Spark R&D Surge Splitboard Bindings Review

These days, it’s all too easy to start a ski or snowboard brand with little more than a name and marketing strategy. Whether you’re selling something as simple as a beanie or something as complex as snowboard bindings, you can pretty much pick it out of a supplier’s catalogue, slap a logo on it and away you go.

Spark R&D represent the complete antithesis of this approach. They are a small independent company who don’t have huge budgets, yet they’ve put an incredible amount of time and money into research and development, designing and testing their products from scratch in order to perfect them. The splitboard bindings they sell are genuine feats of engineering, full of clever little features that make being out in the backcountry an easier, and generally more pleasant, experience.

“These are basically the Bugatti Veyron of the binding world, packed with clever little bits of engineering that will save you significant amounts of time and energy on the hill.”

The company was founded in 2006 by a mechanical engineer named Will Ritter from Bozeman, Montana. Ritter had fallen in love with splitboarding but found the bindings – or the binding adaption kits that most riders were using – heavy and clunky. Spotting an opportunity, he began developing his own. Ten years later he’s still at it.

Spark R&D now produce skins and some accessories too, but binding design and manufacture is still the heart of their business. Basically these guys do one thing and they do it incredibly well. Sparks are widely recognised as the best splitboard bindings in the business, bar none.

The Surge binding, pictured here alongside a pair of Spark Splitboard Skins (sold separately for £155), is the brand’s top of the range model. It features their ‘snap ramps’, a genuinely revolutionary bit of engineering that removes the need for fiddly pins to attach your bindings to your board. As anyone who’s been splitboarding will know, pins and the holes they go into can get iced up easily and be tricky to line up. With the snap ramp system, you just click the toe of the binding up to release it. Then simply put your board together, slide the binding into the riding position and snap the toe back down.

It may not sound like a huge difference, but it makes changing from climbing to riding mode far quicker than on conventional splitboard bindings. It’s also much easier to do with gloves on. This means much less time standing around with freezing fingers, and more time riding.

Like all Spark bindings, the Surge does away with the need for a thick metal mounting plate, meaning you get a more natural flex and feel from your board. This also reduces the weight of each binding – something you’ll really appreciate on long uphill slogs.

“With the snap ramp system, you just click the toe of the binding up to release it.”

Their Tesla T1 system (which includes the touring brackets and heel rests supplied in the box) also means that the bindings have only one climbing wire, reducing weight and faff even further. The wire snaps easily between the 12 and 18 degree positions used for different gradients. The highback is lightweight but strong, and includes a feature Spark call the ‘flip and rip’ which allows you to switch from zero degrees forward lean (the ideal position for climbing) to your preferred riding position with ease.

Like most splitboarding kit, the Surge bindings don’t come cheap, but given that these are basically the Bugatti Veyron of the binding world, it seems churlish to complain. After all, when you add up all those clever little bits of engineering they’ll save you significant amounts of time and energy on the hill, leaving you more of both for shredding. Which, after all, is what it’s all about.

Spark R&D Surge Splitboard Bindings Stats:

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