Boots and Bindings splitboard.com August 17, 2004 Splitboard 101The Boot and Binding options used for splitboarding can be broken down into the following 4 categories:Softboot and Strap BindingsHardboot sand Plate BindingsMountaineering Boots with Strap or Plate BindingsFrankenboot and FrankenbindingsEach option presents its own set of pros and cons which usually leaves new splitters with more questions than answers. Below is a basic outline of the options and some general information that should be useful. You can also search the Boot and Binding sections of the Forum for more information on specific models. Regardless of your preference, with the amount of options we have in the market its a great time to be a splitter!Softboot and Strap BindingsSoftboot and strap bindings are the most widely used option among splitboarders today. As a snowboarder, you should already have them in your arsenal, if not, they’re readily available and affordable. Choose lightweight, low-profile boots and bindings if starting from scratch. Softboots and strap bindings are known for their natural flex and ride performance. Softboots also provide more agility on rock, uneven terrain, or dry trails. If you like a surfy feel and comfort that lasts all day these are for you. The three most popular softboot splitboard specific binding are offered by Karakoram, Spark R&D, and Voile. Spark R&D Surge Voile Speed Rail Karakoram Prime SL If you’re just getting started or on a budget you can pick up the Voile Universal Interface and use your existing strap bindings. Its a quick and easy solution but will result in a slightly heavier and bulkier option compared to split-specific strap bindings. With the amount of split-specific strap bindings and soft boots (that now include Vibram soles and welts for crampons) this is the most advanced this system has ever been. The downside to this system can be moving parts on the bindings that can break or loosen and a wider sole on the boots that doesn’t climb as well as a mountaineering boot.Hardboot and Plate BindingsThe term “Hardboots” typically refers to AT (Alpine Touring) ski boots but can also refer to snowboard carving boots. The boots are made of various types of plastic that range in stiffness depending on the model. The common theme among the models is that the support typically provided by the highback of a traditional snowboard binding is now built into the boot itself. The bindings use a toe and heel bail that interfaces with the boot providing a solid connection to each other. The out of the box result can be a very stiff, lightweight and responsive system. The stiffness of the AT boots has led to modifying the boots to increase their flex. The three most popular binding systems are the Phantom binding, Spark R&D Dyno binding, and the Voile Mtn Plate kit. Voile Mtn Plate Kit Phantom Bindings Spark R&D Dyno The plastic shell of the boots can also make kicking steps into a firm slope easier than with the unprotected toe found on softboots. Step-in crampons can also be used with hardboots as well. In years past the downside to this system was the lack of a surfy feel. With their stiff sole, and built-in highback support the boots were too stiff to create flexibility. Some of these shortcomings have been addressed with the release of newer boots such as the Dynafit TLT5 and TLT6. Many riders will take these boots and modify them to remove pressure points and allow for greater flexibility. Mountaineering Boots with Strap or Plate BindingsMountaineering boots with strap or plate bindings is another combination available to splitboarders today. The boots have some of the same advantages that hardboots have when it comes to the ascent like the protected toe-box, stiff sole, and step-in crampon capability. Mountaineering boots also have a shorter upper-cuff than hardboots which allow for more flex and inward movement. In some cases the shorter cuff is welcomed as it brings back some of the surfy feel but in other cases it can mean calf-bite and a compromise in edge control. If you use the boots with plate bindings there is no forward lean adjustment and if you’re from the old school the ride might remind you of how low-back bindings used to feel. Using strap bindings with mountaineering boots will most likely offer better results and a more natural ride, just be sure the cuff of the boot ends above the binding highback. Some users have added a standard height snowboard boot liner into the boots for added height.Frankenboot and FrankenbindingsIf you can’t find your perfect system already available in the marketplace you can always take matters into your own hands and modify your gear to suit your specific needs. A few years ago when less splitboard products were available this was a common theme among splitboarders but nowadays its seems to happen less often. There are a lot of great ideas out there that don’t always make it make it to the shelves and this is one way to have your cake and eat it too. The downside is added cost and time for something that may or may not work very well. For some, it’s a risk they’re willing to take.