Bindings are an important part of any rider’s set up and if you’re a freerider you will want to choose bindings that compliment your set up and improve your performance for freeriding.
This page will outline the best specs for snowboard bindings for freeriders. These aren’t hard and fast rules and a lot of freeriders will have personal preferences that may differ.
This is a good guide to those freeriders who aren’t sure about the specs they want in their bindings.
Overview of the Specs Covered
The following will be discussed on this page.
- Boot support
- Turn initiation
- Shock Absorption
There are some differing definitions of what a freerider actually is so to get my definition check out the link below.
O.k. let’s check out the details.
Typically freeriders will want bindings with a stiff or medium-stiff flex rating. This could be anywhere from a 7/10 to a 10/10 on a 1-10 scale (with 10 being the stiffest).
This is because you want your bindings to have maximum response (see turn initiation below). This will also mean there is less margin for error – so not for the faint-hearted and not for beginners.
Again it’s all about that response. You want your boots to be nice and snugly supported by your bindings to really limit the amount of delay of energy transfer from your legs into the board.
The less the delay in that energy transfer, the quicker your turns can be and the quicker everything responds.
When you’re riding hard and fast through some narrow spots or hairy situations you need your board to do exactly what you tell it when you tell it.
Another factor of boot support is having that nice tight fit without any pressure points – so the straps of the bindings need to really mold to your boot and spread the pressure evenly.
Related: Top 5 Freeride Bindings
Freeriders will typically want bindings that aid in performing quick turns – so a quick turn initiation, high responsiveness – is a must for anyone who will be encountering narrow chutes, trees etc.
That combination of a stiff flex and great boot support is usually a great combo that leads to fast turn initiation.
So besides the flex, turn initiation and boot support – which are all crucial to fast responding bindings – what else do freeriders need or want?
That’s right – comfort. Comfort is not just for freeriders of course – no one wants to be uncomfortable on the mountain.
But this is perhaps even more important for freeriders. If you are doing epically long runs down groomers or in the backcountry you are going to be strapped in for a long period of time.
Not only that because you are riding fast and carving up some epic turns you are putting a lot of pressure against your bindings – which aren’t likely to have a lot of give because they are stiff flexing – so you need them to be extra comfortable.
There are a few ways of making bindings comfortable.
- Canted footbed: A canted footbed on your bindings essentially aligns your ankles, knees and hips in a way that is easier on your body and will reduce fatigue.
- Molded straps that even out pressure: The quality of your straps is important. If they don’t apply the pressure evenly you can end up with pressure points that can get really painful
- Shock absorption: Some good padding underfoot is going to be way more comfortable to stand on all day than hard plastic.
This comfort, of course, can only exist if it doesn’t impact on the performance which is all important for freeriders.
Speaking of shock absorption.
This is really important for freeride bindings in my opinion. This is for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, this really helps your body when landing from jumps off roller and lips and carving through some rough snow and adding dampening when on ice or hard snow.
Secondly, a lot of the time it is your bindings that will do most of this shock absorption for freeriders. This is because freeride boots can sometimes lack in shock absorption.
The reason for this is that freeride boots really need to have good traction on the soles (for hiking). It’s difficult to have good traction on the soles when there’s a lot of soft padding.
There are some boots that manage to strike a pretty good balance between shock absorption and traction. If you’re lucky enough to own these types of boots then shock absorption in the bindings won’t be quite as crucial but you’ll still want them to be decently cushy underfoot.
You want to find that sweet spot in the setup of your bindings. So, you need them to be able to be adjustable enough to find that sweet spot.
- Highback adjusting: Try to find bindings that have easy highback adjustments. Usually freeriders prefer more of a forward lean than say freestylers (who prefer the highback more upright).
- Strap adjusting: To achieve that nice tight, even boot support I discussed earlier on this page, you’ll want bindings that have plenty of room for adjusting the straps. For example, you may want that ankle strap higher on the ankle or lower down closer to the foot.
- Footbed adjustments: To fit your bindings so that you have even heel edge and toe edge overhang it sometimes helps to be able to have a footbed that is extendable.
If you encounter any flat spots or uphills, particularly in the backcountry (off piste) you want your bindings to be easy to take off and put back on.
You don’t want to be spending too long strapping back in or unstrapping so a good quality ratchet system is a must for freeride bindings.
For this I don’t recommend rear entry/speed entry bindings. This is because if you are in some deep powder and you need to remove your bindings or strap-in you may not be able to open out the bindings to get your foot in.
You should be able to open up the straps but for most rear entry bindings they aren’t optimized to work that way so it may be more of a process. That said if you find some decent rear entry bindings that also work well using them like traditional strap-in bindings then they’d be fine.
This is what you should typically look out for in a good freeride binding. Like I said earlier you may have some personal preferences but most freeriders will fit within these specs.
- Flex: Stiff or medium stiff (7-10 out of 10)
- Boot Support: Nice and snug with even pressure. High quality straps and a good amount of adjustability is important for this
- Comfort: Look out for a Canted Footbed. Again straps that even out the pressure are also important. Plenty of padding underfoot also helps.
- Shock Absorption: Look out for bindings with plenty of cushioning for that rough snow, hard snow/ice and landing jumps
- Adjustability: The more adjustable the better in order to find that setup sweet spot
- Entry/Exit: Look for bindings with a good, fast ratchet system so that you can easily get in and out of them for times when you get stuck on flats or uphills. Try to avoid speed entry/rear entry bindings unless the straps work well both as rear entry and traditional entry.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this page has helped you to learn the specs that you will want for your next pair of freeride snowboard bindings. Any questions or comments very welcome in the comments section below, as always.
To make your job easier you could check out my top 5 freeride bindings at the link below. These bindings were the top 5 out of all the freeride bindings I rated based on all of the factors above.