Like with snowboards, snowboard bindings for beginners have certain specs that make riding easier and more enjoyable for beginners and will aid in speedy progression.
A lot of the principles of beginner bindings and beginner snowboards are similar but, of course, bindings are different beasts so there are some things specific to bindings to look out for.
Why Get Bindings with Specific Specs for Beginners?
People often label bindings as beginner bindings just because they are cheap. Whilst beginners are more price sensitive, and understandably so, a beginner binding needs to be so much more than cheap.
What’s the best way to make a beginner give up the sport? Give them rubbish gear that’s hard to learn on!
Beginner bindings should assist new riders so that it enhances the leaning experience and makes riding enjoyable.
This post will specifically cover the following aspects of snowboard bindings in relation to beginners:
- Boot Support;
- Shock Absorption; and
Like with snowboards a soft (1-2 out of 10) or medium-soft flex is the best for beginners. Medium soft translates to around 3-4 out of 10 (with softest being 1 and stiffest being 10).
This is for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is for compatibility with your snowboard. The best flex for a beginner snowboard is soft or medium-soft and it is a good idea to match your snowboard flex with your binding flex.
Secondly, a softer flexing binding will be more forgiving of errors, and make it easy to maneuver at slower speeds.
If you want to get the easiest possible start, then the softer the better. But if you're looking for something that will last you a little longer, then going with a more medium-soft flex (3-4/10) is a good way to go. As a beginner, it's not the best idea to go any stiffer than that though - going too stiff will make the experience more difficult and frustrating and can lead to poor technique.
It’s important for a beginner binding to be comfortable. No one wants to come off the mountain with sorer feet than they have to.
Sure, a binding can’t stop this completely but straps without pressure points, soft cushioned footbeds and/or canted footbeds are a great start to a more comfortable riding experience.
Comfort is, in my opinion, even more important for beginners. You don’t want discomfort to slow down your progression because you just can’t ride anymore with all that pain - and worse yet an uncomfortable binding may even cause a beginner to reconsider whether they even like snowboarding - and then they could really be missing out on something they might otherwise have loved, if not for uncomfortable equipment.
How easy it is to get in and out of the binding is also an important consideration for the beginner. For seasoned riders this may not be such a big deal because you are so used to how bindings work.
But for a beginner a difficult or poorly working binding that is hard to get in and out of can be frustrating. Learning to ride can have some frustrating moments so you want to minimize any frustrations that might arise from your gear.
A quality, easy to use, exit entry system that’s easy to set up how you like it is going to mean smooth sailing (at least where the bindings are concerned!). This is also connected to the next section on adjustability.
How well a binding adjusts around your foot can affect both comfort and performance. For beginners perhaps the most important thing is ease of adjustability.
If a binding is easy to adjust and doesn’t require any/many tools (plenty of tool-less bindings out there these days) then this makes it easier for a beginner to adjust the binding to get it just right without having to ask someone else to do it.
This isn’t the most vital part for beginners but it’s something else to think of.
Boot support is also important. Whilst you want your binding to flex with you as a beginner you still want a nice snug fit around your boots to hold you in well.
This will help to make you feel more secure and will help with responsiveness - you want the bindings to do the flexing, you don’t want your foot sliding around or your heel lifting up.
In my view this is unimportant for most beginners. You won’t be doing anything too extreme that will call for extensive shock absorption. So this is a great one you can compromise on.
If everything else about the binding is looking good as per above then you can forget shock absorption. That said, a good amount of shock absorption/padding in the footbed does contribute to comfort, so this isn't exclusive - but otherwise, this is an area where you can save on costs -which brings me to the final consideration - price.
Beginners understandably don’t want to invest too much in their first set of bindings - but I urge you to not go for the cheapest most low quality bindings (unless they fit in with the specs as outlined above) as they will affect the quality and speed of your progression.
And they probably won’t be very comfortable and may be very frustrating in terms of getting in and out of them. Similarly, you should probably stay away from the very high end as these are often aimed at more advanced riders.
Most beginner bindings will be fine to take you into the intermediate phase of learning and sometimes beyond too, so don’t be worried about replacing them too soon. And remember you can always sell them used and get some of that money back.
Over the long run you are going to save heaps compared to renting anyway (not to mention the immeasurable performance benefits of riding non-rental bindings!).
That said, finding bindings that fit the above specifications won’t cost you an arm and a leg either, since softer bindings tend to also be cheaper, and there are some really decent quality bindings from some of the more reputable brands, that are great for beginners and are low cost.
Where to Start?
All the bindings in the lists below, fit the above criteria and have gone through my beginner binding ratings system, so I would use those as a good starting point for your research.
Thanks for reading
Thanks for reading and I hope this has helped you to find the best possible beginner snowboard bindings for you.
If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.