The market is flooded with hundreds of different Snowboard Bindings! But basically, all they do is connect you with your board. They are supposed to deliver your movement and your controls through your boots to where you need it – Nose, tail and the edges. So why is there not just one binding that fits all? Well, because we all ride different styles, different terrain and have different skill levels. That all comes together and plays a role when you choose your Snowboard Binding and one of the things to look into is the Snowboard Binding FLEX.
Snowboard Binding Flex
What does that mean?
Manufactures put a lot of effort into their bindings and constantly improve and evolve them. Many of them might look similar but the differences can be massive. The FLEX of the binding tells basically how “forgivable” they are.
Let´s say you´re a beginner. The board sometimes might have more control over you than you have over the board! That is of course not what we want, but totally fine and is going to get better every day on the snow. But at this stage your movement is not as precise and still a bit random. If your bindings (and your boots) are very stiff and do not have a lot of FLEX, they deliver every shaky movement you make to the board which results in an unsteady, unsecured and therefore unsafe ride.
A Snowboard Binding with more FLEX is, and here we go again, more forgivable. They simply absorb some movement of you and this results in an over all more mellow ride. But soft bindings are not just for beginners, it just really depends on your style and the terrain you ride. Freestyle riders want to have more flex to get away with dodgy landings and perform sick moves like butters or grabs!
A flexy scale from 1 to 10
Most manufactures put a number from 1 to 10 on their bindings. While this is never 100% accurate and can vary slightly from brand to brand and even binding to binding, you can say: 1 – 2 soft, 3-5 medium, 6-8 stiff and 9-10 very stiff.
Riders who spent most of their time in Parks or jibbing around the slopes tend to have soft bindings. They give them more flexibility, freedom in movement and increase the chances not to fail. If your landing is not quite right, your soft bindings (as well as your board an boots) bend and twist and you easier get away with that. We all know that happens again and again and again … 🙂
All Mountain mediums
People who just can´t make a decision, like me! Especially if you don´t live in the mountains and snowboarding is something you do in your vacation, you probably want to have the freedom of doing everything. Not everyone can have different gear for different occasions.
Snowboard bindings with medium FLEX give you enough stability and response to carve your lines into the snow while being soft enough to let you jib around the park, too. You can quite easily set your own focus and therefore choose the right binding:
Do you tend to spend more time on the slopes going fast? Stick to a 5 or higher.
Are you buttering your way around the ski field? You are going to be more happy with something around 3.
Freeride hard boys
Here we´re going BIG! Challenging terrain makes us want to have two things: control and response!
We need to have a feeling for the conditions below us and how to react properly!
The board has to react the way we want it to – as quickly as possible!
Bindings with less FLEX give us exactly that. They transfer our energy to the board while absorbing less of it. Soft bindings would end up giving you a wobbly response and they are unable to handle roughness and speed.
Although, with that comes not much room for failure and the stiffer the binding is, the higher the chances that a wrong reaction ends up in white-out conditions.
The perfect combination
FLEX is not limited to bindings! Boots and especially boards have different attributes as well and they are designed for specific terrain. Unless you are very unhappy with your current set up for some reason, you don´t have to throw everything out and buy new gear that goes perfectly together. But there is no point in mounting an extremely soft binding on a rather long, stiff, full camper carving board.
If you consider buying new stuff, make sure it matches!
Which Flex is the right one for me?
After all the information you just read, you probably know which terrain you ride mostly. I am assuming, someone who rides freeride or freestyle probably knows how soft or stiff they need it anyway.
To everyone else – what kind of riding do you enjoy the most? If your gear is limited to one board and one binding, make sure it suits you, your needs and your style! It is only there for one reason: to give you pleasure so don´t buy just anything!
In case every Lifty knows you by name because you rush down that slope like a maniac, don´t bother with a soft setup and get yourself properly fixed on that board.
Are you more mellow and quite jumpy? Well, too stiff is going to annoy you.
You can quite precisely figure out what you need just by thinking about your own style. One last quick overview:
Beginner: Rather soft
Freestyle and park: soft
Riding but constantly looking for jumps and jibs: mediumsoft
I need one for everything: medium
Going fast and steep: stiff
Powderdays: rather stiff
Decisions to make…
But that shouldn´t be too hard. Focus on what you love the most and get the right set up! I hope that article helped you to understand why Snowboard bindings have different FLEX characteristics and which is the right one for you. If you feel like leaving a comment or have any further questions, don´t hesitate to do so. I am happy to get back to you.
Thanks for reading