Snap! As you clamp down your ratchet, the toothed plastic ladder strap on your snowboard binding cracks in half. What to do now? Well, to start, forget about that epic run that you had planned because riding on a improperly secured binding is dangerous. Take the lift down and from there you have a few options.
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There are two sides to each binding strap. A toothed plastic ladder strap is on the outer side of the binding and a padded strap with tightening mechanism is on the inner side of the binding. The two sides may split apart or stay together as one, depending upon binding. Most commonly, the tightening strap uses a ratchet that pulls the toothed ladder strap to secure your feet. First thing you'll need to do is determine what exactly is broken. It could be the plastic ladder strap, the plastic on the padded strap or the ratchet itself, as these tend to be the most prone to problems. It's probably not the actual padding, because this should be more durable.
Plastic ladder straps are pretty generic and replacements are easy to find. However, ratchet and other tightening mechanisms vary by binding both in terms of look and design. If you'd prefer to find the exact matching hardware to maintain uniformity, your best bet is to contact the manufacturer. If the bindings are still under warranty, you may even be able to get free replacement straps or hardware. Check the company's website for contact information and be sure to have as much information available about the binding as possible: model, size, receipt. Be specific as to whether it's the ankle strap or toe strap.
If you're not worried about uniformity, look for replacement parts online or in shops. When shopping for replacement parts, take the strap off your binding so that you can compare it directly to the replacements in question and make sure it will work. Compare length, and fastening method and location. Better yet, bring the whole binding and try the replacement out. Checking at a repair shop is a good first option as they might have a pair of old rental bindings identical to yours and be willing to salvage those straps.
If you really have trouble finding replacement parts that will function with your binding and don't feel like going through the manufacturer, consider replacing the entire strap (plastic ladder and padded strap with ratchet) instead of the individual part that's broken. Pay attention to the mounting holes on the replacement strap and make sure that the replacement will fit your binding. Consider replacing the strap on both left and right binding to maintain a uniform feel for both feet. It would also be wise to size it out with your binding and boot before buying (or make sure you can return it). Make sure that it fits your binding and secures your boot.
In order to prevent problems while you're snowboarding, inspect your straps before going on the mountain. Check for cracks or wear on the plastic, make sure the ratchets function properly and tighten any loose connections. Although a strap breakage can be unpredictable, inspecting your straps regularly will help to avoid a break that could ruin your day of snowboarding.
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