Hyped : Spark R&D Arc Splitboard Binding
Words: Adam Broderick
The overarching goal in manufacturing splitboarding gear is to create top-performing products using the lightest combination of materials possible without sacrificing durability. The Arc binding from Montana-based Spark R&D is the closest thing to perfection yet.
Pin-free is the way to be, and the Arc sets the new standard in terms of weight, performance, comfort, and quick transitions between ride mode and tour mode. To transition with the pinless Tesla system, lift the toe ramp and slide the binding out to the heel edge. Turn the binding 90 degrees, align the toe ramp with the touring brackets, and push down to lock in. That's all there is to it.
The Arc sports a single climbing wire that rests in grooves on the heel plate at either 12 or 18 degrees of elevation while touring. To customize forward lean, twist the highback knob (no tool required) and dial in any angle between 0 and 22 degrees. And when a long stride turns to a good glide, flip the knob up and away for –13 degrees of (backward) lean to relieve calf pressure.
Spark removed some baseplate aluminum to lighten the load and allow stance adjustments on the fly; now pucks are accessible with a screwdriver without binding removal. The gap cut out of the highback adds some torsional flex and acts as a handle for easy board carry. Yet another weight-saving technique, the arched highback fits the contour of most boots so comfortably that Spark was able to remove excess padding.
Bonus: It's about time ladies enjoyed the same high-performance products in the backcountry; Spark now makes women's splitboard bindings. The women's Arc is just as feature-rich as the men's model, except it actually fits women's boots and comes in a cool cyan blue.
Editor's Note: The Arc Binding is the softer and lighter of Spark's two leading splitboard bindings. The gnarliest riders might opt for the Surge for optimal board control in the most demanding terrain.