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This Article was written and contributed by ABC-of-Snowboarding: The Snowboard Info Portal
Bindings are essential for snowboarding; they make sure your boots and your feet are connected to your snowboard. There are different kinds of snowboard bindings, different people using different styles of snowboarding prefer different kinds of bindings.
A Detailed Look At Bindings
Bindings connect your boots and thus your body to your snowboard and are an essential part of snowboarding. Boots and bindings form a combination where not all bindings are suited for each type of boot. It is often best to buy them together and you will definitely need to know what your intended riding style is before you buy a combination of boot and binding.
There are a couple of types of Snowboard Bindings which we will investigate in this section.
These bindings consist of a contoured base plate that a rider can place his soft boot upon. At the back of the base plate is vertical plate (the highback) that rises behind your ankles and lower calves. The highback secures your heel and backside of your lower legs. At the front of the binding are two or three adjustable straps which can be used to secure the front side of your feet and ankles to the snowboard. The combination of the highback plate and the frontside straps provide great control. This type of binding is used in combination with soft boots. As the binding gives all the support needed, the boot can remain soft and comfortable.
Highback bindings can differ in the number of straps and the shape of the base and highback plates. Alpine riders who need to perform high speed turns will prefer taller and stiffer highbacks for greater overall control and improved edge control. Freestylers will want a shorter backplate for more flexibility and turning power. Most riders go for shorter backplates because these kinds of bindings as they are more common, offer excellent control and offer more options when it comes to boots-binding combinations. Soft boots can be used with any kind of Highback binding.
Highback bindings are more difficult to get into as it is necessary to loosen and tighten the straps every time you get into and out of your bindings. This is the reason that Step-in Bindings were developed. Step-in bindings usually work in combination with soft boots that are somewhat stiffer than those used with highback bindings. In general step-in bindings make it easier to get in and out of however, you pay for this convenience when it comes to control, since step in bindings are not as responsive as highback bindings.
There are, however, some higher end and more advanced step-in bindings on the market that provide the best of both worlds. Choosing a step-in binding narrows your choice when it comes to choosing boots and bindings as they need to support the same system of stepping in. Cross-over skiers will often feel comfortable with step-in bindings and boots as they are already used to stepping in, and out of, using harder boots.
Flow In Bindings are relatively new and try to combine the control of strap on bindings with the ease of step in bindings. The bindings look pretty similar to highback bindings and also use soft boots. The most important difference is the fact that the highback can be levered backwards creating an opening for your softboot to enter in. Instead of two or three straps to cover the top of your feet, there is one large tongue that covers a very large part of the top of your boot. Getting into and out of your binding is a matter of flipping the highback backwards and inserting or removing your boot.
Riders love the flow in system as it combines all the advantages of the highback bindings with the ease of step ins. One disadvantage, however, is that flow in bindings are less easily adjusted than strap-ons. Flow in bindings are growing in popularity as the selection in models and technologies improve.
This will be the most important decision you will make. Boots and Bindings are often a combination where not every boot is suitable for each type of binding and the vice versa. The following are the different kinds of boot - binding combination available:
- Soft Boots and Strap-On/Flow In Bindings: This system is most flexible. Any soft snowboarding boot can be used with the strap on system. FreeStylers and FreeRiders often prefer this system as it gives greater flexibility and more maneuverability. It's also the most comfortable combination when not actually on the board.
- Soft/Hard Step-In Boots with Step-In Bindings. If you are going to choose step in bindings for your snowboard then you will also need to choose step-in boots. The Step In systems need to be the same on the boots and bindings. Step In systems make getting on and off your board very easy. There is a price to pay: Step-Ins offer less alternatives for boot manufactures and often cheaper step in systems give less board control.
At this moment Soft Boots and Strap-on Bindings are the norm as they provide both a flexible way of adjusting the boot and binding for a perfect fit and are most comfortable when not on the board. Step In bindings and boots are used by many riders, however, for their ease of getting on and off the board.
What Binding size should I choose?
Bindings typically come in two or three sizes (Small, Medium and Large). The size you choose will depend completely on the Snowboard Boot that you have chosen in combination with the binding. Make sure the binding has the correct size that allows you to easily get into the binding and easily adjust the straps (when using strap binding) without leaving too much strap on either side.
How high should my Highback be?
As explained in the Binding Details section, the highback is the plate at the rear of the binding supporting your heel and calves. Different kinds of bindings have different highbacks. If your preferred Riding Style is FreeStyle then you will want a smaller, more flexible highback for added maneuverability. Aggressive FreeRiders and FreeCarvers will want higher, stiffer highbacks for added control. For even more control choose a binding without a highback but with a hard boot.