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This is my first post and I guess I will give you all a little intro and ask for help on a question at the same time. If you don't want to read my intro go ahead and skip to The Question. So I live in Florida and I just might be the most dedicated snowboarder in the state. I would have moved out to Colorado or California years ago but I am almost done with my degree at the University of Florida so I decided to stick it out and pay nothing for school. Anyways every year I like to go out west for a week to snowboard. I have been hooked since 5 years ago when my dad first took me out there. All in all I have been snowboarding about 6 times so about a one month when added together. I would consider myself almost intermediate as I can go down almost any trail except really crazy double blacks which i would have to fallen leaf down, I can do 180s on small jumps and I'm starting to manual/fake butter.
Now I have been having trouble progressing because every time I go my feet kill me!!! I have flat wide feet and I get intense cramps under my "arch" and side of under my little toe. Last year I decided to stop throwing away money and buy gear(boy was that a waste of money). I bought a lamar/ technine athletic pro package. The Lamar board actual doesn't handle bad but layers are coming up after only 2 trips. Now the bindings are the biggest POS I have ever seen. They looked cool as shit but they broke on both of my last two trips, feel way to squishy and flimsy, and the toe cap always slip off. To top it off I waited till the last minute to buy boots in Winter Park, where they tried to rip me off and I ended up purchasing the "most comfortable" boot I could afford at the time which were Burton Freestyles. No one at the shop knew had to fit a boot but I am pretty sure the size was right as my toes were hitting the end of the boot. The only problem is they are really to narrow for my boat feet!!! I have such poor genetics that my toe area is really wide and my heels are extremely narrow. So imagine how bad your feet would hurt if you needed arch support, you had really bade heel raise in the back, and the boot was squishing in the width of your foot. That being said I can ride a trail for like 4 minutes before I need to stop and let my feet relax. My last two trips I have barely progressed.
Now that I am wiser, I am doing it all over and will hopefully sell what I have on ebay for what i can get, and go about this right way. Feet first! Since the Colorado trip I saw a podiatrist who referred me to orthodic insoles. After my dogs ate them I decided to pick up some superfeet which so far I think are doing me well in my walking shoes. I plan on putting these in my boots as well. Speaking of boots I just purchased a pair of Salomon Synapse Wide 10.5 the other day and I am awaiting them in the mail. It sucks living in Florida as there is not one snowboard shop within 200 miles of me. Anyways when I get the boots I will put the insoles in and see how they feel. hopefully this will take care of the feet pain. I might also see a boot fighter again when I make a trip to CO this spring break. I also decided I wanted to get new bindings as I generally just don't like the technine, and here is where the question lies. Also I will probably rock the lamar board until it blows up as I am just trying to be comfortable for now and will worry about board performance when I have the cash. By then I will hopefully be living on the West Coast.
If you guys can't tell already I am a research junky and have been researching bindings for the past few days. I am still having decision making issues though. As I said I do not want squishy bindings, and I am looking for an all mountain set up. I mostly freeride so to speak but I occasional go to the parks an attempt the jumps, although I am not a fan of grinding. I also want to be able to butter and do flat land tricks. I also am trying to ride switch and I feel comfortable riding with a duck stance with small angles out. I sort of stand and walk this way naturally. Since I already have stiff boots coming in, I figured I should get a medium flexing binding to give me a slightly stiffer set up. This I think would be good for all mountain with emphasis a bit more of freeriding.
Originally I was thinking get Salomon bidngings to match the boot fit but all their bindings seem overpriced and for nothing special. Maybe I am wrong and they are awesome. Then I saw how good of a deal you can get on Ride SPI bindings. I like how it has that mesh toe strap that looks like it wont slip. The only problem is, I read it is really stiff bec of the Al base, and I am trying to stay away from a stictly freeride set up. Then I was thinking about the Cartels or Missions of 2009, which I also heard good and bad about. But at the price I can get the Cartels I might as well get the K2 Autos. supposedly the 08/09 autos had all the bugs fixed and ride amazing. If I get the SPI can I still be playful and butter and land sketchy or are they really unforgiving? Pretty much I just want some input from you guys on which binding you suggest for my set up and what I want. NO matter what I will be better off with any binding other than what I got I just don't want to make a $150+ mistake, and I have no way of seeing these bindings in person. I appreciate all helpful and constructive comments.