No matter how well you choose your snowboard boots, you still need a good grasp of the bindings.
Are snowboard bindings universal? The simple and short answer is: no. You can get different types and styles to suit each rider. This is where it differs from skiers’ bindings.
Skiers essentially do one thing, and that is that they go downhill. They ride the chairlift up and then go down again. That’s the whole day really.
Snowboarders have a bit more freedom. They can ride down the hills, but they can also head into the snowboard parks, on the half-pipes, over the jumps, and along the rails. They can even ride in urban settings.
This why snowboard bindings should fit what the riders intend to do. The best snowboard bindings give you the freedom to move into the parks and pipes, but they’re also stiff enough to ride downhill when required.
While we recognise that you’re (hopefully) not setting your own bindings in the beginning, you should at least understand what to expect from a professional fitter and how they’ll adjust your board.
There is a lot more to understand about bindings (mounting patterns, sizing charts, channel systems, binding/board compatibility…etc.), but that's all for later when you're a bit more advanced. For now, we'll keep things simple give you enough information to get you going.
Our Top Picks of the Best Snowboard Bindings
We're going to recommend some of the best bindings and boots that suit beginners and those looking to try out different styles of snowboarding. Take a look and see what you think!
We’re pretty impressed with what SP United puts out as their “beginner” bindings, because they don’t seem like beginners at all.
In fact, you should feel quite comfortable advanced in skill and ability while still remaining true to your first bindings.
It’s a very soft flex, ideally suited to freestyle riders. It's perfect for the heavy abuse you’ll put them through. Now, if only your legs could be as sturdy as these bindings will be.
For a brand name like Drake to put out these bindings, they come with a heavy burden of reputation and expectation. And they deliver.
It’s certainly surpassed our expectations of a beginner’s binding, but it’s designed to much more than accommodate for a softer flex. It also doesn’t come with a heavy weighty addition to your board. The large bindings actually weigh little and won’t interfere with your ride at all.
We also love the shock-absorbing portions of the baseplate, perfect for the types of rides you’re going to want to do.
This is a slightly higher end style of binding. It’s not cheap, but it’s not the most expensive either. We found, in comparison, that it seems to be the most economical choice for a high-performance binding that delivers again and again.
It’s the Flow Fuse that continually ranks among the top bindings each and every year. Flow has a commitment to providing a binding that won’t stop you from enjoying your day. The Flow Fuse is a great example of a simple, straight-forward binding that delivers on its promise.
It’s also a good example of how to pick a binding that performs like a high-end product without the high-end price tag. We can assure you: should you buy these bindings, you’ll still enough left over to buy that cutie at the lodge a hot cocoa when you see them next.
The K2 Sonic has a good reputation amongst skaters for providing a binding that feels just like skateboarding.
The main complaint of new snowboarders is that their bindings make it feel like they have no control over the board, they can’t feel it and respond as they feel they should.
But with the K2 binding, they’ve eliminated those complaints. It’s a binding that keeps coming back to the roots of snowboarding, and provides a good board feel, a responsive touch that lets you adjust and play on the mountain.
Snowboard Bindings: What the Key Words Mean
Just a quick overview of the main terms here.
Highback Plate: This is the vertical portion of the binding, sitting against your heel and Achilles tendon. It provides much of the support and flex of the binding
Baseplate: This is the part of the binding that’s screwed into the board itself. It’s where you plant your boot and provides much of the transfer of power from body to board.
Straps: These are what hold your boot into the bindings. Most straps cross over the toes and the top of the foot. They provide some of the flex as well, allowing enough movement to be productive, but not enough so that your foot feels loose.
Different Bindings for Different Kinds of Riding
Much like your board itself, you can customise your bindings to suit the type of ride you’ll be taking.
All-Mountain: If you’re not certain where you’ll end up on the mountain, choose an all-mountain binding. It has a soft-to-medium flex to suit both beginner downhill runs and some limited jumps and park play.
Freestyle: If you’re all about the pipes and urban style ride, you’ll want a freestyle binding.
Let’s face it. If you’re trying out the park for the first time, or the hundredth time, you’re going to fall. There will be plenty of errors. And as long as that doesn’t bother you, aim for a freestyle binding that provides enough give for all those jumps, twists, and hard landings. A soft flex will be perfect for the movements of the freestyle park play.
Freeride: We’ll tell you about freeride bindings, but we don’t see this as a beginner binding. This style of binding is very rigid, and meant for extreme riders who need limited flex in their boots and bindings.
This applies to fast speeds, deep powder, and any backcountry riding. You may aspire to get there one day, but it would be too rigid for a beginner still getting used to the experience.
Types of Snowboard Bindings
Let’s cover the types of bindings you’ll see. This can go into great depths, but we’ll just lightly skim across the basics for you to grasp.
Strap-in: This is probably one of the most similar parts of a snowboard boot to ski boots. The strap-in bindings are quite familiar to anybody having spent time on skis.
The bindings have at least two straps. They are adjustable and can be suited to your comfort and flex requirements quite easily. It does suit any style of ride quite easily.
They do require a bit more time in getting in and out of. It’s probably best you send your skiers friends ahead while you get used to adjusting the bindings on your boot.
Rear-Entry: For quicker access, some riders prefer this type of binding. It’s a hinged highback plate that allows you to step in and out of the bindings quickly.
We recommend using this type of boot for riders who prefer comfort, such as when you’re doing freestyle snowboarding.