There are a few key specs you should look out for when choosing all mountain snowboards bindings.
This post will outline what the most important specs are for all-mountain bindings.
So What are the Specs for All Mountain Bindings
The rest of this post will look at:
- Shock Absorption
- Boot Support
Of course some of these specs are overlapping and effect each other – like shock absorption also being a factor of comfort and the flex having a significant impact on butterability etc.
All mountain bindings tend to have a medium flex – anywhere from a 4 out of 10 (with 1 being the softest and 10 being the stiffest) to a 7 or 8 out of 10 depending on preference and your style of all mountain riding.
All mountain is a very broad term and there are some that are more freestyle oriented and some that are more freeride oriented.
Those who fit in the freestyle-all-mountain category will typically go for a slightly softer flex – a 4, 5 o r 6 out of 10 usually.
Whereas more aggressive all mountain riders tend to prefer a slightly stiffer flex – like a 6, 7 or 8 out of 10.
Butterability is all about how well the bindings flex with the board when you are hitting jibs, doing manuals, doing butters, tweaking grabs etc – and how much flex and forgiveness there is on landing from jumps and tricks.
Naturally softer flexing bindings will perform better at these tasks. But there are other factors on bindings that will allow them to move better with the movement of the board.
Of course how much you care about butterability will depend on your riding preferences. Are you an all mountain rider that does a lot of freestyle? Then butterability will be important to you.
But if you prefer a more aggressive all mountain style that is leaning more towards freeriding then the butterability specs of the bindings won’t be as crucial for you.
The level of adjustability can be important. The more adjustments that can be made the better the bindings will fit to your boots. It may be the case that the bindings are a great fit without having to do too much tweaking.
But do you want to take that chance?
And what if you think it’s a good fit but you there is actually a better fit waiting for you if you could only adjust the bindings.
The more the binding can adjust in terms of the high back lean, the tightness/looseness of the straps and the highback rotation, the closer you can get to hitting that sweet spot where you are set up just right.
Good shock absorption is a great asset for the all mountain rider – particularly for the all mountain rider who likes to include plenty of freestyle riding into their repertoire.
Landing jumps and hitting jibs can take it out of you if you don’t have good shock absorption – so even if you are just hitting natural jumps and lips on the groomers you will still want some decent shock absorption.
Also – if you are travelling through hard, uneven terrain your body will thank you for buying those bindings with good shock absorption!
Not only that, you will just in general be more comfortable – standing on soft gel padded bindings is going to much nicer on your feet than hard unpadded plastic.
How quickly and easily you can enter and exit your bindings will be more or less important to you depending on your patience.
Bad quality or difficult to use ratchets can mean more time sitting in the snow doing up your bindings and less time actually riding. And you could be holding your mates up too.
I personally don’t want to have to spend too much time getting in and out of my bindings – particularly when doing short runs or when you are hitting a lot of flat spots or uphills where you have to unbind – this can get a bit frustrating.
No one wants to be uncomfortable on the slopes. Whether you are a freestyler, freerider or all-mountaineer, you will want your bindings to be comfortable – or at least not cause discomfort.
Comfort in bindings comes down to a few different things:
- How well the straps of the bindings mold around your boots: You don’t want any pressure points. The best bindings are the ones where you hardly notice that anything is strapped to your feet (but you are nice and securely strapped in)
- The shock absorption: As discussed above
- Whether or not the bindings have canted footbeds: Canted footbeds angle your feet inwards slightly. This better aligns your hips, knees and ankles allowing for a more comfortable ride and reduces fatigue. Typically canted footbeds are found in higher range bindings.
Responsiveness is particularly important for an aggressive all-mountain rider, but all all-mountain riders will want at least a reasonable level of responsiveness.
Responsiveness in bindings will mostly come down to the flex (usually the stiffer the more responsive) and the boot support (how well the bindings hold the foot in place).
Speaking of boot support…
Your boots have an important job of holding your feet in place without them being able to move around too much – especially in terms of heel hold. But your bindings also play a big role in keeping things locked down.
It’s not much good to have your feet secure in your boots only to have your boots sliding around like an oiled up seal on a freshly buffed floor!
You want your feet to be firmly held in place. Even a freestyler who might want a bit of give in the upper half of the boots will still want to be locked in place and allow the flex of the bindings, boot and board do the flexing.
It’s also important, like mentioned in the comfort section, that the boots are firmly held in place but without causing any pressure points.
What are the Most Important All Mountain Bindings Specs?
Since all mountain bindings are designed to allow you to be able to ride everywhere on the mountain and in any style they need to be good at everything.
This usually means that they won’t be “excellent” at any one thing because often being excellent in one thing means being average or below average in another area.
For example, stiff flexing bindings are likely to have excellent response, all else being equal, compared with soft flexing bindings. But a soft flexing binding will be better at buttering, tweaking grabs etc.
The all mountain binding can’t have too soft a flex or it won’t be responsive enough – but it also shouldn’t have too stiff a flex or it won’t be good enough at other things such as buttering, grabs etc.
Over to You
Well there you have what I consider to be the key specs for all mountain bindings. Some of these specs are more or less important for freestyle and freeride type riding but they are generally of fairly equal importance for all-mountain riding where you want to strike a balance of being able to do a bit of everything.
Depending on your exact style of riding some of these specs may be more or less important to you – i.e. if you’re more of a freestyle-all-mountain rider or an aggressive-all-mountain rider or somewhere in between.
- Check out my top 5 men’s all mountain bindings here
- Check out my top 5 women’s all mountain bindings here
This is my take on what is important for all mountain riding. Do you agree? Am I missing something? Have I included something that isn’t that important? Let your opinion be known in the comments section below. Also any questions are more than welcome.
Photo Credits from Top
Photo by Constantine Trupcheff [CC BY 2.0], via Flikr
Much appreciating your reviews!
I am looking for an all-mountain / freeride binding to go together with my Jones Flagship 161 and my Salomon HPSxÄsmo 159, both pretty stiff boards. I have previously had Cartels and Malavitas, but thinking that I would want to step up the responsiveness to go with my new boards mentioned but at the same time not sacrifice too much on the comfort level. I’m rocking Burton Imperial boots since two years back and loving ’em.
I am currently checking some 2020 models that I found on discount which may fit my needs: Genesis X, Union Atlas, Union Falcor and Jones Atlas. Which ones would you recommend? Other suggestions?
Much obliged / mike
Thanks for your message.
I would be leaning towards the the Genesis X or Falcor on the Flagship. I have ridden the HPS x Äsmo, but on paper it looks like it’s quite stiff. But yeah I think something like the Genesis X or Falcor is a good bet, and fit nicely in that quite stiff but not too stiff, around 7/10 flex category. The Atlas would certainly work too, but I’d be leaning Genesis X or Falcor. When you say Jones Atlas, did you mean Jones Mercury? The Mercury certainly fits the same category and are certainly comfortable. My biggest issue with them is the board feel, but if that’s not a big thing for you, they are certainly an option. But personally I would be weighing up Falcor and Genesis X.
Hope this helps with your decision