Winning my budget category pick for this year, the 5th Element Stealth 3 snowboard bindings are by far the best price-to-value model you can get this winter. This is especially true if you are a beginner and are simply looking for a pair of bindings to get you through the trenches of your snowboarding academy.
My Verdict: If you are looking for the bindings with the best price-to-value ratio, I highly recommend the Stealth 3s by 5th Element. They have all the essential features of a good all-mountain binding and are very beginner-friendly. Even better, you can easily keep them as your binding of choice through your skill progression. There are a few drawbacks such as the overall material quality and buckle durability, but other than that they are a rather good choice for anything looking to build a decent starter snowboard.
Below I will go through the major features of the Stealth 3s and discuss their flex, response, highback, baseplate, straps, and other parts which are worth mentioning.
Overview & Features of 5th Element Binding
In all honesty, the true reason these bindings made the list is because they are just so cheap yet so good at what they do, even when compared to premium models like the Union Contact Pros, which made the top of my top 5 list for the best all-mountain snowboard bindings. Let’s talk about their flex now and how it affects the overall response of the bindings.
Flex & Response
The flex of these bindins is one of the more impressive features. While other all-mountain models focus on having medium flex which gears them more towards freeriding, these have a very soft flex to them and a relatively short highback making them really comfortable when you’re riding in the park. All that results in a decent level of response, albeit it won’t be the most direct-feeling binding you have tried.
The highback itself is made out of plastic with a thin layer of padding on the inside to keep your feet comfortable. While it is there, it can be barely felt when riding so it doesn’t serve a major purpose in ride quality or feel. In fact, the highback isn’t very supportive in neither front-to-back nor lateral movements. This is why I keep mentioning that these are ideal for beginners that don’t really need that level of support when they are navigating through the flats. There is no rear-entry here, so the highback doesn’t fall down.
The baseplates are padded which reduces vibrations, especially in high speeds. You can adjust the forward lean of the baseplates which does help when you are trying to figure out your stance in the early stages. Unfortunately, that is almost everything I can positively say about the baseplates as they have nothing else worth mentioning about them. One disappointing fact is their lack of compatibility, which I will mention again further down.
The straps here are plastic which is alright and fairly common, although rubber or other composites would’ve been a better long-term option. Regrettably, the buckles are also plastic which is a rather poor choice of material and they can break if you aren’t too careful with them.
The toe strap is convertible and it can double as a toe cap strap if you prefer it that way. It does its job best when it is a traditional toe strap, though, so better keep it above your toes rather than in front.
The materials here are disappointing but at the same time are fitting for a budget model and are similar across other models in this price range. Most, if not everything, is made out of plastic, some hard, some more flexible. That can be good for the weight of the bindings but is rather bad for rigidity and long-term usage.
Still, everything here is backed by a full year of warranty which is a necessary thing, since some parts are more prone to breaking due to them being made out of plastic rather than aluminum or other composite material.
If you want to take proper care of your snowboard’s bottom surface, I suggest going through my article on snowboard waxing and whether it is truly necessary on a brand new board.
The lack of compatibility with different types of boards is probably the biggest drawback of this model. There is also a standard 4-hole bolt pattern compatibility here, which means that if you have a Burton 3D or other different bolt patterns on your board, you will need new rings, or worse – other bindings.
Let’s take a look at the main pros and cons of the 5th Element Stealth 3 bindings now…
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Very cheap
- A solid choice for beginners
- A good amount of flex and response
- The straps are well-padded
- Convertible toe strap
- One year warranty
- Good for all-mountain use
- Buckles tend to get loose over time
- Material quality isn’t great
- Ankle straps aren’t as durable as some of the premium brands’
- Not compatible with any other type of bolt pattern other than the standard 4-hole one
Conclusion & Rating
While the material quality here isn’t perfect and there are limited binding compatibility options with your board, the 5th Element Stealth 3 snowboard bindings are what most consider the best budget bindings out there, especially if you are looking for something with a good amount of flex. That same flex makes them suitable for all-mountain use, and more particularly – the park. While the straps are comfortable and well-padded, you will have some issues with the plastic buckles and the longevity of the straps as a whole. I gave them four and a half out of five stars rating mainly due to their affordability and wide range of usability.