Salomon bindings have some great new tech this year. They are building on previous advances in the snowboard binding industry and coming up with some totally new ideas. The Salomon Defender bindings incorporate a lot of Salomon’s new tech designs, so let’s have a look.
Starting with the basics, the Defender has a medium all-mountain flex (around 6 on a scale of 10) with a flexible heel cup, more to come on that. Big mountain freestylers Wolle Nyvelt and Bode Merrill, and freerider Josh Dirksen ride this binding.
When I demoed the Defenders last season I noticed right away how comfortable they were. Whether I was carving, pressing, or ollieing there was no pressure or restrictions at all, yet they were super supportive and responsive. The flexible heel loop locked my boots down tight with absolutely no pressure points or open spaces on the sides where it could slide around in. It was also an incredibly lightweight binding.
Some key features of the Salomon Defender bindings are
ShadowFit Technology: This is where the flexible heel cup comes into play. There are two Quickwire kevlar stringers that run through the heel cup and anchor into the front part of the baseplate. This gives the bindings added response from heel to toe.
The heel cup itself is made out of a soft polyethylene material that allows it to conform to the exact shape of your boot. You never have to worry about your boot shifting around in the binding, and you have extended range of motion for tweaking out grabs, pressing and buttering.
Defender Highback: The highback on the Defender feels very flexible torsionally- you can almost fold it together at the top. But it’s also very stiff laterally, so there’s little to no movement when you try to pull it back. This makes it very comfortable and easy to tweak out grabs when you need to, but it is also very responsive and supportive for when you’re digging in on steeper terrain.
Micromax: Micromax tool-free adjustments allow you to set your strap lengths exactly where you want them without having to go back to the car for a screwdriver. A lot of companies have tool-free straps but you normally have to unscrew the bolt and screw it back another hole. It can be a pain lining everything up and it’s easy to drop the screw in the snow, especially with frozen fingers. With Micromax, you just loosen the mechanism and slide the strap exactly to where you want it and then tighten it up.
Integrated Mountain System (IMS): This is a pretty cool feature that keeps your bolts attached to your mounting plates so you never have to worry about dropping or losing your bolts again. It also allows you to center your bindings on your board without having to take the bolts out- just loosen them up and slide the binding forward or back. They also work with a variety of binding systems including EST boards.
The Defender also has a full length EVA foot bed that is canted so your knees are naturally aligned with your ankles for less strain on your legs. The ankle straps are asymmetrical with more support on the outside where you need it and less on the inside where you don’t.
I also have to say that the Defender’s ratchets are pretty bombproof and have super smooth action. I’ve had issues with lots of different ratchets but these look, feel, and perform great! Also, the toe ramp is adjustable to accommodate larger sized boots.
If you’re an intermediate to advanced rider that wants a really comfortable binding that gives you lots of room to play while still supportive and responsive, then these are definitely a good match.