Splitboard Binding Comparo Redux – Spark vs Karakoram 2016-2017

Spark R&D vs Karakoram

It’s that time of year again when we compare the 2 main splitboard bindings – Spark R&D and Karakoram. Both bindings have a lot going for them. Both are handmade in the USA and both work well for your splitboarding needs. However, there are many differences, and that is what we are here to go over with you. Read on as we go over the details of what makes each binding unique.

Spark R&D

I’ve been riding Spark R&D bindings since the days of the LT pins and have had the opportunity to test all the models out over the last 6 years. For the 2016-2017 season, the Spark Surge garnered top honors for my splitboard binding of choice. We have reviews of the Spark Arc up from last year, and though they are wonderful bindings, the Surge won my heart. They have a stiffer high back, stiffer baseplate, more robust straps , nd a secure connection. Throw in the optional Whammy Bars and you have a solid set up. The Whammy bars will be standard on next years models. We are also using the Spark pucks. You will need to buy pucks to use the Spark bindings; they’re sold separately (we recommend the Spark ones). We go over the details in the Surge review and also in the video below.


I have been rinding the Karakoram since the Split 30 days and have too many days on the Prime bindings. Not much changed this year for the Prime bindings, but they still perform at a very high level. One of my favorite features is the sleeved axle. It seems to be hinged like its on butter. Smooth like a ninja. I have the Flex Lockinstalled on the Prime bindings as they are helpful on steeper traverses. They will be standard on next year’s models. The Karakoram Prime bindings come in 4 models. The Prime 1that we are including in this review, Prime SLStraightline, and Carbon. The Karakoram bindings come with the baseplate.

Spark R&D Pros:

  • cheaper
  • less moving parts to break
  • easily adjustable FLAD (forward lean adjustment)
  • easy to mount with supplied mounting brackets

Spark R&D opportunities:

  • ankle strap could weigh less (next year’s Marshmellow models do!)
  • could make a package that includes baseplates

Karakoram Pros:

  • great response
  • sleeved axle
  • comes with very adjustable baseplates
  • several models to choose from

Karakoram opportunities:

  • cost more
  • collects snow in baseplates

Either way you go, the Spark or Karakoram will treat you well. Just depends on how much you are willing to spend and what is more important to you. You can feel good about supporting local US companies, both have great warranties and customer support.


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