The highly awaited Burton Step-On binding, if you are a fan of snowboarding you are sure to have heard of them. This new iteration of old-school binding technology has been prototyped for 4 years, and is reminiscent of the standard rental shop gear of the early 2000's. Will they be the next "big thing" in snowboard binding design? or will they resurrect the struggles of bindings freezing at the top of the chair, leaving us in the cold and unable to strap in. Time will tell, but I will say that they were designed with the aid of 3D-printed hyper prototype creating technology. Burton was able to quickly create dozens of iterations of this binding system prior to release to make sure everything is dialed for us.
Yes, using these bindings will require you to purchase new boots that can only be used with the Burton Step-On system. This is the biggest barrier to market in my opinion, but could be manageable in a rental shop scenario. The boots have clips that line up with the heel socket and toe clips in the binding, creating a 3-point locking system. The toe clips simply click in to place with pressure, while the heel clip slides naturally into the heel socket on the highback. Most of the hold is coming from the heel socket, and it actually automatically gets more secure with the forces of carving and riding. Burton did a great job with creating a system that has a natural feel and is easy to use.
You'll hear a audible clicking noise as the heel clip mates with the heel socket of the binding, while the toe hooks snap right into place as you step down on to the binding. The system is very natural to use, even on your first try. Note that you will need to tuck your pants into the included clip on the rear of the boot to avoid covering the heel clip (alternatively you could just remember to pull the back of your pant leg up when you strap in).
Getting out of the binding is also quick and easy. Simply press the lever on the outside of the highback to release the heel socket, then twist your foot to the outside of the binding to release the toe hooks.
Burton Step-On Summary
The first few laps on these guys you will be looking down to make sure you're still stuck to the board, the lack of straps creates a sense of uneasiness at first. The pressure from carving is supported by the boot only instead of straps, and that is the biggest noticeable difference. I'm sure Burton will have some team riders hucking themselves off of oversized jumps though, to show us how sturdy they are. My first impression is that the bindings are sturdy, and seem to work pretty well. It will be interesting to see what issues (if any) come up through their first season on the market, and what type of riders end up trying these out. My prediction is that these are going to be in high competition with riders who use rear entry bindings, they'll become common place at rental shops, and will do well in the circle of riders who place convenience and speed as their top priority.
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