Snowboard bindings

If well-matched to a rider's board and riding style, snowboard bindings can swiftly initiate energy transfer and respond to even the faintest bodily shifts.

Choose snowboard bindings based on comfort, fit and function. This article gives you the basics on how to choose.

Shop REI's selection of snowboard bindings.

The Basics of Snowboard Bindings

Getting a new boots-bindings-board combo? Choose items in this order:

  1. Boots: Foot comfort should be every rider's top gear priority. Build your system from the boots down.
  2. Bindings: These must be a) compatible with the flex of your boot and b) suitable for the type of terrain where you normally ride.
  3. Board: If you want lots of stance options, look for boards with 2x4 bolt patterns or Burton's Channel system. (Note: Channel works only with Burton's EST bindings.)

When shopping:

  • Bring boots with you. This allows you to ensure your boots and bindings are compatible. Not every binding is exactly appropriate for every boot.
  • Choose your riding style. Bindings should be appropriate for the terrain you usually explore. Your choices:
    • All-mountain: Any terrain—groomed runs, powder, park and pipe.
    • Freestyle/park: Best for half-pipe, rails, boxes, jumps, spins and tricks.
    • Freeride: Wild, unmarked backcountry (off-piste) terrain.
    • Powder: Wider boards for softer snow.
    • Splitboards: Deep backcountry exploration.

Key snowboard binding components:

Parts of a Snowboard Binding

  • Highback: This vertical plate rests against your Achilles tendon to give you control of your board's rear edge. Riders focused on speed want tall, stiff highbacks for enhanced control. Park riders and novices usually prefer the turning ease found in a shorter, flexible highback.
  • Straps: These secure a boot in place. Simple is good.
  • Baseplate: This padded platform features either a system of bolts or discs to attach the plates to a board's bolt pattern or binding interface. Adjustments can be made to attain your preferred stance.

Types of Snowboard Bindings

Snowboard bindings are divided into 3 general categories:

Strap bindings are the most popular. Straps (usually 2) secure each boot in place; the highback does not move. They feature multiple adjustment options, excellent support and cushioning. Chief downside: Manually buckling and unbuckling the straps can be difficult while wearing gloves or in very cold conditions. Strap bindings are generally suitable for both soft and firm-flexing boots. Prices run from low to mid-range.

Speed-entry bindings (also known as convenience bindings) look similar to strap bindings but have a reclining highback to permit relatively easy in-and-out boot access. It is a time-saving design preferred by many casual riders. Feet are stabilized by a yoke system that applies uniform pressure across the forefoot. Performance-focused riders sometimes feel this sacrifices board control. These bindings are generally suitable for both soft and firm-flexing boots. Prices range widely, from low to high.

Burton EST (Extra Sensory Technology) bindings are compatible only with Burton's Channel mounting system. They eliminate the restrictions of mounting with discs, allowing the rider virtually unlimited stance, width and angle options. Price is at the high end.

Fit and Price

These 2 factors influence every purchase:

Fit

Snowboard bindings must be compatible with the size of your boot. Fasten the straps and check their length. They should not dangle excessively when tightened. Look for different bindings if the straps are overly long after bindings have been cinched to your boots.

Boot comfort is priority No. 1 when assembling a boot-bindings-board system. A compatible binding will grip a boot snugly and securely, but without the need to vigorously force the boot into position or pinch it into place. A snowboard binding should allow a boot to flex but not let it wobble loosely.

If your boots feel snug yet comfortable on your feet and the bindings apply a secure yet flexible grip, you likely have a good match.

Price

It's tough to evaluate the on-mountain performance of bindings in a store or online. As a result, bindings are often purchased largely by price.

What do you get when you buy more expensive bindings?

  • Lower weight.
  • Advanced materials, such as weight-saving carbon fiber.
  • More adjustment points.
  • Sophisticated padding for comfort and vibration-reduction.

Bindings at REI.com are sorted as follows:

Recreational and intermediate bindings (less expensive) tend to have a softer flex. Beginning riders prefer their forgiving, shock-absorbing designs. They're also popular with advanced freestylers riding in the halfpipe and terrain parks. Softer bindings offer a greater margin of error and better recovery during a rough landing.

Advanced bindings (more expensive) are stiffer, stronger models that provide more precise control and immediate energy transfer, traits preferred by freeriders. Such bindings may weigh a little more, though.

Women's specific bindings are designed with dimensions that better fit a women's frame.

Bolt Mounting Patterns

Bolt patterns are commonly either 2x4 or 4x4. Burton opts for its own diamond-shaped, "3D" pattern found only on its boards. Burton also has introduced a linear option it calls Channel.

The difference between 2x4 and 4x4 patterns is the vertical distance (in centimeters) between the bolt holes. The horizontal holes are always spaced 4cm apart. Vertically, though, the 2x4 pattern doubles the stance options of a 4x4 layout.

The Channel system uses 2 slots (front and back) instead of bolt holes. Burton's EST models are made exclusively for the Channel slots and permit highly customized settings. A separate kit modifies Burton 3D bindings to work with the Channel system, but the EST bindings offer the best match.

Parts of a Snowboard Binding

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Technical contributors to this article include Adam McVay, REI snowsports product specialist; Todd Hogan and Dustin Kingman, REI product information specialists; Jake Darro, snowsports specialist, Burton Snowboards.