Title:
Snowboard binding system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A snowboard binding system includes a boot unit and a binding unit. The boot unit has a boot cradle that has straps that are secured to a snowboard boot and lugs that extend from the sides of the cradle. The binding unit has retainers that releasably engage the lugs of the boot unit. The retainer includes a lever that has a cam and a lever handle and a compression member. When the boot unit is inserted into the binding unit, the lever is actuated to lock the compression member against the lug and securely fasten the boot and boot unit to the board.



Inventors:
Etges, Peter (Montara, CA, US)
Application Number:
11/803058
Publication Date:
11/13/2008
Filing Date:
05/11/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63C9/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EVANS, BRYAN A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Peter Etges (Evergreen, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A snowboard binding comprising: a boot unit for holding a snowboard boot comprising: a boot plate having an upper surface that engages the sole of the snowboard boot; a foot strap that is coupled to the sole plate and releasably secures the snowboard boot to the boot plate; a heel loop coupled on one end of the boot plate that extends around a heel portion of the snowboard boot; a angle strap that is coupled to the heel loop and releasably secures the snowboard boot to the heel loop; and a first elongated lug and a second elongated lug that are mounted on opposite sides of the sole plate and aligned along the length of the sole plate, wherein the first lug and the second lug have planar upper surfaces; a binding unit having a baseplate having a bottom surface that is attached to a snowboard; a fixed retention member that is attached to one side of the baseplate; and a releasable cam lock attached to a second side of the baseplate opposite the fixed retention member comprising: a clamping member that rotates about a rod coupled to the base plate, a spring member coupled to the base plate that is coupled to a cam at one end and a lever at the opposite end; wherein when the boot unit is placed in the binding unit, the first elongated lug is inserted into the fixed retention member and the second lug engages the releasable cam lock, when the lever is actuated, the cam rotates about the spring member and compressing the second lug between the clamping member and the baseplate.

2. The snowboard binding of claim 1 wherein the spring member is an elongate metal rod having a straight section that is coupled to the cam and two curved sections that are coupled to the baseplate.

3. The snowboard binding of claim 1 wherein the cam has a curved section and a stop that engages the clamping member to stop the rotation of the cam and the lever.

4. The snowboard binding of claim 3 wherein the clamping member includes a planar upper surface that is made of a low friction material that allows the curved section of the cam to slide against the upper surface of the clamping member.

5. The snowboard binding of claim 1 wherein the spring member rotates about the base plate and the cam.

6. The snowboard binding of claim 1 wherein the releasable cam lock includes a first bracket and a second bracket that are coupled to the baseplate, a pivot rod mounted between the first bracket and the second bracket that is coupled to the clamping member.

7. The snowboard binding of claim 6 wherein the spring member is coupled to the first bracket and the second bracket.

8. The snowboard binding of claim 6 wherein the releasable cam lock includes a spring that is compressed when the clamping member is rotated towards the baseplate.

9. The snowboard binding of claim 1 further comprising: a high back having a concave surface that engages the back of the snowboard boot that is coupled to the base plate.

10. The snowboard binding of claim 1 further comprising: a high back having a concave surface that engages the back of the snowboard boot that is coupled to the boot unit.

11. A snowboard binding system comprising: a boot unit for holding a boot comprising: a sole plate having an upper surface that engages the sole of the boot, a lower surface and a thickness; a foot strap that is coupled to the sole plate and releasably secures the boot to the sole plate; a heel loop coupled on one end of the sole plate that extends around a heel portion of the boot; an angle strap that is coupled to the heel loop and releasably secures the boot to the heel loop; and a first elongated lug and a second elongated lug that are mounted on opposite sides of the sole plate and aligned along the length of the sole plate, wherein the first lug and the second lug have planar upper surfaces; a binding unit having a baseplate having a bottom surface that is attached to a snowboard; a fixed retention member that is attached to one side of the baseplate; and a releasable cam lock attached to a second side of the baseplate opposite the fixed retention member comprising: a clamping member that rotates about a rod coupled to the base plate, a spring member coupled to the base plate that is coupled to a cam at one end and a lever at the opposite end; wherein the snowboard boot has a sole with an toe section, a heel section and a midsection that is recessed into the sole by the distance that is greater than or equal to the thickness of the plate of the boot unit and wherein the sole plate of the boot unit is placed in the recessed section of the boot sole, the foot strap is secured around the toe section and the ankle strap is secured around the heel section of the boot, the boot unit is placed in the binding unit by inserting the first elongated lug into the fixed retention member and inserting the second lug into the releasable cam lock, actuating the lever to rotate the cam that rotates about the spring member and compressing the second lug between the clamping member and the baseplate.

12. The snowboard binding of claim 11 wherein the spring member is an elongate metal rod having a straight section that is coupled to the cam and two curved sections that are coupled to the baseplate.

13. The snowboard binding of claim 11 wherein the cam has a curved section and a stop that engages the clamping member to stop the rotation of the cam and the lever.

14. The snowboard binding of claim 13 wherein the clamping member includes a planar upper surface that is made of a low friction material that allows the curved section of the cam to slide against the upper surface of the clamping member.

15. The snowboard binding of claim 11 wherein the spring member rotates about the base plate and the cam.

16. The snowboard binding of claim 11 wherein the releasable cam lock includes a first bracket and a second bracket that are coupled to the baseplate, a pivot rod mounted between the first bracket and the second bracket that is coupled to the clamping member.

17. The snowboard binding of claim 16 wherein the spring member is coupled to the first bracket and the second bracket.

18. The snowboard binding of claim 16 wherein the releasable cam lock includes a spring that is deflected when the clamping member is rotated towards the baseplate.

19. The snowboard binding of claim 11 further comprising: a high back having a concave surface that engages the back of the snowboard boot that is coupled to the base plate.

20. A binding system comprising: a boot unit for holding a boot comprising: a sole plate having an upper surface that engages the sole of the boot, a lower surface and a thickness; and a first engagement feature and a second engagement feature that are mounted on opposite sides of the sole plate and aligned along the length of the sole plate; a binding unit having a baseplate having a bottom surface that is attached to a structure; a fixed retention member that is attached to one side of the baseplate; and a releasable cam lock attached to a second side of the baseplate opposite the fixed retention member comprising: a clamping member that rotates about a rod coupled to the base plate, a spring member coupled to the base plate that is coupled to a cam at one end and a lever at the opposite end; wherein the sole plate of the boot unit is secured around the boot, the boot unit is placed in the binding unit by coupling the first engagement feature with the fixed retention member and inserting the second engagement feature into the releasable cam lock, actuating the lever to rotate the cam that rotates about the spring member and compressing the second lug between the clamping member and the baseplate.

Description:

BACKGROUND

A snowboard is a board ridden to descend a snow-covered slope. The rider wears snowboard boots that are bound to the board with bindings. Snowboards are constructed with a laminated materials and the snowboards have steel edges. A variety of snowboards exist to suit specific body types and riding preferences.

Bindings are attached to the snowboard deck and function to hold the riders boot in place on the board. There are several different types of bindings that are currently available. Strap-in binding use straps to secure the boot to a base plate and high back. Strap-in bindings typically use two buckle straps. One strap across the top of the toe area and a second strap across the ankle area. The can be tightly ratcheted closed for a tight fit which improves the rider control of the board. Another type of binding is the step-in binding which have a mechanism that engages a boot plate that is attached to the bottom of the boot and may extend across the width of the boot.

When snowboarding at a ski resort, the boarders generally have to release one boot in order to get on and off chair lifts. Once at the top of the run, the boarders must then reattach the boot to the binding. With step-in bindings, the boarder can simply step into the binding while standing. With strap-in bindings the boarder must sit in the snow and bend over to secure the straps.

Snowboard bindings, unlike ski bindings, do not automatically release upon impact or after falling over. Ski bindings are designed to protect skiers from injuries (particularly to the knee) caused by skis pulled in different directions. Automatic boot release is not required in snowboarding because the boarder's legs are fixed in a static position and twisting of the knee joint cannot occur to the same extent as skiing. This lack of an automatic release reduces the prospect of a board hurtling downhill without the boarder.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a snowboard binding that includes a binding unit and a boot unit. In an embodiment, the binding unit includes retainers that releasably couple to the boot unit. The binding unit includes compression members that apply downward pressure and horizontal pressure to the boot unit that prevents movement between the boot unit and the binding unit. The boot unit includes a boot cradle and straps to secure the boot unit to the snowboard boots. Lugs are elongate structures that are attached to the sides of the boot cradle and provide connection surfaces for the binding unit. The binding unit includes two retainers which are attached to a base plate. The binding unit may also include a high back. The retainers of the binding unit can engage and compress the lugs of the boot unit towards the base plate of the binding unit. In an embodiment, the binding may have one fixed retainer and one compressible/releasable retainer. In other embodiments, the binding unit may include two compressible retainers.

The compression of the lugs against the binding unit prevents horizontal movement and improves the boot to board connection. To further enhance the connection between the binding and boot units, the bottoms of the lugs may be textured and the corresponding surfaces on the base plate of the binding unit may also be textured. The compression of the textured surfaces against each other improves the friction and prevents horizontal movement. In addition to texturing, the interface between the boot unit and the binding unit can have features that improve the connection. For example, the boot unit can have concical protrusions that engage holes in the binding unit. As the boot unit is compressed into the binding unit, the conical protrusions are pressed into the holes for a secure engagement that resists horizontal movement.

To use the system, the boarder attaches the boot units to the snowboard boots with the straps. The boarder then steps into the binding units and actuates the retainers by pressing the levers to compress the lugs against the binding unit. This lug compression secures the boots and the boot units to the binding units and board. When fully actuated, the boot unit is locked to the binding unit and can only be released by actuating the lever to release the lugs. After the board is attached to the boots, the boarder can travel down the slope. When the boarder gets to chairlift, one of the boots is released by actuating a lever to release the boot unit from the binding unit. The free foot allows the snowboarder to get onto the chairlift. After the boarder is back at the top of the slope, the boot and boot unit are placed back in the binding unit and the lever is actuated to lock the boot unit to the binding unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 illustrates a top view of a base unit of the snowboard binding;

FIG. 2 illustrates a side view of a base unit of the snowboard binding;

FIG. 3 illustrates a front view of a retainer in the open position;

FIG. 4 illustrates a front view of a retainer in a partially closed position;

FIG. 5 illustrates a front view of a retainer in a fully closed position;

FIG. 6 illustrates a side view of a retainer in a fully closed position;

FIG. 7 illustrates a top view of a boot unit;

FIG. 8 illustrates a side view of a boot unit;

FIG. 9 illustrates bottom view of a boot sole having a recess area;

FIG. 10 illustrates a side view of a boot having a recess area;

FIG. 11 illustrates a front view of the boot unit above the binding unit;

FIG. 12 illustrates a front view of the boot unit partially engaged with the binding unit;

FIG. 13 illustrates a front view of the boot unit locked into the binding unit;

FIG. 14 illustrates an embodiment of the boot unit with a high back.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

The inventive snowboard binding includes a base unit and a separate boot unit. For improved detail, only a single binding is shown, rather than the two bindings that are required for a snowboard. With reference to FIGS. 1 and 2, the base unit 101 includes a base plate 105, a fixed retainer 109 attached to one side of the base plate 105 and a releasable retainer 111 attached to the opposite side of the base plate 105. The base plate 105 can be a planar structure that is made of metal such as aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, etc. or a high strength plastic that may be reinforced with glass, carbon or other fibers. The base plate 105 is fastened to the snowboard with screws that engage threads mounted in the board.

In an embodiment, the base plate 105 may have a circular hole that is slightly smaller in diameter than a circular plate 107. The circular plate 107 is attached to the board and may have a flange or a tapered edge that engates a corresponding surface around the hole circumference of the base plate 105. When the circular plate 107 is screwed to the board, the hole is compressed against the board and the base plate 105 is held securely in place. The angle of the base plate 105 is adjusted by loosening the screws in the circular plate 107 so that the angle of the base plate 105 can be adjusted. Once the base plate 105 is properly positioned, the screws in the circular plate 107 are tightened to secure the base plate 105 to the board. Teeth may be formed in the bottom surface of the circular plate 107 that engage teeth formed in a recessed upper surface of the circular hole in the base plate 105.

The binding can include a fixed retainer 109 and a releasable retainer 111. The fixed retainer and the releasable retainer engage lugs attached to the sides of the boot unit that extend out from the sides and run along a portion of the length of the boot unit. The lugs and boot unit will be described in more detail latter. The fixed retainer 109 may be a horizontal bar or rod 121 that is mounted between two posts 123 that are secured to the base plate 105. The rod 121 and posts 123 form an elongated rectangular or trapezoidal slot. In an embodiment, the fixed retainer 109 may include a spring or springs that allows the horizontal bar 121 to move or be deflected vertically. This spring force would apply a downward force upon the lug.

Although the fixed retainer is described as engaging a protruding lug, various other configurations would also be fully functional. For example, it would be possible to have a fixed retainer that had a protruding member that engages a slot in the boot unit to hold the boot unit against the binding unit. Thus, either the binding unit or the boot unit can have a recess or a corresponding engagement feature. Alternatively, rather than an elongated lug, various other engagement feature geometries can be utilized. The engagement feature can include a plurality of rods or angled protrusions. The features may be tapered so that they allow for easy initial engagement and a tighter fit when the boot unit is pressed into the binding unit horizontally.

In an embodiment, the releasable retainer 111 includes a lever 131 which may be an elongated piece having a width. The lever 131 can have a cam 137 on one end, a lever handle 139 on the opposite end and a pivot axis that is closer to the cam 137 side of the lever 131 that spans the width. The lever 131 can be made of a strong metal or plastic material and is attached to a spring 133. The spring 133 can be a curved rod that can resemble a sideways ā€œDā€ shape. In other embodiments, the spring 133 can have any other shape including a rectangular shape with rounded corners. The spring 133 can be made of a strong elastic material such as metal or a strong plastic such as carbon reinforced materials. The cross section of the spring 133 may be a circular shape to facilitate low friction rotation of the lever 111 and the spring 133. The lever pivot can be an indentation across the width of the lever 111 that allows the lever 111 to rotate. The center portion of the spring 133 is attached to the lever 111 and the sides of the spring 133 curve down around the outside of two posts 135 that are fastened to the base plate 105. The ends of the spring 133 may be curved inward so that they are axially aligned and facing each other and may engage holes in the outer surfaces of the posts 135. The coupling of the posts 135 and the spring 133 function as a hinge that allows the spring 133 to rotate.

Details of an embodiment of the releasable retainer 111 are shown in FIGS. 3, 4, 5 and 6 which illustrate different positions for the releasable retainer 111 components. A compression member 141 is mounted between the posts 135 and rotates about a hinge 145 and allows the boot unit to be locked or released from the board. When the compression member 141 is rotated down with the boot unit in place, it engages a lug on the boot unit and compresses the boot unit against the binding unit 101 and may also provide horizontal pressure against the opposite retainer. When rotated up, the compression member 141 is in the open position and the boot unit can be released from the binding unit. The compression member 141 has an upper surface 143 that can be planar, a rotational axis and a lower compression surface. The upper surface 143 slides against the cam 137 and can include a hard low friction sliding material such as graphite, peek, teflon or any other low friction material that is fastened to the upper surface with adhesives and/or mechanical fasteners. In an alternative embodiment, the apex of the cam 137 can be a cylindrical roller that rolls against the upper surface 143 of the compression member 141 to actuate the releasable compression member 111.

The compression member 141 rotates about the rotational axis 145 which can be a hole that runs through the compression member 141. In this embodiment, a rod 147 may be placed through the hole 145 and act as an axle. The ends of the rod 147 may be coupled to holes or counter bores in the inner surfaces of the two posts 135. Smaller lift springs may be used to rotate the compression member 141 up so that when the lever 131 is released, the compression member 141 will open. In an embodiment, the lift spring can be coil springs that are mounted around the axle rod 147 and fits within vertical slots in the compression member 141. The ends of the coil springs extend outward with one end resting against the base plate 105 and the other end engaging the compression member 141. In other embodiments, the spring or springs used to lift the compression member can be compression springs, torsion springs, elastic materials, or any other elastic compression mechanism.

In addition to the other described components, the base unit 105 can also include a high back 113 which provides support for the the heel and the calf area of the boarder's leg. This allows for better heel side control of the snowboard. The high back 113 is a curved structure that has a concave inner surface and a convex outer surface. The bottom of the high back 113 is coupled to the base plate 105. In an embodiment, the angle of the high back 113 is adjustable so that the rider can adjust the angle relative to the base plate 105. In the adjustable embodiment, the high back 113 may have a lower loop that engages two pivot points in the high back 113. An adjustment mechanism may have an adjustable spacer that controls the position of the high back 113 relative to the lower loop. With a longer spacer, the high back has more forward lean and with a shorter spacer, the high back 113 is more upright.

With reference to FIGS. 3, 4 and 5, the actuation of the releasable retainer 111 is illustrated. The rotation of the compression member 141 is controlled by the lever 131. FIG. 3 shows the releasable retainer 111 in the open position, the lever 131 is oriented with the lever handle 139 up and the spring is rotated to the left side of the posts 135. This allows the compression member 141 to rotate up which would allow the lugs in the boot unit to be released. A downward force is applied to the handle 139 of the lever 131 and is rotated down. As shown in FIG. 4, the cam portion 137 of the lever 131 engages the upper surface 143 of the compression member 141 causing it to partially close. Additional force is applied to the lever handle 139. The cam 137 contact point is to the left of the spring 133 and the spring 133 rotates into a more upright position.

In FIG. 5, the lever 131 is rotated into the locked position with the stop 151 resting against the upper surface 143 of the compression member 141. In the locked position, the spring 133 is vertically oriented with the spring 133 crossing between the cam 137 contact point and the stop 151 contact point. The spring 133 may deflect at the center causing the lever 131 to be compressed against the upper surface 143 of the compression member 141. This compression holds the lever 131 against the compression member 141 and keeps the lever 131 in the locked position without any force being applied to the lever handle 139. To release the releasable retainer 111, the user rotates the lever handle 131 by applying an upward force on the lever handle 139. Once contact point of the cam 137 moves to the left of the spring 133 as shown in FIG. 4, the mechanism will tend to open by the relaxing the deflection of the spring 133. Additional force may be required to return the lever 131 to the vertical position to overcome internal friction forces and fully open the releasable compression member 111.

FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate an embodiment of the boot unit 201 which has a boot cradle 231, a heel loop 233, a foot strap 241 and an ankle strap 243. The boot cradle 231 has a base 231, and side walls 237 that closely engage the sole and sides of the boot and the heel loop 233 engages the back of the boot. Lugs 251 are attached to the side walls 237 of the boot cradle 231 and extend along the sides of the cradle 231.

As discussed above, although the figures include illustrations of lugs that are elongated features that have a rectangular cross section, various other geometries are possible. The protruding features can be part of the binding unit and a corresponding slot may be part of the boot unit or even the snowboard boot itself. These engagement features can include many different geometries such as a plurality of rods, tapered features, etc.

The cradle 231 may be a thin material such as metal, plastic or fiber reinforced composite such as carbon fiber bound together with an epoxy resin. The bottom of the boot cradle 231 can be a planar surface or alternatively, it can have a textured or three dimensional surface. This texturing may improve traction on the snow. The straps are fastened to the side walls or base of the cradle such as screws, bolts, rivets, etc. The elongate straps 235, 243 are made from a flexible material such as plastic, fiber webbing or other flexible materials that are strong in tension. Pads may be attached to the straps 235, 243 to provide some cushioning or increased surface area against the boot.

The lugs 251 of the boot unit 201 engage the fixed retainer 109 and the releasable retainer 111. In an embodiment, the lugs 251 are elongate pieces of metal that have a horizontal surface that extends away from the cradle 231. The length of the lugs 251 corresponds to the length of the retainer 109, 111 slots which are the distances between the matching posts 123, 135. The lugs 251 should fit snugly between the posts 123, 135 of the retainers 109, 111 to prevent horizontal movement. The downward force applied to the lugs 251 hold the boot unit 201 to the binding unit 101. Thus, it is very important for the lugs 251 to be very securely fastened to the cradle 231. In an embodiment, the lugs 251 are made of a strong metal material such as aluminum, stainless steel, titanium, magnesium or a high strength composite material such as carbon fiber. The cross section of the lugs 251 can be L shaped with the vertical portion providing a surface to secure the lug to the cradle 231 and the horizontal portion providing a compression surface for the retainers 109, 111. The lugs 251 can be attached to the cradle 231 with any fastener and/or adhesive. In other embodiments, the lugs 251 are integrally formed with the cradle 231.

The bottom surface of the lugs 251 may be flush with the bottom of boot unit 201 or alternatively, the lugs 251 may be placed slightly above the bottom of the boot unit 201. As discussed, the fixed retainer 109 and releasable retainer 111 can apply a downward force against the lugs 251. If the bottom of the lug 251 is flush with the bottom of the boot unit 201, the compressive forces will only be applied to the lugs 251.

In an embodiment, the bottom of the lugs 251 and the areas of the binding plate 105 that correspond to the bottom of the lugs 251 may be textured. This texturing can provide improved friction between the boot unit 201 and the binding unit 101 to prevent relative movement. If the lugs 251 are above the lower surface of the boot unit 201, the compressive forces are transferred to the cradle 231 which is compressed against the binding unit 101. Some of the compressive forces may also be transferred to the straps 241, 243 which force the bottom of the boot against the board and binding unit 101.

In an embodiment, the sole of the boot may be designed to engage the boot cradle for an improved coupling. With reference to FIGS. 9 and 10, the boot 301 is shown with an indented section 351 that matches the bottom of cradle 231. This indented section 351 is off set from both toe section 349 and the heel section 353. The indented section 351 provides a coupling between the cradle 201 and the boot 301 that prevents horizontal sliding. Although a simple recessed pattern is shown, various other engagement patterns are possible. For example, in alternative embodiments, the indented section 351 of the boot sole may have traction protrusions that would engage corresponding holes in the boot cradle plate 231. The boot unit 201 might be attached to the boot 301 once and can remain on the boot 301 for the duration of the day. Alternatively, the boot unit 201 can be removed to allow the boarder to do some long distance hiking. This option may be appealing to boarders who wish to do some back country boarding.

The engagement of the boot unit 201 with the binding unit 101 is illustrated with reference to FIGS. 11, 12 and 13. With reference to FIG. 11, the boot unit 201 is attached to the boarders boot 301 and the boarder adjusts his or her leg so that one of the lugs 251 is placed into the fixed retainer 109. The releasable retainer 111 is in the opened position with the lever 131 and the compression member 141 both rotated up. With reference to FIG. 12, the boarder inserts the opposite lug 251 into the releasable retainer 111. Ideally, the boot unit 201 can freely fall into the binding unit 101, however if there is snow in the binding unit 101, the boarder can apply weight to the boot 301 and the lever 131 can be pressed down to close the compression member 141. This movement presses against the lug 251 and moves the boot unit 201 down into the binding unit 101. As shown in FIG. 13, when the boot unit 201 is in the binding unit 101, the lever 131 can be fully depressed which locks the compression member 141 against the lug 251 to securely hold the boot 301 against the board. These steps are reversed to release the boot unit 201 from the binding unit 101.

Although the present invention has been described in a specific embodiment, various modifications can be applied. For example, while the binding system is shown in FIG. 1 as having a fixed retainer 109 and a releasable retainer 111, it is possible to have two releasable retainers 111. This configuration may be useful if additional compression force of the boot unit 201 against the binding unit 101 is desirable. In another embodiment, the fixed retainer 109 may allow the cross bar 121 to move vertically with opposition from a compressed spring. Vertical slots may be formed in the posts 123 and springs may be mounted in the posts so that the cross bar 121 may be normally pressed against the lower end of the slot. In this embodiment, the initial spacing of the cross bar 109 is lower than the upper surface of the corresponding lug 251 on the boot unit 201. An angled insertion of the boot unit 201 places the lug 251 below the cross bar 121 and when the boot unit 201 is flattened relative to the binding unit 101, the lever action of the boot unit 201 pushes the lug 251 up against the cross bar 121 producing compression of the lug 251 as shown in FIGS. 11 and 12.

The binding unit 101 has been shown as having a high back 113. In an embodiment, the high back 113 is coupled to the boot unit 201 and is removed from the binding unit 101. This has the benefit of only having relatively flat binding components including the base plate 105 and retainers 109, 111, permanently attached to the board. By removing the high back 113 from the binding unit 101, the board requires much less storage space and can be more easily transported as well. Currently most car racks for snowboards have spacers that allow for the high backs 113. Rather than attaching the high back to the binding unit 101, the high back 113 can be omitted completely. This removal of the high back 113 may be acceptable for boots that do not require rear support such as hard boots. Alternatively, the high back 113 can be attached to the boot unit 201 as shown in FIG. 14. Because the inventive snowboard binding system securely attaches the boot unit 201 to the binding unit 101, and the high back 113 can be securely attached to the boot unit 201, there is no loss of performance in this configuration.

Optimum control of the board requires a very positive connection between the boot and the board. One of the important features is the ability of the inventive binding to compress the boot unit against the binding unit to prevent relative movement. This results in an improved connection between the boot and the board and prevents relative horizontal movement. In addition to the compression to prevent relative movement, other mechanisms can improve the boot to binding connection.

In an embodiment, the boots, boot units and binding units may have features that further improve the coupling. The bottom of the boots and the boot units may include features that engage each other to prevent movement. For example, the boot and/or boot unit can have tapered protrusions that engage holes in the binding unit. The protrusions also provide improve traction while the boot unit is disengaged from the binding unit. When the boot unit is placed into the binding unit, the protrusions can engage corresponding holes in the binding unit or alternatively, protrusion extending from the binding unit can engages holes in the boot or boot unit. The compression of the boot unit against the binding unit can produce a very secure fit between the units. The compression may also remove any snow that may have gotten between the units.

Any movement between the boot unit and the binding unit can result in reduced control of the board. This movement problem is common in step in type binding which horizontal bars that extend from a plate mounted to the sole of the snowboard boot. Some spacing is required so that binding will be functional if some particulates are trapped between the binding and the boot. When the boarder steps into the binding, a latch mechanism engages the bar to restrict movement, but does not provide any force or compression against the bar. Thus, the boot is able to move in a limited range relative to the board. This movement range increases as the coupling components of the binding system are worn down. Because snowboarding relies upon a positive coupling, the movement between the binding and the boot results in reduced performance.

It will be understood that although the present invention has been described with reference to particular embodiments, additions, deletions and changes could be made to these embodiments, without departing from the scope of the present invention. For example, the described snowboard binding system can be used for any other type of application that requires boots to be releasably fastened to a board. Specific applications may include surfboards, kiteboards, windsurfers, sand surfboards, water skies, wake boards, skateboards, etc.