Words by Tom Copsey
Bindings are important – as the connection between you and your snowboard they are crucial to your riding experience being a positive one. Stiffness, straps, cushioning and materials vary within the different models so you should have a good look into our lowdown before picking out your next pair.
How to choose a pair of bindings
There's a lot of choice out there for all kinds of riders and styles on the market. We've highlighted a few things you should consider before dropping your pocket money on a new set:
Using lighter-weight, more advanced materials generally leads to improved performance and comfort. Lower priced bindings will certainly get the job done, but won’t have as much attention to detail in terms of impact absorption, strap shape and comfort, or responsiveness of the baseplate and highback.
When it comes to the flex and responsiveness of the bindings, how and what you will be riding plays a large part. Pow cruisers, jibbers or mellow park riders will benefit from the tweak and feel of softer flexes, while if pro-lines, icy superpipes or critical lines float your boat you’ll want the immediate response stiffer models provide.
Bindings often have a lot of scope for adjustability, and it’s important that you make use of this to get the best performance out of them. Forward lean and highback rotation are the more obvious ways to experiment, but you should also tinker with the baseplate length, extension of gas pedals and the length of straps to get the best binding/boot connection possible.
Hitting big booters means exposing your joints to a lot of pressure which can be reduced by proper cushioning in your bindings. Even if you’re happy to just lap the slopes, better padding can give you a smoother, more vibration-free ride.
If you want to be as quick as humanly possible some brands offer rear entry bindings so you only have to slip in, fold up the highback and you’re ready to ride. You need to re-adjust them from time to time, but certainly not every time you step in and out. Look out for Flow, Gnu, Apo and SP bindings if speed is of the essence.
Apo - Dual Iconic 2014 2015 Binding Review
|Price: €259.00 - €279:00|
Apo’s has upped the game on their Dual double entry bindings for this season with their ISPO award-winning Iconic model. The most innovative development is in their all-new 3D molded straps, which save weight while improving fit, comfort and durability, but the goodness doesn’t end there – you get an adjustable baseplate for customising length that also boasts a rocker and a canted footbed to ease pressure on your joints, while the highback is tweaked to bolster torsional flex. Of course, like all the Dual models, you can chose to use this as a regular two-strap binding or fold the highback down for the easiest of easy entries.
Burton - Malivita EST 2014 2015 Binding Review
Burton doesn't make bindings by half-measure and with a stacked team roster rocking the binding such as Mark McMorris, Nico Müller and Danny Davis, you know it's gonna be tailored for the tech rider. With the Asym Reactstrap blanketing your ankles with responsive goodness and a medley of composite materials giving the binding the flex you need to tweak, it's safe to say your feet are safe in these freestyle killers.
Drake - SuperSport 2014 2015 Binding Review
These mean, green stomping machines attracted our attention due to their new Biomap highback and Natural Cant Plus interface. The highback has been engineered to be anatomically compatible with every rider’s calf muscle, to keep the legs in their optimum position and transmit power direct to the board without any wasted energy. They’re also made of tweak-friendly urethane. The canted footbed offers awesome shock absorption and dampening, and the cant serves to reduce gaps to give the most locked in, responsive ride possible – regardless of stance width and angles. With a weight-saving Omnichrome base it’s light as a feather, too.
Gnu - Psych 2014 2015 Binding Review
Using Gnu’s own ultra-light aluminium baseplate, the Psych is perfect for shredders wanting a responsive park binding. It features their Auto Open System for quick entry and exit to make sure you spend less time strapping and more time lapping, and the weight-saving continues on the asym highback that uses the minimum of materials while still remaining responsive. You can fine-tune the fit with the Micro Buckle and you’ll have plenty of cushioning thanks to the EVA foam footbed. Flex and response are around the middle of the park, so whatever your level the Psych will definitely keep you psyched!
Head - NX Five DF 2014 2015 Binding Review
Head’s flagship binding is built to excel for progressive snowboarding. Dual Density Dampiflex both improves energy transmission and acts as a suspension system for your feet where pressure is highest, while a grippy EVA baseplate cover hosts silicone pads for even more cushioning. The winged highback delivers better control as does the glass-reinforced chassis, and Head’s patented Auto Open Straps fold fully out the way for easier strapping than ever before.
K2 - Lien AT 2014 2015 Binding Review
A new model from the Washington-based brand, the Lien AT is built to apply a surf-skate feel to all-terrain snowboarding. This is achieved in no small part by K2’s revolutionary Tripod baseplate technology – comprised of three strategically placed power transmission pods that sit beneath the contact points of the foot, which permit more lateral flex and give a direct connection for optimum power transmission when turning. Then there’s the new Zero highback giving you lightweight support with all the tweak you need, and finally a Harshmallow footbed irons out chatter and gives a smooth ride. All combined, the Lein AT offers a prime mix of bomber support and buttery flex to give you a killer two-strap for shredding pow, ripping groomers, and lapping the park.
Ride - El Hefe 2014 2015 Binding Review
When a binding comes in its own briefcase you know it means business. As the name suggests the El Hefe is the boss of Ride’s binding line, loaded with state-of-the-art technology to ensure you have the pinnacle of two-strap performance all the time. Keywords here are ‘lightweight’ and ‘high-performance’. The Carbon fibre highback is über-responsive but it’s tempered by Slimeback tech for a more fluid feel, while the Stance Correct chassis construction (aided by dampening Wedgie footbeds) means it’s anatomically correct and works to align your body in a natural stance. This means you get more support, control and mobility, allowing you to ride longer, harder with less fatigue. If you ride hard and want a binding that matches your needs, look no further than the El Hefe.
Rome - Katana 2014 2015 Binding Review
Rome created a new model for this season, tapping into all their know-how from the last 10 years of making two-strappers, and they’ve dubbed it a ‘super binding’. Every single component has been engineered with new technologies and improved ideas to make a lighter, more comfortable, more flex-correct binding than ever before. UnderWrap and V-Rods combine to give flex with pop, there is a ton of customization options (straps, highbacks and more) and you’ll be better and more comfortably connected to your deck than ever before thanks to their new straps and SubBase pad. And then they’ve made it super light for the pinnacle of freestyle performance...
Salomon - Defender 2014 2015 Binding Review
New to Salmon’s family of bindings, the Defender utilises their revolutionary ShadowFit heel cup – made of a flexible material to give unrivalled comfort and natural flex without compromising on response – jacked up with their latest innovation: Crossbow technology. This allows the Kevlar Quickwire (which gives the ShadowFit its response) to be cranked even tighter for explosive turning. Also new is the Defender highback – with an asymmetric profile and ergonomic design – that works in conjunction with the canted baseplate to balance out fluidity and power transmission. These have been built to serve the needs of the likes of Wolle Nyvelt and Taka Nakai, so you know they’ll be at home from front lines to sidecountry.
SP - FT Split 2014 2015 Binding Review
Splitboarding might be the new hype, but when it comes to split-specific bindings the choice has been limited. SP step up to add to the options with this super light, super functional offering. Based on the Voile splitboard interface, the SPlit has an integrated Slidertrack that shaves a bunch of weight off and you can chose from the easy entry FastTec version (shown), or one with regular ratchet straps. Either way these are both comfortable, responsive and have the ability to utilise SP’s easy-to-use crampons, which attach to the bottom of the Slidertrack – even with your boot in the binding – for when the terrain gets steep.
Switchback - Combo 2014 2015 Binding Review
|Price: €200.00 - €215.00|
Switchback added some more strap and highback options to their innovative modular binding system this year – for those who don’t know the dope thing with this brand is you build the binding yourself, and can upgrade components or swap out with your homies as and when you see fit. The new Miller ankle strap is constructed from a TPU mesh that molds to fit every boot super snugly, providing a secure hold but remaining flexible torsionally, while the winged Wrapback and asym Flatback (previously only available on Halldor and Eiki’s pro models) can now be rocked by anyone. There are options to buy pre-constructed combos, but being a completely interchangeable system there is also the option to design your own set from the baseplate up, both to match your riding style and your colour preferences.
Technine - TN-14 2014 2015 Binding Review
With 20 years of binding building experience, T9 wanted to blow the bloody doors off for 2015, and that’s what they’ve done with the TN-14. Their idea was to take the benefits of baseless bindings and adapt them into a unit that could work with today’s current stance options and riding styles – the result was a binder that’s effectively split down the middle. This gives the truest experience of the board’s flex and improves board feel but with the dampening support of a Tech Bed so your knees won’t collapse. This is lightweight, and features Technine’s interchangeable split highback that offers a wealth of options - lowbacks, wrapbacks, the lot.
Union - FC 2014 2015 Binding Review
If you’re after product progression, the Forged FC will have you frothing. Rather than laying up carbon fiber in sheets and impregnating it with resin like the typical carbon fibre manufacturing, Forged Carbon – a technique Union worked with Lamborghini to develop – uses a paste of fibres (500,000 turbostratic fibres per square inch) molded under high pressure that results in a product that’s lighter and stronger than titanium. This has allowed Union to create 3D binding components that are traditionally limited to plastic injection for the apex in two-strap performance. The FC has damn near every part made using this process, which delivers a binding that gives the ultimate in response, weight-saving, control and durability. Welcome to the future.
Union - Trilogy Women's 2014 2015 Binding Review
Girls who want to experience Union’s fabled performance and lifetime-warrantied base would do well to check the Trilogy. Favoured by Jess Kimura, this is the lightest female-specific binder on the market and comes with the Trilogy II base for a seamless board connection to give a super smooth ride. It’s bombproof, the flex is down for whatever and everything is shaped specifically for a woman’s anatomy making it the perfect choice for all kinds of riding, and for pretty much all levels of rider too.
Völkl - Fastec Prime Alu 2014 2015 Binding Review
Touted as one of the lightest bindings on the market, this team favourite from Völkl also benefits from the easy-entry FasTec system whereby the highback folds down and the strapped area opens up to offer you a super wide area to slip your foot into. Pop the highback up again and you’re set to go, plus there’s the option to loosen the ankle strap with the flick of a buckle for more freedom or chilled pow surfing. With a weight-saving, soft flexing highback these will let you get your tweak on, but the stiffer Alu baseplate means power transmission isn’t compromised. These also feature a new canted EVA footbed for impact absorption, which also delivers a more natural, shred specific stance for improved performance and comfort.