While from distance all snowboard bindings look more or less the same, they are certainly not and you have to take a closer look before you make a decision. The different systems all have their up- and downsides and your skill level plays a massive role. The fact that it´s hard to find a pro-snowboarder out there, who is not riding a traditional ratchet-system, does not mean a different type of binding is no option for you. Especially because Burton just released something revolutionary that really brought some new life in a pretty much outdated system. Let’s check out the different types of snowboard bindings.
Types of snowboard bindings
There are two things skiers always complain about when it comes to snowboarders: First, we sit around more than we ride while blocking the slopes apparently – which is absolute nonsense of course. Second, it takes us ages to get our self into our bindings while blocking areas in front of the ski lift – and they might have a point here. Are you struggling hard with your strap bindings? Well, that´s getting better with practise but maybe consider another type of binding!
Step In – Is it getting a real thing again?
Step In bindings don´t require any straps. A mechanism which is built in the boot basically clicks into its counterpart on the binding. Quick and easy, that was the idea back then.
Maybe around 10 years ago I had a Step In binding on rental gear for a week and what I can remember – it was horrible! The bindings were heavy, the boots feelt stiffer than ski boots and the tiniest amount of ice blocks the mechanism. You spend more time banging on your binding to crack of the ice than riding. On cold days it can get so bad, that you simply have to put your board somewhere warm and enjoy a beverage of your choice – the only good thing about it.
All the above, paired with pretty bad response were the reasons why you barely see anyone these days riding Step In bindings – unless on alpine race boards, but here you ride hard boots anyway and they come with a completely different system.
I would never recommend that to anyone, ever! But maybe soon, I will 🙂
Burton released their new StepOn™ system and it looks promising. A totally new design is supposed to be the game changer in the industry and I will release a review soon! From what I´ve read so far, everyone is quite pleased with how it works. It´s light, responsive and comes with comfortable boots.
StepIn bindings that actually work can be the best choice for the average snowboarder and Burton is getting a lot of attention for a reason!
the most common and reliable binding system
That´s what you see on most of the boards out there. The boot is hold by an ankle and toe strap and this type gives you all the adjust ability a binding can have – depending on your brand and model of course. Because it´s such a proven system, bindings for all terrain come with straps.
- Crank them down to your liking
- Some people can barely feel their feet, others like it more mellow and don´t mind some movement. Re-adjustments are made in seconds
- Full forward lean
- Strap bindings give you all the freedom of adjusting your forward lean as long as your binding let you do that
- Easy get-out
- While getting in can cause some struggle, getting out shouldn´t be a problem at all. Some buckles open easier, some not so much – but a quick bend over should release you from your board.
- Full response
- They are simply the best system when it comes to response. If you really want to feel what’s going on below you – you can´t really get around strap bindings
- It takes time to get buckled
- Especially if your a beginner, that can drive you nuts. You have to sit down, maneuver the straps into the buckles and tight them up. Once you stood up you even have to readjust to make sure everything sits nice and firm. Although, this is getting better with more experience 😉
Strap bindings are basically the only choice if you want to have full adjust ability and response. Also, I can´t see any other system cope with powder conditions.
FLOW / BACKDOOR bindings
easy to get in but lack of response
Backdoor bindings have a fold able highback, the part that covers your calves. The newer releases come with quickly adjustable straps just like on a real strap bindings. The difference is though, you only adjust them if needed. Once you did, you get in from the back, flip up the highback and you are good to go.
You can see quite a few people with backdoor bindings. I had one myself for a long time and loved it! I managed to get buckled in every surface lift (what technically you should not do) and went off riding while everyone else were still struggling with their straps. The thing is, once I got back to strap bindings, I never went back to FLOW.
- Easy to get-in
- You simply flip up your highback and you are good to go. That makes them beginner friendly and easy to use – all we want when we start riding.
- Ankle- and toe strap are mostly combiner to one big strap that covers your boot. That spreads out pressure more evenly and therefore they tend to be more comfortable. If you have constantly issues with pressure points, they can be a game changer. Unless you´re a pro rider, comfort is as important as performance. Snowboarding is supposed to be fun and having no blood circulation in your foot is definitely not fun.
- Lack of response
- They became really good over the years but straps probably still deliver better. Same here, unless you are a pro, I would not worry too much about that! In case you ride strap bindings since years and years, you might not feel as secured though. I guess it´s simply time to give it a try!
- Not so easy to get-out
- That might sound weird, but I find it much easier to get out of a strap binding. The highback of a backdoor needs to be all the way down. It literally has to touch the snow, otherwise your heel will get caught while you try to get out. If you expect you foot to be free and its not, you will end up in the snow. True story!
It just depends on what you like here. In case, you are alright with a bit of less response and basically just want to have fun riding snowboard – try it. Also, are you going insane every time after lifting, closing your straps? Well, rather ride a backdoor and have more fun than shouting at your equipment all day 😉 Also, things improve of course and technologies like FLOWs “ActiveStrap” are reasons to have a closer look! Check out the NX2 for instance!
Bindings for hard boots
A rare species unfortunately
These bindings can only be found on alpine race boards. They have tons of response and only work with hard boots. Recent models of race boards even come with soft boots now, so seeing someone with this type of binding is probably getting more rare every season.
Hardboots for snowboards are “generally” even stiffer than ski boots. The major difference to ski bindings is, they don´t pop in case you fall. Anyway, while you´re here I want to encourage you to try a race board if you get the chance 🙂 Totally different kind of riding and worth trying!
I hope that article helps you understand the differences and let you pick the right binding for you. If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments. I am more than happy to help you! Check out my reviews to find your bindings!
What do you ride, have you got any experience with a certain type that you want to share? Let us know.