Snowboard Bindings are important in responding to your movements and giving you control over your snowboard. Even though bindings may seem very straightforward, there are numerous technologies and features that differentiate bindings. Each feature has its benefits and by knowing the purpose and your needs, you’ll be able to match the correct binding for you. Having the right type of binding will enhance your day on the mountain by improving control and how you feel on the board.
In this article, I’ll review the terminology used with snowboard bindings and then get into the questions you need to answer to help pinpoint the bindings that may suit you best. This information will help you make a better choice when you buy your snowboard bindings. Also, be sure to check out the ZepicDealFinder to help you find the right snowboard bindings for you, at the best price. PowderCam’s ZepicDealFinder tool scans many of the biggest retailers on the internet to help you find the best deal.
Let’s start by going through the terminology used with features of snowboard bindings.
Parts of the binding
A ratchet is a piece used to tighten the straps. Ratchets are made of either plastic or metal. Metal will be more durable. You should try to get a binding that can be tightened with your gloves so you don’t need to remove your gloves in the cold.
Straps are basically the straps that go over your boots and hold them into place on the binding. Straps will vary in the material they are made from and will have various amounts of padding. Also, different bindings will have different designs and placement affecting comfort and support. Below are some of the different types of straps:
- Toe Cap Strap – This strap sits and goes over the toe of the boot. This strap helps align the foot into the heel giving the rider more response to the board.
- Hybrid Toe Strap – This type of strap goes over the foot or can be tilted forward towards the toe.
- Ankle Strap – These large straps wrap above the ankle.
- One Piece – These are common on rear entry and youth bindings. It is a large strap that covers your boot from right before your ankle to just before your toes.
The highback is the large vertical plate that goes from the heel up to and around the lower calf of the leg. The purpose of the highback is to provide support and control to the board in particular on heel-side turns. The highback will come in different flexes and lengths.
A highback with a stiff flex will be best for riders who like speed or want more control and response over the board. Just don’t get it too stiff since it can be hard on the legs on a long day of riding. Soft highbacks are better for riders who spend most of their days on the terrain park and need maneuverability. A tall highback will be best for freeriders looking for speed. Short highbacks are good for terrain parks since they will allow more flexibility.
One feature to checkout with highbacks is the ability to adjust the forward lean. This is practical for riders who like to go all over the mountain and like the ability to change the lean for the different terrain.
The baseplate is the layer of the binding that sits between the boot and the top of the snowboard. The baseplate will be made of metal or plastic and will give different amounts of firmness which affects the responsiveness on the board. Metal will be stiffer than plastic and will also be more durable. There are bindings that do not have baseplates. This gives the rider a closer feel of the board. The bottom of the baseplate will have padding to provide comfort and lessen the force of hard landings.
Different snowboards will have different methods (mounting systems) to attach the bindings to the board. The different systems are based on hole-patterns for the threaded metal insert holes that the binding attaches to on the board or with a channel. This is where personal preference on your stance comes into play. You’ll need to make sure that the insert hole pattern can give you the stance you’ll prefer and you’ll want to make sure that the bindings you purchase fit on your snowboard. Below are the different kinds of binding systems:
- 4 X 4 - Common on many boards. This is a basic hole-pattern in a 4×4 arrangement. The 4×4 hole-pattern means that the inserts are spaced an equal four centimeters apart vertically and horizontally from one and other. This works with many bindings and it offers a moderate number of different stances.
- 2 X 4 – Offers more options than the 4×4 hole-pattern by offering more holes placed vertically on the board, which are all spaced an equal two centimeters apart. This method is found on the majority of boards today and works with almost all binding disc designs.
- Burton 3D – This system is only found on Burton boards. It is a 3D hole-pattern that offers numerous stance options. This setup will require the purchase of specific Burton bindings with the proper disc to fit properly. Some companies offer Burton compatible binding inserts.
- Channel Sliding Insert - Some companies have a sliding insert system which attempts to allow the most stance options possible. With this system, riders can make fine adjustments to customize their stance. Specific bindings are required to fit the system.
The flex of a binding is how easily it will bend in different directions. The flex will vary in different parts of the binding based on how it was constructed and the material used. The amount of flex you should have depends on your ability level, the type of terrain you ride, and personal preference. These are all similar to the type of flex you would want in a boot. Therefore, it should match closely to the flex in your boots. The different types of flex are: very soft, soft, medium, stiff, and very stiff.
In general, beginners and freestylers will want a binding that is more flexible giving a softer and more forgiving ride that is easier to ride and allows greater maneuverability. More advanced riders and freeriders who like to go for speed will prefer stiffer bindings and tall stiff highbacks for better control at high speeds and in deep powder or steep terrain. All mountain riders who do a little bit of everything will want something in the middle for flex.
Ultimately, the best flex is based on preference. Use the above as guidelines if you are not sure. But, if you are an experienced rider you will have a good feel for how you want your board to react and the feel you have on the board.
In general, there are two types of bindings: strap-in bindings and speed entry.
Strap-In bindings are the most common type of bindings. Often, they will have two straps where one is across the ankle and another across the toe. The straps will be tightened with a ratchet. Different bindings will have different options for support, cushioning and custom adjustments. The advantage of strap-in bindings is that they allow a higher degree of control and adjustability. Also, should the binding break, they are easily repaired. The downside is that they are harder to get in/out of with your boots and inexperienced riders often need to sit down to strap in.
Speed Entry Bindings
Speed entry bindings have a hinged high back that drops down to easily strap in the boots making it very quick and easy to get in and out of the binding. The ease and speed of these bindings makes speed entry bindings the preferred choice for comfort-oriented riders or beginners. Riders can easily lock these in while standing up and the pressure is spread over a larger area then strap-in bindings. The downside of speed entry bindings is that they are heavier and a little harder to get the perfect fit. Advanced riders will find that this reduces board control. Also, these types of bindings are harder to repair if they break.
The material used in bindings will vary and affect weight, flexibility, and durability. Plastic bindings may sound cheap, but they are actually very well build these days. The advantage of plastic is that it is lightweight. Metal bindings will be more rigid than plastic but offer more durability. Some bindings will have both plastic and metal. This allows the company to make certain parts of the binding more flexible and other areas more rigid. Some bindings will also use carbon. This is an ultra-lightweight material that is very rigid. It is also more expensive than plastic or metal.
Now that we have reviewed some of the terminology used with snowboard bindings, it’s time to go through the factors you need to consider to determine the best binding for you. Note, before buying a binding you must first buy your snowboard boots and your snowboard. Part of the buying process is knowing what size your boots are and what mounting type your board has. Otherwise, you may buy an incompatible binding.
What is your mount type?
The first consideration is your snowboard. If you don’t already have a board, consider your options but you will want to buy your board first. Note that going with the Burton System will limit you to only Burton Snowboards. Determine which type of mounting system your board uses from the following:
- 4 X 4
- 2 X 4
- Burton 3D
- Channel Sliding Insert
What is your boot size?
Snowboard bindings come in general sizes – Small, Medium, and Large. The size you need is simply based on the size of your snowboard boot. Below is the general size you would need based on the boot size. But, always make sure that the size matches on the individual binding you are looking at before purchasing.
- Small - Men's size 3-8, Women's size 4-9.
- Medium - Men's size 8-10, Women's size 9-11.
- Large - Men's size 10+, Women's size 11+.
What is your gender?
Bindings will come in men’s, women’s, and children’s. Because the bindings are made to the appropriate size of the gender or age, you should make sure you buy a binding appropriate for you. For example, a women’s bindings are narrower and have a shorter high back to accommodate a women’s boot and calves.
What terrain do you ride on?
Different bindings are available based on the terrain type. Bindings will generally correspond to the terrain type with appropriate flex. Determine the type of terrain you will be riding to select the appropriate binding.
Freestyle (Terrain Park)
Freestyle riders like to spend the majority of their days in the terrain park doing rails, jibs, wall rides, and anything else that comes their way. Snowboard bindings in this category will generally have a softer flex which allows greater room for error, increased maneuverability, and easier landings.
All mountain riders do a little of everything. They do the terrain park, ride in the powder, hit the groomers, and anything else. Bindings for this category will usually have a medium flex to handle all of the different terrain. Since this is not a specialized binding, it is a popular choice.
Freeriders spend most of the day off groomed runs and in varied terrain. They typically look for speed. To accommodate this, the bindings will have a stiffer flex for stability, better response, and control.
What is your ability level?
Like other snowboarding equipment, different bindings will vary based on ability level. It’s always important to be realistic with your ability level. The bindings will vary in flex, construction, materials, and price. Naturally, if you are not an expert and you can afford an expert binding and really like it, there’s no reason to prevent you from buying it. But, you may be paying for features that you either don’t need or perhaps will make it more difficult to ride because you aren’t capable of doing some things that experts are expected to be able to do. The different ability levels are basic: beginner, intermediate, and advanced/expert.
- Beginner – This is someone who is starting out and is still learning to link turns. These bindings will tend to have a softer flex to make turning easier and give the rider more control.
- Intermediate – This is someone who has mastered the basics and is ready to move on to a particular style of riding.
- Advanced/Expert – These are riders who have solid technique in the style of riding they have been working on.
Once you have gotten the basic questions out of the way, you’ll be able to pare down the number of bindings. At this point, we get into preferences. Below are some of the different features you can consider to pinpoint the perfect binding.
Entry System type
Strap-in and speed entry are your basic choices. As mentioned previously, each systems has their pros and cons. The most popular is the traditional two-strap system, but you still want to choose something that you will feel comfortable in.
Highbacks come in different sizes and materials. Your snowboarding style will affect the length that you should get and the materials will affect the flex. But, you will want something that you are comfortable with.
Tool-free adjustment features on some companies’ models, meaning you don’t have to carry a screwdriver with you to set the straps or highback angles differently.
Forward lean adjusters
Some bindings will have forward lean adjusters that will angle the highback forward so it fits with your natural riding position. These can be nice if you are all-mountain and like to adjust your stance as you’re going to various places on the mountain.
There are a number of factors that go into selecting the right snowboard bindings. This article describes many of the different features you will find on bindings and helps to identify what might be good for you. By selecting the correct binding you’ll improve your riding and have a better day on the mountain. Also, take a look at ZepicDealFinder where we give you the power to easily scan many of the largest ski equipment and snowboard retailers to find the best deal on the ski or snowboard equipment you are looking for.