The Karakoram Prime X Carbon Splitboard Bindings are a premium splitboard binding built by Karakoram. They are built from the lightest and most durable materials and are arguably the highest performing soft boot splitboard binding on the market today. The Karakoram Prime X Carbon Splitboard Bindings are suitable for all levels of splitboarders but really excel for those looking to put on longer days, with high performance in both touring and ride mode in all conditions.
Splitboard HQ Karakoram Prime X Carbon Splitboard Binding Review
Hey there, Simon here from AQ Outdoors and Splitboard HQ checking in with a quick review on my latest piece of splitboard gear: the Karakoram Prime X bindings.
I usually ride hardboots, but my young 8 year-old son is now getting into splitboarding and he's in softboots. I figured being in a similar setup to him kind of made more sense and I've actually been really enjoying riding softboots this season so far.
Karakoram Prime X Splitboard Binding Overview and Price
The Prime X carbons bindings are Karakorams top-of-the-line binding: they're extremely lightweight with a really nice, stiff carbon highback.
What I've found with these so far is that they are a super intuitive system. Now in saying that, I've been using Karakoram bindings on and off since the initial Primes and there's been a lot of improvements since then.
Karakoram Prime X Binding Key Features
Over the years I've ridden pretty much all of the Karakoram bindings, from the initial Primes. I'll just go over some of the key features of the carbon Prime X’s here.
These are a super lightweight, super stiff binding build. You've got the carbon high back, which have slots for their Flex Lock, which is a touring assist. It helps stiffen the system up and secure your boot if you're having to traverse or have icy skin tracks to to deal with, particularly on icy sidehills.
The Flex Lock just takes some of the play out of that softboot system and helps you hold an edge more effectively. That's something that you buy additionally, but that's what those built-in highback slots are for.
With the highback adjuster you have 3 settings: an intermediate forward lean, a more aggressive forward lean, and then you have your touring mode.
The fastening system for the Prime X’s, which really helps with this whole active board-joining technology, easily clips and (in my opinion) is the best bind of any splitboard binding. It goes through the whole Karakoram binding and is the same for their entire splitboard binding lineup.
The straps and buckles are good quality. I've had a pair of Free Rangers on my resort board for probably three or four years now and I haven't had to replace any buckles or anything like that. I typically ride 30-40 resort days a season. The Prime X bindings have the same buckles.
Karakoram Prime X Baseplate
These differ quite a lot from your traditional Voile or Spark baseplates in the sense that there's a ton of overlap over the centre edge. So with that pulling together with the pins, it creates a very, very good bond between the two split skis in board mode.
I find there's less flex in the middle, which is really nice. Over the last few years they've replaced a lot of the aluminum so you have less balling of snow in wet snow conditions. It's much easier to scuff it off and it doesn't bond to the aluminum as much because now it’s like nylon, which has been a huge improvement in the last few years.
Karakoram Prime X Touring Mode
This is a system where the binding pops into a little cradle and you simply step down and then you're in touring mode.
I find that this is a very, very smooth feel. It doesn't feel as good as touring in my hardboots, that’s for sure. Touring in hardboots is definitely superior. However, you don't get to ride a softboot down, so there is that balance.
Karakoram Prime X Risers
To be perfectly honest, I don't think they've knocked these out of the park. You can activate them with a pole, but I find a lot of people struggle with it.
There are two adjustment levels stacked on top of each other. When you flick it up, you're into the higher of the touring modes, then that folds down to give you your lower touring mode.
Again, I think there's much simpler systems, like the old Voile wires. The Prime X’s are a little bit cumbersome compared to that. However, in the overall scheme of things, we are there to ride. We don't use hill risers all the time, so maybe there'll be some improvements in the future.
Karakoram Prime X Heel Lockdown
Unlike other splitboard bindings, the heel lockdown for skiing comes included – you don't have to buy this additionally. These are some of the things with a Karakoram binding where when you look at the overall price, it can be a little bit or a lot more than say a Spark or a Voile binding, but most of the stuff is included in the package and this is one of them.
So again, the system is good, it's just a bit fiddly to use. But, in all transparency, I've not once used this in the field. I'm a fan of the whole free-the-heel movement when it comes to split skiing – makes it a bit more exciting and a bit more adventurous.
All of the Karakoram systems are the same. So they have the same base plate, they have the same touring mode. The only thing that differs are the Free Rangers. They have just a single height adjustment and they don't have the heel lockdown component to them.
You can upgrade to it, but they don't come out of the box because the Free Rangers are more of a binding designed for resort riding and a little bit of backcountry riding. So they keep that component a little more simple.
Karakoram Prime X Other Considerations
So in a nutshell, from a softboot binding standpoint, the Karakoram lineup is by far my favorite. People we chat with in the shop often get caught up in that Spark, Voile, and other brands are generally less money.
However, if you want a system that feels the most like a resort board when you put it back together, I believe the Karakoram binding systems are the best built and the best designed as far as that goes.
They also stand up really well – we see very, very few warranties and very, very few breakages. They do require a process, like anything, to keep snow out of the baseplate, especially in wet snowpack areas.
But this is easily resolved by simple things, like putting your binding upside down in the snow when you're transitioning. I've seen people do their entire transitions with the bindings on their feet, you don't even need to take them off. I've never been able to do it particularly well, so I don't bother.
Karakoram Prime X Splitboard Binding Summary
My final take on these is from a downhill performance standpoint – the whole Karakoram lineup are as good as it gets in splitboarding. Although, I think they haven't quite hit the mark on the heel riser system. I think it's a bit awkward at times and is harder than other systems.
Their heel lockdown for ski mode is awesome in the sense that it's really bomber, but again, it's not super easy and slick to use in the field. Maybe with some more practice (and I have zero) you could get quick at it, but I've never seen anyone really tune it in super well.
Overall, I think it's fantastic whichever Karakoram splitboard binding model you go with, whether it's a Nomad, or the Prime X carbon, or the Free Ranger because you want to use it at the resort a bit.
I don't think you can really go wrong and that additional money you spend, if price isn't the main focus of your purchase, makes the Karakorams a very strong consideration.
If you want to learn more about the Karakoram Prime X bindings, or anything splitboarding, then please visit us in store or contact us below!
- Active Joining: Pre-loaded binding to board connections give instant response. The most responsive connection for snowboards and splitboards.
- All mountain Tuned: Dupont Zytel Chassis engineered to flex without sacrificing response. Trussed Sidewall for heel-to-toe stiffness and under foot flex to dampen chatter at the resort
- Pre-Preg Carbon Highbacks: Biaxial weave carbon fiber and multi-layer layup give optimal combination of stiffness
- Prime System: Quickly attach your Prime bindings to your solid board with Quiver-Connectors or splitboard with the Ride Mode 2.0. Active joining allows for a loose fit then closing the lever locks your binding to your board, removing all play from the system.
- Air Form Straps: Independent Pressure Pods articulate to boot eliminating pressure points and pinch points
|BINDING SIZE||SHOE SIZE|
|Small:||US 6 - 8|
|Medium:||US 8.5 - 11|
|Large:||US 11.5 - 13|