How To Buy Snowboard Bindings

Find­ing a new pair of bind­ings for your board is like set­ting two friends up on a blind date — you need to make sure they’ll get along. Your bind­ings are part of an inte­grat­ed sys­tem that is designed to give you the sick­est ride for the ter­rain that best suits your style. Below are a few things to look for when spark­ing that love affair between your board and bindings:

Size: There are three sizes of bind­ings: Small, medi­um and large. Always make sure your boots and bind­ings fit well togeth­er. In most cas­es, small bind­ings fit boots sizes 5–7, medi­um ranges from 7–10 and large is size 10 and up. When ratch­et­ing your bind­ing lad­der (the strap piece that looks like a lad­der) into the buck­le, make sure there isn’t too much extra lad­der hang­ing off and that the buck­le is latched into a “rung” on the ladder.

Bolt pat­terns: Now that you know your bind­ings and boots min­gle well, it’s time to see how well your bind­ings and board get along. Most bolt pat­terns are either 2x4 or 4x4. This refers to the cen­time­ters between bolt holes on your board. A 2x4 bolt pat­tern is more adjustable along the tip and tail because the holes are 2cm apart, where­as a 4x4 pat­tern has 4cm of spac­ing. Bur­ton has their own spac­ings they call “3D” or “chan­nel” spac­ing mean­ing you’ll need Bur­ton bind­ings to ride those boards. For the rest, always make sure your bind­ings come with a base­plate that fits your board or can adapt to both patterns.

Parts of a Binding

High­back: The high­back is the con­toured, ver­ti­cal plate that extends along your heel and up to your mid-calf. This is where pow­er is trans­ferred from your leg to your heel edge and is a big con­trib­u­tor to heel edge con­trol. If you’re chas­ing steep, fast lines you’ll want a tall, stiff high­back for respon­sive­ness and con­trol. Rid­ers who spend their time in the park or are just start­ing out may find that the flex­i­bil­i­ty and for­give­ness of a short­er, soft­er high­back is more their style.

Straps: There are now many strap and ratch­et sys­tems to choose from:

    • 2‑strap sys­tem: If you’re look­ing for ease of use, sim­plic­i­ty, low­est cost and eas­i­est to repair, stick with the stan­dard two-strap sys­tem. They offer all the adjusta­bil­i­ty you’ll need and if you bust a strap on the moun­tain, a replace­ment will be easy to find. Some com­pa­nies offer a toe-cap strap with this sys­tem that curls around your toe and offers greater secu­ri­ty, improved edge con­trol and locks your heel into the heel cup of the binding.
    • Rear-Entry sys­tem: Com­pa­nies like Flow are mak­ing a rear entry sys­tem where the hinged-high­back drops out of place and the rid­er slides their foot into one, big strap. This nuanced sys­tem offers strong edge response, quick and effort­less entry with no com­pro­mise to adjusta­bil­i­ty. Some rid­ers find these bind­ings dif­fi­cult to use in pow­der because of the high­back sys­tem — a prob­lem that is eas­i­ly fixed by sim­ply using ratch­ets on the large strap just as one would a two-strap sys­tem. These bind­ings are large­ly a mat­ter of pref­er­ence. Ride both and deter­mine which you like more.
    • Base­plate: The base­plate is like a wash­er between your bind­ings and board and essen­tial­ly, con­nects the bind­ing to the board. They’re made out of a vari­ety of mate­ri­als like plas­tics, car­bon, and even anodized alu­minum. On top of the base­plate is padding to absorb shock from jumps and gen­er­al rid­ing. Base­plates from dif­fer­ent man­u­fac­tur­ers offer dif­fer­ent ben­e­fits when it comes to edge response, pow­er tran­si­tion, board flex dura­bil­i­ty and vibra­tion damp­en­ing. More expen­sive bind­ings will have fanci­er base­plates but the key here is to just make sure the base plate fits your board and just get out there and ride. You’ll acquire your taste as you progress.

Flex: Your rid­ing style will ulti­mate­ly deter­mine how over­all stiff or soft you want your bind­ings to be. Man­u­fac­tur­ers rate the stiff­ness of their bind­ings on a scale from soft, medi­um to stiff or one to ten, and though there are vari­ances gen­er­al­ly 1–3 is soft, 3–5 is medi­um and 5–10 as stiff.

Soft Flex: A bind­ing with soft flex is well suit­ed to a rid­er who likes to throw big spins and hit fea­tures in the park. The soft­er flex pairs well with their lighter, pop­pi­er boards for a maneu­ver­able set-up that is for­giv­ing and responsive.

Medi­um Flex: All moun­tain rid­ers (resort rid­ing) might pre­fer a bind­ing with medi­um flex that can adapt to pow­der rid­ing and offer all day comfort.

Stiff Flex: Freeride or big moun­tain rid­ers (back­coun­try, side­coun­try, and the like) look for bind­ings that have stiff flex and are able to pow­er through carves at the high­est speeds.