Last year, we featured the Prime SL as a top binding for splitboarding. This year, the same binding’s power transfer and robust feel went unmatched during testing. However, Karakoram’s big story for Winter 2016/2017 is the Prime Connect binding and their new Quiver-Connectors, the first mounting system to perform on both sides of the rope by taking the brand’s backcountry innovations and tweaking them into a resort-friendly package. Quiver-Connecters work with any Karakoram Prime binding–including the Prime SL–and testers raved about the new technology.
If you aren’t familiar with Karakoram’s high-end splitboard bindings, including but not limited to the Prime SL model, they tend to be: a) stiffer than Clint Eastwood’s upper lip b) more expensive than most snowboards c) lighter than a premature puppy d) Despite point B and due to points A and C, they are beloved by axe-wielding, gram-counting, peak-bagging, splitboarding mountaineers (à la Jeremy Jones) 2+ Boards, 1 Binding Building a snowboard quiver makes perfect sense. Pow board, park board, all-mountain board, splitboard. But is a quiver of bindings necessary? For $399, Karakoram’s got an answer: the all-new Prime Connect (820 grams). The idea behind it all? To craft a pair of stiff, performance bindings that’s easy to swap between boards and rides well both in and out of bounds.
Karakoram’s Technology: First, although designed primarily for inbounds riding on a solid board, the Connect Prime doesn’t have a typical disc interface. Mind blown? Who does that type of thing? Karakoram. That’s who. Instead of disc plates, they use Quiver-Connectors ($75). Karakoram’s proprietary Quiver-Connectors are essentially spiked metal interfaces that bolt into your solid’s four-hole pattern so that you can attach your bindings to your solid board(s) like you would a splitboard.
The main benefit of Quiver-Connectors, aside from the ability to switch out boards with ease, is the Active Joining Technology (AJT). AJT extends binding contact points away from the center of the board and toward the edges. According to Bryce Kloster, co-owner of Karakoram, AJT ensures that “no energy is wasted flexing the base of the binding off of the board.” If you’re all about railing turns, this tech is worth noting. Originally developed through Karakoram’s quest to make splitboards ride more like solid boards, there’s something to be said about taking this tech within resort boundaries. Worth It? Although not as stiff, lightweight, or expensive as other Karakoram bindings, the Prime Connect can still claim those accolades.
At $399 (Two Quiver-Connector sets included, before addition of any accessories—see below), the Prime Connect is flat-out cheap for Karakoram, yet priced higher than most premium solid bindings and similar to splitboard bindings from Karakoram’s competitors. The addition of EVA dampening makes these bindings, in the words of one tester, “surprisingly comfortable for everyday riding.” Beyond the slightly heavier, more comfortable build, these bindings mimic the ride of Karakoram’s more expensive, stiffer builds (that cost almost twice as much).
From a splitboarding perspective, one tester found there were “a lot of moving parts” and didn’t like how the Connect Split Kit’s “climbing bar has only one height.” As such, there are definitely better splitboarding bindings out there, including more expensive, more backcountry-oriented models from Karakoram.
And we’d argue there are better solid bindings from established brands available at a more reasonable price. That said, these bindings are, as Kloster says, “designed for aggressive riders that spend most of their time inbounds.” The keyword is most; these are the only bindings that can claim to perform on both sides of the rope.
Best For: Most resort riders will want a more flexible, cushioned ride. However, if you can’t get enough of Karakoram’s energy transfer and feel on a split but want a little more dampening, it’s worth checking these out for your solid setup. Otherwise, we recommend these bindings for riders who like a stiff, aggressive binding bereft of padding, experienced resort rippers who are considering getting into splitboarding, and those quiver-lugging nomads who need to cut down on space in the board bag.
Recommended Accessories: The Karakoram setup doesn’t require it, but our testers recommend a bit of accessorizing to make the switch worthwhile.
Buy additional sets of Quiver-Connectors so you can swap out multiple boards. Snag a Karakoram Connect Split Kit ($199), which comes with all the hardware necessary to mount these bindings to your splitboard.
You can buy your own Quiver-Connectors here.