Spark R&D Arc 2020-2021 Women’s Splitboard Bindings Review

  • Sizes: XS/S, M/L
  • Entry System: Classic
  • Price: $385

There are two common misconceptions in splitboarding: The first, is that you have to lug a crap tonne of weight up the arse end of the mountain; and the second is that once you get there, you spend the next hour painstakingly transitioning from walk to ride mode. Spark R&D have dispelled both these myths with their legendary bindings. The women’s specific Arc binding is as lightweight, functional and freeride friendly as they come.

“The binding features a narrower baseplate, lower and more compact heel hoops and custom moulded straps”

Aside from the weight, Spark don’t do things by halves. The binding features a narrower baseplate, lower and more compact heel hoops, and custom moulded straps designed to accurately fit the most common boot brands out there. The aluminium baseplate is cut out to drastically shave excess weight off without compromising the binding’s overall stiffness. There’s another advantage to this: Metal conducts the cold. The less of it underfoot, the better the chance your toes have of staying warm when you’re out on a dawn patrol.

The Arcs are purpose built to handle moving through the most varied terrain. There’s the 12° and 18° climbing wire, Rip ‘n’ Flip highbacks, which hinge back -13° for getting a longer stride on the go to cover flat terrain more efficiently and, of course, Spark’s renowned T1 Tesla system.

Going up, doesn’t come much easier than that. When you’re ready to transition, it’s genuinely as easy as: unclick, slide, and click. The efficiency and effectiveness of switching between walk and ride modes with a pair of these will have you yearning for multiple descents in the backcountry.

All that’s left is the way back down. That lightweight response and comfort transfers perfectly over to surfy freeride turns, making them the ultimate split board binding for any female rider stoking for the next adventure out the back of the resort. There’s the much stiffer, more aggressive women’s Surge bindings to consider, too, but unless you’re looking for the ultimate in response (with the slight compromise being increased weight), the Arcs will have you well and truly covered.

Tester’s Verdict 2019/20

Holly BurnsSnowboard Instructor

“What a brilliantly simple and simply brilliant binding! Spark deserve their reputation as being the lightest and toughest splitboard binding company in the game. The women’s specific Arc is tough and responsive but is so stripped down to the essentials that anybody could use them.

Setting up your splitboard bindings is a bit of a fiddly job, it’s made easier with the tools to align the pucks. Also, because the Arc has a cut out baseplate, it’s actually quite easy to fine-tune any adjustments and easily access the screws without taking them off the board.

Obviously they don’t have the same dampening and cushioning as you’ll find in your normal bindings, but that’s what keeps things super lightweight. If you’re riding powder (which you hopefully will be if you’re going beyond the resort boundaries to earn some turns) you won’t really miss the dampening if you have a light fluffy layer of snow underfoot. The straps, although they seem really minimal, still felt comfortable and responsive, without any noticeable pressure points.

“For descending, the Arcs felt really surfy and allowed me to draw beautiful lines in the snow without feeling overly aggressive”

The climbing wire is made a little easier to use with the Whammy Bars, although this takes a little bit of practice for quick adjustments on the fly. I found myself using my hands a lot more than the handles of my touring poles, but I’m sure you’d get the hang of it after a few tours.

Switching from between walk and ride modes is insanely straightforward! Honestly, I reckon someone who has never seen a splitboard could still transition in no time at all.

For descending, the Arcs felt really surfy and allowed me to draw beautiful lines in the snow without feeling overly aggressive. I’d like to try a stiffer pair of highback with some tougher straps to see how they’d fair on more technical descents, but for 99% of my touring needs these were the bee’s knees!”

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