Modern snowboard bindings are not only expensive, they are also one of the trickiest items to handpick. You might be wondering just how important bindings really are, and whether you can get away with cheaper, no-name alternatives instead.
Snowboard bindings are extremely important because they serve as the direct connection between you and your snowboard. They provide you with the necessary control to safely maneuver down the slopes by transferring energy and responding to every one of your body’s sudden movements.
Essentially, if you have a high-quality pair of snowboard bindings that match your board and style of riding, you will have a much better experience.
Before you go grab a pair for yourself, you should first be aware of just how much of a difference bindings can make, as well as some of the key features to look out for.
See also: Do I Need To Buy New Snowboard Bindings?
Do snowboard bindings really make a difference?
The quality of snowboard bindings you choose to invest in will likely have a massive impact on your overall riding experience.
Most people looking to buy a new setup focus on snowboard and boots, with bindings often being just an afterthought.
While you obviously need a board to get you down the hill, and boots that are comfortable, bindings are possibly the most important element when it comes to control, response, and general energy exertion.
Having a good set of bindings not only gives you better ability to change direction smoothly, but also allows you to use less energy for manipulating your snowboard.
With good bindings, you will not only have more control over your riding, it’s likely going to be more comfortable and enjoyable as well.
How loose should bindings be?
You don’t want bindings that are too loose and flexible, since then you’ll be sliding all over the place, and won’t have as much control over your mobility.
You also don’t want bindings that are too stiff or rigid, as they will be far less comfortable and will require a lot more muscle strength to maneuver the board.
However, it will also depend on exactly which style of riding you prefer. Read on for more on this.
What bindings do pro snowboarders use?
Some of the best bindings used by professional snowboarders include Burton, Salomon, or Union Binding Co bindings.
The Burton Cartel X EST, the Union Flite Pro, and the Union Force are widely regarded as three of the best all-around snowboard bindings.
Professional snowboarders generally stick to bindings that mold well to their personal style of riding. They tend to use different boards and bindings depending on where and how they plan to ride on any given trip.
There are three general styles that all aspiring snowboarders should be aware of; freeride, freestyle, and all-mountain.
Bindings for freeride pros
Freeride snowboarders often use bindings that are built for speedier runs and carry less flex.
Additional rigidness helps provide better edge-to-edge response time during hard-charging lines and high-speed carves.
Bindings for freestyle pros
Freestyle riders, on the other hand, tend to stick to bindings with more flex. These provide them with more freedom and mobility to contort their body, and allow them to adjust their center of gravity when performing tricks.
Bindings for all-mountain pros
All-mountain riders tend to lean somewhere in the middle, often opting for a medium flex. They too need the flexibility to pull off occasional stunts, but also need a binding that will provide reliable responsiveness to handle different terrains.
Are boots or bindings more important?
While much of your decision will probably come down to budget and necessity, boots are by far the most essential piece of gear that you need to have.
While we’ve already mentioned the importance of snowboard bindings, if you don’t have a comfortable pair of boots, your riding experience won’t be as enjoyable.
Why boots are more important than bindings?
Snowboard boots are the base of comfort for all riders, and having a pair that don’t fit, are uncomfortable, or are non-compatible is a sure way to ruin your day.
Compatibility is one area that often gets neglected. What many people don’t realize is that boots and bindings are specifically designed to complement one another.
Some bindings require specific boots to ride, and some boots will only fit snugly with certain bindings. You will be able to tell if you have compatible bindings because it will grip to your boot securely without forcing or pinching it into position.
Also, there are different variations of ‘flex’ when it comes to snowboard boots
,, all of which can make or break your overall riding experience.
Soft flex boots are generally more comfortable and made of resilient materials, which tend to be a lot easier on your feet. Stiff flex boots, on the other hand, offer maximum support for edge power and control at high speeds in tougher conditions.
Depending on your style of riding, your level of experience, and how much flexibility you need, the type of snowboard boot you buy can have a massive impact on your riding experience.
See also: Hard vs Soft Snowboard Boots
There are also various lacing systems that come with the different styles of snowboard boots, each of which can make a big difference as well.
You want your boots to be laced tightly so that your heels and ankles are secured in place. But you also don’t want them to be too tight to the point where they feel uncomfortable or create pressure points that could then lead to painful blistering.
Your snowboard allows you to have full control, your bindings help keep you in balance, but your boots ensure that you remain comfortable throughout the entire experience.
If you are uncomfortable while riding, then nothing else really matters. For that reason, boots are even more important than bindings.
See also: Are snowboard boots supposed to hurt?
What do expensive bindings do?
Snowboard bindings that are more expensive tend to be made of materials that are high-quality, lightweight, durable, and long-lasting, such as leather, vinyl, and carbon fiber.
The more money you spend on bindings, the more flexibility, comfort, and longevity you are likely to receive as well.
Expensive bindings are costly for a reason, and it’s generally a more than worthy investment if you are concerned about higher performance, durability, and compatibility.
Bindings base plate
For example, every set of snowboard bindings comes with a base plate, which features discs and bolts that attach to a snowboard binding interface. This is arguably the most important piece of the binding’s structure.
Snowboard bindings that are on the pricier end will likely have a base plate also made from higher-end materials, such as ceramic or aluminum. Both of these are incredibly durable and long-lasting.
Low-end bindings, on the other hand, are probably going to have a plastic base plate instead, which is far more likely to break down and deteriorate over time.
The same can be said for a snowboard binding’s highback plate and straps. If you spend less money, you will likely be receiving lower-quality materials as well.
Another factor that makes expensive snowboard bindings more valuable is the lifetime warranty that many of these items carry.
Even though most people change their snowboards over time, very few individuals end up switching over to new bindings.
This is because once they find bindings that are comfortable and compatible with their board, they almost rarely want to spend the time or money trying to find new bindings.
For that reason, having the benefit of a lifetime warranty can be a blessing in the case of snowboard bindings.
How much should I pay for snowboard bindings?
As with anything, you can save yourself a lot of money in the long run by spending more upfront on bindings of higher quality.
Snowboard bindings can run anywhere between $90 and $800, depending on the quality of materials, and how specialized the bindings are.
While you probably don’t have to spend $800 for a simple pair of bindings, we wouldn’t advise getting a cheap $90 pair either. You should probably aim to spend somewhere in the range of $250 and $500.
By spending closer to $200 you will likely get bindings that are more flexible, and made with inexpensive materials. Whereas if you spend closer to the $500 mark, you will probably get bindings that are stronger and more durable.
How much you spend within this range depends on the style of rider you are, and the quality of materials that you require.
As mentioned, bindings that require more rigidity or versatility, such as freeride or all-mountain bindings, are generally going to cost more due to the cost of production.
The materials are going to be stronger and built specifically to handle intense terrain, such as steel or aluminum.
Freestyle bindings, on the other hand, are often made with more flexible materials such as plastic or carbon fiber, which typically cost less to produce.
See also: Is Snowboarding An Expensive Sport?
Can you put any bindings on any snowboard?
Snowboard bindings can be mounted in numerous ways, and most snowboards come with a wide range of hole patterns and mounting functions. As a result, you can put almost any pair of bindings onto any snowboard with relative ease.
There are four different binding systems commonly used with modern snowboards: 4×4, 2×4, 3-Hole, and the Channel system.
Most binding manufacturers either create universal discs that can be used on any system, or they offer separate discs that you can purchase to make your bindings compatible with a particular system.
So the good news about snowboard bindings is that even though they are generally expensive, they are also exceptionally versatile.