In past years, the only expected features of a binding were straps to hold your feet on the snowboard. These straps didn’t necessarily have to be comfortable or durable, they just needed to do their job. Well, times have changed, and so have bindings. Now, you’ve got choices. Toe caps, toe straps, or one strap? High highbacks, or low highbacks? Plastic, or metal? Stripes, or polka dots? If you’re like me, the thought of making all of these decisions makes you want to run home and throw your arms around your first pair of bindings, reveling in their prehistoric simplicity. But truth is, we can’t hide from progress forever, so let’s break down some of these advances so that we can make our next trip to the snowboard shop a little less stressful.

Toe Caps Versus Toe Straps Versus One Strap

Flux, Burton, Technine, and Forum are just a few of the bindings companies who have started using toe caps on the majority of their bindings. Justin Erickson of Flux says, “Traditional toe straps just hold your toe down and create tons of pressure over the top of your foot. Caps wrap around the front of the boot, which is the hardest part, so you don’t even feel that the strap is there. Flow is shaking everything up by combining the toe and ankle straps into one big strap, the theory being that by covering the entire top of the foot with one big strap, pressure will be distributed evenly throughout the strap’s surface area, thus avoiding uncomfortable pressure points over the toes and arch caused by having two separate, smaller straps. However, many binding companies are still opting for the tried-and-true toe strap-ankle strap combo. In the end, it all goes back to personal preference, so hit up the demos, try both out, and then see where you want to go from there.

High Highbacks Versus Low Highbacks

Okay, so we all agree that highbacks are a good thing, right? Right. However, some are a little higher than others, which means you’ve got a decision to make. First off, ask yourself how much support you want. Next, ask how badly you want to tweak it, because nobody is going to get a Nicholas Müller-worthy Japan Air with highbacks that come to the middle of his calf. After you’ve found answers to these questions, choose accordingly. Higher highbacks equal more support, while lower highbacks equal more tweaking freedom. Also, make sure that your highbacks don’t ever go above the top of your boot, or you’ll be dealing with some serious calf pain for the better part of the season.

Metal Versus Plastic

There are pros and cons to both metal and plastic components. Metal components provide stiffness, while plastic tends to be softer. All-plastic bindings can be made with a single mold, allowing the baseplate and heelcup to be one piece of material, which increases the overall durability of the binding as a whole. However, plastic components may crack under strong pressure, while metal will usually stay in one piece.

Stripes Or Polka Dots?

Ask Mom. She knows best.