Hello and welcome to my Burton Photon Step On review.
In this review I will take a look at the Photon Step On as all-mountain snowboard boots.
As per tradition here at SnowboardingProfiles.com I will give the Photon Step On a score out of 100 (based on several factors) and see how they compare with other all-mountain boots.
Was really great to finally get on some step-ons. And whilst I couldn't test in the same way as I typically would, as noted below, it was awesome to get some hands on experience.
NOTE: Since I had to test these with Step On bindings, the ratings scores aren't as accurate as they would be, as I didn't have my normal control bindings to test with (so any comparisons to my control boots are tainted because of having to ride these with different bindings). So this review is a rougher indication than the other reviews, because some of what I felt could have been influenced by the differences provided by the step on bindings I tested the boots with.
Boots: Burton Photon Step On
Price: $459 (USD recommended retail)
Flex Rating: Medium
Flex Feel: Medium-Stiff (7/10)
Rating Score: 84.8/100*
Compared to other All-Mountain Boots
Out of the 30 all-mountain boots that I rated:
*as noted above, the scoring of these isn't as accurate as it would be for other boots, as I didn't have a control binding to test in, given that I had to use the Step On bindings for this boot.
Overview of the Photon Step On’s Specs
Check out the tables for the Photon Step On's specs and available sizes.
Who are the Photon Step On Most Suited to?
The Photon Step On are best suited to anyone looking to take advantage of the Step On system and want a really responsive boot that's in between medium flex and stiff flex. They provide response as if they're stiffer than they are - and that's a large part down to the Step On system, IMO.
Best matched to boards in that 6/10 to 8/10 flex range, IMO.
Not for beginners - too stiff and not as easy to manage at slower speeds for beginners. Fine for freestyle, but if you want really good board feel for your freestyle riding, probably not ideal.
The Photon Step On in More Detail
O.k. let’s take a more detailed look at what the Photon Step On are capable of.
Boots: Burton Photon Step On Wide 2022
Size: 10 (US Men's Sizing)
Date: March 12, 2021
Conditions: Overcast but 90% visibility. Light wind - 10kph (6mph)
2°C (36°F) - so quite warm. -3°C (27°F) with wind chill factor. Felt colder than 2°C (36°F).
24 hour snow: 0cm
7 day: 42cm
On groomer: Hard pack. Not icy but definitely rather firm.
Off groomer: A little crunchy/icy in steeper spots but not too bad. Similar to on groomer in most parts.
Bindings angles: +15/-15
Board Demoed With: Lib Tech Terrain Wrecker
Bindings Demoed With: Burton Genesis Step On
Outersole Length: 30.4cm (mondo 28.0cm)
Difference between Mondo & Outersole: 2.4cm
Backstay Height: 30cm
Weight: 1120 grams*
* Average of a sample of boots I weighed was 1006 grams, so a bit heavier than the average, but not overly heavy. Heaviest were 1320 grams and lightest were 740 grams.
Since I was testing with a different binding to my test bindings it was hard to get an accurate read on the boots, but the overall flex of the setup (boots/bindings) felt around a 7/10.
When testing the flex before getting on the snow versus my control boots, I felt these were slightly stiffer than my control boots (which are 6/10) but not by much - I noted that they felt around 6.5/10 and up to 7/10.
Width: I tested the wide model and they felt fine for me in terms of width. I have regular width feet - not wide but not narrow either - and they worked fine for me. They actually felt a little less wide than my Tactical ADVs (my control boots), but the Tactical ADVs and Adidas boots in general tend to be wide.
Plenty of room width wise for toes though, but doesn't feel like it's too wide for my foot or anything. Very close to Tactical ADV (wearing Photon on left and Tactical on right foot) in the widest part, but I still feel like the Tactical ADV is that slightest bit wider.
True to Size?: Size 10 was perfect for me. Toes just brushing when standing up and pull back a little of the edge when bending knees. The overall fit felt just right too. I'm typically a 10, so I would say true to size for sure.
High or Low Arch: I found I had less pressure on the tops of my foot than I would typically get with new boots, so I would say they are likely fine for those with high arches. I have relatively flat feet though, so hard to say for sure.
Found these boots (in combo with the Step On Genesis bindings) helped with response when riding at speed - and helped me to get on a deeper, more aggressive carve than with my control setup (Adidas Tactical ADV boots and Burton Malavita Re:Flex bindings). They had surprisingly good response - above and beyond the flex that I felt them at.
They weren't as easy to manage when riding slower as my control setup though.
I found the heel hold to be OK without being great. A little less in terms of heel hold versus my control boots. When I really cranked the the BOA strap tight heel hold definitely improved but it also caused some cramping on the outside bottom of my left foot. Loosening it off a bit relieved that and was a better balance of heel hold and comfort.
One of the BOAs tightens the whole outer boot, so there's no upper/lower separation. The 2nd BOA, as you would assume given its location, tightens the "ankle strap" on the boot.
That 2nd BOA does give some adjustability in terms of being able to adjust the pressure on your ankle for heel hold and comfort, but it just lacks that upper/lower section adjustability.
The liner has a standard lacing harness which can only be accessed by opening out the outer boot.
Let’s Break up this text with a Video
The Photon Step On starts at around 9:15
Straight out of the box these things just felt nice and comfortable. As soon as I tried them on. And they continued to be super comfortable riding until I attempted to really crank the "Ankle Strap", at which point I got some mild cramping in my foot - which was quickly remedied by loosening off that ankle strap a little.
And when I really cranked that ankle strap I didn't notice any pressure points on the top or sides of my foot - it was just the cramping.
So overall I found them to be really really comfortable.
The overall shock absorption on snow felt pretty good. Not to the same level as my Tactical ADV/Malavita control setup, but pretty good nonetheless.
In my stomp test (control boot on one foot and Photon on the other), I could notice an obvious difference between the Tactical ADV and Photon, but the Photon still performed well compared to the average boot (Tactical ADVs are particularly good at absorbing shock).
Overall board feel was a little worse than my control setup. But it wasn't far off. I found presses to be just as easy, but overall board feel was just a bit down.
My Malavita Re:Flex do have really good board feel, but the Tactical ADVs board feel isn't amazing compared to some other boots (it's not terrible but it's not great), so board feel overall not amazing for the Photon Step Ons - but I do feel like that has something to do with the way Step On boots lock to the highback.
Sole felt good and solid to walk on - and it looked and felt good quality. There was reasonable tread depth and felt quite hard, so I think it would hold up for a good while and provides good traction.
As is typical of Burton boots, the Photon Step Ons are nice and low profile, which is always good to see - particularly for those with a foot size that is borderline regular width and wide width, and you want to be able to get on the regular width.
I found my feet slipped into the boots really nice and easy, but once inside it was a really good fit, so no complaints with how easy they were to get in and out of.
Then there's just the lacing harness on the liner, which is easy to work with and does what it should - and then just the BOA to tighten the outer boot and the 2nd BOA to tighten the ankle strap. All round easy to get on and off.
See my Burton Step On Genesis bindings review for details on how I found the process of clicking and unclicking with the Step On bindings.
Score Breakdown and Final Verdict
Check out the breakdown of the score in the table below.
TOTAL after normalizing
The Photon Step Ons are a well made boot - and if you're looking to go the Step On route, then they are a great choice, IMO. They have a nice mid-stiff flex, have great response with Step On bindings and are all round comfortable and easy to work with.
More Info, Current Prices and Where to Buy Online
If you’re interested in learning more about the Photon Step On, are ready to buy or want to research current prices and sizing availability, check out the links below.
If you want to see how the Photon Step On compared to other all-mountain boots, or want to check out some other options, check out the link below.
I recently bought these boots with step genesis bindings. I have 5 days of riding on them so far and found I have to retighten the boa about every couple of runs. The top part, in particular, starts to feel loose and I’m able to get another 2-3 turns out of boa. I’m curious if you had the same experience. Thanks,
Thanks for your message.
I don’t recall having to retighten quite that frequently, but I did have to retighten. It’s something I find with all BOAs though, that they need a quick return every so often. Thankfully with BOA it’s really easy to retighten, with just a couple of twists of the thing as you strap in. But I guess with Step Ons you’re looking for speed to get going, so I can see how that’s annoying. And also having to do it every second lap is more frequently than it should be, so I’m not sure if there’s maybe an issue with yours.
Currently I use Photon Boa’s with Genesis EST bindings. I find this a great setup and combined a mid flex. There are zero issues making turns while when driving butt slow, carving or anything else. Previously I had Cartels with the Photons that I did not like because they seemed too stiff.
I’m considering going step-in’s and assumed their respective versions would be similar. Relative to their non step-in siblings, how much difference is there??
Thanks for your message.
Step-Ons feel quite different, in my experience. The way the boot clips into the highback gives you a more locked in feel. Also I found the Genesis Step On to be stiffer than the Genesis Re:Flex and Genesis EST. More of a 7/10 flex, by my feel. Really good response and work well with stiffer boards for that reason. But not as good board feel as the Genesis EST, IMO.
Hope this helps
Fábio Augusto Caporrino says
Good morning. Can I use Burton step on boots in boards with tradicional bindings (straps)??
If it’s one of the Step On boots that has the boa strap thing on it – e.g. the Photon Step On and Ion Step On – then it’s not really going to work in a strap binding. If you’ve got something without that, like the Ruler Step On or the Swath Step On, then I think you can get away with it, but you’ll have to unscrew the clip think on the back of the boot and remove it – I believe this can be done, but I haven’t tried it myself. And I’ve never ridden a Step On boot in a regular binding, so I don’t know what the fit would be like or how the performance would be – but I’ve heard it’s possible.
Hope this helps
How much heel slip would you expect?
I got 9.5s (my normal size for shoes). They fit snugly. I noticed walking up the stairs my heels slipped inside the boot.
Should it not slip at all?
I live in southern GA, we don’t have snowboard shops here.
I could order the next size down and return them if they’re too small.
Thanks for your message.
Rule of thumb I try to go by is 1cm (0.5″) of heel lift of less. You’ve got to feel for it, but that’s roughly what I try to feel for. Also, going upstairs is probably going to give you more heel lift than anything you do snowboarding. Judge it by standing on flat ground and going on your toes as if you were going into a toe side turn.
Sizing will definitely impact heel lift – if it’s too big, then you’re more likely to get more heel lift for sure. But some boots are just better for heel hold than others, I’ve found, regardless of sizing. And that also depends on the shape of your feet, ankles, calves as well I would say, so it can be quite personalized. I think some people with certain shaped feet, ankles and calves don’t really have heel lift with any boots, if they size right, and others, myself included do have issues with heel lift in some boots. I found the heel hold in the Photon Step Ons to be decent without being great. It was still within that 1cm range but it felt to me like it was right on the edge of that range.
If you feel there’s too much heel lift, you could try going to the smaller size, because that will certainly improve heel hold. But of course you don’t want that to be at the expense of a boot that’s too small and causes pain. At the moment how do your toes feel in the boots. The ideal length, IMO, is when your toes are touching the end of the boots – but there’s not heaps of pressure on them or anything (if the toes have to bend to get in there then it’s too small for sure) and then when go into a toe side turn your toes come slightly away from the end of the boot. If your toes aren’t touching the ends, then they might be a little big.
Hope this helps