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Chris Henry wrote:
> Very specific snowboarding question here, so don't say I didn't warn
> you.  (Also, sorry it's so long. Basically I just want some advise on
> plate bindings.)
> Where this is all going, however,  is that I've been wondering about
> plate bindings lately.  Does anyone ride in them, or have any
> experience with them?  Everything I've read about plate bindings also
> makes mention of the words "alpine carving" in the same sentence.  To be
> honest, I'm not much of a carver yet, but I'm wondering if that even
> matters.  The general feeling I get is that a hard boot/binding is
> necessary for high level carving, and that if you weren't interested in
> that kind of riding, then why would you ever bother wearing big plastic
> boots.  But since I am bothering to wear those boots, it seems like a
> plate binding might be the best way to go.  I would probably get better
> performance out of a plate binding, I am assuming?

I'll leave the question of using mountaineering boots with plate
bindings to someone else as I have no experience with mountaineering
boots.  But some of the people who do the crazy snowboard mountaineering
stuff (like Steve Koch, the guy going for the seven summits snowboard
descents) do use plate bindings in non-carving circumstances.

Finding a pair of plate bindings is going to be the first problem.  The
only manufacturers I can think of for plates are Burton, Bomber, and
Catek.  I guess Voile too, but I think their plate only works with their
split board hardware.  It may be possible to find a pair of Burton
plates cheap - source may include the Burton factory store in Burlington
VT, and some of the shops in the mountains cater to carvers... I think
Darkside at Killington does, and there are probably others.  You could
always try giving Burton Rider Services a call ((800) 881-3138) and they
may be able to point you in the right direction.

As a step above Burton's plates, there are Bomber and Catek.  Both are
probably a huge step above Burton's plates.  But you're probably never
going to be able to find them at a discount.  Check out
www.bomberonline.com and www.catek.com  - I'd imaging both are probably
more binding than anyone needs, but if gear makes you happy, then why not?

My take on the performance of plate bindings is that they magnify your
ability.  If you do things right, they make you look really good.  If
you do things wrong, they make you look really bad.  The amount of play
in a set of plates is much much less than in straps or stepins.
Personally, I couldn't handle having to be almost perfect all the time
(because I'm not) and got tired of having my equipment make it obvious
that I wasn't doing things right.  I've also found that while plates are
easy(ish) to ride on groomed terrain, when the terrain becomes variable
they make life more difficult for me (than straps).  Most of that is
probably due to the boot, not the binding, but since they go together...
  My hard boots were too stiff to allow me to easily make the little
adjustments down at my feet and ankles, and to some extent knees, that I
need to make in variable conditions/terrain.  But, like I said, some of
the people doing the crazy descents are using plates, so it is possible,
just not for me.

One question I cannot answer but is important is - do the mountaineering
boots provide enough support / flexibility in the correct directions
when mounted at the angles you ride at?  Normal snowboard hard boots are
pretty stiff side to side, but fairly soft front to back.  This works
great when your binding angles are high because you can bend your knees
to power the board, but the side to side stiffness helps you get the
board on edge and keep it there.  Try to use them at lower stance angles
(more across the board) and you'll probably be miserable as you won't be
able to make fore/aft weight transfers.

I think Denis mentioned using mountaineering boots and plates, perhaps I
should shut up and let him answer.  :)

If you want to try out a pair of plates and are in the Stowe area over
the winter, let me know.  I've got some you can play with.

> I've also noticed that Voile makes a plate binding for their Split
> Decision boards.  I've been saving my pennies and trying to convince my
> girlfriend that owning a split decision board isn't just a luxury item,
> but an absolute necessity.  I know at least one member of this list is
> the proud owner of a split board recently, and I imagine there must be
> some other with exposure to them.  What kind of bindings are you using
> on them?  Should I make the plunge and invest in a pair of plate
> bindings?  If so, any recommendations?

I've got a split board, but I haven't put enough time in on it to form a
valid opinion yet.  I'm using soft boots and strap bindings on it.

--
Jason - "redraobwons"

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