Do you know everything about your snowboard bindings? Can you adjust and fully customise them? Do you know what those extra screw holes are for? or haven’t you changed them since the day you had them set them up in the shop?

Making changes

If you don’t make changes to your kit, how will you ever know if you have the best set up? Even if it feels good, there could be something else out there that feels even better!

I’m not talking about going out and buying a whole new set-up, but just making small changes to the kit you currently have.

The key is to play around with your kit. As you ride more, your kit will tend to soften up, just like our shoes, and you may need to change things around to keep the same feelings. Ever heard someone say ‘… after a seasons riding, they felt great.. I just needed to wear them in and allow time for them to soften up…’

Well, lets do that. Over the next couple of weeks in my Tips-Mondays I’ll be looking at trying to re-create that feeling by adjusting our kit so that everything is working well together with no pressure points or unexpected movements going on.

This week, lets have a look and see what we can change, how we can change it and why we would want to change it, in regards to the ankle strap of the binding.

The Ankle Strap

Nearly all bindings these day will have various adjustments for the ankle strap.

snowboard ankle strapThe first, and the one we most know about, is to lengthen or shorten the strap to accommodate a larger or smaller boot.

Play around with this to insure a nice snug feeling with no pressure points. I often see a badly fitted strap and with it come complaints about sore feet etc. It takes 2 seconds to do so there should be no excuses.

The second is the position of the strap itself, relative to the boot. I.E. Higher up on the ankle joint, right in the middle or lower down.

Most new bindings should have an adjustment for this too. Separate screw holes for example are on most Burton bindings and can be seen on these Salomon SP3 bindings in the picture below.

salomon snowboard bindingsHigher up: This position allows for a more responsive feeling from the binding. Any movements from the ankle joint are picked up straight away and transferred through the binding into the board.

This is due to the fact that the strap is now closer to the knee (further up the shin bone). The smaller the movement that this joint (the ankle joint) has to make, the quicker things will happen.

Lower down: This results in a less responsive, softer and more forgiving feel.

The opposite is now the case. Whereas before, movements where picked up straight away, the ankle now has to flex over a greater distance to achieve the same result.

Ideal for a beginner where they are still not entirely aware of all the movements they are making.

Middle: As suggested this is common ground, somewhere in-between a super responsive and soft feel.

Where to go from here

  • Maybe you’re a piste carving machine who likes their kit to respond exactly when they tell it to, then maybe a higher positioned strap is for you. The slightest movement in your ankle joint and the board will respond.
  • Or maybe you’re just starting out and don’t want every movement you make to be translated through to your board. A slight flex in your ankle joint will essentially be your cushion, your safety margin, so set those straps down low.

    This is a big one for the heel to toe edge turn with beginners. Playing around and finding that perfect balance between responsiveness and soft feel is vital for those first few turns and preventing the student falling into, ‘I hate / never like turning from my heel to toe’ ! (read Struggling with toe edge turns on a snowboard?) for related content.

  • As for the freestyle snowboarders out there. Think about what you want from you kit, do or ride boxes/rails a lot? hit kickers? ride the pipe?

    When you land a jump or on a rail, you flex with your legs, but you also flex with your ankles. Where do you want, or currently have your ankle strap? Do you want the board to response straight away as you land or give a little? Where do you have your straps positioned and why?

    If your range of movement in the ankle joint is limited, then this may also dictate the position of your strap (read Stretch the calf muscle & improve your riding) for related content.

Play around with the straps, there is no right or wrong position, just personal preference for you and the environment you are in.