Forums Bindings Karakoram vs Spark
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  • #824580
    Vinzent
    2 Posts

    Hey I’m already really stoked to go shred but first i heve to get me some decent bindings for my Furberg Pow split. I’m new to splitboarding so I don’t know much about the different systems out there. So im wondering what the big difference between those two systems (Spark, KArakoram) is and which is better in terms of : weight, how quick you can switch to descent mode (without stepping out of the bindings!?), stability, the ice on the bindings and if you get problems with that, and do both have a skii lock mode?
    Would be nice if someone could share his experiences or thoughts with me!
    cheers

    #824720
    summersgone
    814 Posts

    Starting off, I am a hardbooter, so I have no experience lately with any of these systems and only do from a few years ago. But I have been splitboarding for 10 years.

    A ski lock mode I think is the most over rated thing out there. Once you figure out split skiing, you don’t need it. I have a way to lock down with the Phantoms and have used it twice, and never again. It just wasn’t practical, I can do everything unlocked fine. So I wouldn’t put a lot of emphasis on that. Also, stepping off the bindings is interesting, but I wonder how much is used in the field. Since you still need to put together and take apart your board, you would be stepping in snow, likely creating icing, it just seems not a feature someone would use.

    In regards to bindings, I can’t say enough good things about Spark the company. They have the best customer service out there, will fix your system (if it ever breaks) in no time. They have invested in solar power on their roof and just genuinely nice people. I can’t recommend spark enough. To me Karakorum has always seemed a bit more complicated, but I’m sure its stellar stuff. But I like how simple Spark stuff is and how it just plain works.

    #824754
    schwalbster
    321 Posts

    Hi Vinzent,
    Welcome to the forum. Ha man, that is a very loaded question that could possibly get you tons of different responses, depending on who uses and likes their own system, but since this forum has gotten pretty quiet you probably won’t, so I’m gonna try and help you out.
    I would say between softboot splitboarders it’s quite evenly divided between Spark and Karakoram users depending on personal preferences

    Full disclosure. I’m friends with the Karakorum founders and absolutely love their system (and did from the very beginning) and this might come across as someone just regurgitating their marketing message and all the things that you can read on their website. Butwhat I’m saying here is true for me and I now use their solid bindings as well and plan to use KK until I croak. Here is why: I prefer a stiff binding and medium/low stiffness soft boot and Karakoram provides that, they give me that very locked in feeling that I need and was used to from my Ride bindings. They are the innovators of the philosophy of of actively clamping the board together, through their bindings and boardclips and since this season their nose/tailclips. Everything is springloaded, which makes it very solid and super responsive. I still believe this greatly helps make my splitboard feel just like a solid board. I don’t mind the slightly higher amount of handling and cleaning that you had to do, but it really wasn’t bad at all (and they have worked on making that even easier now as well with their Ride mode 2.0 and I don’t think there is a difference anymore how quick you can switch to descent mode)

    Karakoram always had the ability to keep the binding on your feet and step on to the board and lock it, but honestly I have never done that in my entire life (and I’m f#%@ng old and been at it for almost a couple decades ;)) and I think it’s somewhat of a marketing gimmick. I don’t know maybe some people really do that or just see it as one less thing to do when you switch over, but I don’t. My philosophy is if you are ever in such a rush that that one minute matters, then you’re doing it wrong 😉
    As far as I understand that is not an option with Sparks, but again I would see that as non-factor.

    And I also admit that I like the slightly more techy gear and I never had issues in the field. Many people love Sparks and regular boardclips for their simplicity, but when I had Sparks (which was when they still had pins, so I can’t even really compare the 2 anymore and this is in no way an up to date opinion of Sparks) they were just not giving me that locked in feeling and rocksolid connection. Maybe it was the missing sidewalls, maybe straps and highbacks, maybe the puck system. I don’t know. I could see that working well for people who like very stiff softboots (and many people do because of obvious advantages for splitboarding) who get their freedom from the bindings, not sure.

    They both have ski lock mode, KK did it first and Spark followed suit.

    Both companies are very good people who have put their heartblood into the splitboard community and both have evolved their products and companies over many years now. You can’t go wrong with either one, it’s just about what you think you would prefer. Ideally find somewhere where you can test them if you can at one of the Splifest events.

    After much research, experimentation and consideration, I have decided adulthood is not for me. Thank you for the opportunity.

    #824759
    russman
    689 Posts

    I’ll pipe in quickly, but full disclosure, I was the first ever full time employee at Karakoram, and am therefore “probably” a bit biased.

    This being said, I’m biased for a reason. The whole philosophy of the company is one of mega high performance. You won’t find a binding that drives the edge of the snowboard harder into the ground than any of the Prime System Bindings. The level of fine tuned control you gain over the full running length of your snowboard is second to none. I like to say that nearly anything will ride “well” in powder, as long as you have a halfway descent board. Its when things get STEEP, icy, and you find yourself above exposure, gripping to the slope for dear life….THAT is when your equipment really matters most. How well does your splitboard system perform in BAD conditions?

    That is where Karakoram really shines. Its all about maximizing control on heavy lines. And with that control also comes the ability to carve your snowboard as if you were riding an F-16 fighter jet.

    Our Tour Mode is also the best in the industry. Its stronger, smoother, tighter, and lasts longer. We have a fully rigid integrated and lubricated “axle” system that absolutely crushes the competition. Its so bomber, I regularly see customers hitting 400 days of touring on older bindings.

    We also offer the most innovated accessories, such as the FlexLock, which allow you to side hill quite seriously JUST as if you were on a set of hardboots.

    Our transitions are better, too. We spent the past 2 years developing a new Prime Interface, and I can confidently say that the ease of setup, as well as the speed of transitions in the field are crazy fast. Transitions now basically feel like rapid fire… We’ve eliminated snow / ice accumulation issues by 99% with the new ride mode, and our tour modes and heel risers are fastest and easiest to use, period. In fact, I can say that of my 10 years testing the Karakoram tour mode, I’ve NEVER been able to ice up my tour modes. They’re utterly bomber.

    Lastly, we offer the lightest binding in the industry (PrimeX), as well as the most versatile system in the industry. You can run any Karakoram binding on any snowboard, solid or split. And with the new Connect bindings you have a full length EVA foam footbed and can achieve that same resort “feel”, but with the added performance and responsiveness of Active Joining Technology.

    Here’s the new ride mode:

    New TipLock video:

    Just a cool video of our Japan buddies:

    If you or anyone else has any questions, feel free to PM me.

    Happy shredding guys!!

    -Russman

    #824766
    Snurfer
    1448 Posts

    Great info Russ, always good to see you post!

    @vinzent I know you asked about Karakoram vs Spark – but for the type of riding conditions Russell uses for many of his examples – One would be remiss if based upon price and a willingness to go with a proprietary interface, one did not consider the Phantom system and skimo boots.

    Bottom line each system has its merits – No matter what you choose don’t overthink the fun out of it, its just sliding on snow.

    Oh BTW is transition wars still a thing?

    Shark Snowsurf Chuna
    Voile V-Tail 170 BC
    Voile One Ninety Five
    Spark R&D Arc

    #824783
    Vinzent
    2 Posts

    Ey thanks for the response, I think you already helped me a lot. I hope there is going to be a testival soon, so i can test both systems. When i’ve tested them ill, give an update about what i thought!

    #824785
    marran
    20 Posts

    I’m on hardboots now, used to be on Spark burners back when pins were still a thing. 75kg/175cm and like to try to push my edges hard into crappy snow. Live in northern Norway, we have pretty much all conditions except deep cold smoke.

    If you are ever in wet snow that transitions into cold dry conditions as you gain altitude I would say Sparks have the edge, the system is so simple and you can basically just hammer stuff into place. Fewer bits to loose and easier to find replacements (at least in Europe). Pumps are regular Burton bits, so should be easier to find than just about anything else.

    I don’t buy the “actively pulling together” part of the K marketing. Has anyone actually tried S vs K on the same board back to back? It is obviously not fair to compare some capped floppy thing with a board with a proper sidewall.

    Same with the board clips, pulling the board halves together above the top sheet just makes the base look like a boat. Put a metal rod through the touring brackets on the other hand, that will give you stiffness.

    Fwiw, on my Venture boards I never felt the interface was the issue when it came to stiffness between board halves, softboots gave out way before that. If edge control and hard carves are important to you, hardboots are king anyway 🙂

    #824806
    Robinhood
    25 Posts

    I’ve used both setups for a few seasons and now I’m on Phantoms and Hardboots.

    I prefer the Sparks over the Karakorams.
    Sparks are much easier to transition in my experience. I’m in the PNW and we get some challenging snow conditions from time to time which causes some snow buildup on the board. With the Karakorams I find you have to bring along a brush with you to clean the board up before you can get the binding on. With the Sparks it’s much easier to jam them on and go. The Karakorams can make for a really tight board but I found it was somewhat fiddly and frustrating. I absolutely love all the Karakoram hardware however and will be getting the new Tiplock.

    either way both are great quality bindings I’m sure you’ll be stoked on.

    #824807
    russman
    689 Posts

    Hey guys I love these conversations! If we all think back to even just 10 years ago, its absolutely incredible how far our strange little “sport” has come. Isn’t it?

    I’d like to get a new video put together that addresses the comments regarding snow and ice accumulation on the interface. When you go from warm and wet down low, and then find yourself way up high in the alpine with all that wet snow now a total plastered mess of ice, its true that in previous years this issue could prove to be more complex that we’d like. That’s all gone however, with the new Ride Mode 2.0…

    I can’t state enough how bad ass the new interface is. The bindings literally “fall on”, and because the contacting surfaces are all plastic, with very large round cleaning zones, snow and ice simply doesn’t build up or stick like it did in the past. We put in quite seriously 2 full years of hardcore engineering and testing on JUST the new ride mode, and its paid off for sure.

    Also, I’ll just leave this small comment here, just to tickle everyone:

    What if, you had a hardboot option for the new Prime Interface that pushed the AT plate binding side of the equation to yet another level of refinement, ease of use, weight reduction, and performance?

    I’m not saying, I’m just saying, projects baby, projects are happening!

    #824849
    rughty
    620 Posts

    Both options are RAD!!! How much you want to spend?????

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