible bindings are aimed at beginners or more freestyle-oriented riders. They'll have noticeably more flex in the highback and even some in the baseplate, all with the aim of making the binding more forgiving and ideal for moving around and tweaking out those grabs in the park.
Unfortunately, a flexible binding will be less responsive and struggle with the bigger forces involved in going fast and sucking up big landings. It's no surprise then, that stiff bindings are aimed more at riders who charge - whether they want high speed carving performance, support for off-piste chop and drops, or confidence on bigger jumps.
Whether a traditional binding is stiff or more flexible, they all work with a two-strap enclosure system, that you enter from the front. The drawback of this type of binding (which you'll have noticed if you ride with skiers) is that they can take a while to get strapped in to. A rear entry binding uses a hinged highback and fixed front straps to allow you to slot into the binding from the back. A quick flick of the leaver on the back and you're on your way.
Drawbacks of rear-entry bindings are that they can be easily clogged with loose snow, are harder to adjust on-the-fly, can be heavier, less responsive, and have less adjustment control on the high back.
Now we'll look at the different elements that make up a snowboard binding, what they do, and how they can affect performance.
The high back is quite self-explanatory, being the part of the binding that rises from the base up the back of your boot. A flexible highback, likely constructed of a malleable plastic, will be more comfortable and less responsive. This makes the binding more forgiving, which is why they suit beginners and freestyle riders.
Stiffer high backs are mostly made from a less malleable plastic or carbon fibre. They'll you a more responsive ride and far more support, so they're ideal for more advanced riders, whether on piste or off.
While it's less obvious in the baseplate, you will still find flex differences depending on how the binding is intended to be used. More flex for a looser feel, more stiffness for ultimate response.
As well as stiffness, you should consider the amount of padding or impact protection contained in the baseplate. If you're looking to hit bigger jumps, padding can really help to absorb the force of landings, but if you're more of a piste rider, you might find that you like the low profile, responsive feel of a baseplate with less padding.
High performance, stiff bindings often use aluminium in their baseplate construction to give extra structural rigidity at lighter weights than you can get from plastic.
Many bindings will have an (often adjustable) power plate or canting underneath the toe of the baseplate. This helps to raise the toe of the boot up for comfort, while helping you to drive maximum force through onto the toe-edge during turns.
A traditional snowboard binding usually has two straps. The ankle strap pulls your foot backwards and down, seating it firmly into the binding. The toe strap either sits over your toe, holding it down, or over the front corner of your toe where it can pull down and back. Some will do both and it's often down to personal preference and feel, which way you choose to ride it.
Look for a nice wide ankle strap for extra comfort, nice big ratchets buckles for easy use wearing gloves, and tool-free adjustment so you can alter strap position on-the-fly.
Over the years, brands have developed several ways of attaching your bindings to your board. While most still work on the basic principle of bolt holes in a moveable circular section of the baseplate (that allows you to alter the stance angle of the binding), the exact configuration of those bolts can vary. It's worth checking that the binding you favour is designed to fit your board, or at least comes with the appropriate conversion kit.
Get stuck in!
Now that you know what to look for in a set of bindings, we've got an awesome range for you to explore.