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How To Buy Wakeboard Bindings

With all the components that make up wakeboard bindings, it helps to do a little research before you buy. Here we offer a thorough review of each part, so that you can quickly and easily find the bindings that are right for you.


The overlay provides the majority of foot support by pulling the toe and heel pieces together, and creating a snug, secure attachment for your board. They should be cut or molded thick enough to offer support, but not so thick that they don't stretch.

  • The standard system has two overlays that criss-cross behind and in front of the foot and lock down to the hardware around the ankle and fore foot.
  • Overlays are designed to offer ankle support without binding.
  • Overlays work effectively by pushing your heel down; many newer bindings have adjustable straps, laces or buckles in the overlay package to accomplish this.
  • These closures range from firm plastic with a ratcheting buckle to systems with a lace-up closure connected to a rubber or cordura overlay. Closures must be cinched down enough for consistent, all-over, non-binding pressure.

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The underlay makes contact with the top of your foot and the Achilles tendon area. Today's underlays are usually made from some form of EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate, a foam and rubber hybrid). EVA is much lighter than rubber and allows for vibrant, contemporary colors.

  • EVA underlays vary from very flexible to very stiff.
  • A stiffer underlay offers more support, but may impede comfort and easy on-and-off. Softer underlays will be comfortable but may not offer all the structure you desire.
  • Make sure that when you wear the boot, there aren't any areas that pinch or bind your foot. There are also variations in the type of rubber/neoprene laminated to the EVA for comfort and grip on the skin. Ensure that there is a bond between the rubber and EVA, and that anything sewn or cut on the underlay is clean and sturdy looking.

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Hardware is usually made from metal or nylon. The hardware functions to hold the binding pieces together and support to the side of the foot.

  • Good hardware should be ergonomically designed, curving into the arch and out at the toes. The heel piece should sit like a fitted cup and offer support all the way around the heel.
  • Make sure that your foot can't slide on top of any of the hardware pieces; landing in that position will cause bruises on your foot.
  • There are a number of companies that make aftermarket bolts and accessories for your bindings. The most important is a good set of bolts to lock the baseplates down. Most of these sets come with a set of countersunk washers that spread the load of the bolt and add a custom look.

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A wakeboard binding baseplate may look fairly straightforward, but start assembling them with various boards and you'll begin to understand the differences among them.

  • A baseplate must be strong and stiff; a flexible baseplate will reduce the feel and control you have over your board.
  • The strength and stiffness of a plate is based on the quality and thickness of aluminum.
  • Your baseplate also needs to offer you plenty of stance options. You should be able to get within a fraction of an inch of your ideal stance, including stance width and angles from the middle (rail to rail) of the board.

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Footbeds should offer not only a lot of support, but also a comfortable resting place for your feet. Support feel in footbeds is similar to that in skates, or basketball or running shoes.

  • The heel should sit a little higher than the ball of the foot to accommodate the ankles and knees. The bed should also have a nice heel cup to hold you firmly in place.
  • On the surface of the footbeds, look for a comfortable form of traction to keep your soles from sliding around when they get wet.
  • A raise under the toes and an arch support are typical for most bindings, giving you leverage on your toeside edge and keeping you from sliding out the toe hole.
  • For shock absorption, make sure the foot bed isn't too soft. Some manufacturers use two different densities of foam for a combination of comfort and shock absorption. Others have gone to air and gel pockets under the heel for added shock absorption.

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Entrance / Adjustment

Bindings with some flexibility, adjustability and good finger holes make for easy on-and-off. If you like to ride with a boot that is really snug or tight, then your boots are going to be a little hard to get into. If you're using lots of force and soap, then you should consider something bigger or more adjustable. Adjustability can mean one of two things:

  • You can tighten the boot around your foot with straps, buckles, ties and closures
  • You can take the boot apart and tighten the overlays. With some adjustment in the overlays, you can buy a boot that you will be able to adjust to keep snug even after it is broken-in.

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