First Look: 2016-17 Karakoram Prime Connect Snowboard Binding
- Powerlink Lever for rapid detaching / attaching between boards with the Quiver Connectors
- Dupont Zytel Open Binding Chassis to allow the board to twist and flex naturally
- EVA foam Footbeds and Zytel toe stays elevate the binding above the board for added bump absorption
- Airflow highback (Medium flex)
- Air-Form ankle and toe strap
- Includes 2 Quiver Connectors to rapidly transfer from board to board ( additional quiver connectors may be purchased separately)
- Functional as a splitboard binding with the Karakoram Connect Splitboard kit
Stated Weight: Binding: 820 grams
Blister Measured Weight:
- Binding: 824 grams (Medium)
- Interface/ Quiver Killers: 212 g
Board / Boots: 156 Jones Hovercraft / 159 Rossignol One MagTek / Nike Zoom Kaiju
Days Tested: 5
This season, Karakoram, the splitboard-binding manufacturer from North Bend, Washington, threw a bit of a curve ball when they released the Prime Connect — an inbounds binding for solid boards. But if the release of an inbounds binding represents a departure of Karakoram, the Prime Connect was heavily influenced by the design and construction of the Karakoram Alpine Prime splitboard binding.
Karakoram says that “the All Mountain Primes sprung from our discovery that the performance benefits of Active Joining Technology aren’t limited to just splitboards. We started with the spread-contact, spring loaded interface of our Prime system, and modified it from the board up to create the ultimate binding for traditional solid snowboards.”
I now have a handful of days on these bindings, and I will be riding them a lot more. But I can already say that the design is intriguing and seems to successfully bridge the gap between split- and solid-board bindings well. I’ll be weighing in later with a longer-term review, but for now, here’s a look at a few of the features that make these bindings so intriguing.
Power Link Lever
By utilizing the Power Link lever (used on Karakoram’s splitboard bindings) on a solid snowboard binding, Karakoram differentiates the Prime Connect from anything else on the market in two major ways:
1) It is easy to quickly attach or remove the bindings from the Quiver Connectors, which makes for an easy transition from board to board.
2) The Prime Connect can be used as a splitboard binding with the Split Kit (purchased separately), which keeps the performance and feel of the binding consistent both at the resort and in the backcountry. In addition, it reduces the need for several sets of bindings on trips where you’ll be using both split and solid boards.
The Quiver Connectors are very similar in design to the Karakoram splitboard interface. They allow multiple boards (each binding comes with with two sets and you can purchase more) to be mounted to the desired stance, making board transitions less troublesome. Board stances that have been properly set up for unique cambers and shapes will remain exactly how you left them, and you can just lock your bindings back on without having to re-adjust anything.
Although not terribly time consuming nor problematic, I often find when I change bindings from board to board (usually in a rush), I have to fine tune the my stance slightly after a few runs. In the past, I have taken pictures of my bindings (with the mounting discs exposed) so I will remember the exact angles, and then match up the wear marks on the deck for the stance width I want. The Quiver Connectors solve this, while also eliminating the risk of losing bolts or using tools in the parking lot, swapping from board to board in under a minute.
The Prime Connect features Air-Form ankle and toe straps made of an semi-elastic Dupont Hytrel rubber, and this has proven to be one of the most comfortable and secure straps I have used — while also being 30% lighter than standard straps, according to Karakoram. The ankle straps feature independent pressure pods that help the straps form comfortably to the boot and alleviate pressure points. I have used the Air-Form straps extensively for 70+ days on my Prime Carbon splitboard bindings, and have rarely felt any pinch points or discomfort while riding.
The bottom of the binding, which contacts the board, has neoprene pads along the heel and outermost contact points near the toe, to help dampen minor chatter. Karakoram’s Active Joining Technology spring loads the binding to the board when the Power Link lever is engaged on the Quiver Connectors creating a bridged, void space under the toes and sole of binding. This also effectively helps dampens the ride, prevent the bindings from flexing off the board and allows the board to flex naturally with the binding.
Riding at Mt. Bachelor, I mostly encountered deep powder and soft conditions. So I can’t yet say how effective the damping has been as a result of the chassis. But the ride has been exceptionally smooth and chatter free. I’ll readdress this issue once I have logged some time in less ideal conditions and on groomers.
My first impressions while riding powder on the Prime Connect binding has been very positive. For riding relatively deep powder, it has been very solid and responsive to rider inputs so far. The highback seems to maintain a great balance of being stiff and responsive, yet buttery and playful for a more freestyle approach to riding. The bindings are soft enough to fully tweak grabs, hit jumps and natural features, yet stiff enough to be responsive and stable at higher speeds. I’ll weigh in with my more detailed performance findings after more time with the bindings.
Bottom Line (For Now…)
Karakoram’s Prime Connect seems like it could be the perfect binding for those looking for a single binding to use inbounds and in the backcountry. This binding should be particularly interesting to those who travel often or cycle between snowboards throughout the day, since it swaps so quickly between boards. Overall, it seems like a well-thought-out product that reduces the need for multiple bindings and easily transitions from board to board. We’ll be weighing back in with a long-term review soon.