Your boots are fitted. You've chosen your board. Now don't forget one of the most important parts of your setup. Your bindings aren't just there to match your boots and board: they connect you to your board, delivering power from your body and controlling how you move. Good bindings help you to control your board easily, absorb vibrations and keep you feet comfortable for days on the mountain.
Manufacturers usually rate the flex of their bindings from 1 to 10, with 1 being softest and 10 being stiffest, but these ratings aren't standardised. That's why we categorise bindings into three categories: Soft, Medium and Stiff.
The highback is the vertical plate connected to the heel cup, which supports the rider's lower calf, and provides essential support for turning. The composition and height of your highbacks will affect the flex of your bindings.
Usually, less experienced riders prefer softer bindings and increase stiffness over time, but your preferred flex and highbacks will also depend on your riding style.
All-mountain boarders need their bindings to be flexible enough to ride in the park, but stiff enough for a responsive ride in the backcountry and on the trails. Usually, a medium flex is a good choice, but the bindings you ultimately go for will depend on your preference. For bombing down the pistes and the occasional venture into the backcountry, you might prefer a stiffer flex, while if you just like a cruise around the mountain a softer flex might suit you better.
Freestyle bindings are normally softer and with a shorter highback for better freedom of movement. If you're spending your time buttering and hitting rails in the park then a soft binding will likely be better for you. If you're more into hitting the deep powder, you might want to look at a medium-flex binding for more support on those sketchy landings.
If you're an aggressive rider who lives in the backcountry shredding through powder, you'll need a super-responsive stiff binding to keep up.
Rear-entry bindings allow boots to be inserted and removed from the rear of the binding, and the highback to be snapped back into place. These bindings are great for convenience and are faster to get back into after the chair lift.
The baseplate of the binding is its main connection with the board, and the material and strength-to-flex ratio of your baseplate will ultimately affect power transmission and durability.
Baseplates have varying levels of cushioning to help dampen the bindings and absorb vibration, improving the comfort of your ride. Freestyle riders often choose baseplates with more cushioning to absorb the impact from landings, while aggressive riders usually choose less cushioning for greater board feel.
Your bindings' strap secure your boots in place and help to transmit power into the baseplate and highback. These straps should be adjusted to fit your boot for maximum performance.
THE TOE CAP STRAP
The toe cap strap sits on the front of your boots' toe box, pulling hem back into the heel cup and aiding comfort.
TRADITIONAL TOE STRAP
A traditional toe strap is usually found on lower-end and youth bindings, and is just there to hold your boot in place. It can't be used as a toe cap strap.
HYBRID TOE STRAP
Hybrid toe straps can be used as a toe cap strap, or tilted backwards and used in a traditional style.
The ankle strap keeps the boot in place and provides response and power to the binding, so a good fit here is critical to the performance of the binding.
Most common on rear-entry and youth bindings, a one-piece strap covers your boot from right before your ankle to just before your toes.