Last February, we brought you a showdown between Karakoram and Spark R&D’s splitboard bindings. For 2016, we bring you the updated version, this time comparing the Karakoram Prime and Spark R&D ARC. Both are the entry level bindings for each company, but by no means are they entry level – both are very capable systems with positives and negatives to each. Read on to find out all the particular details and see which one is best for you!
Spark R&D ARC
We reviewed the Spark R&D Arc bindings a few months ago. Since then, we’ve had several days on them in all kinds of conditions and have learned lots about how they perform. On top of that, many of our fellow splitboarders have been able to provide detailed feedback regarding the Spark R&D bindings.
Here are some of the positives:
- One wire heel riser, built in to the bottom of the binding. Does not break and stays in place. We have seen some talented splitters engage the riser with their poles, but find that we usually needed to stop and engage them with our hands. No big deal.
- The puck system is self cleaning. Meaning that it clears the snow and ice rather well as you slide them into place.
- The buckles are smooth and precise. Probably because they are made by Burton.
- The hichback allows for easy transition from tour to ride mode, plus it is adjustable on the fly (tool-free)
- Mostly made in USA
- Lower initial cost
- The highbacks are a bit softer than we like
- The bindings do not come with heel lock down – though it can be purchased separately
- They do not have as solid of a connection to the board (in our tester’s opinion)
- They do not come with pucks; you have to buy them separately
We keep going back to the Karakoram Prime bindings, even using them on solid boards with Karakoram’s quiver connector. The Prime do cost more up front, but come with the interface to mount to the boards and heel lockdown feature, so it does save some money there. Plus, we feel like they perform better than any other binding we’ve used (that’s a lot of bindings!). He lent them to others to try out and had similar feedback. Again, this is personal preference and everyone has different tastes. Below are some positives and negatives.
- Great feel with board, they feel locked in and responsive.
- The touring seems more fluid, possibly due to the sleeved axle.
- The bindings come with all the pieces you need to get them mounted and out touring. No need to buy anything else.
- Heel risers are easy to operate, even with pole basket or handle.
- Made in Washington state.
- They can be more of a pain to clear snow and ice from baseplates.
- Heel riser has broken (they fixed this for next season).
- They cost more up front.
Please check out the video comparison and see the detail we go into with each binding. In the video Sean shows you each binding, interface, mounting hardware, transition time (this might blow your mind!) and ride mode.
So there you have it – two great companies making great bindings. We have had lots of feedback from fellow splitboarders on both, as well as spent numerous days on each set up – so we can honestly say that either one are recommended. If you ask our splitboard tester, he would go with the Karakoram Prime, but that does not mean that the Spark are not as good. The Prime just feel better to him. Stay safe in the backcountry!!