Spark R&D Arc Binding Review

spark randd surge bindingSpark R&D Arc Binding Review (2015-2016)

Intended Use: Splitboarding; a lightweight, flexible binding intended for use touring and chasing pow.

Recommended For: the all around rider who wants a lightweight binding designed for charging all conditions.

Review Date: April – May 2016

About 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.

 

Spark Arc Bindings with Spark R&D’s Tesla T1 system specs:

  • Maximum cutouts in the baseplates shave weight, yet maintain strength and performance; they allow puck adjustment with the bindings in place
  • Incredibly light at only 675 grams per binding
  • Made in the USA
  • Softer version of the Rip ‘N’ Flip Highback for easy flex and mobility
  • Low profile supportive ankle straps and a toe cap straps (made by Burton)
  • Low profile buckles stay out of the way while skinning
  • Splitboard-specific Rip ‘N’ Flip highbacks with effortless forward lean adjustment from -13° to 22°
  • 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

Review:

IMG_2363I’ve hiked up mountains chasing pow when the lifts aren’t running, chutes at Jackson Hole and getting those last turns of the season in.  But if you’ve ever done it you know it can be quite exhausting for a snowboarder.  I was thrilled at the opportunity to review the Spark R&D Arc bindings and a Never Summer 25 splitboard.  Like Chris, this was my first experience with splitboarding so I was a bit overwhelmed on how to set it all up.  Using the Spark Pucks and alignment tool made it so easy I was questioning if I’d done it wrong.  I checked their online user guide to be sure.  People I’ve talked to about splitboarding had horror stories about dealing with bindings in harsh conditions.  Spark R&D has done an incredible job of making the entire process painless and quick.  In 2014 Spark R&D launched a game changer to the snowboard world with their Tesla T1 system.  The snap ramps eliminated difficult to use pins that affixed the bindings into touring/climbing mode

I traveled up to the Tetons in southern Wyoming to test everything out with a friend.  We only had one split set up but I was curious to see the difference.  Getting everything set up for touring/climbing was very simple.  Basically you just lock the bindings into the “snap ramps”, set the climbing wire, attach your Spark R&D skins and you’re good to go.  I did have to make a few adjustments to the Rip ‘N’ Flip Highback to put it into hiking mode, but again Spark has made this very easy to use/adjust.  This whole process of getting ready took just a few minutes.

We hiked/skinned 2,180 ft up to 9,862 ft, I was amazed at how effortless skinning up was.  We took turns using the NS split with the Spark R&D bindings, the guy left hiking had to stop a lot!  We climbed some pretty steep areas and put the single climbing wire to the test.  It can be put at 12 degrees for medium inclines or 18 for steeper ascents.  The wire was easily adjusted using the tip of a pole.  With all the little adjustments you can make to the bindings I found it very easy on the knees and calves.  All the hiking I’ve done before is brutal on my calves especially.

Once we reached the summit we took a short break then put the split together, rolled up the skins, etc.  The puck system makes sliding the bindings into place effortless.  I adjusted the highback via the Rip ‘N’ Flip system and we were ready for some turns.  I wasn’t to sure what to expect out of the bindings riding down but they were amazing.  Normally with a new set of bindings I find I have to make a few adjustments to prevent foot cramps, etc.  They were flexible in all the areas you’d expect, very comfortable and responsive.

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.

Summary:

From all the horror stories I’d always heard, I was reluctant to ever get into splitboarding. Spark R&D has made what used to be a pretty painful process into an amazingly simple one.  If you’ve been on the fence…trust me, with Spark R&D bindings you cannot go wrong.  I am hooked and cannot wait to get back out!
If your new to this I highly encourage you to take an avalanche safety course and get avalanche gear (review coming soon).

Pros:

  • 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
  • Good flex
  • Light weight
  • Compatible with a multitude of accessories (crampons, etc)

Cons:

  • Price  (but if your into backcountry riding…its all expensive!)
Style: (5 / 5)
Comfort: (5 / 5)
Features: (5 / 5)
Overall: (5 / 5)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.