Spark R&D Surge Binding Review (2015-2016)
Intended Use: Splitboarding; a stiff binding intended for use on big backcountry lines, but can be used for most backcountry missions.
Recommended For: the advanced aggressive rider who wants ultimate power and control in any terrain without sacrificing comfort.
Review Date: April – June 2016
About Spark R&D (aka Spark R&D): Based out of Bozeman, MT, rider-owned and -operated Spark R&D has been invigorating splitboard enthusiasts since 2005, and has become a leader in creating innovative products for all aspects of splitboarding. Spark R&D has an impressive line up, from bindings, pucks, and skins to all kinds of accessories. I’ve checked out their line several times, and I was very excited to be able to review the Spark R&D Surge Binding!
Spark Surge Bindings with Spark R&D’s Tesla T1 system specs:
- The Surge binding has a stiff flex and is built for big days on big lines and provides power and control in any terrain.
- Solid baseplate design
- Rip ‘N’ Flip Highback
- Wide supportive ankle straps and a toe cap strap
- One climbing wire (one wire two positions for maximum comfort)
- Precise sizing
- T1 heel rest: catches the climbing wire in the 12° and 18° positions
- Snap ramps & side-lock touring rackets (slide in sideways into touring brackets and lock in with the toe ramp, no pins, no cables, just right.)
- Puck compatibility
This was my first endeavor into setting up splitboard bindings, and I was very concerned it was going to be a hassle to set up the pucks and hardware; I had been warned of how difficult it can be. Well I can tell you for a fact that these bindings are easy to set up, and can be done in 20 min. Of course, it’s always nice to have a cold beverage while setting up your bindings, so add in some extra time for that!
Setting up the Spark Pucks on my Never Summer Prospector was a breeze. Spark R&D has an easy-to-follow online user guide and the new puck design and alignment tools make it a snap to set up your stance. With infinite angle options, it’s very easy to make adjustments at home or in the backcountry. Once you’ve got your pucks on the board, mounting the touring brackets was a piece of cake; once again I glanced at their online guide and the hard part was over; time to have a drink of my frosty beverage.
Then came the real set up test: sliding the binding into place over the pucks to see if I aligned them correctly. They fit perfectly, needed no adjustments, and the hinged toe “snap ramps” locked down solid. The hardware on the bindings leaves no doubt in your mind that Spark R&D spares no expense at utilizing the best materials. These bindings are indeed manufactured and assembled in their Bozeman location. Using the snap ramps to disengage from riding mode so you can move them into touring mode with the side locking touring brackets was just as simple; the Spark R&D system is remarkably easy to use. At this point I was super stoked to get these babies out into the backcountry, and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to head out with a friend to a zone near Keystone which required about a two-hour tour, so I knew I was going to be able to put them to the test.
Touring/skinning in the Surge for 2+ hours was very satisfying. I used the Rip ‘N’ Flip Highback in the -13 degrees hiking position, switched from not using the climbing wire to using it often by just using the butt of my poles to adjust from 0° to 12° and 18° when necessary. Touring mode, kick turns, and the overall approach in these was a really pleasant experience — effortless in most every situation. The approach had some higher angle aspects to it and I felt like these bindings helped me expend less energy than I expected, due to the one climbing wire, but that could just be me.
Once we made it up to the zone, transitioning from touring to riding mode was spot on. I put the Rip ‘N’ Flip Highback back into position with a little forward lean and I was locked in and ready to ride within a few minutes. The feel of the binding is stiff; I could tell these bindings were going to be quick and responsive immediately, and the ankle strap and toe cap straps are comfortable, supportive and easily adjustable. We had a few inches of fresh snow, and it was in the low 40’s° F, so it wasn’t deep pow, but the conditions were favorable.
I was hyped to make some turns and let ‘er rip! The bindings performed great, they were super responsive, quite stiff, and I felt locked in the whole way down — just a great-feeling binding. I was lucky enough to get out a few more missions in riding the Spark R&D Surge bindings, and each time they were fantastic. If you’re looking for a stiff binding for big backcountry lines, look no further than the Surge. It will give you the power you demand when you need it.
Spark R&D Skins with tail clips: Spark Skins are a great addition to your split set up. I was lucky to get to test these skins as well,and found they provide superior hold on ascents and even glide with ease when you need it. Look for a specific review on the Spark skins soon.
The Surge binding delivers as a true heavy hitter. It is a stiff and responsive binding that will take you anywhere; it’s unequivocally Spark R&D’s top-end binding, designed to give riders superior board control in the most demanding and challenging terrain. There is no doubt if you travel into the backcountry and demand the best equipment for your mission, the Surge binding will deliver.
- T1 Tesla system (easy to change from touring to riding modes)
- Hi Back touring mode -13°
- Climbing wire is easy to use
- Supportive ankle and toe cap straps
- Binding components are easy to adjust in any environment
- Stiff and responsive
- Light weight
- Compatible with a multitude of accessories (crampons, etc)
- Expensive (but still worth it!)
|Style:||(5 / 5)|
|Comfort:||(5 / 5)|
|Features:||(5 / 5)|
|Overall:||(5 / 5)|