Bindings are responsible for the seemingly simple task of attaching your feet to your snowboard. Many people think bindings aren’t that different from one another, because your body isn’t in close contact like it is in snowboard boots, but all bindings are not created equal. Different materials achieve softer or stiffer flexes, which often reflect the riding style and preferences of the user. Most companies utilize the standard two-strap (ankle and toe) design to secure the boots in the bindings, but a few (Flow Snowboard Bindings and K2 Snowboard Bindings) have developed quick entry/exit systems to save a little time for riders who demand it.
Bindings were traditionally designed with a rigid baseplate made of metal or of varying synthetics. When mounted to a flexible snowboard “dead spots” are created under the bindings where the board is restricted from flexing. Today, binding manufacturers are combating this problem in a number of different ways. Burton has developed the EST Burton Snowboard Bindings System (only compatible on Burton snowboards with “The Channel”), which really takes this concept to the extreme. EST almost completely eliminates the baseplate from underneath the binding, replacing it with a foam footbed, and moves the mounting screws to the outsides of the binding. This design yields about 90% more flex underfoot than any traditional binding. Burton’s Re:Flex disc bindings bring the same idea to the 4x4 mounting pattern by splitting the baseplate and hinging the disc, while Union Snowboard Bindings Contact Pro and Ultra models shrink down the size of the disc in addition to replacing much of the baseplate with foam. These are just a few examples of the many ways binding designs are continuing to evolve.
When choosing the right binding for you, there are a few things to look out for. One of the main features to choose from is the kind of flex you want your bindings to have. This depends primarily on two things: your personal preference, and the board you will be mounting the bindings to. Typically beginners like bindings with softer flex, as they are more forgiving. Softer flexes are also popular among park riders, especially those doing more jibbing (rails, boxes, etc.), rather than big jumps and half pipes. Stiffer bindings are common among riders who need quick response (faster edge to edge) for higher speeds and more aggressive terrain. You also want to be mindful of the combination of your board and bindings. This is especially true of stiffer boards that you need bindings rigid enough to properly “drive” the board.
Bindings are sized to fit a variety of boot sizes and have gender-specific designs. Sizing varies from brand to brand, but make sure that the bindings you order are going to fit your boots! Women’s binding designs cater to the female anatomy, with lower high backs to limit discomfort of the calf muscle, and generally slightly softer flexes.