By: Brad McNally
Snowboarding, like most sports, can be extremely enjoyable. To the casual observer, it can also seem extremely simplistic in respect to gear. Those that have looked into starting may notice how expensive most gear actually is, but also realize that you can find good products that are much more affordable. One of the biggest costs for many riders is the board, but boots and bindings come in close behind.
Knowing what works well for you is important, but much like clipless pedals on a bicycle, you do buy a “system” and that will determine what components you use.
In this post, we will look at the two most common types of binding/boot systems and how to set them up on your board.
These are the most common snowboard bindings. This system uses thick but flexible boots that are built to offer some padding but also stiffness from the outer shell. The bindings are attached to the board and have two large straps, one across the top of the toes and one across the ankle.
Some newer strap-in bindings move the toe strap from across the top to around the front, offering more security. With these bindings, riders can choose basically any boot as long as they are not built for step-in systems.
Step-in systems are sold more as a system, with boots having a set of cleats on the bottom that the rider can use to just step into place and lock in. The advantage of these are that they are simple and were hoped to be an improvement in performance. Because they lack the outer hard shell and straps of strap-ins, the boots often included harder outside shells and attached straps. The soles are more substantial and once locked in they have a different feel than strap-in bindings but are very secure.
If you’ve seen a snowboard with no bindings attached, you will notice that there are typically sets of holes along the top. While these can be used to put your board up on display using a floating wall mount, they also are the point of attachment for your bindings when you are ready to start riding. One of the most important things to remember is to measure the width of your stance while in riding position instead of standing straight up. This will make it more comfortable to ride and will put less strain on your knees and calves. It will also help prevent injuries. The following chart offers a starting point, but be sure to find what is most comfortable for you.
17 - 18"
5'2" - 5'4"
18 - 19"
5'5" - 5'8"
19 - 20"
5'9" - 6'
20 - 21"
22 - 23"
Binding Position and Angle
Bindings can be set at multiple positions. The furthest set back from center is best for free ride. The next one up is generally good for all mountain riding, and is just slightly set back. The most centered position is good for freestyle and park riding. Each position offers an advantage for the rider for the specific type, but if one feels more comfortable than the others, stick with it.
Similarly, the angle of mounting makes a difference as well. Bindings mounted perpendicular to the board would be at 0 degrees. The angle of change can be positive (toes further toward the nose) or negative (toes further to the rear). According to About.com’s Sport section, the most common stance angles are +20/+6 degrees for forward stance riders, which includes all-mountain and general beginners. For freestyle riders, the most common anges are +15/-15 or +18/-6.
What bindings and setup do you use most often? Let us know in the comments.