Strap In or Step On? The Snowboard Binding Showdown That Will Make You Think Again
The Ultimate Face-Off: All the Step-On Systems Compete– Which One Will Rule the Slopes? Or will traditional bindings hold the throne?
Ah, snowboard bindings – the glue that holds us shredders to our trusty steeds. Back in the Stone Age of snowboarding, riders would use whatever they could find – old straps, duct tape, or even rope – to attach themselves to their boards. It wasn't pretty, but hey, we all have to start somewhere, right? As time went on, bindings got a little more sophisticated, with adjustable straps, comfy highbacks, and those nifty ratchet thingies. But, of course, there's always someone out there trying to reinvent the wheel (or, in this case, the binding).
Over the years, we've seen some, well, "interesting" attempts at changing up the binding game. Remember those old-school step-in systems with mechanical clips or wires? Yeah, those didn't last long – they couldn't keep up with our radness. But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, step-on bindings are back, baby! Now, we've got Burton, Nidecker, Flow, and CLEW stepping up to the plate, all fighting for the best new solution. So, the million-dollar question is: do we stick with our trusty traditional bindings, or do we embrace the future and give these fancy-schmancy step-on systems a whirl? In this blog, we'll throw down the deets on four popular step-on binding systems: Burton Step On, Nidecker Supermatic, Flow NX2, and CLEW. We'll dish out the pros and cons of each, and give you the lowdown on which ones might be best for your shredding style.
Burton Step On Bindings - The Big Dog:
Sporting a sleek and futuristic look, the Burton Step On bindings feature a baseplate with two heel hooks and a toe cleat that click into the boot, creating a secure connection. The design features a toe cleat and heel hooks that secure the boot to the binding without the need for traditional straps.
While these bindings are praised for their convenience and compatibility, some riders have criticized the Burton Step On system for being too "locked-in," making it harder to tweak grabs or execute buttery moves. This allows for quick and easy entry and exit, but the locked-in feeling can limit the range of motion when attempting certain tricks. Additionally, if you're not a fan of Burton boots, this system may not be your cup of tea, since it's only compatible with specific Burton models. The compatibility factor can be a downside for those who prefer to mix and match their gear or have a favorite non-Burton boot. Riders who are not accustomed to the snug fit may also experience some discomfort until they grow accustomed to the feel of the Step On system.
Pros: Known for their intuitive design and ease of use, Burton Step On bindings have received praise from pro riders and everyday snowboarders alike (source: SnowboardProCamp on YouTube). With a dual Boa system, they offer a secure and customizable fit (source: SnowboardProCamp on YouTube). Burton Step On bindings are compatible with a wide range of Burton boots, making them a versatile choice.
Cons: Some riders have experienced a lack of lateral flexibility with Burton Step On bindings, which can limit the range of motion when attempting certain tricks. They are relatively expensive compared to other binding options as the Step On's needs to be purchased with compatible Step-On boots
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Nidecker Supermatic - The new kid on the block:
Though not as widely known as the Burton Step On bindings, the Nidecker Supermatic is starting to make its own wake of supporters. With a sturdy, almost industrial appearance, the Nidecker Supermatic bindings use a highback that drops back allowing you to slide your foot into it. Essentially a traditional binding strap. The heel up automatically levers up when the boot is placed in and locks into place. This makes them incredibly user-friendly and nearly foolproof. Jerry's aside
The binding design is focused on ease of use and simplicity. Riders who prioritize personalization and the ability to tweak their gear to their precise preferences might find the Supermatic bindings somewhat limiting compared to traditional bindings, despite the convenience factor.
Pros: The Nidecker Supermatic bindings have been praised for their solid construction. They offer a quick and easy entry system that enables riders to strap in and out efficiently.
They don't require any specific boot or another system to integrate into your existing board, or boot combo.
Cons: Some riders have reported a lack of fine-tuning adjustments, which may be a disadvantage for those looking to achieve a custom fit. Being a relatively new system the one drawback is tried and tested reviews. To accurately rate the durability, a true test is to ride these for a full season or more to properly review them. Until then I will take the word of Nidecker and trust they have done their own vigorous testing.
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Flow NX2 - The Love-Hate Relationship:
For those who swear by the rear-entry system, the Flow NX2 bindings can be a game-changer, providing a quick and convenient way to strap in. Unlike traditional bindings that require the rider to sit down and fasten straps over their feet, the Flow NX2 features a reclining highback that allows the rider to slide their boot in and out from the back, then lock the highback in place. This differs from the 'Supermatics' as you still need to bend down to lock the highback into place. This innovative design saves time and effort on the slopes. Flow first released its rear entry system in 1996 and while still only capturing a small fraction of the snowboard market its riders are often passionate and tribal about their love of the system. Having the longest history of step-on/in systems going into 2023 gives them over 15 years of trial and error, reviews, and testimonies.
Pros: Has a long history in the rear entry binding game. The most tried and tested systems. A nice loose feel, popular with park riders.
Cons: Flow NX2 bindings may not offer the same level of support as other step-on binding systems, which can be a concern for aggressive riders. They still require you to bend down to lift up your highback to lock it in place. Riders hoping to fully eliminate bending over when strapping in should probably look towards Burton Step-Ons or Nidecker Supermatics instead.
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CLEW - The 'That's Something New':
The CLEW bindings are praised for their simplicity and lightweight design, making them a solid choice for riders who value ease of use and minimalism. These bindings use a patented "hook and loop" system that eliminates the need to strap in like traditional bindings, These work using a highback that stays attached to the boot. The highback loops around the top of the foot and under the heel. Remaining on between runs and locking in simply by stepping down onto the baseplate that remains on your board. This innovative design allows for quick step-in and step-out functionality without sacrificing too much support or stability. However, if you're seeking top-notch performance or compatibility with a wide range of boots, the CLEW bindings may fall short. Due to their minimalist design, riders who are seeking the ultimate in support and response might find the CLEW bindings lacking.
Pros: CLEW bindings are praised for their simple design and lightweight construction (source: TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine). Their quick-release system allows for easy step-in and step-out functionality (source: TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine).
Cons: CLEW bindings may not provide the same level of customisation as other bindings over. They also require you to walk with the highback which may take a while to get used to.
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When it comes to snowboard bindings, there's a battle brewing between traditional strap bindings and the newfangled step-on systems. Over the years, bindings have come a long way – from their humble beginnings of makeshift materials to the sleek and efficient designs we see today. While traditional strap bindings have remained relatively unchanged in recent years, they've become reliable and well-loved by many riders for their customizable fit, support, and overall performance. But hey, progress never sleeps, and step-on bindings are stepping up to challenge the status quo.
Both traditional bindings and step-on systems have their pros and cons. Strap bindings are known for their adjustability and compatibility, allowing riders to fine-tune their fit and pair them with a wide range of boots. On the flip side, step-on bindings offer a streamlined, time-saving experience for riders looking to shave off precious seconds on the slopes. However, these systems can be a bit more limited in terms of boot compatibility and, in some cases, may lack the fine-tuning adjustments that some riders crave.
Ultimately, the choice between traditional bindings and step-on systems comes down to personal preference and riding style. It's essential to consider your specific setup and how you ride before making the switch or sticking to what you know. If you're on the fence, don't hesitate to hit up your local snowboard shop for some expert advice and maybe even a demo session. After all, the best binding is the one that makes you feel like a snowboarding superhero, ready to conquer the mountain.
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