Snowboard bindings are the last thing you probably think of when picking out a new snowboard setup. You know you need a board and boots, but don’t forget about the snowboard bindings that connect your boots to your board while you enjoy a day on the mountain. Snowboard bindings come in different styles and materials and, depending on your riding style, they can make a major difference in performance. Pronto’s Snowboard Binding Buying Guide will explain what you should consider as you’re shopping.
Before you go out shopping, slide across your kitchen floor and take note. Did you put your left foot in front of you? You’re a regular-footer. Your right foot? You’re goofy-footed.
If you have an extreme sports background or plan on spending your time doing tricks, you’re a freestyle rider and should choose low snowboard bindings that keep you close to the board. Freeriders and Alpine racers should choose higher snowboard bindings that allow for tighter turns.
The fancier you plan to be on the slopes, the softer the boot you’ll need, as well as a strap-in snowboard binding. Freeride or beginner snowboarders can choose whatever snowboard binding they find most comfortable. Alpine snowboarders should look for a stiffer setup with hard boots and snowboard bindings.
The industry standard for snowboard bindings is the 4x4, although it doesn’t offer many options in stance. The 4x2 binding setup has holes at twice as many intervals as the 4x4. Slider snowboard bindings allow more freedom, but you may notice a difference in flex. Matching a Burton snowboard and bindings that use Burton’s proprietary 3D system will give you near-limitless options in setting up your stance.
Strap-in snowboard bindings have been the preferred and, until recently, only system of attaching boots to the snowboard. Ease of use makes step-in snowboard bindings increasingly popular, especially with experienced skiers, although some snowboarders say these bindings don’t offer the same performance.
An improved version of the 4x4 insert pattern that allows snowboard bindings to be adjusted in ¾” increments.
A standard insert pattern that allows bindings to be adjusted in 1.5” increments.
The ability of a snowboard to bend. Freestyle riders need a lot of flex for tricks, while freeriders and Alpine racers prefer stiffer boards.
The foot closest to the nose, or front of the snowboard. For a regular-footer this would be their left; for a goofy-footer, their right.
A person who rides a snowboard with their right foot forward.
A small cylinder that attaches to snowboard bindings. It reinforces the area of a snowboard where the screws are.
A person who rides a snowboard with their left foot forward.
The foot closest to the rail, or back of the snowboard.
Snowboard bindings that work with grooves instead of insert holes. While this binding system allows more freedom to set your stance, some boarders find that it reduces flex.
The most comfortable and compatible type of snowboard boot. Soft boots allow the most freedom and are preferred for tricks.
The position of your legs and feet when you ride a snowboard. Snowboard bindings can be adjusted to give you a stance that feels natural for the type of riding you prefer.
There are two stances for snowboarding: regular-footed or goofy-footed. Unless you’re coming from another board sport such as surfing or skateboarding, you probably don’t know which you are. Most right-handed people are regular, meaning their left foot is forward, while left-handed people are goofy, with their right foot in front.
There are many exceptions to this rule, so determining which stance you truly have is crucial to selecting the right snowboard bindings. One way to figure out if you’re regular or goofy is to run across a floor and slide. Which foot did you put in front of you? That’s the foot that will go in front on your snowboard.
Your riding style can help decide which type of snowboard binding you’ll need. Do you plan on spending most of your time in the snowboard park and on the half-pipe? As a freestyle snowboarder, you’ll need low high-back snowboard bindings with two straps. You’ll also probably want your snowboard bindings to have a strap-in system. This will provide you with ultimate freedom and unity with your snowboard.
Perhaps you’re a beginner, or just want to enjoy all the mountain has to offer. You’ll want snowboard bindings with a higher high back with two or three straps, which will give you more control. A freeride snowboarder can use snowboard bindings with either the strap-in or the step-in system.
An Alpine snowboarder (racer) should choose snowboard bindings with a stiffer set-up, including hard boots. Plate or hard snowboard bindings give an Alpine snowboarder more control in tight turns.
Soft snowboard bindings are used mostly by freestyle or freeride snowboarders. They are more comfortable than hard snowboard bindings and allow the foot more freedom. Soft snowboard bindings are best for boarders planning on performing tricks, as the foot can move with the board rather than the boot. However, the give that soft snowboard bindings allow doesn’t provide very much support.
Hard snowboard bindings are similar to ski bindings and offer more support. They are best for those who are going to race or carve down the mountain. Hard snowboard bindings keep the snowboarder separate from the board, although they do permit tighter turns.
An insert pattern is a system of holes and inserts that you simply screw together, giving you the ability to change the setup of your snowboard bindings as often as you like. There are four patterns to choose from: the 4x4 insert pattern, the 4x2 insert pattern, Burton’s proprietary 3D Pattern, and sliders.
The 4x4 is the industry standard for snowboard bindings. In this pattern, the bindings have four holes 1.5” apart in a square shape and the snowboard has a series of these four-holed squares. These snowboard bindings are compatible with most snowboards, but they offer the user the least amount of choice since you can only change your stance in 1.5” increments.
The 4x2 insert pattern is an improved version of the 4x4. Instead of the holes being spaced 1.5” apart, the holes are ¾” apart, giving you twice the options in selecting your stance.
Slider snowboard bindings offer the snowboarder the most freedom. They’re compatible with standard 4x4 snowboard bindings, but instead of holes, they have long grooves. You can slide your snowboard bindings to the position that you want before screwing the bindings to your snowboard. Some snowboarders say the slider setup detracts from a board’s flex, although others don’t notice a difference.
Burton’s 3D pattern overlaps sets of triangular inserts. As Burton is the only brand to use this snowboard binding, you must buy a Burton snowboard. This snowboard binding system gives you almost unlimited freedom to set up your stance.
Step-in snowboard bindings have long been the industry favorite since they appeared on the scene a few years ago. The ease of use that step-in snowboard bindings provide is driving their popularity, although some snowboarders find their performance lacking compared with strap-in bindings.
The step-in snowboard binding system lets you step onto a snowboard, press your boot down and connect with a click. This snowboard binding setup is a favorite for cross-over skiers, who are used to getting in and out of their equipment easily. The stiffer boot in these snowboard bindings also mimics the feel that skiers are accustomed to. Step-in snowboard bindings can attach to either your boot’s toe and heel or both sides of your boot. Heel and toe snowboard bindings are best for experienced riders who plan on performing tricks, as they hold the boot in one place. Bindings that hold the sides of the boot are best for a beginner, as they are easy to get into and fasten.
A downside to step-in snowboard bindings is that these bindings must be bought with boots. Buy your boots first, as their comfort is the most critical part of the snowboard setup. Step-in snowboard bindings don’t offer as much support as their strap-in counterparts, so you’ll need boots that can support you on their own.
Strap-in snowboard bindings are compatible with any snowboard boot, except step-ins. The two (and sometimes three) straps on these snowboard bindings offer support while keeping the boot soft, which is preferable for high-performance riders. The biggest disadvantage to strap-in bindings is convenience. Rather than simply stepping out of your snowboard, you have to unfasten the straps on your rear binding each time you need to ride the chairlift.