SNOWBOARD BINDINGS: THE ONE THING THAT KEEPS YOUR BOOT ON THE BOARD
The binding is responsible for power transmission onto the board. Thanks to different kinds of bindings you can find the right one for your riding style, riding level or simply preference.
- The components of the binding
- The size of the binding
- Binding systems with straps
- Rear entry snowboard binding
- The stiffness of the binding (flex)
- Binding compatibility
- The highback
- The angle of your binding
1.THE COMPONENTS OF THE BINDING
A binding consists of three main parts:
- the baseplate,
- the highback and
- the straps.
Stiffer models are suited for freeriders who appreciate a direct power transmission. Softer bindings give freestylers and beginners more room for movement.
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2. THE SIZE OF THE BINDING
The most important criteria when choosing a binding is the binding size. The binding should be adapted to your boot. That means the length and width of the baseplate should complement the length and width of your snowboard boot. Manufacturers like Rome or Nitro offer different sizes. Most snowboard bindings are available in S, M and L, some models even in XS or XL. Manufacturers like Union designate their sizes with S/M, M/L and L/XL. To adapt the binding perfectly to your boot you can adjust the toe and heel ramp, the straps and the highback. The higher the quality of the binding the more options you have to adjust the binding to your boot.
3. BINDING SYSTEMS WITH STRAPS
There is the traditional toe strap binding and the speed-entry system. On a traditional binding you have a toe and an ankle strap which you can open and close with ratchets. The ankle strap is responsible for the heel hold. It keeps the ankle securely fastened. The toes are held down by the toe strap. Both straps can be adapted independently from each other to fit your snowboard boot. With some speed-entry models both straps are joined together and you have only one ratchet to fasten your binding. This helps save time getting in and out of the binding. However, it can’t be adjusted as precisely as a binding with two individual straps.
4. REAR-ENTRY SNOWBOARD BINDINGS
With rear-entry bindings the toe and ankle straps remain closed. To open the binding you simply fold down the highback and push your boot underneath the closed straps. The pressure on the boot is always the same but fine adjustments are still possible with the buckles. You open and close the binding in a single movement which saves you time. There are systems with only one strap, speed-entry, and two straps. Rear-entry bindings with two straps are available from brands like K2, SP, Völkl, Gnu and Roxy.
- Cinch binding and
- Fastec system
Flow is well-known for their rear-entry bindings. The company has always made rear-entry bindings which have a large strap that you only have to adjust to your boot once so you don’t have to change it again on the mountain. This strap usually covers the complete span of the boot and pushes it evenly into the binding.
By now, Flow is also offering hybrid bindings with rear entry and two straps with ratchets for fine adjustments.
4.1 THE VARIOUS TOE STRAPS
There are three different toe straps available on snowboard bindings:
- The standard toe strap which runs over the toe area and applies pressure from above
- The cap strap which has a small toe cap that runs over the toe of the boot and pushes the boot more firmly into the binding.
- The regular and cap strap can be used in both ways because the middle of the strap is made of a soft material and can therefore be adapted to the toe cap.
5. THE STIFFNESS OF THE BINDING (FLEX)
The stiffness of the binding determines the flexibility bending forward and backwardsas well as to the side. This flex usually ranges from 1 (soft urethane) to 10 (stiff carbon). When you choose a softer highback you get more comfort. Jibbers and freestylers appreciate this leeway in movement for tweaking and boning. A stiff highback gives direct power transmission to the board but is less forgiving. The flex of the boot and highback should be coordinated. A soft boot needs a softer binding and vice versa. The ideal stiffness of your binding also depends on your body weight. More weight means a higher flex. A soft binding will not give you enough support and vice versa.
Dominik WagnerBlue Tomato team rider
6. BINDING COMPATIBILITY
The binding has to be compatible with the board. All manufacturers, except Burton, have agreed on a mounting norm, the 4x4 insert system. Every binding, except Burton’s EST, is compatible with almost every board. Many inserts – the holes for mounting the binding disc – in the front and in the back of the board means many possibilities for the right distance between the bindings. Some boards also have smaller insert distances so they have more mounting possibilities on the same area. This way, the distance from one insert pair to the next diminishes from the classic 4 inch to 2 inch. That means that all bindings, except Burton’s EST binding, will still fit these inserts. However, there are also bindings, for example Union’s mini universal disc, that are adapted to this insert distance so they will not fit traditional 4x4 inserts.
Nowadays, almost every manufacturer has adaptor discs or already adjusted their discs to meet Burton’s Channel system (ICS), which is also used with snowboards by Endeavor. However, only Burton’s EST bindings, which can only fit Burton’s Channel System boards, are perfectly adapted to the ICS system. Here, the two screws for mounting the binding are placed left and right at the outside of the binding and not beneath the footbed. You can make fine adjustments to your stance because there are no restrictions, like disc teeth which limit the possibilities.
7. THE HIGHBACK
The highback is largely responsible for the hold and for the power transmission on the backside edge. The form and size vary depending on the manufacturer, model of the binding and area of use. To get a better power transmission to the board you can adjust the forward lean (how much the highback leans forward) by several degrees. If you set your highback upright your board becomes more forgiving and you have extra leeway in movement. To adjust the forward lean you normally don’t even need tools.
With many bindings you can also adjust the highback around the vertical axis. The more parallel to the backside edge the highback is set the more direct is the power transmission.
Mathias WeissenbacherBlue Tomato team rider
8. THE ANGLE OF YOUR BINDING
You can read the angle of your binding to get the perfect position on the disc. The angle can be adjusted in steps of 3 degrees.
8.1 THE CORRECT STANCE FOR FREESTYLE AND JIB
For freestyle and jib it's best to mount the bindings in duck stance (a “V” position). This means you’ll have a positive angle at the front binding and a negative angle at the back with the binding placed in the centre of the board. A good guideline is an angle of +15 and -15 degrees. The distance between the bindings should be around shoulder width. This position is based on the natural position of your feet and reduces stress on the joints while riding park.
8.2 THE PERFECT FREERIDING STANCE
While freeriding many riders have a narrower stance and a slight setback for which the bindings are moved a bit to the back. This reduces the power needed to keep the nose of the board above the snow. The back binding has a shallower angle possibly resulting in a positive angle for both bindings. +21 and +9 degrees are a good guideline to transfer more power to the slope.
8.3 THE ALL-MOUNTAIN ANGLE
For all-mountain you need a position that works on the piste as well as it does off-piste. To reach that goal we recommend a slight duck stance with a bit of setback. The front angle should be between +12 and +18 degrees. The angle of the back binding should be smaller – between -3 and -9 usually works well.