A lot of people think that bindings don’t matter as long as your feet are attached to the board, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. There’s no art to buying bindings – you just need ones which are right for you, so here’s some top tips when thinking about bindings.
Price – the most expensive ones aren’t necessarily the best, but some of the very cheap ones are more likely to break easily – which is the last thing you need when stuck at the top of a mountain or in the backcountry – you need to rely on your bindings as you don’t want to be poised on a double black run or miles away from civilisation with only one foot strapped in to the bottom.
Size – bindings generally come in Small, Medium and Large, but even if you’re medium in one it doesn’t mean you’ll be the same in another. If you take your boots with you when trying on bindings, you’ll know the exact fit – particularly if you’re borderline between sizes as your boot may make it smaller/larger.
Fit – make sure your boot fits in to your bindings snugly without any gaps. Gaps mean your foot will move, so tighten the binding as far as it will go to make sure your boot doesn’t move around. Moving feet means far less control out shredding!
Type of binding – there are a few different types of binding, but the main ones are: strap-in, step-in, Flow, EST.
Strap-in – the most common type of binding as they’re fully adjustable, secure and comfortable. Generally they come with two straps, but some companies have released bindings with just one, or one main strap and a toe-cap. Your choice depends on your own preference and comfort levels.
Step-in – Step-in bindings only work with step-in boots, and were launched due to their super-ease to put on – you literally do what it says on the tin – step in and you’re done! They’re easy and fast, but some people struggle when doing tricks as there’s less support around the boot. Rental stores often use these so people are sometimes happier to continue what they used when they were learning.
Flow – Flow bindings are a cross between a strap-in and a step-in as they allow you to use your standard boots, but are still quick and easy to put on. Once you’ve crossed the initial time of fitting your flow bindings exactly to your boot, you simply slide your foot in and push up the high-back. They look similar to the strap-in, but instead of straps, there’s one big ‘tongue’ so you’re secure at all times.
EST – EST bindings are designed solely for the Burton EST boards, with an unlimited number of stance options. Rather than your standard three or four hole baseplates, EST moves up and down the board into any position you want, and some even come without baseplates so you have even more contact with the board.
Baseplates – Some bindings come with padded baseplates which you either love or hate. The padding is like the Nike Air of snowboarding, with a soft cusioned airbag to land on, but some riders don’t like the gap between the board and your boot, feeling they’re more controlled when nearer the board.
Most bindings come with four holes, and Burton ones (apart from EST) come with three holes, so make sure you’ve the right plates/numbers of screws to make sure you’re secure.
Highbacks – some are high, some are low – in general, the higher, the more control you have over your heel edge. If you’re more into freeriding then you may prefer this as you’ve the stability you need for high-speed riding and carving sweet turns. If you’re a freestyler then you may prefer a lower high-back as you’ve a bit more flexibility for tricks.
In general, it’s up to you what type of bindings you choose, but the main consideration is that they are comfortable, secure, your feet don’t move around inside them, and your boots fit in snugly. Not all bindings work for everyone, so find one that suits you – just remember you’re relying on them to keep you attached to that board, so you don’t want to lose out when you least need it. Stuck in a blizzard with binding troubles is not fun, so make sure you don’t skimp out on something you need to rely on so much.