Posted on March 13 2017
When it comes to buying backcountry equipment deciding whether to upgrade and invest in a pricey product can be difficult. Comparing two products side by side the consistent question is always “Is the price difference worth the better functioning product?” Making that decision comes down to how the materials are used to create a technological efficient product. Below is a breakdown of each splitboard binding by weight and price.
|Splitboard Binding||Weight (Size M)||Retail Price|
|Karakoram Prime 1||800g each||$669|
|Karakoram Prime SL||700g each||$799|
|Karakoram Prime Straightline||785g each||$799|
|Karakoram Prime Carbon||675g each||$879|
|Karakoram Prime-X||650g each||$799|
|Karakoram Prime X- Carbon||595g each||$929|
|Spark R&D Arc||681g each||$385|
|Spark R&D Surge||763g each||$415|
|Spark R&D Dyno DH Hardboot||421g each||$250|
Options for purchasing a split board binding are limited compared to skiing. The choice quickly comes down to whether to invest in Karakoram’s or Spark R&D technologies. The Spark R&D Dyno DH Hardboot Splitboard Binding is also an option, this blog post will focus on choosing a binding using snowboard boots.
After understanding how each binding functioned the right decision for my splitboard setup was clear.
Touring Mode: Spark R&D uses a two-pin system to attach at the toe piece, with a lever clamping it closed. Spark has two efficient heel risers on the bottom of the binding, making adjusting riser heights on the fly quick and easy. Karakoram has a step in toe piece that latches to a steel rod, lining this up can be difficult due to ice buildup. Heel risers on Karakoram’s are drilled into the board, I find the need to stop touring to adjust them appropriately.
Transitioning: Spark R&D uses a puck system for quick transitions from tour to ride mode, vice-versa. Efficiency is a major concern while in the backcountry and time matters when you need it to, which makes Spark splitboard bindings ideal for a multi-transitioning day. Karakoram bindings advertise that transitioning from ride to tour mode- the rider does not need to come out of their bindings. I never found it time saving, also when you are on top of a ridge summit I really like confirming the all the equipment is attached correctly. It would suck to watch half of your board slide a few hundred feet downhill, or even worse you took the fall.
Ride Mode: This is where Spark and Karakoram part ways on using different technologies. Spark uses a puck system to “slide” the binding into place to a point where the toe piece clamps down locking the binding in ride mode. When in ride mode the Spark binding is initiated on two points of contact, on the inside and outside of each foot. Karakoram attaches at the toe piece first then two bolts lock the binding in ride mode when the heel lock bolts are correctly positioned. Ride mode in Karakoram has four points of contact, two at the toe and two at the heel on both sides of the foot.
Decision: Purchasing backcountry equipment is a balance between: downhill performance, price, weight, life of the product, the list is never ending.
My final decision was between the Spark R&D Arc and the Karakoram Prime Straightline. I decided on the Karakoram Prime Straightline 2017 for my splitboard binding because of the tech that goes into it. Obviously the price point was not where I wanted it to be, but I was won over by the four points of contact in ride mode, the carbon fiber highback is a 10 on the stiffness scale and the metal that is used to attach to the board oppose to plastic. My eyes are set on big mountain ridges, tight couloirs and long days in the backcountry. This means my equipment needs to perform and I put all trust in its efficiency when I need it most.