There are a few things to consider when you set out to buy snowboard bindings. This article will show you how to choose snowboard bindings in terms of:
- Riding Style; and
- Compatibility (with snowboard mounting system)
Some of the decision comes down to personal preference but mostly it’s about which bindings will best serve your needs in terms of what you like to do on a board (your style) or your ability level.
How to Size Snowboard Bindings
Bindings are the connectors that transfer the energy from your muscles to your snowboard. If those connectors aren’t transferring that energy effectively and efficiently then you might have the wrong sized bindings.
Getting the size of your bindings right involves making sure they are the right size for both your boots and your board.
This really revolves around your boots. Get the right sized board for your boots and the right sized bindings for your boots and your bindings and board will automatically be the right size for each other.
To learn more about getting the right sized bindings for your boots and board check out the link below.
The article includes tables showing which boot sizes fit which binding sizes for each of the different binding brands (unfortunately these sizes aren’t standardized but the charts show the boot sizes and binding sizes for each brand).
Which Type of Binding Should I go With?
Snowboard bindings come in two main types. There are others that are more specialized but most riders go with either Strap-In or Speed Entry (a.k.a. Rear Entry) Bindings.
Both types of binding have their own pluses and minuses depending on what you typically get up to on the mountain.
Strap-in bindings are best for:
Freeriders: Free-riders love the backcountry right? If you have to strap-in at any point on steep slopes (sitting down) or with a lot of powder around it can be tricky to do so with speed entry bindings.
On the other hand it can be quite handy to have that speed of getting in and out of for any flat or uphill sections you encounter where you might need to do some hiking.
So it doesn’t mean you can’t use speed-entry in the backcountry – there are plenty of bindings made for freeriding that are speed entry so if you think they’ll suit you, give them a go. And you can always do side entry with most rear entry bindings it just might take a bit longer than standard side-entry (strap-in).
Precise about pressure: Strap-in bindings are also good for anyone who is fussy about getting the pressure of the binding straps precise and completely independently on both toe and ankle.
Speed-entry bindings are best for:
Beginners: You can strap in standing up. Sure you’ll have to learn how to pull yourself up after falling – but at least the first time off the lift you can get going without having to stand up and get your balance first.
To be fair, you can strap in standing up with strap-in bindings too but it’s more difficult for beginners.
You aren’t likely to be doing any back country or deep powder stuff so that shouldn’t be a problem.
Sticking to the groomers: If you prefer to stick to the groomers then most likely the only times you will need to strap in is after getting off the lift and on flat sections where you’ve had to de-bind so you can skate. Either way you can stand and re-bind quickly which is a real luxury.
Again if you’ve learned it, then you can strap in standing with strap-in bindings. It’s just not as fast.
Backcountry: As mentioned above speed entry are doable in the backcountry. I just suggest that you learn how to get into your speed entry using side entry before you go so you can use side-entry if you need to.
Those who ride a lot with skiers: If you tend to ride with skiers then speed entry is great because you won’t ever have to make them wait for you to bind. Though to be fair it’s not that slow with strap-in bindings.
For freestyle riders it really comes down to personal preference and either or will be suitable.
To learn more about Strap-in and Speed-entry bindings check out the link below.
How to choose Flex of Snowboard Bindings
Choosing the right flex basically comes down to your ability level and your style of riding. It’s also somewhat a matter of personal preference – but not entirely. A freestyle rider definitely won’t want super stiff bindings and a freerider definitely won’t want super soft bindings.
Generally speaking the following is a good place to start.
Beginners: Medium-to-soft (3-4 out of 10)
Freestylers: Medium-to-soft or soft or medium (1-6 out of 10)
All-Mountaineers: Medium, Medium-to-stiff or medium-to-soft (4-8 out of 10)
Free-Riders/Powder: Medium-Stiff to Stiff (7-10 out of 10)
Learn more about choosing binding flex at the article below.
Compatibility with Board’s Binding Mounting Systems
There are 4 main types of binding mounting systems on snowboards. Each type allows for differing degrees of stance options.
The 4 Hole Systems
The ‘2 x 4’ and ‘4 x 4’ mounting systems are the most common and most brands use these. Therefore most brands bindings are compatible with most snowboards.
The ‘2 x 4’ and ‘4 x 4’ mounting systems are 4 hole mountain systems and bindings are screwed into the snowboard using 4 screws for each binding.
The 3D Mounting System (3 hole system)
This system is unique to Burton snowboards. This uses a different insert pattern and only 3 screws are used to attach the bindings to the board.
A lot of the binding manufacturers make their binding discs (which hold the base plate of the bindings to the snowboard) compatible with both 4 hole and 3 hole mounting systems so that their bindings can be used on either.
The Channel System
The Channel System (also only on Burton boards) uses channels (tracks/rails) that run along the snowboard at the inserts (where the holes would be on the other mountain systems).
The Channel system has the advantage of virtually limitless stance options and minimal dead-zone contact with the board (so board can flex more naturally without the bindings getting in the way)
The downside is that compatibility with bindings other than Burton’s EST bindings is more difficult. Some brands have “universal discs” which allow their bindings to be compatible with all mounting systems.
For others you will need to get a special disc for your binding that will make it compatible with the Channel System. Most brands do seem to make these but there is the extra cost of getting the converter disc.
Check out the link below for a more in depth look at compatibility and which brand’s bindings are compatible with which boards.
Over to You…
Hopefully you are now more in-the-know about how to choose your snowboard bindings. To get greater detail on each section of this article, check out the the links at the end of each section (these go more into depth on each topic).
If you have worked out the specs you are looking for check out one of my top 5 bindings posts. Click the link below and select the appropriate category for you – e.g. women’s beginner, men’s beginner, women’s all-mountain, men’s all mountain etc.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments please them in the comments section below.