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Bindings

Salomon Highlander 2020-2021 Snowboard Bindings Review

Why we chose the Salomon Highlander Snowboard Bindings:It packs the punch of a heavyweight, but steps off the scales as a cool featherweight contender.

The Highlander is Salomon’s high-end all-mountain binder, taking their tried and tested features and blending them with their futuristic construction methods. The Highlander will appeal to anyone from intermediate level all the way up to signed pro. If you prioritise incredible board feel and powerful response with a playful twist, then feast your eyes on these badboys.

Those who’ve ridden Salomon bindings before know all about the benefits of the ShadowFit Baseplate, those who haven’t- listen up. The heelcup itself is a soft malleable material, that can flex side to side with ease. It follows the track of your boot when you’re tweaking and poking and really allows for maximum comfort as your boot is moving inside rather than resisting against your movement.

“If you prioritise incredible board feel and powerful response with a playful twist, then feast your eyes on these badboys”

Although it can move laterally, a Kevlar Quickwire feeds through and anchors down on either side of the baseplage, as a result, you still get powerful response when going heel to toe. It’s ideal for big mountain freestyle as you get more freedom of movement when pressing, buttering and grabbing, but it’ll still perform with the big dogs when you want to push it edge to edge. This is next level connectivity.

The Minima 3D Highback is where a lot of weight gets cut, the unique waffle-like structure shaving precious grams. It follows the contours of your boot for a close fit and added support round the calf. It’s still padded in the heel and round the top to prevent calf bite, but the minimalist design focuses on lightweight strength rather than plush, padded comfort.

“The minimalist design focuses on lightweight strength rather than plush, padded comfort”

Underfoot the Optivibe Basepad cushions from impacts and soaks up chatter to dampen the ride as you’re flying over choppy terrain. The adjustable toe ramp sits on top and can be personalised to get the ideal fit for your boot, giving maximum power transfer over the toes.

The footbed itself sits at a subtle angle, which in turn allows your foot to sit at a more natural angle inside. This small canting of the foot brings around big benefits, especially for riders who rock a wider stance. It pulls your knees together slightly, to align them correctly over your ankles, and in turn reduces muscle fatigue, alleviates joint pain and gives more natural power through your board.

Salomon as a company are really trying to operate in a more sustainable fashion, with a goal to reduce their carbon emissions a whopping 30% by 2030. They’ve been using recycled materials in the production of their line, minimizing their waste and for this season they’ve cut single use plastic in their samples packaging, with the goal to extend that further. It’s these little steps that all add up and help us save our winter playgrounds.

Tester’s Verdict

Mike BrindleyWhitelines

“My days riding sideways were well established on a skateboard long before I took to the mountains and the white stuff. Even today, that still really influences how I like to ride on a snowboard – I’m always looking for fun little sidehits, jibs, and just to feel a bit more free and less “locked-in” on the snowboard.

“I could really feel what the board was doing underneath me and felt way more in tune its flex.”

While the Highlander’s feel absolutely solid and connected through the straps and that wide, contouring high-back, it’s the ShadowFit baseplate that really does it for me. The amount you can tweak and shift your weight between the nose and tail is super impressive, and yet you never feel like you’re leaving the binding behind as you do so.

Personally, I can’t vouch for their freeride performance, as I didn’t have a chance to get onto anything super steep or technical. In terms of comfort and response, I’ve no doubt they’d handle bigger lines and sketchy conditions just fine. The absence of any forward lean perhaps suggests that they’re not made for the die-hard mountain goats, but I’m also guessing implementing that to the highbacks would come at the expense of the Kevlar wire wrapped around the heel-hoops. That’s a trade off I’m more than happy to make.

The Highlanders tick a massive box for freestyle riders, but I think they’d have widespread appeal to riders that just prefer a more natural feeling flex underfoot. I could really feel what the board was doing underneath me and felt way more in tune its flex.”

Tester’s Verdict 2019/20

Rob McCreathWhitelines

“The Highlanders have the look of the CIA Mainframe – black on black, cross-hatching, and a bunch of wires and components here, there and everywhere that you’re not entirely sure what they’re there for, but you better not touch them, just in case.

I rode the Highlanders on two very different boards. The first was the 157 Äsmo – a pure powder surfer. The second was on my old trusty steed – the Salomon Assassin. While these bindings are geared as all-mountain performers, I have to say I think they work better for those looking for a much looser, mobile feeling on the snowboard.

On the Äsmo, riding with the Highlanders felt like surfing on a cloud. I could move across the board with total freedom and feel completely connected to what was happening underfoot. On the Assassin, riding a little harder around the pistes and through the park, they just felt a little too sluggish between the edges for me.

The Kevlar wire running from point to point around the back of the heel cup works well and like nothing else I’ve ridden. There’s loads of lateral flex with them, but you feel the entire binding moving with you and not, as you can sometimes experience, like you’re pulling your foot out of the baseplate.

“On the Äsmo, riding with the Highlanders felt like surfing on a cloud. I could move across the board with total freedom and feel completely connected to what was happening underfoot. On the Assassin, riding a little harder around the pistes and through the park, they just felt a little too damp between the edges for me”

Where they didn’t feel quite as responsive for me was between the edges. Despite that really supportive highback, I never felt the sensation of getting sprung from the heelside edge back to the toes. Maybe that was down to the Kevlar wire, maybe it’s just a softer overall flex than what I’m used to.

One thing worth noting, the heel hoops on these are pretty high up, so you definitely feel fully enclosed in the binding. The downside of this, for me, was that I felt a pressure point on the inside of my ankle for most of the time riding them.

Overall, the Highlanders sit as one of Salomon’s more premium bindings in the line and offer a bunch of support and a unique flex pattern. With the right boots strapped inside, I’d have no doubt they’d be super comfortable too.”

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