Anyone ever tell you that your snowboard bindings are as important as your board when it comes to performance? Uhh huh, uhh huh, thought so. Pretty good info actually. Bindings are your link to the board and if they're not working for you, that new Shawn Kass pro model won't make a bit of difference. That said, bindings have come a long way in the last 5 years, and these days even many basic binding models have great adjustability and the potential for a highly customized fit. But are you using the adjustability that is available, and if so, are you using it correctly? Dialing in your bindings with that extra little bit of tweaking can entirely change your riding experience and can unlock a level of comfort and performance that you may have been missing before.

Let's start at the most heelward (is that a word? It is now) adjustment. What is the correct setting for the highback's forward lean slider? This is going to depend both on your boots and your riding style. Without changing the factory setting for lean, place your tightly laced boot into the binding and fully tighten both straps. Now have a look at the profile of the boot and binding. Is the top of the highback in full contact with the back of the boot? Is the angle of the highback forcing the top of the boot forward or crushing the back of the boot inward towards the tongue? If the angle of the boot nicely nests into the angle of the highback, that is a great place to start. If not, you will want to adjust the highback so that it rests with light pressure against the back of the boot. Consider that your starting point before style of riding is even considered. OK, but I'm a freestyler and I like that full motion feel, what do I do? Some freestylers will back off the highback a few degrees from the point of light contact. That may allow a bit more range of motion. We suggest backing this off very gradually (if at all) because heelside edge control can be lost quickly and because some degree of leg and ankle support is always sacrificed. It is also important to remember that the highback itself will flex some (depending on design) and that flex may be more than enough without "boot-negative" angle. Yeah, but what about freeriders and carvers? Starting from the nesting point, gradually adjust forward in small increments. This will allow a more "instant" feeling heelside edge, but can also result in overlean and calf pain, so use it sparingly. Most riders will simply want to adjust to the nesting point and will happily leave this setting right there.

Heelcup adjustment is a little more complicated in that the term is often used to describe two separate and very different settings. The first should really be called highback rotation (and often is) even though this adjustment is made at the heelcup. The idea here is that when an angled stance is chosen, the highback becomes out of parallel with the board's edge. The rotation adjustment allows for the highback to be brought back in sync with the edge. The million dollar question is, should this be done? Does it help to have the back of the boot angled in one direction and the highback in another? There is no simple answer here. Highbacks are not always symmetrical, and boots come in a variety of sizes and shapes. That does not even begin to cover all of the different leg types that will enter the equation. The very best thing to do is to experiment. Strap into your gear on a carpeted floor at the factory settings and feel how the highback meets your contact points. You will get a surprisingly accurate feel for this even with no snow involved. Now rotate the highback to parallel with the edges and retest. We have done this thousands of times for riders, and most have a strong and immediate preference to this test. Many times an "in-between" selection will be made and that is just fine. There are no hard and fast rules to this, so let comfort guide you and don't hesitate to fine tune after a few snow sessions.

The second heelcup adjustment only applies to some bindings. These models have a heelcup which is free from the rest of the base. This allows the heel of the boot to be moved further out over the heelside edge. This is a centering feature which should be used to attain the same amount of overhang for both the toe and heel of the boot. It also allows for different sized boots to match up better with the contours of the bindings (for example where the arch curve lies). If this adjustment is not available on your bindings, no need to worry, centering can be achieved by use of the disk slider and contour can be matched by a more specific binding fit.

The adjustable disk is the source of great confusion as it potentially controls 3 separate realms of adjustment: stance angle, tip to tail position, and toeside to heelside position. We have recently covered stance angle in another post, so let's begin with the other two. It is important to note that most binding disks will allow for either tip to tail adjustment or toeside to heelside adjustment but will not allow for both. Of the two, toeside to heelside adjustment (centering) is far more important than fine tuning stance width (micro adjustments between the available insert positions on the board). If the disk is the only available means of adjusting toe to heel centering, and if your boots do not happen to be perfectly centered without adjustment, then choose to position the disk so that adjustment is allowed toeside to heelside. You will then want to adjust so that you have an equal amount of overhang for both toe and heel (at the stance angles that you have selected). It is important to note that the goal is to center the boots, not the bindings. A centered binding does not mean a centered boot. This is the single most important binding setting and will have a huge impact on your riding, so we would suggest spending the time in adjusting and readjusting to get this perfect.

How about an easy one? Some bindings have adjustable ramps (gas pedals). This is strictly a matter of aligning the ramps so that they fall comfortably under the contours of your particular boots and so that pressure can naturally be applied. This is typically adjusted by a slide screw that is found on the base of the bindings. When you have your boots on and you are strapped in to your bindings the correct position will very intuitive once found. We suggest leaving the set screw loose and sliding the ramps into various positions until the ahh-hah moment occurs. Then tighten them down and you are done.

What about straps? There are so many settings on them and I have no idea what to do. First off, it is important that the straps be adjusted so that they are easily inserted into the ratchets, and so that the contoured pads be aligned well with your boots (and feet). The first is fairly easy. With your boots tightly laced onto your foot, try to strap in. Does the ladder strap easily reach and enter the ratchet or is it a struggle to get even the first few teeth in? When fully tightened are you able to get a nice snug fit or do you hit the far end of the ladder strap and it is still not completely tight on your boots? You will need to adjust the straps to allow for easy access and firm tightening. If these two things cannot be achieved and still allow for a comfortable pad position, then you have the wrong size bindings. Many bindings allow for the pad position to be adjusted independently of the strap size. Others also allow for the straps to be moved forward or backward on the base. It is a common misconception that the pad should always be perfectly centered. That is not the case. Many bindings use asymmetrical pads that are designed to ride more over the inside of the foot. The bottom line on straps is comfort. A small adjustment in position can make a huge difference, so again, tweak and retweak. Your feet will thank you!

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