Spark R&D Surge Pro Review

Splitboard Binding

The Spark R&D Surge Pro is big mountain splitboard binding designed for powerful riders looking to shave some weight in their touring setup.

Spark R&D Surge Pro Review

The Spark R&D Surge Pro Bindings are stiffer than Spark’s Surge Bindings thanks to a carbon-reinforced highback. With the ability to go from -13 degrees in tour mode to 22 degrees while riding these bindings were clearly built and designed by splitboarders.

Splitboarding Teton Pass Wyoming

The Rip ‘N’ Flip highbacks allow for super long stride lengths, which for someone like myself with long legs really makes a difference. With -13 degrees of freedom, you can really extend the stride length, maximizing the energy used with each step.  Its sort of like when you find that sweet spot hiking, or riding your bike.  Best of all you don’t even have to extend all the way back to -13 degrees, but it’s there when you need it.

Keeping with the weight-saving theme, the Spark R&D Surge Pro Bindings use fancy shiny aluminum hardware (it stands out, especially if you like bling) that’s 65% lighter than the standard screws they use in their regular bindings

If your the sort of rider that notices the difference in the weight of your screws, kudos.  However, I was unable to notice a difference aside from the fact these screws now use Hex drives vs the Philips ones you’re most likely accustomed to.

Spark HEX Screws

Spark says the Hex screws are less likely to strip, what I noticed though is they seemed harder to get tight.  Maybe it’s just 20+ years of using Philips heads in my hands, however, I did notice it was a bit harder to really lock the new screws down into place.

The T1 System that Spark R&D uses is the most tried and true splitboard interface out there.  It’s easy to mount, works in just about every single condition imaginable and can take a beating.  Most people like to use the pinless T1 Bindings with Spark’s canted pucks, however, I enjoy the feel of the old Voile plastic pucks, especially underfoot in much stiffer binding like the Surge Pro’s.

Spark also makes a Baseplate Padding Kit that I feel are a MUST have with any Spark Bindings.  That is if you enjoy happy feet at the end of the day, although this will add a little weight back into the binding, albeit minimal.

These days Spark has a ton of accessories you can add to these bindings and others in their line.  The Spark R&D Surge Pro Bindings are compatible with the lightweight Ibex Pro Crampons 4.59 oz (130g)  per binding and even the Ibex Crampons if you’re looking to save a few bucks.

Snowboarding Powder in Jackson Hole

Having never used Spark’s Crampons I can’t speak to how they operate.  For my style of riding however if I need crampons, I’m most likely not going to enjoy the down.  Your needs may vary.

We have talked Pillow Line Straps before in past Spark reviews, now the Surge Pro Bindings are even lighter and better to operate in colder temps.  The new straps are made in the USA, are 20% lighter than the regular Pillow Line Straps, which also kickass. The straps are great at holding your feet in place on the way up while going downhill and there are even fun to ski in.

Last but not least is the built-in Whammy Bar.  The Whammy Bar makes touring less awkward allowing you to easily move the bindings into a higher climbing ladder.  There are 2 different heights, the highest being 18 degrees while the lower one is at 12 degrees.  One thing I would encourage everyone reading this review to try is to go splitboard touring WITHOUT using your climbing wires. Read that last sentence again, please.

Skiing on splitboards

Why?  Well, you can check out our splitboard skin roundup later this year for more info.  Basically I feel when using the climbing wire you start to put uneven pressure across the base of your board.  This allows for a fail point in the climbing skin.  Plus if you tour without your wires you will become stronger.  Again think of mountain biking, do you stay in the granny gear all day long? Is that the most efficient way to climb on a bike? Or does it just seem easier?

Overall Impression

Larger dudes are going to like this binding, especially anyone over say 165 lb. The Spark R&D Surge Pro Splitboard Binding is a nice addition to the Spark R&D line.  Just because you want stiff powerful bindings doesn’t mean they have to be heavy bindings.  Kudos to Spark for figuring this out.  The Spark R&D Surge Pro Bindings weigh 1.33 lb (603g) per binding for a set of mediums vs the Spark R&D Surge Bindings which weigh 1.50lbs (680g). per binding for a medium.

At $575.00, Sparks Surge Pro Bindings are not the cheapest on the market, but you get what you pay for here. A reliable binding, built and designed by splitboarders like you and me.

Surge Pro Splitboard Bindings
4.5 / 5 RATING      

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About the Author

Mike Hardaker
Mike Hardaker grew up surfing and snowboarding in Orange County and followed his love of surfing to Hawaii before eventually moving to the mountains to concentrate on snowboarding. When not on a board, Mike worked for Snowboarder and later oversaw TGR's online publication. He went on to found Mountain Weekly News where he is still CEO and Editor in Chief. Mike spends most of his time splitboarding in the winter months and backpacking throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem in the summer.

7 Comments on "Spark R&D Surge Pro Review"

  1. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for the reply. I’m located in the southern alps and the skin tracks are often steeper than that, usually out of necessity. Usually when i have to kick turn i then drop the risers to have better control.

    The Jones boots are burly and stiff, and with the cut-out they are good for walking downhill, or flat-ish – they essentially allow you to take a longer stride. I like them on the way down, and up when I can utilize the cut out, which is rare. They are also good when cross-hilling on icy traverses. My problem is that my pants are not wide enough to allow the freedom of movement for the cut out to work- pants that are too wide end up getting shredded by boot crampons. I guess when i am bootpacking i am either kicking steps or have crampons in, in which case i’m taking pretty short steps and am not too concerned about forward-flexibility.

  2. I have the surge bindings and like them. 150grams isn’t a whole lot, but I appreciate the effort by spark to keep innovating and improving their product.
    Regarding the negative lean, how do you fully take advantage of this? For example, i have the jones32 boots with the cutout, but unless i’m in spring conditions i have my pant down over the top of the boots, which seriously limits the movement.what setup are you running?

    A couple of notes:
    -Hex screws are “less” likely to strip? This seems quite unlikely. Bicycles used hex almost exclusively until a few years ago, before starting to switch to torx, to solve the problem of hex screws stripping
    -Baseplate padding: maybe this depends on what boots you’re running. I like being being has close to the board as possible, and with my rugged vibram soles, i already have enough stack height and some dampening with the soles.
    -Whammy bars: I am constantly hearing the advice not to use the heel risers, but i don’t really buy it. On a steep slope, the heel risers basically let you keep your feet level to the horizon, and thus allow you to stand up straight, getting in an efficient and balanced position. With the heel down on a steep slope, your heel hits the ground far below your toe, so i find i have to counteract this with an exaggerated bend in my knees, or leaning forward, in a skinning-ineffective position. It’s not like hiking, when you have full advantage of the forward bend in your ankle.
    -Crampons: I have the regular ibex crampons, and I find them to be excellent. Simple and relatively easy to install, one nestles within the other so they take up little space in the pack. Where I split (southern alps), you’d be crazy to go out splitboarding on an serious terrain without having a pair in your backpack.

    • Jake,

      Thanks for the comment, I have been using the Deeluxe Spark XV Boot and the Vans Pat Moore Infuse while splitboarding and freeriding. Booth boots are stiff yet allow great front to back movement, especially when adjusting the laces, boa, straps etc. Its about finding that sweet spot with your boots for the way up, then perhaps tightening or loosening them up on the way down. I like to have stiff boots on the up, looser boots on the down. Skiers are the polar opposite as are the majority of splitboarders out there.

      For the negative lean make sure your pants are NOT going over the binding will help allow for even more mobility. Take big strides, let the skis, well ski.

      -Good point on the bike screws… I ended up switching out the hex screws on my setup.
      -The Jones Boots do look to have a lot of clearance already.
      -Whammy bar related, I try and not put steep skin tracks in. Canadians have a certain degree 12 or 14 they like the put skin tracks up at? It’s the most efficient and doesn’t require risers or kick turns… For the ankle part, I think the Jones Boot just may be burly and not allow the needed flex? How are they on steep boot packs?

      Mike

  3. Also, are there any differences between the 2019 and 2020 models?

  4. I’m wear a 10.5 boot, do you think I should go with a medium or large? I’m 6’2 165

    • Zack,

      I always try and fit into the medium’s when I can. Some 10.5 are a little wider and longer than others. I wear a 10.5 and use the medium Surge Pro’s

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