Karakoram Prime Splitboard Bindings – Initial Impressions
If you read our comparison of Spark vs Karakoram splitboard bindings, you’re probably looking at getting some sweet Karakoram splitboard bindings, but you’re not sure if you should go with the Split 30s or the newer Prime series. Good situation to be in! Both are built with high-quality parts and hand assembled in Washington so you can feel good about supporting a US company. But, which one should you choose? We suggest the Karakoram Prime splitboard bindings.
Our video overview of the two, Split 30 and Prime, and the major differences:
There are a few differences in the baseplate designs. The Split 30s adjusts from -5˚ to +30˚ and are easy to set up and dial in. You can see where the 3 pins push through the baseplate holes to secure the binding. Sometimes they ice up and it takes just a little bit of effort to clear all the snow off before you can seat the bindings onto the plates perfectly.
On the Primes, you can see a much more robust and intricate setup. Where the old baseplates were pressed sheet, the Primes are machined. In addition to offering a wider range of angle adjustment, -30˚ to +30˚, the Primes provide adjustment to the mounting position both side to side and front to back. Pretty cool. You can really dial in for the perfect position. Also, Karakoram redesigned the Prime baseplates to be self-cleaning – no more snow and ice buildup. We still had to clean a bit of snow off to get them to seat perfectly. The new design may have saved a few seconds.
Karakoram also improved the engagement mechanism. On the Split 30s, you used a lever (sort of like a bike wheel quick release) to engage and disengage the binding from the baseplate. The Primes engage with a new, heel lever. We added a piece of duct tape to make it even easier to use with mittens and gloves.
The tour mount is the same. It is a great system and works really well. We prefer it over the Spark R&D tour set up. The sleeved axle is more robust and moves more smoothly on the Karakoram. The heel lock and risers are the big difference between models. Split 30s have the traditional climbing wires that you all know. Short in the back, tall in front. Pictured below you can see the new Prime “Flip Speed Riser” in action. We have the short wire and the short riser in the first photo and tall wire and tall riser in the second photo. The new design does seem to work easier than the old wires. You can usually flip up the riser with a powder basket or handle of your pole. Not always the case with the metal wires. Both can get caked with snow and ice though, so sometimes you just have to use your hands.
The new feature that really grabbed our attention was the ability to lock down the heel easily. Karakoram says it’s equivalent to a DIN of 6-8. It seems to hold down very well, much easier than the Spit 30 set up where you had to pull out the high climbing wire and then lock the heel down. We used the function a few times. Most of the time we were in so much snow that the risers were caked up and we could not get the pins to fully engage to lock down the heel. So we did not do too much skate skiing with them. We will keep testing them out and report back when we have more data.
The other cool feature with the Prime is that you can now ride them on your solid deck utilizing the “Prime Quiver Connector”. It is a $75 baseplate that allows you to utilize the Prime bindings on every deck. Might be a nice money saver for some.
The bindings themselves look basically the same. They have the same heel cup, toe and ankle strap, and high back. All perform excellently so no need to improve on them. We did not have a chance to test the next level up, Prime SL and Split 30 SL. The main difference in those models is different aluminum heel cup, lighter toe cap, and titanium pins. Pretty cool tech there. Hopefully, we can get our hands on them soon!
So there you have it. The Split 30 are wonderful bindings that we have been using for the last 2 years. They have taken us to all sorts of awesome places. Anyone would be happy using them. The Prime offer some cool new features that might really improve your touring and riding experience. We own both and are happy with both. Is the Prime worth the extra $70? We think so. When we were at SIA 2015, we had a chance to see some of the cool new tech coming out next season from Karakoram and we are stoked. Good news is that it will be based off the Prime set up, so don’t worry, the Prime is not going to change up anytime soon. Grab yourself a pair and get out there!
Need help choosing a splitboard setup? Drop us a line!
See also –
Splitboard Binding Comparo Redux – Spark vs Karakoram 2016-2017