On the surface, snowboard bindings seem pretty straight forward. Their basic function is to hold your feet to your board. But there is more to them than that. Besides matching the flex of the highback and chassis with your boots and/or riding style, you also have to make sure the bindings fit your board and boots properly. Snowboard binding adjustments are essential to get right before you strap in and head down the hill. Here are some of the adjustments present on many of today’s bindings. If you don’t already know your stance width and binding angles check out this article for help.
Toe and Heel Adjustments
Before you bolt your bindings to your board you want to make sure they fit your boots. Strap your boot into the binding and check the overhangs. Ideally, you want your toe and heel overhang to be 1 to 1.5 inches. Some bindings will have both toe and heel ramps that you can pull out to make the foot bed longer. If you are not in this range after adjusting the ramps you will need a different size binding.
Bringing the toe ramp out will also give you more leverage over your toe side turns and keep your boots from dragging in the snow. Toe drag will cause you to slow way down and will throw you off balance. Having better leverage over your toe side edge will help you turn more easily and more quickly.
Most bindings have toe and ankle straps that secure your foot down using a ratchet system. Both straps should be centered across the middle of your boot so that there is an equal amount of padding on each side. If they are off center simply unscrew the strap and slide it up or down as much as necessary to center it, then tighten it back in. Many bindings now have tool-less adjustments making it really easy to configure your binding without the need of a screw driver or hex key.
Your highbacks help you make heel side turns more efficiently and with more power. Having them centered against the spine of your boot will give you the most bang for your buck. Unfortunately, when you set up your binding angles and stance width the highbacks will usually end up positioned off center from the spine of your boot. To correct this you can unscrew the highback (if your binding has this adjustment) and reposition it so that it lines up with the edge of your board. Some bindings have asymmetrically shaped highbacks that are designed to support your heelside turns without making adjustments.
Another adjustment on some highbacks is forward lean adjustment. There’s usually a lever, or some other type of release mechanism installed on highbacks that moves up and down. Moving it down will position the highback to a forward angle resulting in the highback hitting the back of your boot sooner helping you turn a lot quicker. Freeriders may like this option because it allows them to get their board on edge very quickly. This is a good thing when you’re bombing down the mountain at high speeds. Moving the forward lean up will allow the highback to pivot all the way back giving the rider more time to set up his/her turn. If you are starting out then it may be a good idea to ride with no forward lean.
Once you dial in your adjustments you will have a more efficient, safe, and fun riding experience, but this might take some experimentation. Don’t be afraid to try different adjustments to figure out what is most comfortable and works best for you. Your local snowboard shop will help you get set up and show you how to fine tune things as you go.