I am yet to try the Burton Step On bindings but I would be remiss to have a snowboarding website and not bring up the topic.
Love them or hate them, Burton are doubtless one of the most innovative snowboard companies going around – at least where bindings are concerned anyway.
They have EST channel bindings which go with Burton’s channel system boards – the only company that really does anything outside of standard 2 x 4 bindings, these days.
And now the Step On.
What are Step-On Bindings?
These are essentially what they sound like. Bindings that you just step into.
So, there’s no need to strap in when you get off the lift – you just step-on and ride off.
Much like old “Step-In” bindings were supposed to do but didn’t do very well.
You do however require special boots that specifically fit into the bindings. So, if you are planning on making the switch you will need to invest in new boots as well as the bindings – and you will be restricted to Burton boots only.
So, if Burton boots don’t tend to be a good fit for you, then the step-on system may not be for you – or at least not yet. If it takes off, then no doubt other companies will make boots that fit into them.
How Do You Get Into Them?
There is a connecting hook in the highback and there are two connectors on the sides of the bindings.
There are corresponding cleats on the back of the boot and the sides of the boot.
The heel goes in first and you should hear a click – but, apparently, it’s subtle. Then you push the toes in to engage the other two cleats on the sides of the boot. There is, apparently, a louder click for the side clicks.
See video below for demonstration for how they work.
How do You Get Out of Them?
There is a lever on the side of the bindings that releases the heel hook to allow you lift your heel out. Then you twist the front of your foot to get loose from the toe hooks.
This is apparently pretty easy to do.
How Easy Are They?
From reports of people who have tried the system, it doesn’t take too long to get to a point where you can can step in (sorry step on 😉 ) as you come off the lift, so you can ride off as fast as a skier does.
At first it takes a little bit of getting used to – but not that long by all accounts.
Why Step Ons?
Apparently, Jake Burton asked for them because he wanted them himself. So, if this is something that you would like, then you’ve got him to thank!
But I think it goes further than that.
I think there is a desire amongst some snowboarders to be able to strap in faster – hence the rear entry/speed entry bindings produced by Flow and GNU. And this is probably more augmented for those who tend to ride with skiers and want to be strapped in faster so as not to hold them up.
For those of use who aren’t concerned about holding skiers up for an extra 15 seconds (I mean come on guys!) or taking a bit of time at the top of the lift to take in the view, then there’s less incentive but it’s certainly clear there is a reason why these are coming out.
And maybe it’s also a way to attract new snowboarders and get some skiers to switch to snowboarding.
What People Who Tried Them Thought
Below are some links to a few different reviews of the Burton Step On system. I will reserve my judgement until I have had a chance to try them for myself.
Is This a New Idea?
Strapless, step-in bindings have been tried before. This isn’t a new idea. But it’s never really been done well. Will Burton’s new strap-on bindings change that?
From the accounts I’ve read so far, they are a darn sight better than anything that’s come out before. Whether they’re good enough to foot it with strapped bindings is yet to be seen but there’s potential there.
It’s no surprise that this was thought of, given that this is essentially how skiers get in and out of their skis.
Will the Board Come Off?
It might be true that skiers already use a similar system. But when you see a skier take a good tumble their skis often come off.
We definitely don’t want this to happen with a snowboard – and certainly don’t need it as skiers sometimes do.
So, what’s the verdict on this?
From all of the reviews that I’ve read so far no one has reported coming out of the Step-On bindings. But time will tell and we’ll get an idea over the next season whether we get any reports of people releasing from the bindings.
Are They Compatible with All Snowboards?
It sounds like they have made them compatible with all current snowboard bindings mounting systems – so you’re good there.
But Do They Perform as Well as Strap-In?
This is still yet to be truly decided but the reports are positive so far. No one is claiming that they’re better but most say they’re as good.
The Pros and Cons
There are a number of pros and cons and it seems at the moment that the pros will outweigh the cons for some and visa versa for others.
- Fast to get in and out
- No need to bend down or sit down when getting in
- You have a minimal selection of boots.
- They have to be Burton (which usually isn’t a bad thing but Burton may not fit your particular foot well); UPDATE: DC are also now making some Step On boots
- There is a limited selection (2 men’s and 2 women’s); and UPDATE: There are more options now
- All boot options use the Boa lacing system – this is fine if you like it but if you don’t, then it won’t suit you UPDATE: There are non-BOA options now – but still quite limited
- You have to get new boots to use the system
- Can’t use the boots in other bindings
- Can be tricky to step-on if you’re on a steep slope
- Apparently, there is a bit of a clicking sound as you ride
A number of these cons might become obsolete if these become popular. For example other boot companies might start making boots for them and Burton might offer more boot options down the line too.
Who Will These be Best For?
From what I can see the main market is for:
- Older riders who have trouble getting up from sitting down to strap in or struggle to bend over to strap in standing up
- Those who can’t, haven’t yet mastered or don’t want to learn how to strap in standing up and don’t like doing it sitting down
- Beginners who find it difficult to get going from a seated position and who haven’t yet learned to strap in standing up
- Anyone who wants to get going off the lift as fast as possible
- Anyone who rides with skiers a lot and wants to be able to get going as quickly as them
Will This Revolutionize Snowboard Bindings or be a Passing Fad?
Will we look back in 10 years time, or even 5 years time and say “I can’t believe we ever had to strap into out bindings!”; or
Will these be around for a season or two and then disappear or be confined to a small niche section of snowboarders?
What do you think? Would you give them a try?
Would love to hear what others think. Just leave a comment in the comments section below.