Choosing the Right Snowboard Bindings
Snowboard bindings are an integral part of any snowboarding set-up, and selecting the right binding is key to creating an exciting and enjoyable snowboarding experience. Snowboard bindings come in a range of styles and systems, each of which offers its own pros and cons.
Strap Snowboard Bindings
Strap snowboard bindings are the most commonly used binding, offering a number of benefits to the user. Strap bindings are fastened using a ratchet strap system across the toe and at the ankle. The ratchet system allows for adjustments to fit, letting the rider choose the level of play in the binding according to their riding style. Strap bindings are also most compatible with a soft boot, offering the rider a greater level of comfort between runs. However, strap bindings can be a nuisance, especially for beginners on short runs, as they require the rider to fasten their back foot in place after every lift ride before they can make a run.
Strap in snowboard bindings feature a high back, which is a brace that rises from the heel to above the ankle, against which pressure can be placed for board control. Riders can select the height of their back according to their style of riding. For example, a taller high back offers a greater level of board responsiveness, while a shorter back is preferred by some more experienced riders because it allows for a more flexible riding style. The angle of the high back can also be adjusted on most strap bindings to further increase the responsiveness of the board.
Step-In Snowboard Bindings
Step-in snowboard bindings offer the ultimate in convenience since the rider simply needs to click his/her feet into place to be ready to ride, with no need for a manual adjustment. Those choosing a step-in binding system should, however, be aware that boots and binding must be compatible for this system to work. Anyone considering a step-in binding system should also bear in mind that most step-in systems require a more rigid boot since the lack of high back means the boot itself must suitably translate rider movements into board control. The rigidity of the boots used in many step in binding systems can reduce rider comfort in the times between runs.
For those who cannot decide between a strap and step- system, the flow-in binding (sometimes simply called a flow binding) offers an interesting compromise.
Flow bindings feature a fixed strap that covers the top of the foot, together with a high back that folds down to allow the rider to slide his/her foot into place. Flow-in bindings require less work to fasten in place before a run than a strap style. However, as a result, they lose some of the adjustability of their strap-fastened counterparts. Some riders complain that flow bindings can become hard to get into once snow becomes compacted on the base place. Flow-in bindings also lack the high back adjustability of a strap model, meaning it can be hard to achieve the right level of responsiveness.