Your snowboard setup consists of a board, boots, and bindings. Unfortunately, when one of your bindings fails, the whole setup becomes challenging or impossible to ride. So what do you do when your bindings break?
Depending on the issue, there are a few ways to fix your snowboard bindings. You can often keep riding by tightening screws; other fixes include changing straps or ratchets. But you can also do a few things on the slopes to keep you having fun and safe, including de-icing your ratchets and footbeds.
You’re about to learn some tricks to keep riding if you have problems with your snowboard bindings. I’ll give you tips for things you can do at home and on the mountain.
When you’re fixing your snowboard bindings at home, ensure you’re in a well-lit area and have somewhere safe to put the screws. It’s always nice to have a beer too.
Snowboard bindings are pretty simple devices. The components simply screw together, so you don’t need anything too fancy regarding tools.
Most snowboard bindings are held together with cross-headed screws. Therefore, you should only need a medium-sized screwdriver.
However, some bindings, like my splitboard bindings, are held together with Allen bolts. So, you may need a 4 or 5-mm Allen key to do any maintenance on your bindings.
Traditional snowboard bindings consist of a footbed, a highback, and two straps. These parts are all modular and bolted together, making it easy to replace anything that may get damaged.
In fact, I’ve built a pair of bindings from three different pairs by using all the good parts.
The footbed is the part that fits flush onto the snowboard’s top sheet and is the main chassis of the binding that everything else bolts to.
You attach the footbed to the board with a separate circular plate with three or four screws. The plate keys into the footbed and is marked with degrees, so you can set your perfect riding stance.
The highback is the upright piece fastened to the rear of the footbed and is the part you lean into on heelside turns.
The highback has a fitting on the rear that sets how far it leans forward, helping you to hold a toe edge.
But you also need to attach the board to your feet. You do this with the two straps that have two parts. One half has a ratchet that you feed the other half into that has a series of teeth.
One strap goes over your toes, and the other over the front of your boot to hold your heel down.
The part of the strap with the ratchets is padded, and this padding spreads the force over a wide area, making your feet comfortable.
When you get off a chairlift and find that one of your binding straps has fallen off, you’re not going to be happy, especially if it’s the large one that goes over the top of your foot.
This missing strap will make riding back down the mountain very challenging. But most of the time, problems like this can be avoided by giving your snowboard some TLC.
Every couple of weeks, check the tightness of all the screws on your bindings, including the ones attaching them to your snowboard.
Tightening your binding screws takes less than two minutes but can save you from missing out on an epic powder day with your friends. It can also prevent a horrendous accident while you ride.
If you have a problem with your footbed screws loosening off too often, you can scrape the threads with snowboard wax or wrap them with PTFE tape to increase friction.
To stop your binding straps from coming loose all the time, dab them with Loctite, as this will prevent them from coming undone when you’re riding.
If you have an issue with your binding straps not working correctly, you don’t need to replace the whole binding. So, here are the steps you need to take when replacing a snowboard binding strap.
You first need to assess the damage to the strap to see why it isn’t doing what it should be. A snowboard binding strap consists of a padded interior strip and a ratchet buckle.
The other part of the strap is made from plastic and features several teeth running across, all the way up its length.
The teeth fit into the ratchet buckle, securing the strap around your boot. This setup is highly robust, as the straps need to be durable and strong enough to cope with the stresses of your inputs.
However, the buckle and the strap with the teeth are the most vulnerable parts. You may experience the strap not fitting into the buckle or the buckle not gripping it properly.
You can change both sides of the strap or just the half that has broken.
Depending on your bindings, you may be able to change the strap with the bindings attached to your snowboard. But some bindings require you to remove the bindings to change the straps.
If you don’t have to remove the bindings, the straps are simply fixed with screws to the side of the bindings.
So all you need to do is loosen the screws to remove the old straps before mounting the new ones.
For bindings that see the straps encapsulated within the binding, you’ll need to remove the binding from your snowboard.
Once your binding is free from your board, the strap will slide out from underneath, allowing you to slip the new one in.
But before you remove your binding, take note of your stance so you can put it back on in the correct place.
If you ride with a backpack, it’s a good idea to carry a spare binding strap. The side with the teeth should be sufficient, as this is the one that breaks the most.
Snowboard binding ratchets have moving parts that will wear out eventually. When they break, they struggle to grip the teeth on the strap or don’t engage at all.
Most brands allow you to replace the ratchet, which is easy, as they are usually just attached to the strap with two screws. However, some brands will require you to buy the complete strap.
You can purchase spare parts online or at a good snowboard store.
It’s very rare for your highbacks to get damaged. They are incredibly robust due to their construction and hard plastic materials. Therefore, there’s a good chance you’ll never need to replace your highbacks.
You may need to replace your highbacks when your bindings get old and feel less supportive. But changing your highbacks is easy to do.
High backs are attached to the rear of the footbed with two screws on either side. So you only need to remove these screws to replace a highback.
You can also fine-tune how your boots fit into your bindings by adjusting these screws.
The main issue you may encounter with your highbacks is the padding on the inside and around the top. Sometimes this padding can wear down, get damaged, or come off completely.
I had some bindings that the padding came off, as the glue holding it in place failed due to extremely cold temperatures. The manufacturer sent me some more glue to reattach it.
You shouldn’t experience any problems with your snowboard binding footbed. Like the highback, footbeds are incredibly strong and usually made from heavy-duty plastic or lightweight metal.
The plastic may become brittle if your bindings are ancient, especially in extreme cold. This could cause the plastic to crack, which would be very dangerous.
At this point, there’s no point even trying to fix your footbed. It’s much better to buy a new pair of bindings.
If you’re used to the old, damaged ones, you’ll love how different and comfortable new bindings feel. New bindings will give you more control too.
Fixing your bindings in the warmth of your home or lodgings is one thing, but what about when something happens to them when you’re riding?
Here are a few things to ensure you can get down the mountain safely.
If you’ve forgotten to tighten your binding screws before you head out, it’s not so much of a problem if you carry a tool with you.
When you notice that your binding strap is loose or your binding mounting screws are not as tight as they should be, you can nip them up with a tool.
Snowboard multitools are small and light enough to carry in your pocket. You can even buy belts with screwdriver heads built-in, making them even more convenient.
If you ride a splitboard, carrying a multitool is more critical. This is because you will probably be exploring remote areas miles away from civilization.
Also, splitboard setups are more complicated, with many screws and moving parts. If you experience a problem with your bindings, you could be stuck in a dangerous place if you can’t fix it.
It’s worth remembering that some ski lift stations have a selection of tools to use. So, if you forget your multitool, you may be able to get to a lift station to make any emergency repairs.
When you’re riding in the backcountry, you should be wearing a backpack for your avalanche gear. Therefore, you’ll have extra room for some cable ties and some duct tape.
These items are simple but can get you to safety if something breaks. Heavy-duty cable ties or duct tape can be used as makeshift binding straps or to reinforce one that’s damaged.
You can fasten a couple around the ratchet and your footbed, allowing you to get down the mountain and to a snowboard shop.
Carrying cable ties and duct tape is helpful when the temperatures are especially cold.
The low temperatures can make the plastic of your binding straps brittle and vulnerable to snapping, especially when they’re old.
It’s common for snow to build up under your feet on the binding footbed. This can prevent you from tightening your straps but can also be uncomfortable under your feet and compromise your control.
If snow build-up isn’t too bad, you can scrape it out with your finger.
However, if the snow and ice are too solid, you can use the ratchet on your heel strap to scrape it off; but be careful to not damage your ratchet.
In extreme cases, you can use your multitool or borrow a ski pole to chip the ice from the footbed.
When your snowboard goes in and out of the cold, the ratchet can get wet with condensation, which freezes.
Ice in your binding ratchets will prevent them from gripping the teeth on the binding strap, causing them to slip and not hold your boot.
If this happens, keep pressure on the plastic grip that slides over the teeth when you do the strap up. The other thing that can happen when your ratchets ice up is that you may not be able to undo them.
Unfortunately, there is no clever fix for this, so you just need to use brute force, wrenching the ratchet upwards to release it.
There’s a good chance that the binding that gets damaged will be your rear one. This is because you’re constantly taking your foot out for lifts, wearing the straps out.
If you can’t fix your binding on the slopes, you may have to ride one-footed to get down the mountain before you can get to a shop.
Therefore, being able to ride with your back foot unstrapped is a valuable skill to have.
The straps are usually the first things that break, but snowboard bindings do wear out over time.
You’ll notice that they are becoming less responsive to your riding style, and the highback will be more flexible, reducing the support they give you.
Snowboard bindings last three to four years, but most brands say their bindings last between 50 to 100 sessions. However, the lifespan of your bindings depends on how you ride and how hard.
If you ride regularly, you can ride 50 times over two seasons. But more recreational snowboarders will take much longer before their bindings show signs of weakness.
Your bindings may tire more quickly if you constantly hit big jumps and are carving hard. The truth is that there’s no definitive answer to when your bindings will need to be replaced.
Still, nothing is stopping you from upgrading your bindings after a couple of seasons, as long as you have the cash.
While snowboard binding failures are rare, you can limit any issues with a bit of preparation. If you experience any problems, inspect each component of the binding for damage.
Most fixes are pretty straightforward, but I recommend carrying a multitool with you to make any slope side repairs or adjustments.