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Getting your bindings screwed on right

It's always amazing how many people are afraid to mess with their binding setups.  They probably get scared off by skiers, because skiers are always told they shouldn't adjust their own bindings.  Snowboarders, on the other hand, can adjust their bindings all they want.  Don't be afraid to mess around with stuff, that's what adjustments are for.  The perfect setup for your board is what works for you.  The most important things are your comfort and range of motion.  However you have your bindings set you should be able to easily go from standing tall to crouched down next to the board.  Your body has to be able to move up and down, otherwise you are limited in how much you can move the board around, not to mention soaking up bumps with your legs (you do ride with your knees bent right?)

While there is no one setup that works for every person, there are some general tips that make getting your stance right easier.  Also, different conditions want different setups.  For instance, in powder you want to be back on the board.  If you get a big dump, spend five minutes before you hit the hill and move your bindings back to the rearmost set of inserts.  On the other hand, for hardpack you want to be more centered or even forward on the board.

First, getting your freeride setup ready to carve:  Most people seem to run their boards with mellow stance angles, for example 12° front and -6° rear, like this

This stance is good for doing tricks and landing jumps, but not great for ripping big turns.  The biggest thing you have to watch out for is toe drag.  If you get the board leaned over, your toes will lever the edge out of the snow and you will fall.  Unfortunately it's hard to tell when this is happening, as it feels like the board hit a patch of ice, and instead of realizing the problem is toe drag you'll be cursing the crappy snow.  To eliminate toe drag you need to rotate your bindings so that no part of the binding or the boot sticks out over the edge, like this

The angles you'll need for this vary with the width of your board and the size of your boots, but a typical setup is 24° front and 15° rear.  On a freeride board there should be some separation between the angles, 5-10 degrees is about right.  Since neither foot should overhang, this will mean that your front foot actually under hangs by a small amount.  This is normal, don't worry about it.

After that, you should, if possible, adjust your bindings for their best performance.  Most importantly is high back angle.  You should run enough that your knees want to be bent when you're standing still on the board.  However, THE REAR HIGHBACK SHOULD HAVE MORE LEAN THAN THE FRONT.  This is important.  Don't get carried away with high backs to the point you're uncomfortable (comfort is important remember.)  Next, adjust the other stuff.  Different bindings have different adjustments, so this may no apply to what you have.  Most bindings have more than one set of holes to mount the heel strap.  If it's not there already, you should attach it at the top-most set of holes.  Some high backs can be rotated around the heel of your boot (if this doesn't make sense to you your bindings probably don't do it.)  Your bindings may have other adjustments, the best idea is to adjust so you're comfortable.  When you go to carve in softboots, it helps to have the bindings tight.  If this causes problems with circulation in your toes don't forget to loosen the straps on your front foot before you get on the lift

If you have step-ins most of these adjustments don't apply.  However we don't really like softboot step-ins, so we don't care

This is just a starting point, keep adjusting until you get a setup that works well for you, and don't be afraid to experiment


You got a race board?  Great, let's get that set up too.  The previous discussion on stance angles applies to a race board as well.  In order to avoid toe drag on a narrow board you'll probably end up with angles at around 57-60 degrees, and it will look like this

Unlike a softboot setup your front and rear angles should be close, and some people run identical angles front and rear.  However we recommend a little separation, as it makes the board easier to swing around and avoid ski school snakes on crowded days

Angles are easy on a race board, the hard part is canting.  What the hell is canting?  Glad you asked.  Canting is leaning the boots relative to the board so that you're comfortable.  Since race boots are stiffer then softboots, bindings have extra adjustments to make sure you can get comfortable.  Really quick, canting is when you adjust the binding so that the boot doesn't point straight up. (imagine someone doing the splits wearing snowboard boots.  It wouldn't work if the boots were pointed straight up.)  there are extensive discussions on canting on other sites, so we won't go crazy trying to give you tips.  We've found that the real key is lifting the heel of your rear foot.  If your bindings have some means of doing it this you should use it.

The most important thing is comfort.  You're not going to be able to ride well, or have any fun if the board is uncomfortable, so if you're not comfortable look at the adjustments your boots and bindings have and try to figure out how to solve the problem