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Great Debate#7 - Do you loosen your straps in powder?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ok, I'm back onto debateable issues raised in Cindy Kleh's Snowboarding skills book (which I do like very much). She recommends loosening your straps when riding in powder. I think this is bad advice. What do you think?
post #2 of 21

What's the reasoning behind her suggestion? I realize we don't focus much on deep powder skills in New England, but even so, I've never heard of such a thing.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Phew - it's been a while since I made my notes. I had not written down any reasoning and started to panic when I could not refind the reference in the powder or binding adjustment sections. But there it is on page 25 in the initial discussion about bindings:

Riders who prefer straps or step-ins will argue that one is better than the other, but it usually comes down to personal preference and finding the right boot first. On snowy days, step-ins can get clogged with snow or ice that has to be pounded out with a screw driver or ski pole (be nice to skiers, you may need them one day). Straps offer more adjustments, so you can tighten them on icy days and loosen them for soft snow. Regardless of which type of binding system you end up with, don't head for the slopes until you know exactly how to get in and out of them!
If I had to guess, maybe you'd loosen the binding instead of pounding out caked on snow and then "tighten them" when there was no caked on snow. Although even that advice seems bad to me, I recognize that strap riders rarely bother to clear snow from their bindings. Thus when they strap in with caked on snow, their tightened position is higher on the strap than when they strap in with no caked on snow. Calling that looser would be just a poor choice of words then.

Thanks for helping me work this through at a deeper level.
post #4 of 21
Bad advice. I can see backing off forward lean for powder if you normally ride with a lot, but am not sure why you would want to introduce slop into the system through the straps. If it's a circulation/cold feet issue, you shouldn't need to loosen the straps if you're kicking into the binding correctly and have it adjsuted to your boots to begin with.

For light pow on top of resort, packed snow, it may not make much difference, but deep soft snow for me actually can be physical to ride in, including wanting support from bindings as well as boots.
post #5 of 21
I wouldn't hold the author to that. It seems like she was just talking off the top of her head at that point. I think we have all tried to get a little more control on ice by cranking down on the straps, although that is a bad idea. Loosen for soft snow might just mean not "cranked down".

I'd be interested to read the book if you say it is good, but I don't think a lot of thought went into this point.

I don't like strap-ons and would be hard pressed to find anything good to say about them. Maybe she was similarly grasping for something positive to say about strap-ons, ie. adjustability.
post #6 of 21
Thread Starter 
The author was remarkably neutral on the strap vs step-in debate.

I'm going to change my criticism from bad advice to "bad description" of a difference between binding types.

For experienced riders, I don't believe the book will tell you anything new. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book immensely because it is well organized, well presented with lots of pictures and comprehensive in it's coverage of the subject. As an instructor I particularly enjoyed discovering places where I do things differently or cover things in more or less detail. In this sense it was a good test of my knowledge of the subject. I'm using the debate series of posts to get confirmation of the very few points in the book that I consider to be either flat out wrong or at least controversial enough to be labeled as debatable. In this particular debate, I consider my interpretation of the book to be incorrect - this was not intended as advice.

Thanks for your input!
post #7 of 21
The comment about "grasping for something good to say" was made "tongue-in-cheek". I should use smilies when I'm trying to make a joke...

Not sure if she meant the adjustability comes into play because of excess snow under foot, but that makes more sense than my cranked down/not cranked theory, especially in the context, ie. after talking about snow-clogged step-ins.

Anyway, not sure we can get a great debate on this topic, but a good flame war on binding choice, maybe
post #8 of 21

How's that for flaming? Honestly, I like straps, but the Burton step-ins and the K2 clickers imo made a lot of sense when they made good boots. Speaking of powder, they did get a rap for clogging, but as already noted straps "clog" too.
post #9 of 21


I do not lessen the crank factor on the binders when in deep compared to groomed snow. I use the same crank factor in each riding situation. The only time I loosen up slightly is in bumps. And I don't even do that all the time.

There are times, however, when I jack up the crank factor and that would be for boardercross racing or any time when I want to go fast and/or lay down an agressive edge. The overall crank change really only equals a few clicks to one side or the other. I don't know about ya'll, but I like the idea of immediate response from the input of my body movements (no slop).

I think there is an advantage to keeping the normal amount of high back angle in powder. Increasinjg edge angle helps the board sink, which is a great bonus if you need to scrub speed and can't turn the board sideways. The normal high back angle can make small foot and lower leg moves more effective in that situation (no slop or gross body moves). This helps in tight/steep environments.

I used to ride step-ins, a long time ago: emory (think o-sin/rossi) and burton. I liked em. Once I went back to strap, I didn't want the step ins any more. I did experience similar amounts of snow "clogging" in each style of binding. If that happend, I just used the screwdriver portion of my board tool, or the leash to hack the snow out of the binding. I found it very uncomfortable to have a huge hunk of snow under the boot when riding.
post #10 of 21
In powder I keep my straps as tight as I would on groomed surface. Sometimes In the back country I do not get all the snow out and have to crank down a little harder after I've started. It is a lot easier to ride with looser straps in powder than it is on groomed but there still is a loss of performance that I'm not comfortable with. I would imagine the stiffness of your boots would have a lot to do with the tightness of your straps. I like my soft boots soft and broken in so I tend to buy the lower end freestyle models that do not hold up well.

I still use steps-ins ( switch ) in powder on my snowboard for snow kiting. They work great in this application because you do not want a lot of high back pressure and they a lot easier to get in and out of them when you have to.
post #11 of 21
I dont loosen them. But I would'nt use my 3 strap specifically boardercross binding for powder. The lateral rigidity is too much.

Uh and even on the hardest boots that boardercross binding gets me cold feet. Its just to strong. Broke me 2 freeride boards as they can't cope with bindings as stable as plates.
post #12 of 21
Yeah, I don't know who this chick is but there is some really stupid chit in here. If anything you want to be strapped in tighter in the pow, unless of course it is really flat, but who is riding low angle powder? I think that you need to be strapped in tighter in the powder because you need a quicker response time to avoid things like rocks and trees and often you really have to muscle your turns in deep heavy pow.
As far as clickers versus straps, everybody knows clickers are dead, just like alpine. You get a way quicker response in pow with tight straps, there is no comparison. I think if you check out what big mountain pros are wearing you'll see guys like Terje and Jeremy Jones are riding straps with soft boots exclusively. Everybody I know who rides lots of pow rides soft boots with straps from Alaska to Baker to Red to Fernie etc...
post #13 of 21
Well in Europe the real Freerideresorts (like LaGrave) still boast loads of hardbooters on swallowtails and many Intec Stepins with Dee Luxe boots or other Stepins

If you invent a binding that releases just as well as step in once you get trapped in an avalanche you might find some more real freeriders (those that ride hard and are not sponsored) switch over to straps. If you're sponsored they bomb the hill and your chance catching an avalanche is not that big.

And there is no way a 2 strap system can be as tight as a boot with internal highback cuppled with a step in binding with highback. And response is quicker as well - you just need to go for high quality step in equipment.

Oh and alpine isn't dead - numbers seem to be growing again.
post #14 of 21
Originally Posted by extremecarver View Post
[snip] If you're sponsored they bomb the hill and your chance catching an avalanche is not that big. [snip]
post #15 of 21
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
Yeah, but I love that post. Dee Luxe step-ins and hard boots/plates are my two favorite set-ups.
post #16 of 21
And there is no way a 2 strap system can be as tight as a boot with internal highback cuppled with a step in binding with highback.
I totally disagree you can get way better response with a Vans boa boot and some good ride bindings, they crank way tighter. It is the pressure of those 2 straps on the top of your feet that give you the quick response on toe side turns, the highback doesn't really matter.
post #17 of 21
It's the pressure on the top of my feet that I don't like about straps, but to each his own. High back is mostly for heel edge turns, but you raise a point. The built-in high back in step-in boots does aid in toe edge turns too, like a hard boot.
post #18 of 21
It's the pressure on the top of my feet that I don't like about straps
So you admit it, just like all these other guys that swear by hard boots and an alpine set up, what you don't like about straps is the discomfort. I can understand that but I'm willing to put up with the pain for better performance.
I have a good friend who has been riding as long as I have. He too hated straps because of perceived discomfort and would not give up his K2 clickers. Well, he finally broke them at the end of last year and couldn't find a suitable clicker replacement. I talked him into the boa boot/ride strap set up and he is ridng better than he has in many years.
post #19 of 21
Well I think you've never worn high quality step ins like the ones from Dee Luxe? I agree that Burton, K2 and most others couldn't deliver the same performance than a nice Thermoflex liner in a very tight softshell with powerstrap on top. It's way more direct than any 2 strap binding with that huge high volume Vans boot. The thing is that for very hard setup you need a step in binding with highback and a highback integrated into the boot. If you want a really solid system go for hardboots - for me however hardboots are far too rigid for freeriding.
post #20 of 21
Originally Posted by CTKook View Post
Well I ment the faces that they go down in videos wouldn't be rideable by a maggot because of the logistics behind. Spots for videos are watched for several weeks and rescue personal is directly at hand. Therefore Pros can go down faces any maggot like me has to tackle on a 50m rope and climbing gear. For me real freeriders were those that didn't appear in many videos - like Marco Siffredi. He rode down stuff where the current pop freeriders wouldn't set a foot into. (for example a 800m 70° face that was practically pure ice on Mont Blanc in summer - making the first ever descent of it. He had an Ice Axe in his hand which he crushed in after every turn.)
post #21 of 21
for me however hardboots are far too rigid for freeriding.
Exactly. They limit your range of motion and make you way too stiff as a rider.
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