Karakoram vs Spark R&D Splitboard Bindings 2018
It is time for the annual comparison of Karakoram vs Spark R&D splitboard bindings. For this year, we went all out. Karakoram Prime X Carbon splitboard bindings vs Spark R&D Pro Surge. This is the very best splitboard binding from each company.
Karakoram Prime X Carbon vs Spark Pro Surge
Let’s get into the similarities of the two bindings. Both are made in the USA. The Karakoram in Washington and Spark R&D in Montana. Each has carbon highbacks that can be adjusted for touring and riding. 7075 aluminum is used in both bindings, creating a lighter and stronger base. The Prime X Carbon and Pro Surge both have lightweight straps that actually feel great. Creating a secure foothold and board feel.
The Best Splitboard Bindings from each company
As you can gather from the video above, both bindings are very high quality and will satisfy the most discerning rider. But, what binding is best for you? Below, I will break each binding down into pros and cons. There will be detailed individual reviews attached to each binding as well.
Karakoram Prime X Carbon
Karakoram makes some very good splitboard bindings. I have been riding them since the Split 30 days. They differ from Spark in several ways. First, they attach in a completely different way. Using “Active Joining Technology”. Meaning, they clamp onto the board with several points of contact. This creates a secure connection and provides good board feel. The base plates are larger than the puck system and have several points of contact. Also, the base plates come with Karakoram bindings (Spark bindings do not come with baseplates).
Improved Heel Risers
Second, they also have multi-position heel risers. They have been upgraded for this season. Previous years have had opportunities with the risers, so this improved function and durability will make many splitboarders happy.
Next, they have sleeved axles for touring. This allows for smooth articulation on the way up. Less friction, less wasted energy. The highbacks are a little bigger too. They are adjustable as well. You can have them opened up fully for touring, then rotate the forward lean to two positions. Pretty cool. Though, you will need to find the ideal angles at home (requires a wrench to adjust)
Lightweight and perform well
The size large comes in at 690 grams. This is lightweight, given how much technology and pieces are involved. The feel of the bindings is what sets them apart. I feel like the board connection is great and that touring up is smoother (thanks to the sleeved axles). This is my opinion. Read more about the minutia with the detailed review here.
Karakoram Prime Ride Mode 2.0
New for the 2018-2019 season, Karakoram has improved the base plate for their system. I have not had a chance to test these (will have some next week). Once I do, I will be sure to provide an updated review. From what we have heard, they do a better job of clearing out snow (which is awesome). Below is a pic of the updated set up that is currently available for purchase (included with Karakoram bindings).
Spark Pro Surge Splitboard Bindings
Spark R&D make reliable splitboard bindings that use the tried and true puck system. They slide onto the pucks (there are now canted ones!) then lock into place. People love this system as it is self-cleaning and reliable. Spark also has fewer pieces on the bindings and risers, therefore, having fewer things to potentially break. In the backcountry, you don’t want things to break! If so, you better have tools and parts to repair it. Which is something I talk about in the video above. All things can break, you must be able to fix it or deal with it. See the detailed review for the Spark Surge Pro here – https://engearment.com/gear-review/spark-rd-pro-surge-splitboard-bindings-lighter-and-stronger/
Spark Pro binding pros
The Pro Surges are improved in every way over the regular Spark Surge bindings. They shave 100 grams off the regular version. They do this by upgrading the heel loops to 7075 aluminum, upgrading all the steel hardware to 7075-T6 aluminum, using Pebex in the Pillow Straps, and having a carbon-infused highback. The two biggest things I notice is the solid feel and the lightweight build. In fact, the Spark Pro Surge is the lightest and stiff binding I have seen, yet. Check the comparison below. The Spark Arc Pro-Line is even lighter at 552 grams for medium. The Arc is not only lighter, but it also offers a more surfy feel (less stiff).
Spark R&D Pucks
Spark bindings do not come with baseplates (pucks). There are a few options with the puck system. There is the plastic Voile puck system $55 and even a canted plastic version $55. Then there are the Spark metal pucks $75 and canted pucks $75. I would recommend the Spark metal pucks over the plastic ones.
Different models from Karakoram and Spark R&D
You may not need the very best splitboard binding from either company. In fact, I know you don’t need the best to have fun. Below is a list of the other models in each lineup. There are models for men and women of all levels and abilities.
What remains the same is the Karakoram use the Karakoram interface and the Spark use the Spark interface. You can install a Karakoram Prime X Carbon on the Karakoram base plates. Just the same for Spark. You can install the Pro Surge on the same puck and touring bracket as the entry-level Arc bindings. This is nice as you can start off with an entry-level binding and work your way up to a more advanced version as you progress.
Spark R&D Pro Line
Which splitboarding binding is better?
Depends on what you are looking for. Are you looking for a simple, lightweight and reliable system? Spark R&D is for you. Are you looking for board feel, smooth touring and more contact with boots and board? Then the Karakoram is for you. I love both. They are both great bindings made by great people. Either will serve your needs.
Whatever binding you wind up going with, make sure to be a responsible backcountry adventurer. Check the avalanche forecasts, support your local avalanche center, be smart and have fun!
Looking for some gift ideas for your backcountry ski and splitboard friends? Check out our Holiday Gear Guide: