Wakeboard bindings are an essential piece the wakeboarding experience. Thus is makes sense to understand the various components of wakeboard bindings to insure that you can quickly and easily find the bindings that are right for you. Below we outline the components that make up wakeboard bindings, as well as provide sizing guidelines so that you can make the proper selection.
The overlay component of wakeboard bindings is the element that provides the majority of the support for your foot. The overlay pulls the toe and heel pieces together to form a snug and secure attachment to the wakeboard. The cut or mold should be thick enough to provide ample support, but not so thick that it prohibits stretching.
• The design of the overlay is to offer ankle support without binding.
• Works effectively by pushing down the rider’s heel. Most new wakeboard bindings utilize adjustable straps, laces, and/or buckles within the overlay to provide the proper support.
• Standard overlay systems are comprised of two overlays that criss-cross in front and behind of the foot. They lock into the hardware around the ankle and fore foot.
• Closures may be a firm plastic with ratchet buckle to lace-up closures connected to rubber or cordura overlay.
• Closure should be cinched enough for consistent, non-binding pressure all around the foot.
The underlay component of a wakeboard binding is what makes contact with the top of the rider’s foot, as well as the Achilles tendon. The underlay design of wakeboard bindings designed today is typically made from EVA foam (foam/rubber hybrid) that makes them much lighter.
• An EVA underlay can range from very flexible to very stiff.
• Stiff underlay: Offers better support, but sacrifices comfort and easy-on, easy-off abilities.
• Soft underlay: Offers great comfort, but sacrifices some structure that is typically desired.
• - Avoid an underlay that creates areas where pinching occurs on the foot.
The function of hardware is to provide support to along the side of the foot, as well as to hold binding pieces together. Typically hardware will be made from metal or nylon materials.
• Ergonomically designed hardware is best for wakeboard bindings because it curves into the arch and out at the toes.
• Heel pieces should be in a position similar to a fitted cup. Offering support around all areas of the heel.
• Hardware should be positioned so that your foot cannot slide on top of any piece. If your foot does, it may cause pain and/or bruising during landings.
• Many companies will offer aftermarket hardware for bindings. A good set of hardware, bolts specifically, will securely lock the baseplates down for security.
A wakeboard binding baseplate is deceptively complex and should be approached in such a manner. You may initially think that it is straightforward, but once you start moving them from board to board, you’ll quickly realize what we mean.
• Baseplates should be strong and stiff as a flexible baseplate is likely to reduce the feel and comfort you need for wakeboarding.
• Baseplates also need to be plenty of stance options. Ideally, you should be able to get within a fraction of an inch of your ideal stance.
• Baseplate strength and stiffness is based on the quality and thickness of its aluminum construction
Support and comfort are the ideal characteristics for wakeboard binding footbeds. Chatter of the board as you cross over wake and when you land after catching air can take a toll on a rider’s feet. Proper footbeds are an ideal way of battling this issue.
• The ideal footbed will have some form of traction to prevent your sole from sliding after it gets wet.
• Footbeds that are too soft can be problematic because they do not properly absorb shock. If possible, locate bindings that have a footbed with a dual density foam construction. This will provide a good combination of shock absorption and comfort. Other options are air or gel pockets in the heel.
• The rider’s heel should sit slightly higher to accommodate the ankles and knees, and also have a proper heel cup to secure the foot in place.
Easy on-and-off is paramount for many riders when selecting their wakeboard bindings. While it is a great feature to have, it should be considered as just one of the important features to look for. Flexibility, adjustability, and good finger holes are great for easy on-and-off. In the end, it comes down to how you like your bindings to fit.
• If you’re accustomed to using a lot of soap and force to get into your bindings, then you may want to consider a slightly larger or perhaps adjustable binding.
• If you can get in and out of your bindings easily, but the boot appears to be too large, you can tighten the boot around your foot via buckles, straps, ties, and closures.
• Also, the boot can be taken apart so the overlays can be adjusted as well.
• Lastly, keep in mind that wakeboard bindings will break-in over time. If they are snug (not overly snug) at first, they will adjust over time.
Wakeboard binding sizing isn’t rocket science, but it is important to understand that it is very important. Bindings are arguably the most important part of your whole wakeboard set up. Some bindings will indicate the size in a manner similar to your shoe size (e.g. 7.0 or 9.5). Others will include a size indication such as Small (S), or Large (L). The important thing to know is how to select the size of your binding regardless of the indicator. Most bindings will be sized for a range of foot sizes to allow for multiple riders to use the same binding.
• For children, the size of their foot should fall in the lower end of the size range to allow adjustment as their foot grows.
• For adults, you should attempt to have your foot fall into the middle- to high-end of the size range to insure proper hold and response.
• For women who choose to use men’s wakeboard bindings, the general rule of thumb is to select a binding that is sized 1 to 1½ sizes smaller. An example would be: Women’s size 9 – 9.5 shoe would want to select a Men’s size 8.0.