For the last four years I have been riding a range of bindings by Raven Snowboards. In this review of Raven bindings, I’ll share my experiences and ask the age old question: are they the best cheap snowboard bindings?
Lets start with some history. Four years ago my snowboard was stolen. At the time I was surviving on hard times breakfast of own brand Weetabix – so I needed a new set up that wouldn’t set me back a fortune. I ended up with a Raven snowboard and bindings as they were very cheap – the entire setup cost just £170 on ebay.
Because they are so cheap, and I was no longer so broke, each year since I have got another board by Pathron (Ravens sister premium brand) plus a pair of Raven bindings for barely any additional cost. So I now have a collection of four pairs of Raven bindings and lots of experiencing riding them.
Introducing Raven Snowboards
Raven snowboards are the biggest snowboard brand in Poland. Using the same factories, same materials and in many cases the same technology as bigger and more expensive brands, they have entered the international market as a cheaper alternative.
In some cases cheaper means inferior, but this is not always the case. Take Weetabix as an example, most of the supermarkets have their own cheap version, what might surprise you is that Weetabix makes most of them. They are cheaper but not inferior and the only difference is the packaging and zero marketing spend.
The Snowboarding industry is like any other. Big brands spend big on athlete and event sponsorship, advertising and marketing, research and development etc. and those costs are added the price of their gear. Raven and Pathron snowboards do not spend big on these things, meaning they can pass savings onto the consumer.
I have already reviewed the Raven Core, Pathron Sensei, Pathron Carbon and Pathron Slash snowboards and found them to be fantastic snowboards for their price tag. In particular the Pathron snowboards are very high quality at less than half the price of big brand equivalents. But now it’s time to share my review of Raven bindings.
Raven bindings cost from £60 to £100, but if you buy them with a board huge savings can be made. You can pick up a Raven snowboard with bindings for £120 to £200, or a premium Pathron snowboard with bindings from £240 to £270. So they are low cost, but are they the best cheap snowboard bindings?
Review of Raven bindings
I will talk about each pair of Raven snowboard bindings I ride shortly, but first I will give a more general review of Raven bindings.
Comfort of Raven bindings
I have found all the Raven bindings to be very comfortable. The padding underfoot is just right with enough give whilst still being supportive. Overall I would rate them as much more comfortable than my old Burton Missions and most rental bindings I have used. However they are not quite as comfy as my old Burton Cartels.
The straps are all nicely padded and anatomical – meaning they conform to your boot shape rather than fighting against it. The toe straps can either go across your foot or over the end of your boot, personally I always use them like a toe cup. The toe straps are not quite as comfy as my old Burton Cartel toe cups, but we are talking about a tiny amount.
Adjustability of Raven bindings
There are plenty of options to adjust Raven bindings, most of which are tool free. Toe and ankle straps can be moved forward or back, you can adjust the strap lengths at both ends meaning you can position the strap padding perfectly for you.
The high back lean is a quick tool free adjustment and has nice small increments so you can lean it the perfect amount for you. On the down side, the high back can not be twisted to make it parallel with the edge of the board.
All the bindings come with extendible gas pedals. This means you can extend the binding length underfoot to ensure perfect size for your boots. This is not tool free, on the S600 and S250 it requires a screwdriver, and with the Team and S750 can only be done by removing the bindings from the board.
Durability & quality of Raven bindings
Riding around 20 to 30 days a year all the bindings have had a good amount of use. I have not had a single part break and only the top of the high backs show any wear – from catching the underside of the chair when I sometimes forget to lower them when uplifting.
My friend who also has Raven bindings did have a toe strap break. He thinks he trod on it – although I have trod on mine many times and not broken them. However because the straps are adjustable at both ends he was able to reattach the strap to the stump and carry on riding. When asked Raven promptly sent out a new strap.
The only problem I have encountered is the ankle ratchet not biting when snow or ice gets in there. Everyone has experienced this from time to time, but it seems to happen slightly more frequently with the Raven S750 and Team bindings than it has with other bindings. It’s easily fixed though.
Ease of use of Raven bindings
No review of Raven bindings would be complete without talking about how easy and quick they are to strap into. In the past I have used rental bindings that were a nightmare to get on – in particular some Flow bindings that i did not get on with. At the other end of the scale I found my Burton Cartels where quick and very easy.
The Raven bindings are somewhere between. Not quite as easy as the Cartels but easier than my old Burton Missions, and significantly easier than the rentals I have used. My only problem is my heal does not easily go all the way back meaning if I am not careful I don’t do the straps up tight enough on my back foot.
When I turn on my heel edge my heel quickly slots in place, but if by then if I am already riding my straps are loose and the toe strap has popped off. To counteract this after strapping in I shift pressure onto by heel edge and then tighten the straps accordingly.
This adds a few seconds to the strap in time. However I should add this problem is eradicated if I reduce the forward lean of the highback – but then I like a good lean.
Review of Raven bindings: Conclusion
Although Raven bindings are not quite as nice as my stolen Burton Cartels they are better than most of the other bindings I have used. In particular they are far better than my old Burton Missions, which despite spending a season adjusting and fiddling with I never eradicated foot pain.
Raven bindings are a bit like Weetabix, they are strong, solid and dependable. But like own brand Weetabix they cost much less and you can’t really tell the difference when you are using them.
I ride hard and have put Raven bindings through their paces and would be happy to recommend them to friends. Which from my experience makes them the best cheap snowboard bindings I have used.
Raven bindings I have ridden
Raven Team and Raven S750
The anatomical ankle strap and ultra light high back which combined with the fibreglass reinforced nylon base means they are strong and dependable. The highback is curved giving extra support to the outside of your leg, which helps when landing tricks – particularly if you haven’t quite finished a rotation.
Overall they are forgiving bindings for freestyle and messing around on the piste. Personally I use them for playful all-mountain riding, but if I am planning big backcountry lines I swap them for something stiffer.
Raven S400 bindings
These Raven S400 are all mountain bindings with a mid flex. Although personally I find them fairly stiff in comparison to other bindings I have used. They are perfect for fast and precise riding and heading off-piste for a touch of freeride.
Using aluminium and fibreglass reinforced nylon they are very strong. The anatomic high back and thermo formed eva padding ensures they are also comfy. The S400 bindings offer a two stage adjustable heel cup so you can set up your bindings exactly how you like them.
Raven S600 bindings
The Raven S600 are also all-mountain bindings and again on paper have a mid flex but I find them fairly stiff. I mainly use these on my powder board for off-piste fun or on my stiffer all-mountain board when I intend to ride fast and precise. But it doesn’t stop them being good for tricks either.
Again aluminium and fibreglass reinforced nylon provide strength. But the S600 adds an anatomic 3D ankle strap to the comfort provided by the anatomic high back and thermo eva padding. These also offer a two stage adjustable heel cup which is good if you have big feet.
Are Raven the best cheap snowboard bindings?
I have not tried every budget snowboard binding on the market so I cannot say for certain if Raven are the best cheap snowboard bindings. However they are certainly the best I have used. Of all the bindings I have ridden I only prefer the expensive Burton Cartels.
However I would much rather have two pairs of Raven bindings than one pair of Burton Cartels, because then I can have flexible and stiff bindings to match my riding. Plus I can have two different set ups ready to ride and spend less time faffing with bindings.
Just like four Weetabix is excessive so it four pairs of bindings, however I leave a couple of boards and bindings at a friends in Geneva. This means I can fly into Geneva and avoid paying snowboard carriage, and for those times I am not riding with him I still have both freeride and freestyle bindings to take with me.