What is a snowboard binding and what are its components?
The binding placed on the boot is used to transmit the movements of the leg and the whole body to the board. Bindings (bindings) are therefore essential elements for riding. A snowboard binding is made up of the following elements:
- The straps which are straps equipped with hooks to tighten the binding and hold the boot. We distinguish the "cap strap" (or front strap) which perfectly maintains the front of the foot. The ankle strap or "ankle strap" is more imposing. It helps to hold the ankle in the binding by pressing against the frame, the arch and the base of the spoiler. The traditional "toe strap" holds the front of the foot against the frame.
- The spoiler or "highback" is an element that rests against the base of the calf and supports the rear of the boot. The spoiler helps to stabilise the whole body on the board, especially in the backside position. A high and rigid spoiler makes it easier and improves the rider's stability.
- The baseplate is the main and lower part of the binding on which the foot is positioned and where the various elements (straps, spoiler...) are attached. It is covered with a footbed made of a specific material (usually polycarbonate or reinforced nylon) to act as a cushion by damping impacts and vibrations while optimising the boot's grip on the snow.
- The buckles or "buckles" ensure that the binding closes properly. Simple and quick to use, they feature a ratchet system on a notched strap.
- The heelcup is the part of the frame, under the spoiler, where the heel is wedged. Its role is to transmit the rider's energy to the frame, which then transfers it to the board. The strongest hoops are made of metal. The plastic ones are softer and therefore more comfortable. A rigid heelcup offers more reactivity.
- The disc is a round shaped piece that allows you to connect the bindings to the board and adjust their angle. They are designed to move the binding forward or backward so that it is centred in the middle of the board without the heels or toes protruding.
- The Gaz Pedal is the adjustable part of the binding at the front of the base. It is made of foam and allows the front of the foot to rest for more comfort. With the Gaz Pedal, the boot stays further away from the snow, which is an advantage for large boots and extreme carvers.
Choosing your snowboard bindings from the different types of bindings available
The "strap in" or classic entry fasteners
The strap in that secures the boot are the most common bindings. The foot is held in place by two straps or snowboard straps, one at the ankle (ankle strap) and the other at the front of the foot at the toes (cap strap). With this type of bindings, the boot comes in from the front by resting on the removable sole (footbed). The heel is then wedged against the arch and the calf against the spoiler. The straps are tightened and fastened for riding but must be undone to take a chairlift. This system is therefore not the fastest, but it nevertheless ensures comfort, reliability and performance.
Rear-entry bindings or quick-release bindings
As the name suggests, with these bindings, the boot enters from the rear. Note that there are hybrid rear-entry systems that can also be fitted from the front. These quick-release bindings have a drop-down spoiler and do not require you to touch the straps. Once the system is locked, the rider is ready to glide. With rear-entry bindings, the snowboarder retains his or her adjustment to the straps, which facilitates the binding process, which can also be done standing up. The only downside is that this type of binding makes it more difficult to put on the boots in powder snow. Hybrid systems that also allow a conventional front entry make up for this disadvantage.
The step-on system is an innovation released in 2017 by the Burton brand. The Burton binding is a revolutionary fastening system in which the boot is locked into the binding by means of lugs placed on the sides and back of the boot. This process avoids the inconvenience of front and rear entry as well as the discomfort induced by straps. The step on binding also significantly improves the flex of the board and the sensations during the ride. By reducing the weight of the binding it allows access to multiple cushioning options.
Snowboard flexible or rigid binding ? Choose your snowboard bindings according to your riding style.
Although all snowboard bindings are versatile and adapt quite well from one terrain to another, some bindings are much better for a given practice. The flex or flexibility of the binding is therefore the determining factor in choosing the right bindings for your riding.
Bindings are assigned a type of flex, as is the case for soft or rigid snowboards or snowboard boots. Flex is a value that refers to the materials and design of bindings which can be soft, medium or rigid. Most manufacturers rate their snowboard bindings on a scale of 1 to 10.
Freeriding requires that you choose your snowboard bindings by opting for a rigid binding that optimises control of the board and allows you to feel truly in control. Freeride bindings are rigid in order to withstand steep falls and high speeds.
If you are more of a freestyle rider, a lover of sensational tricks on all types of terrain or a freestyler in a snowpark, your board certainly has a low flex and your boots are supple. The choice of bindings for freestyle snowboarding will therefore naturally move towards a low flex which will give the bindings more flexibility and therefore more forgiveness in case of mistakes.
For all-mountain snowboarding
There are also multi-purpose bindings or all-mountain snowboard bindings which represent an excellent compromise between the two previous practices. They are equipped with an intermediate flex that makes them flexible enough to enjoy freestyle, while offering the necessary support and precision whatever the terrain. With all-mountain snowboard bindings, there's nothing stopping you from combining fresh snow, carving and snowpark in the same day!
Choosing your snowboard bindings for steep slopes
To ride on a slope greater than 45° it is recommended to use insert bindings in 4X4, or 4x2. The 4x2 inserts allow a more precise adjustment of the snowboard stance, i.e. the distance between the front and rear foot. In addition, their reduced weight allows you to go up without too much fatigue and maintain good skiability on descents.
Even if other elements such as the shape, height and inclination of the spoiler are also important, choosing snowboard bindings adapted to your usual practice remains essential. Generally speaking, it is important to remember that if your board is rigid, your bindings must also be rigid to allow you to steer your board.
On the other hand, a flexible snowboard will be satisfied with both flexible and rigid bindings as long as you have a sufficiently correct level of practice.
Which size of snowboard bindings should I choose?
There are three sizes of bindings for adult snowboards (S, M and L). Some brands offer sizes S/M or L/XL. When choosing your snowboard bindings, it is important to pay attention to the size markings which may vary slightly depending on the brand of binding.
The size of the snowboard bindings should correspond to the size of the boots. In principle a binding size M is equivalent to a boot size between 41 and 44. If you hesitate between two sizes, it is advisable, as you would do to choose the right size of snowboard, to test your bindings in the shop, especially as some boots are larger than others for the same size.
In terms of weight, a pair of traditional bindings weighs between 1.5 kg and 2 kg. Choosing snowboard bindings below 1.5 kg remains really light. On the other hand, above 2 kg they may be too heavy and get in the way.
What angle for snowboard bindings?
Choosing your bindings is one thing. Now it's just a matter of adjusting the snowboard bindings to the correct angle. If you don't know which angle you feel best on your board it is advisable:
- In snowboarding on piste and all mountain, a binding adjustment of +18° for the front foot and -6° for the rear foot. The position of the front foot will then be more oriented in the downhill direction.
- In freestyle snowboarding, the adjustment is made on an angle of -15 and +15 to allow easy movement in both directions while easing the pressure on the knees during descents and especially when landing jumps.