What Snowboard Binding Angles Should You Use?
Snowboard expert Bobby Chadderton runs through how your bindings affect your riding and what you can do at home to ride more comfortably.
You’ve got a brand new set of snowboard bindings, a new board, and a screwdriver, now what? If you’re new to snowboarding, you’ll want to avoid slapping those bindings on and hoping for the best. Your binding setup will have a huge effect on your riding, but don’t worry! With a bit of knowledge, you can easily mount your own bindings for a comfortable and safe season of shredding. First, let’s figure out your stance direction!
Regular vs Goofy
- If you’re most comfortable snowboarding with your left foot forward, your stance direction is Regular
- If you’re most comfortable snowboarding with your right foot forward, your stance direction is Goofy.
The odd distinction between regular and goofy isn’t meant to poke fun at goofy, right footed riders, it’s actually a reference to the film Hawaiian Holiday where Disney character “Goofy” surfs with his right foot forward. If you have a surfing or skateboarding background, you should be able to naturally imagine which direction will be most comfortable for you. If you’re just getting started and have no idea how to figure out your stance direction, here are a few quick tips!
- On a wooden floor, throw some socks on and hit your best slide with a running start. Whichever foot leads naturally will likely be the one that’s gonna be your front foot for boarding.
- Stand completely straight with your arms at your side and have a friend give you a slight, unexpected push from behind. Whichever foot comes first to catch your balance will probably be your front foot!
Where to Mount Your Bindings
Developing a proper stance means comfortability, injury prevention, and performance. Once you’ve figured out your stance direction, you’ll want to take a look at the shape and characteristics of your snowboard. You’ll notice that your board has 12 screw threads on either end (unless it uses Burton’s Channel System - more on that here).
Your bindings will use 4 of those holes to mount, it’s up to you to decide which ones. Most manufacturers will indicate the “true center” with an X or a subtle marking between the 4 threads. If not, start at the center of your board between both sets of holes and skip over 1 set of (4) threads on each end - this will give you the factory center mounting points.
Tip: Never set your stance closer to the nose than the tail of your snowboard! If you’d like to make a slight adjustment to your stance width, begin with moving the front binding back or the rear binding forward.
Your board will have one of two stance settings:
- Centered stance: This means your stance will be set naturally with an equal distance from both the tail and nose of the board, giving you a symmetrical ride. This is common on beginner all mountain boards and any freestyle/freeride snowboard. If you’re terrain park savvy or you’re ready to learn riding switch, you’ll benefit from a centered stance.
- Setback stance: This means your stance, even while “centered” will be shifted slightly towards the tail end of your snowboard. This is common on intermediate-advanced all-mountain/powder boards, or anything designed to have some extra lift in the nose for varying conditions. If you’ll be shreddin’ the pow’ or prefer to ride exclusively in your natural stance direction, you’ll benefit from a stance setback.
Setting Your Stance Width
Stance width refers to the distance between your bindings when mounted to your board. For a comfortable stance, you’ll want a width that’s slightly wider than your shoulders. Committing to a stance width is an ongoing process and comes down to personal preference. The ideal stance is subjective for everyone, I encourage you to tweak your stance width throughout the season to find out what feels best!
For your first board setup, use the factory reference center points on your snowboard as a good starting point. As long as your board fits your weight/height, your reference stance width should line up well. If you have questions on snowboard sizing, refer to this comprehensive guide!
Your bindings might have included a small tape measure. If you have one, use this chart as a general reference for your height and stance width:
- A narrower stance will keep your hips together and allow you to move your weight more effectively, making edge-edge turns more fluid. Quick, torsional rotations will be easier with a narrowed stance and centered body mass
- A wider stance will widen your hips, offering you better balance with landings and stability through uneven terrain. Butters and presses will also be easier with a wider stance.
Be sure to choose a stance that is physically comfortable and caters to your personal riding style!
Choosing Your Binding Angles
You may have noticed that the mounting discs used to mount your bindings to your snowboard are notched along the edges with numbered increments. These numbers reflect your binding angles and play an important role in determining how your board responds. Small changes can make huge differences in your riding! To prevent knee and calf injuries, you’ll want to pay close attention to your angles.
As a general rule, you’ll want a positive angle in your front foot and a negative angle in your back foot. Keep larger stance angles in your lead foot since you’ll spend the majority of your time with that foot facing downhill. Try to avoid an angle spread that is larger than 30 degrees, whether that be -15 degrees and +15 degrees or -9 degrees and +21 degrees.
- Beginners: No matter your style, try a slight duck stance setup of -3 to -9 degrees in your rear binding and +6 to +12 degrees in your front binding for comfort and progression.
- All-mountaineers: If you prefer to ride strictly with one stance direction, use -9 to 0 degrees in your back foot and +12 to +21 degrees in your front foot.
- Pow-chasers: If you’re a true powder hound or want an old-school surf style, try a forward stance with positive angles in both feet. Positive stances like +6 to +9 in the back foot and +15 to +24 degrees in the front foot will have you surfin’ for days.
- Park-rats: If you’re lapping the terrain park, you’ll appreciate a more aggressive duck stance to ride switch. Use -9 to -15 degrees in your back foot and +9 to +15 degrees in your front foot. Make sure your bindings are set in opposite directions towards the nose and tail for a freestyle stance.
Mounting Your Bindings
Bring out the screwdriver, you’re almost ready to hit the mountain! Prepare 4 screws and 4 washers for each binding. Lay your bindings without the discs on your board roughly where you’ll be mounting them. Drop the discs on top, and rotate your binding to match the angle you’re going for. You’ll notice an arrow on the binding baseplate, make sure it lines up to the desired degree marking on the disc! If your binding discs have edge-edge adjustability, you’ll be able to slide them slightly back and forth between the edges of your board before you fasten them down. Make sure your bindings are relatively centered and lock them in!
Ensure all of your screws are tight and jump into your snowboard bindings with your boots on at home. On a carpeted surface, practice some heel-toe lifts and get a feel for your board. If it feels too wide, narrow, or angled, make some adjustments!
Never use Loctite or any adhesive on your mounting hardware, you’ll risk damaging the threads on your board. It’s best to keep a screwdriver handy at the mountain - with fluctuating temperatures and vibrations through your snowboard, it’s inevitable that your hardware will require some upkeep. Get in the habit of making sure all of your screws are fastened before a day on the slopes.
Adjusting Your Bindings
Now that your bindings are mounted, there are a few adjustments you can make to accommodate your boot:
- Highbacks and forward lean: The highback is the vertical plate on the back of your binding that hugs your boot upwards through your calf. If you have an aggressive downhill riding stance or prefer hitting large jumps, consider increasing the forward lean on your highback. Forward lean will give you a lower center of gravity but can restrict leg movement. If you’re a beginner, laid-back rider, or spend your time in the terrain park, you’ll want to open up your highbacks with as little forward lean as possible.
- Footbeds: Many bindings have footbeds that will slide further towards your toe edge to accomodate a larger boot. If you’re in the upper range of boot sizes for your bindings, consider pulling the footbed towards your toes. Be sure not to overhang the edge of your board, most footbeds have “gas-pedals” that angle your toes upwards to prevent them dragging in the snow.
- Straps: Your ankle and toe straps have “ladders” on the inside portion of each strap. If necessary, make length adjustments to the straps using the ladders. You’ll see a screw on each strap that allows the strap to expand or tighten. Put your boot inside the binding and aim to have both your ankle and toe straps about halfway down the ratchet.
If you have any questions on snowboard bindings or if you're wondering which bindings are best for your riding style, please feel free to reach out to me or one of my fellow Snowboard experts for free gear advice and recommendations.