CLICK HERE FOR THE BEST BINDINGS 2014-2015

You'd be forgiven for thinking that picking the perfect stick is the be-all and end-all of buying a snowboard set-up, but you'd be wrong. If anything, buying boots and bindings is more important. Together they are the middle-men between you and your board. They determine how well your board reacts to your movement.

Each of these boots and bindings has been tested by the Whitelines test team out at the Snowboard Spring Break event in Kaunertal, and hand-picked for the Whitelines 100 Buyers' Guide issue. So you can be sure they're the mutts nuts!

Boots

There are three basic things that dictate how a boot will feel to wear and ride. these are fit, flex, and features.

1) fit

Fit comes first. It is the most important aspect of buying a boot. Measure your foot size properly. Look at the profile of your foot, do the insole, toe and heel tests and then at the end of it all, get it heat-moulded.

2) Flex

Next comes flex. A more aggressive rider who hits big booters and stomps landings will favour a stiffer boot for increased ankle support, whilst a jibber or freestyler will lean towards a softer boot. The Whitelines team have used a flex rating from 1-10. 1 being soft as a sleeping kitten, 10 being 'ard as nails (you get the idea).

3) features

Last on the list when choosing a boot is the bonus features. It's all personal preference at the end of the day but find your preferred lacing system, your liner, footbeds, soles, backstays and tongues. They may seem like minor differences but they can equate to comfort and confidence.

Bindings

Bindings are there not only to get you strapped in, but to transform your weight shifts into board movements; turns, ollies, butters etc. They're a vital link in the chain of command between you and your stick, so it's important that they work effectively with your boots and your board. Like boots, there are three main things to look for when buying bindings.

1) FIT

Just like boots, fit is the most important. Bindings come in different sizes to fit different boots, and a snug fit between boot and binding is essential for effective control. make sure your bindings will fit your and your board before you buy them!

2) FLEX

Flex it another aspect to consider. This is determined by materials - the quantities of plastic, aluminium and other ingredients used to make a binding. It's a question of personal preference, but there is a general rule of thumb: Softer bindings are more forgiving and easier to ride, making them good for beginners, jibbers and park rats who'll need a bit of extra 'give' round their feet to help with sketchy landings. Stiffer bindings offer greater response, making them better for freeriders and advanced freestylers who need that kind of precision control at high speed. Look out for the flex rating alongside our reviews to see how stiff (on a scale of 1-10) the binding is.

3) FEATURES

Finally, you can look at the different features of the binding: Entry systems, highbacks, straps, tool-free adjustment, forward lean adjusters, cushioning and gas pedals.

Click through the following pages to see the boots - or find a specific boot below:

Boots

Adidas Blauvelt - Adidas Samba - Burton Ruler Restricted - DC Travis Rice - DC Rogan - Deeluxe Alpha - Nike Lunar Endor - Nike Vapen - Northwave Legend - Thirty Two Lashed - Vans Revere - Vans V66

Bindings

Burton Malavita - Burton Custom EST - Drake Fifty - Flow Five - K2 Company - Now Select - Ride Rodeo - Rome 390 Boss - Salomon District - Switchback Halldor Helgason Pro - Union Contact Pro - Union Force

Adidas Samba (right)
  • ADIDAS BLAUVELT SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £245
  • Flex: 7
  • Sizes: 7-11
  • Lacing system: Laces

This winter will see the launch of Adidas’ first ever range of snowboard boots. The move might have seemed an obvious one for the brand, especially given their reputation as a well-respected maker of skate shoes. But this launch has actually been a long time coming: It’s more than two years since Adidas first started talking to Jake Blauvelt, and this signature model is the result of lengthy consultation and testing to perfect the product.

Unsurprisingly, given the amount of time he spends riding burly backcountry lines, Blauvelt’s boot is a high-end, stiff flexing model. As the man himself told us “it feels super-responsive" and offers a ton of support to the ankles, perfect if you’re into hitting big drops and shredding at speed. They’ve also added a Recco emitter, which can be detected by avalanche transceivers – a piece of tech usually only seen in outerwear. Style-wise Blauvelt, a football lover, (and an Arsenal fan, we’re claiming it!) has taken inspiration from Adidas’s high-performance Predator boots. These don’t come cheap, but they ooze class.

adidas.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: subvertboardstore.com, ss20.com, sputniksnowboardshop.com, conspiracyboardstoe.co.uk, boarderline.co.uk, freezeproshop.com

  • ADIDAS SAMBA SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £175
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: 7-11
  • Lacing system: Laces

Like the Blauvelt, this is based on one of Adidas’ classic football-boot styles, even sharing the same name as its studded cousin. It also looks a lot like legendary skater Denis Busenitz’s signature Adidas skate shoe, with a grooved tongue and featuring the iconic trefoil logo.

This shares some tech with the Blauvelt, including the sole made of Continental rubber (yes, that’s the same Continental that make tyres) and the Recci emitter. Where it differs is with the flex, which is soft and forgiving, allowing you to turn easily and really tweak out your grabs hard. This boot is designed to suit park rats, jibbers, and intermediate piste-cruisers.

adidas.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: subvertboardstore.com, ss20.com, sputniksnowboardshop.com, conspiracyboardstoe.co.uk, boarderline.co.uk, freezeproshop.com

Burton Ruler Restricted
  • BURTON RULER RESTRICTED SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £190
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: 5-14
  • Lacing system: Speed

Having launched their first snowboard boots in 1983, Burton has long been at the forefront of innovation both in terms of style and technology. While the Ruler hasn’t been around quite that long, it’s something of a classic in the Burton line proving popular with riders of all stripes season after season. This is actually the ‘restricted’ version of the Ruler, a special colourway that’s only sold in a handful of core snowboard stores. In terms of feel and performance however, it’s much the same as its stock counterpart and it retails for the same price.

The ‘Power Spine’ backstay and the tongue of this boot (which has been redesigned for 2013-14) give it a mid-stiff flex that’s supportive, but not so stiff that you need to be Superman to bend it. The lacing system is Burton’s ‘Speed-Zone’ which allows you to tighten the ankle and the shoe independently, and makes getting them on and off quick and easy. There’s Burton’s mid-range heat-mouldable liner, and gel in the sole to help with cushioning. Having ridden a pair of Rulers for years, Whitelines deputy editor Tristan reckons they’re “a perfect combination of responsiveness and comfort, pretty much ideal for anyone from intermediate freestylers upwards. You can ride decent-sized kickers without worrying about your ankles buckling, but you can also hike in them easily enough. They’re even just about soft enough to dance in. Mine were subjected to some truly awful moves during many a happy hour at après over the years."

burton.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk,

snowlab.co.uk, tribalriders.com, halfpipelondon.com

DC Travis Rice
  • DC TRAVIS RICE SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £300
  • Flex: 8
  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Lacing system: Boa

For the first time ever, Travis Rice is launching a signature snowboard boot, and it’s as badass as a boot can possibly be. You’d expect nothing less from the world’s biggest burliest backcountry rider right? This is designed to handle everything that Travis could possibly throw at it. Which, as anyone who’s watched him ride will testify, is a considerable amount. As the man himself says: “I virtually spend my life in my boots" so these are designed to handle “day after day of abuse" and “make your feet smile from sun up to après."

The backstay and ‘3D tongue’ on this boot (which is stitched differently to a normal tongue to allow more natural leg movement) are very stiff. This of course means it’s very supportive and responsive, which is exactly what you need if you’re charging around at mach 10 and hitting big drops like Travis. If you’re a beginner though, you’ll want to look elsewhere. As one of our testers put it, this is “perfect for advanced riders, great for powder and really big kickers, but not forgiving enough to jib in". What we found really remarkable about this boot however is how light it is – stiff boots often require more material to get that responsive flex, but technologies like DC’s ‘unilite sole’ help keep the weight and profile down, so it’s not bulky at all. The dual Boa system makes these easy to lace up and adjust. In fact throughout the design, meticulous attention has been paid to the detail, with touches like the anti-scuff pad on the inside of the toes (to prevent the boot from getting ruined when you ride a snowmobile) and the Mike Parillo artwork on the insole making these boots truly special.

dcshoes.com/snow

BUY THIS BOOT AT: snowboard-asylum.com, snowandrock.com, hardcloud.com, absolute-snow.co.uk, tribalriders.com

Deeluxe Alpha (right)
  • DC ROGAN SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £160
  • Flex: 5
  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Lacing system: Laces

The DC Rogan is a different beast to the Travis Rice. If Travis’ signature model is a Ferrari, aimed at the very top end of the riding spectrum, this is more of an Audi - a solid all-rounder that will suit a much broader range of rider types. It features some of the same technology a Travis’ boot, including DC’s ‘unilite sole’ and the 3D tongue, but the flex on this is way softer. This makes it much better suited to piste cruising and hitting the kind of medium-sized park obstacles that most of us mere mortals ride. It’s aimed at intermediate riders and above, and while some jibbers may find it a bit on the stiff side, our test team liked its ability to handle most terrain. The laces are the traditional sort, with DC’s locking eyelets on the upper. All in all, this is a very versatile boot, and one we expect to see a lot of on the hill this winter.

dcshoes.com/snow

BUY THIS BOOT AT: snowboard-asylum.com, snowandrock.com, hardcloud.com, absolute-snow.co.uk, tribalriders.com

  • DEELUXE ALPHA SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £160
  • Flex: 3
  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Lacing system: Speed

Deeluxe's Alpha is the brand's entry-level boot, designed to take you from relative novice to competent shredder. The soft flex is combined with the brand's speed-lace system making this boot not only easy to learn in, but also very easy to get on at the start of the day and off at the end. equally, that soft flex means it's comfortable to stroll around in, so if you're unused to having your feet strapped up so tight, you won't feel the burn too badly. The boot features a powerstrap around the ankle, adding a bit of extra support where you need it. That said, if you're into Xavier de la Rue-style straight-lining, this boot will definitely be too soft for you. You'd be much better off with the Spark XV (his Deeluxe-made pro-model) instead. But if you like jibbing or you're looking for a boot to get you started in snowboarding, this is a good'un.

BUY THIS BOOT AT: theriderslounge.com, tribalriders.com

Nike Lunar Endor
  • NIKE LUNAR ENDOR SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £350
  • Flex: 5 - 7
  • Sizes: 6 - 12
  • Lacing system: Laces

We first heard about this model when we interviewed Nike’s chief snowboard boot designer Steve Pelletier last year. At the time he was working on some test models and was very excited by a material called ‘lunarlon’. It was already being used on Nike’s high-end running and basketball shoes, as well as Eric Koston’s signature skate shoe, and Steve reckoned its cushioning potential would also make it useful for snowboard boots.

Lunarlon is a special kind of foam that absorbs the impact of a wearer’s foot and spreads it across the whole sole, so that it doesn’t affect the heel or the ball of your foot as heavily if you land on them. A bruised heel, usually caused by landing too heavily or knuckling a kicker, is a surprisingly common snowboard injury, so anything that lessens the chances of it has to be a positive. Combine this with the fact that lunarlon is lighter than standard phylon foam and it makes a lot of sense to use it. Nike have combined this cushioning with the customisable flex tech introduced on their Zoom Ites model last season which allows riders to switch up plastic inserts of varying stiffness on the liner to give it different characteristics. This makes the Lunar Endor boot a versatile freestyle performer, as comfortable on massive cliff drops as it is in the park. Of course, tech like that doesn’t come cheap, but if you’ve got the cash to splash, this is a pretty awesome piece of kit. And that geeky Star Wars-inspired name (the moon of Endor is where the Ewoks come from) just makes us love it even more.

nikesnowboarding.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: snowboard-asylum.com, conspiracyboardstore.com, subvertboardstore.com, ss20.com, boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk

Northwave Legend (right)
  • NIKE WOMEN’S VAPEN SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £160
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: 4 - 9
  • Lacing system: Laces

The Vapen has been one of Nike’s most popular models since it launched. This is a women’s specific colourway, so it’s only available in smaller sizes. There are men’s versions too though and while they may look different, they’re very similar in terms of performance.

It’s basically a soft-flexing boot designed for jibbers and general freestylers of all shades. The easy feel of the boot means you can tweak out your grabs and really lean into your presses, and it also helps you scrub around landings if they’re not totally spot on. This soft flex also makes these pretty well suited to beginner and intermediate riders as it makes turning nice and easy. Having ridden these for a season, Whitelines’ jib-loving advertising manager Craig was impressed with how quickly they wore in, saying “they feel like they’re gonna feel pretty much straight out of the box". Like all boots that carry the swoosh you pay a premium for the level of tech, but the build quality is second to none. And while advanced shredders might find this a bit soft for their liking, as an entry level boot, for either girls or guys, it’s awesome.

nikesnowboarding.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: snowboard-asylum.com, conspiracyboardstore.com, subvertboardstore.com, ss20.com, boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk, halfpipelondon.com

  • NORTHWAVE LEGEND SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £165
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: 6-12
  • Lacing system: Speed

The Legend has been part of Northwave’s line for almost as long as the company has been making boots – and given that they’ve been in business since the late 80s, that’s saying something! This latest version features a couple of neat innovations including what the call a ‘540-degree’ heel harness. This basically connects the laces to an internal heel harness, so when you tighten your laces, you’re also pulling the inner and outer boots together from all sides at once. There’s Northwave’s ‘TF2’ liner, which is comfy and heat-mouldable, and their ‘SL’ speed-lacing system, featuring a single cleat at the front. The mid-stiff-flex makes these pretty versatile and we found them surprisingly responsive for a boot at this price point. In fact, one of the main reasons they earned a place in the Whitelines 100 was the ‘bang for your buck’ factor. These punch above their weight!

northwave.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: absolute-snow.co.uk, conspiracyboardstore.co.uk, snowboard-asylum.com, bucksboarding.co.uk, sickandwrong.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, eskimowear.co.uk

Vans Revere (right)
  • THIRTY TWO LASHED SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £195
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: 5-13
  • Lacing system: Laces

The Lashed is one of – if not the – most popular snowboard boot ever made, and is Thirty Two’s biggest seller year after year. The reasons for this are relatively simple: You get a fair bit for your money in terms of tech, it’s versatile and well-suited to a wide variety of riding styles, and it looks cool.

Thirty Two have always prided themselves on making super-light boots. Apparently this year’s ‘STI evolution foam’ outsole, featured on the Lashed, makes this year’s range even lighter than last year’s and means Thirty Two’s boots remain “the lightest in the industry". The ‘intuition foam’ liners mould to your feet nice and quickly making these boots comfortable and there’s a speed-lacing version if that’s what floats your boat. The middle of the range flex means you can happily hit the park as well as straight-lining pistes or powder fields and Thirty Two team rider Chris Bradshaw even uses these on street rails. So all in all, they’re a great all-rounder.

thirtytwo.com

BUY THIS BOOT AT: snowboard-asylum.com, subvertboardstore.com, ss20.com, noahsark.co.uk, edgeriders.com, sputniksnowboardshop.com, boarderline.co.uk,

boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk,

theboardbasement.com, halfpipelondon.com

  • VANS REVERE SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £210
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: 6 - 13
  • Lacing system: Laces & Boa

The Vans Revere is an all-mountain boot, aimed at intermediate-to-advanced riders. The relatively stiff flex gives you enough support to get up some serious speed without having to worry about sketchy speed wobbles, but it’s not as extreme as say the Xavier de le Rue boots. This year’s model has a couple of interesting new features including the ‘custom slide guide’ which operates in conjunction with that Boa on the side of the boot, enabling you to tighten it at a specific point of your choosing around the instep. Everyone’s feet are shaped differently, and this allows you to put pressure on yours where it feels most comfortable. Our test team were impressed with the response these boots offered, with one saying they were “great for carving" and another adding “they’re very supportive" and “good for the high-end rider". If you’re after boots to jib in, the general consensus was that these would be too stiff, but if you like charging, and hitting big kickers they’re the mutt’s nuts. As one tester put it: “Go big or go home!"

vans.com/snow

BUY THIS BOOT AT:eskimowear.co.uk, theboardbasement.com, tribalriders.com

Vans V66
  • VANS V 66 SNOWBOARD BOOTS REVIEW
  • Price: £200
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: 6-14
  • Lacing system: Laces

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of Vans’ first snowboard boots. To celebrate, they’ve produced this special edition of the V 66, a boot which itself commemorates the year in which the Van Doren brothers founded the skate shoe company. In terms of styling, this model (and indeed the rest of this year’s V 66 range) is all about riffing off Vans skate heritage. There’s the prominent ‘V’ logo down the side, white sole with a black stripe, the ‘Off The Wall’ logo on the tongue and in this version a “hidden chequerboard watermark". All pretty cool and classy.

In terms of performance, this is a freestyler’s boot, with a relatively soft, forgiving flex. The classic laces have been pimped up with a new innovation that Vans call the ‘tongue lock down’ which pulls the tongue closer to the joint of your ankle as you tighten the laces, helping to eliminate heel lift. Vans highest end ‘Quadfit X’ liner, with a built in ankle harness also serves to keep your heels locked in, so these need minimal adjustment throughout the day. The ‘V3 footbed’ features different types of EVA at different points along its length to help you soak up heavy landings. To ride, these feel easy and fun, rather than rigid and responsive. There’s enough support from the tongue and backstay so that you’re not going to struggle with speeds, but these felt more comfortable buttering around in the slush than they did straight-lining down chopped up pistes. General consensus amongst our test team was that these would be excellent for anyone with even a passing interest in freestyle, from an intermediate level upwards. They’re versatile, comfy and a great tribute to 20 years of making great boots.

vans.com/snow

BUY THIS BOOT AT: surfdome.com, noahsark.co.uk, boardwise.co.uk, sputniksnowboardshop.com, snowtraxstore.co.uk, bucksboarding.co.uk

Burton Malavita
  • BURTON MALAVITA BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £230
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: S/M/L
  • Entry system: Classic

The Malavita was apparently developed initially at the behest of former Burton team rider Keegan Valaika, who started buying up old highbacks with wings on eBay and attaching them to his new bindings. He apparently reckoned that it was easier to properly press his board with something to lean against. Keegan has now parted company with Burton, but the binding has stayed, proving popular with their current crop of team-riders and with the general public.

This year’s model features Burton’s “re:flex" baseplate, which is designed to allow you to feel the natural flex of your board beneath your feet. On top of that it’s got a sophisticated footbed which features ‘B3 gel’ for added cushioning, helping you soak up heavy landings without hurting yourself. The footbed is also canted, meaning it’s set at an angle – this is a fairly common feature on bindings these days, designed to make the standard duck-foot stance on a snowboard feel a bit more natural. Basically, if your feet are at a slight angle your knees get knackered out less quickly. Canted footbeds also give you a bit more material to push off when you’re popping an ollie. In terms of flex, this is towards the stiffer end of the spectrum but it’s by no means aimed at freeriders – at least not exclusively. Rather it’s designed to suit advanced freestylers, whether that’s guys hitting sizeable rails, pipe riders or people hitting backcountry booters. That said, its responsive flex would also suit anyone who likes going fast. Our test team repeatedly mentioned how “solid and supportive" the Malavita felt, and how easily it handled high speeds and heavy landings.

burton.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: ss20.com, snowboard-asylum.com, snowandrock.com, boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk,

snowlab.co.uk, tribalriders.com, halfpipelondon.com

Drake Fifty (right)
  • BURTON CUSTOM EST BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £155
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: S/M/L
  • Entry system: Classic

Like the board of the same name, the Burton Custom is a stone cold classic, and one of the best selling bindings in their range year after year. It’s a fairly soft-flexing binding that’ll suit a broad range of rider types, from relatively advanced park rats to casual intermediate-level piste cruisers. This model features their EST system, which is offers infinite stance options when used with Burton ‘channel’ boards, but there’s an ordinary baseplate model too. The polished aluminium buckles, like all Burton ratchets, are smooth and easy to use even with gloves on. If you’re after something that’ll lock you in while you’re pointing it on frozen couloirs Xavier de le Rue-style, or boosting 20 feet out of the coping, the Custom is probably a bit too soft. But it’s easy to ride, easy to adjust and great for most all-purpose riding.

burton.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: sailandski.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk, tribalriders.com, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, boarderline.co.uk,

snowlab.co.uk, tribalriders.com, halfpipelondon.com

  • DRAKE FIFTY BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £140
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: M/L/XL
  • Entry system: Classic

According to Drake this is “still the best-selling model in [their] collection" more than a decade after the F-50 (as it was then known) was first launched. Unsurprisingly, given its popularity, they haven’t changed much about the mid-flexing freestyle feel of this binding. Although they have upgraded the tech and materials they use to make it, meaning that the 2013-14 model is the lightest and best-performing version yet. It’s got a ‘delta light’ baseplate and a ‘light frame high back’, as well as a brand new canted footbed. This combines cushioning with extra ollie power, and makes riding duck-footed a little less hard on the knees. Drake have called their fast-fastening buckles the ‘Mac 5’, and while we couldn’t quite do them up at five times the speed of sound (that would surely be impossible unless your name is Sonic the Hedgehog) they were quick and easy to open and shut. Overall, our test team were suitably impressed with its performance and reckoned this all-rounder would suit park riders and piste cruisers equally.

northwave.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: absolute-snow.co.uk, librance.com, surfdome.com, bucksboarding.co.uk

K2 Company (right)
  • FLOW FIVE BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £170
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: M/L/XL
  • Entry system: Speed

Flow are the inventors of the original speed-entry system. Back in the 90s, a product design specialist called Werner Jettmar began studying standard ratchet snowboard binding and experimenting with more efficient ways to get them on and off. His eventual solution became the Flow system - a folding highback that allows you to put your boot in the back of the binding. Since they invented it, several other brands have imitated the system but the Five, Flow’s flagship freestyle model, is still the most popular folding highback binding.

As well as that folding highback the 2013-14 Flow Five also features their ‘Locking Slap Ratchet’ buckles which allow you to get in and out of the binding in a more conventional way should you so wish. It’s also got a ‘rockered baseplate’ that they reckon improves board feel, and a mid-soft flex that’ll suit anyone from intermediates upwards.

flow.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: absolute-snow.co.uk, snowandrock.com, theboardbasement.com, theboardbasement.com, snowfit.co.uk

  • K2 COMPANY BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £190
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: M/L/XL
  • Entry system: Classic

The Company is a high-end freestyle binding, engineered to be lightweight as well as comfortable. The model has been around for a few years, but is continually updated – this year they’ve added a new ‘AT highback’ which reduces the weight even further. This is combined with classic K2 technologies like their ‘harshmellow’ cushioning, which they’ve added to the footbed of this binding. This helps it soak up the impact of heavy landings better. It features a canted footbed for extra ollie power and the flex is relatively stiff, making this a perfect responsive platform for ripping around at high speeds and hitting big kickers. As one tester put it: “These are supportive and strong bindings, very good at transmitting power to the board". If you’re heading into the pipe, the big park or the backcountry, a pair of these will be great company. Badum tish.

k2snowboarding.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: snowfit.co.uk, granitereef.co.uk, subvertboardstore.com, boardwise.com, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk,

theboardbasement.com

Now Select
  • NOW SELECT BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £270
  • Flex: 6
  • Sizes: M/L/XL
  • Entry system: Classic

Now Bindings are a company founded by legendary pro JF Pelchat. A member of the notorious Whistler-based Wildcats crew back in the 90s, Pelchat was famed for his balls-out backcountry riding and hell-raising antics off the hill. He may have got older and (dare we say it) calmed down since then, but the man still loves to shred, which is why he found himself tinkering with his binding setup in his garage.

JF hit on the idea that it would be easier to transfer a rider’s weight to the edges of the board if your foot rocked back and forth over a central point, rather than sitting on a flat, static baseplate. He looked at his skateboard trucks, with their central pivot and started building prototypes to try and imitate their construction and feel. The design he eventually hit on became the Now binding. It doesn’t literally rock back and forth like a skate truck, but it has a structure that’s designed to spread a rider’s weight away from the centre of the baseplate towards the heel and the toes, making it easier to turn. JF and his crew of Now converts (which now includes Whistler stalwarts Devun Walsh and DCP as well as jibber Frank April and big mountain Jeremy Jones) reckon it’s so much easier to turn that you can do away with the need for a highback all together. And with the no highbacks trend gathering steam (Switchbacks have removable ones, and even some Flow bindings now come without) they decided to make them optional on this model, appropriately called the Select.

Sceptical? Well, we were too, but our test team tried both and were suitably impressed. The general consensus being that this mid-stiff model was excellent pretty much everywhere, with the highbacks offering more support for high speeds and the no-back configuration better for jibbing. One typical comment ran: “Wicked bindings. No highback gives a more relaxed feel when riding pow and performed really well in the park."

now-snowboarding.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: snowboard-asylum, absolute-snow.co.uk, cabfive.co.uk, sickandwrong.co.uk, ss20.com, conspiracyboardstore.com, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk,

Ride Rodeo
  • RIDE RODEO BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £190
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: M/L/XL
  • Entry system: Classic

Ride have been making bindings pretty much since they started in the business in the early 90s. With more than 20 years of product and tech development behind them, they’ve earned a reputation as one of the best in the business. The Rodeo, an intermediate-to-advanced level freestyle binding at a reasonable price point, is one of their most popular models and has been for a few years.

This year’s version has a brand new ankle strap, which is shaped asymmetrically to match the way that pressure is put on it when you ride in a freestyle ‘duck-foot’ stance. Elsewhere it’s got a healthy dose of aluminium, like all Ride bindings. The chassis, the ‘infinity’ baseplate and the heelcup of this binding are all made of aluminium, helping keep it lightweight. The ‘stealth’ highback is also designed to be as light as possible with “a larger flat-back shaping and thinner construction". The Rodeo has a canted, or sloping footbed, which helps you pop an ollie and makes riding duck-footed feel more natural. The flex is a mid-soft one, which makes this binding forgiving enough for intermediates to ride, and means it also performs really well in the park. It’s forgiving enough for rails, but not so soft that you can’t hit big kickers – if you need proof, just google “Billy Morgan Triple Rodeo". This is the binding he stomped that trick on.

ridesnowboards.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: granitereef.com, absolute-snow.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, theboardbasement.com, halfpipelondon.com

Salomon District (right)
  • ROME 390 BOSS BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £195
  • Flex: 5
  • Sizes: S-M / L-XL
  • Entry system: Classic

Rome’s 390 Boss is one of the Vermont-based company’s best-sellers. This year’s version is packed with tech, including Rome’s ‘Yes I Cant’ canted footbed system. Unlike many other bindings, the angle of the cant (or slope) on the footbed is adjustable (a process Rome reckon is “quick-as-f**k") so you can choose the level of lean you want. If you’re a freerider, you may want to crank it up to 3.5 degrees, if you’re more into jibbing, you may want slightly less.

We’ve rated this binding a 5/10 for flex, which indicates that it’s an all-rounder, suitable for most rider and terrain types. It’s possibly a little bit on the stiff side for out-and-out jibbers, but piste cruisers and those wanting to hit bigger jumps will appreciate the extra support and response it offers. One tester said it was “well worth recommending to all rider types".

romesnowboards.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: freezeproshop.com, absolute-snow.co.uk, bucksboarding.co.uk, surfdome.com, snowfit.co.uk, eskimowear.co.uk

  • SALOMON DISTRICT BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £180
  • Flex: 5
  • Sizes: S/M/L
  • Entry system: Classic

The strapline in the Salomon catalogue for this binding is “tweakers allowed", which should tell you everything you need to know about who this is designed for. Well, that and the fact that Quebecois rail-slayer Louif Paradis rides these. It’s basically a high-performing freestyle binding. It features Salomon’s ‘Shadowfit’ technology, which marries a lightweight base plate with a relatively soft-flexing heelcup which is reinforced by something they call a ‘quickwire’ made of Kevlar. This means the binding can flex to fit your boots and offer the response you need for bigger kickers and rails. The District isn’t just about freestyle though. Whitelines’ deputy editor Tristan rode these with the Salomon Villain board and was impressed by how solid they felt when bombing it through choppy snow. So all-in-all, they’re a comfortable all-round option.

salomonsnowboards.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: snowboard-asylum.com, subvertboardstore.com, sputniksnowboardshop.com, boardwise.com, boardriders.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, halfpipelondon.com

Switchback Halldor Helgason Pro
  • SWITCHBACK HALLDOR HELGASON PRO BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £200
  • Flex: 4
  • Sizes: S/M/L
  • Entry system: Classic

Switchback bindings launched onto the market in 2011 and made a splash. In fact, it reminded us of nothing more the impact made by the brand’s parent company Bataleon when they first released their Triple Base Technology boards almost a decade previously. Like Bataleon, they were focussing on simple, eye-catching primary colours. But like the company’s boards, it wasn’t the bindings’ appearance that really had tongues wagging, it was their design.

The engineers behind the project had taken the concept of tool-less binding adjustment to its logical extreme, producing a binding made entirely of plastic components that snapped together like Lego. And like Lego, you could mix up the different components in different combinations. With the ‘no highbacks’ riding trend gathering steam, a binding where you could simply pop the back out seemed like the perfect product to launch. Now in their third season in shops, Switchback’s bindings have evolved slightly. The basic principle of multiple interchangeable combos is fairly similar, but they’ve introduced some new components as well as new colours. This onefor example is the Halldor Helgason pro model, which feature a winged highback designed by the man himself to wrap around your ankle give extra leverage when pressing and support when stomping heavy landings.

Other options include an asymmetric highback (featured on Eiki Helgason’s pro model), a ‘mid-back’ or even a no-back attachment. In terms of customisation, these are the dogs then, but what are they like to ride? Well, our test team were suitably impressed. Whitelines deputy editor Tristan kept a pair with him for most of the test week. He said: “The flex is sort of mid-soft, so they’re pretty good for almost anything. Great for general freestyle and messing about. Not as light as some more expensive bindings maybe, but so, so comfortable, and above all, easy to setup and go." So that’s a winner then.

switchbackbindings.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: snowboard-asylum.com, ss20.com, freezeproshop.com, boarderline.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowfit.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk

Union Contact Pro
  • UNION CONTACT PRO BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £200
  • Flex: 7
  • Sizes: S-M/ M-L/ L-XL
  • Entry system: Classic

Union’s self-proclaimed goal since day one has been to produce “the best bindings on the planet". It’s a bold mission statement, but one that has helped them become phenomenally successful. They’ve grown from a small start-up into one of the biggest players in the binding market in a mere nine years and now have one of the most star-studded snowboard teams on the planet, including Travis Rice, Gigi Rüf, Danny Kass and Dan Brisse.

The Contact Pro is Gigi’s signature binding, a super-light, high-end freestyle model that’s designed for the kind of all-terrain domination that defines Gigi’s riding style. Union pride themselves on their baseplates, which are designed so as to have as little material in contact with the board as possible. It may sound counter-intuitive, but this is actually a good thing, as it allows the board to bend naturally, without the stiffness of the binding affecting the flex too much. The Contact baseplate is the most extreme in the Union range, with only 5 per cent of the baseplate touching the board. Having less material in the baseplate also helps keep the weight of the binding down, as does that spindly highback, which again is one of the lightest that Union make. Like all Union bindings, this has an extruded aluminium heelcup, which is both light and strong, and magnesium buckles. Despite the light weight and the lack of any extraneous material, the flex on this binding is actually pretty stiff. Several of our testers commented on how responsive the bindings felt, and how solid they felt when riding fast. “Lightweight and powerful, but not overly aggressive," said one very experienced tester, adding that these are “one of the best bindings I’ve ever tested." So perhaps Union’s mission statement isn’t so bold after all.

unionbindingcompany.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk,

theboardbasement.com, tribalriders.com, halfpipelondon.com

Union Force
  • UNION FORCE BINDINGS REVIEW
  • Price: £170
  • Flex: 5
  • Sizes: S-M/ M-L/ L-XL
  • Entry system: Classic

The Force, a mid-flexing binding that’s designed to suit a broad range of terrain types and riding styles, is one of Union’s best-sellers. It’s been part of the Italian company’s range since they first launched in 2005 and has proved popular with riders of all stripes.

This latest version of the Force has a couple of all-new features, including the ‘stage IV’ base, an improved baseplate that is apparently so strong that it has a lifetime guarantee. The highback is also new and improved for 2013-14. It’s what Union call a ‘multi-zone’ highback – it has different thicknesses of plastic to provide different flex characteristics at different points. The top third is the thinnest and easiest to bend, the middle third is a bit thicker and the bottom third is really rigid, making it very hard to bend at all. The idea is to offer the best combination of flex and responsiveness. Elsewhere the Force has a lot in common with the Contact Pro, including the extruded aluminium heelcups and the magnesium buckles. The Force’s flex means that it’s a very versatile binding – soft enough for park rats, but not so loose that you’d feel sketchy at speed. It’s great for gentle piste cruising and casual park sessions. And while you might want something a bit more rigid if you were hitting mega-booters, for most ordinary riders, this is a great all-round option. As one tester put it, these are “great, so easy to use that you barely notice they’re there – which is exactly what you want from a binding."

unionbindingcompany.com

BUY THESE BINDINGS AT: boarderline.co.uk, boardriders.co.uk, thesnowboardshop.co.uk, snowlab.co.uk,

theboardbasement.com, tribalriders.com, halfpipelondon.com