Go With The Flow | How Flow Bindings Have Adapted For The Modern Snowboarder

Flow Bindings have been quietly at work behind the scenes to revamp and relaunch their whole product line

It’s fair to say that Flow Bindings have lived a vast portion of their life as the Marmite of snowboarding- traditionally, you’ve either loved them or hated them*. But unlike the sticky British breakfast staple, Flow has gone through a re-birth of sorts over the last few years. A complete product overhaul that’s blown away the cobwebs of old-school Flow to kickstart their latest rear-entry revolution.

(*We’ve always loved Marmite by the way.)

In the past, Flow Bindings had experienced a few teething issues which ultimately led to some of this stigma surrounding them. Since joining forces with the Nidecker Group, the companies have enjoyed a two-way relationship, sharing information, ideas and tech that has allowed both to reap huge benefits.

“Instead of trying to fine tune a ‘one size fits all’ offering, they began testing and prototyping a new strap in 2008”

Fast forward to 2022 and Flow has never been sitting in a better position. They are the undisputed market leaders of rear-entry bindings (despite actually being dual-entry), the third biggest binding brand in the world in terms of units sold and boast a product line that caters to every corner of snowboarding, including strong showings for both women and youth.

One of the things that helped to revitalise this nouveau Flow narrative was their realisation that every rider is different- they like different things and have contrasting preferences. So instead of trying to fine tune a ‘one size fits all’ offering, they began testing and prototyping a new strap in 2008. Four years and a ton of R&D later they brought their Hybrid straps to market to sit alongside their traditional Fusion straps.

So, what are they? How do they differ? And which one is right for you?

As for thought process behind the creation of Hybrid straps, Lucien Vink, Flow’s Senior Product Manager, explained, “We wanted to create something that looked and felt more familiar to toe-cap-2-strap bindings, and entice people to make the jump. But just putting some 2-straps on a Flow binding doesn’t quite work; the straps need to stay in place so you can kick in & out easily, and we didn’t want to lose the PowerStrap performance value-add either. Hybrid straps are literally a mashup between Fusion straps and toe-cap 2-straps”.

Many of us are often reluctant to embrace big change with our gear, we’re too comfortable sitting pretty in a ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ headspace. So, this Hybrid strap emerged as a steppingstone for those traditional two strap fans who were hesitant to give classic Flow’s a try. The ease of use and speedy entry of a Flow binding, with more of an ankle and toe strap feel for increased control and flexibility.

“This type of support allows me a 100% connection with my board and lets me feel every micro change in the flex as I ride”

Fusion Straps are one of the pillars that the original Flow binding was built on, these one-piece straps are 3D-shaped to hug your boot and cover a larger area of your foot for more comfort and control. They also give the best Easy-Entry and ‘Set-It and Forget-It’ performance as the singular strap stays in place more easily

French team rider Nicolas Savoye has been riding Flow bindings for more than a decade and has seen first-hand the positive evolution to the product over time. As someone who has rigorously put both Fusion and Hybrid strap systems through their paces in a multitude of terrain and conditions, we put it to him to break down the differences between the two in terms of board feel, response and ease of use.

“There’s a real importance in choosing the right strap in terms of what you want to do with it. For the Hybrid Strap, I seem to end up using it for freestyle mostly, and on my everyday bindings. It allows me to have a really good forefoot hold without having my circulation cut off. This type of support allows me a 100% connection with my board and lets me feel every micro change in the flex as I ride, which allows me to ride as best as I can.”

“I love getting my Fusion strap bindings out because it means a pow day is coming up! The feel is way more “locked in” all over the foot, the Fusion strap is ultra-comfortable, and it covers a much larger surface of the boot. It lets you have a really light, deft sensation when you’re riding, and it’s just bliss off-piste.”

“People are always surprised how responsive these bindings are after getting over the initial scepticism of the ‘loose’ feeling”

Like any product that doesn’t want to fall by the wayside, over time the design and tech of Flow Bindings has had to evolve to stay cutting edge. Since winter 2020/21 all Flow Hybrid straps feature their top-shelf AuxTech which uses a 3D pattern that can hinge on itself and freely adapt its shape without stressing the material it’s made of, so it’ll retain a boot-hugging fit. Flow’s Fusion straps have also evolved to include Exo-Kush, Exo-Frame and Comfort options, each offering differing levels of support and response dependant upon your budget, riding style and ability level.

Okay, so if Hybrid straps function similarly to a classic toe and ankle strap binding, why bother with getting a Flow binding at all? Aside from the rear-entry aspect, there’s a solid case to be made for the increased energy transfer, especially when you’re getting up onto your toe edge. The fact that the straps don’t move independently stops power leeching, and the 3-point connection keeps your boot locked in through the whole arc of your turn.

Flow’s Mayon Plus with the Exo-Kush Fusion Strap

We asked Lucien the same question, “Funnily enough, I feel even if you’re a speed-entry sceptic and forget about that whole part, the benefits of energy transfer through our PowerTriangle cables and PowerStraps, and not needing to ride our straps so overly tight, would improve the riding experience for so many. Relieving the strap tightness resolves so many cold and cramped feet issues, and people are always surprised how responsive these bindings are after getting over the initial scepticism of the ‘loose’ feeling. Then you add the ease of getting in and out, and it turns into a complete and well-considered package.”

When it’s crunch time, which strap is right for you ultimately comes down to preference, 10-year Flow veteran and legend in the game Mike Basich is a Hybrid guy, but Lucien’s a Fusion purist- there’s no right or wrong with it. If you’re coming from a traditional two strap binding and are worried about making the leap, then Hybrid is a nice middle ground to get you going with the Flow.

“You’ll always be the one ready to drop first and so you’ll get all the first tracks”

After the early step-in binding systems crashed, burned and faded into the ether, Flow were left as pretty much the only quick entry system on the market for many years. Now, as speed entry bindings are back firmly in the forefront, Flow are still able to offer one of the most popular and performance-oriented bindings in that sphere.

Of course, there has to be some sort of downside or compromise with any product, so we hit up Nicolas to get the scoop, “You’ll lose a lot of friends because you’ll always be the one ready to drop first and so you’ll get all the first tracks”.


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